Dallas Mayor Perfectly Explains What's Wrong With Texas Open Carry Laws

Mark Hughes was peacefully protesting the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling while openly carrying his AR-15 in Dallas Thursday night. It was his photo that police first posted claiming Hughes, and not Micah Xavier Johnson, was the shooter. Police corrected the error, but the mistake was a glaring example of the problems that can arise from Texas’ open-carry gun laws.

Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings joined John Dickerson on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” to explain the problems that surfaced Thursday night as police were attempting to subdue the shooter.

“You know, in dealing with the law of gun holding, you can carry a rifle legally, and when you have gunfire going on, you usually go with the person that’s got a gun,” Rawlings explained, explaining why many people were arrested that night. “And so our police grabbed some of those individuals, took them to police headquarters, and worked it out and figured out that they were not the shooters.”

Therein lies the biggest problem with open-carry laws.

“But that is one of the real issues with the gun rights issues that we face, that in the middle of a firefight, it’s hard to pick out the good guys and the bad guys,” Rawlings said.

Rawlings said people who were openly carrying weapons complicated the moment when police were trying to stop the shooter. “I wasn’t there real-time to kind of see it go on, but the common sense would tell you, you don’t know where the gunfire’s coming from. There were individuals that ran across the gunfire. They were in the body armor, camo gear with rifles slung over their shoulders, so it sure took our eye off the ball for a moment. We got them out of the way, we figured out what was happening, and we did our business.”

As of Jan. 1, 2016, anyone with a license can open carry a weapon. The law has caused a lot of confusion in public buildings and even mental hospitals.

President Barack Obama specifically cited the open carry law when speaking about the Dallas shooting Friday. “[Police] have a really difficult time in communities where they know guns are everywhere,” Obama said. “And as I said before, they have right to come home and now they have very little margin of error in terms of making decisions. So if you care about the safety of our police officers, then you can’t set aside the gun issue and pretend that that’s irrelevant.”

Watch the interview below:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.