Open Carry Group Sues Arlington Over the First Amendment

Categories: Guns

KoryWatkinsGrocery.jpg
Kory Watkins for Texas
Before Open Carry Tarrant County members and their rifles set foot in a Fort Worth Jack in the Box earlier this month, setting off a series of increasingly absurd showdowns between open-carry gun activists and national restaurant chains, its members were standing on Arlington sidewalks handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution to passing drivers.

The city of Arlington responded, first by ticketing two OCTC protesters for violating the city's ban on handing out literature to occupants of cars that are not "lawfully parked,"
then by rewriting the ordinance to more explicitly outlaw what the activists were doing and raise the penalty to $500.

Today, OCTC founder Kory Watkin sued, saying the ordinance is a prior restraint on his First Amendment right to free speech.

See also: Arlington, Targeted By Open-Carry Activists, Bans Guns at City Council Meetings

Watkins and his fellow activists have been saying this all along. In a crude way, that's the message they were trying to convey with their repeated cries of "Tyrant!" at a late April Arlington City Council meeting.

In his lawsuit, Watkins argues that there are two main flaws with the city's argument. One is that there is no credible evidence that handing a copy of the Constitution to motorists stopped at a red light poses any danger at all. OCTC has contributed to no accidents, the suit says, nor has any other political rally or charitable event save for once in 1997. The other is that the city has singled out open-carry activists for prosecution.

"No event precipitated this sudden interest in these restrictions other than the Open Carry events and public demonstrations," the suit says, "irrespective of the fact that the Shriners and firefighters have been standing directly in the busiest streets with the blessing of the City Council for decades."

This, the suit argues, has had a "chilling effect" on OCTC's demonstrations and violates the constitutional requirement that any restriction on free speech be content neutral.

Arlington, naturally, disagrees. The original ordinance was put in place in 1994, roughly two decades before the modern open carry movement came into existence, says assistant city attorney Robert Fugate. And it has nothing to do with guns.

"The purpose of the ordinance is to prohibit the interaction of pedestrians and vehicles at high-traffic intersections in Arlington."

The changes that were enacted in April, Fugate says, broadened the law so that it applied regardless of what drivers were being handed.

As evidence of the law's constitutionality -- or at the very least as a prediction of the city's presumptive court victory -- Fugate points to a 2007 opinion from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans involving Houston Chronicle vendors banned by League City from selling newspapers at any intersection with a traffic light. The court ruled at the time that League City had a legitimate public safety interest in keeping vendors away from busy intersections.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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160 comments
MikeO
MikeO

I just noticed that the dweeb in the picture looks hauntingly like Chi Chi Rodriguez on the cover of Devo's seminal "Are we not men? We are Devo" album.

Somehow that just makes perfect sense.

MikeO
MikeO

These guys need to go protest at the corner of Hatcher and Malcolm X.

Then it could get interesting.

MikeO
MikeO

Can someone tell me what is wrong with me?

I've never owned a gun, I've never shot a gun, never felt like I've needed a gun.

And I don't walk around in constant fear or suspicion.

And I live in East Dallas! What is my problem?

lecterman
lecterman

I think the most disturbing thing about this whole comments section, after reading through everything, is the lack of knowledge of the difference between a fedora and a trilby.  You bunch of savages.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

OCT is made up of a bunch of pussies.  They pick on customers in Chipotle and Chuck E. Cheese to terrorize.  You'll NEVER see their punk asses try that shit in an airport or a cop station. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Quentin Tarantino belongs to OCT?

Who knew?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Well . . . the guy in the photo doesn't even look intimidating with a gun, so, maybe they do have a point after all.

Daniel
Daniel

I wonder what would happen if a bunch of young black males walked around Preston Center brandishing (legally licensed) rifles? Hopefully, the conservatives on this board wouldn't injure each other as they rushed in to the defend the men's Constitutional rights.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

One could use the Constitution to back up just about any behavior, if one used OC's logic.  Someone, theoretically, would be correct in claiming that free speech rights allow a person to yell "FIre!" in a crowded theater.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@fred.garvin.mp.713

Charles Manson loved the Beatles.

fred.garvin.mp.713
fred.garvin.mp.713

I honestly, 100% thought that was just a stock photo from 'Animal House,' and not a photo of a real dude buying groceries.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@MikeO Why would someone want to protest in the middle of a violent crime area?

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@MikeO Sidearms are not for everyone, and especially not those not trained to handle them.  I wouldn't carry in Harlem or East L.A.  However, I would feel quite comfortable carrying in Texas, and especially in Dallas. 


There's nothing wrong with you.  You just have an apparent inevitability about being attacked many people don't have.  But, it doesn't make anything wrong with you. 


The Second Amendment also protects your rights NOT to be armed.



whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@MikeO To each their own.  The Second Amendment is clear and SCOTUS has backed it.


TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

Once again, in all the videos I've seen of these type do so, no-one seems "terrorized", there's not even a break in the conversational hum. Compared to the Pelosi-approved occupy thing, these guys are the epitome of decorum and civility, and don't cost the taxpayer a dime.

As for airports, that's different, and cop shops, I think that's been done.

Point is, agree with the tactics or not, at least it gets people talking, it got the angry gal in the video talking, for sure. She sure did seem terrorized!

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Daniel

Ah, the race angle. No national conversation is complete without it.

I would treat their demo the same if the intent were the same, but I bet the liberals frightened by these white boys with guns would be more supportive if they were black.

If they were Muslims, hell, the libs would be marching with them.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  "free speech rights allow a person to yell "FIre!" in a crowded theater."


Of course they do, especially if the theater -- crowded or otherwise -- is actually ON FIRE!





TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

When they start breaking shit, intimidating the public in the public space, and costing the taxpayers millions while breaking numerous laws, maybe then you should start worrying.

MikeO
MikeO

So why won't the SCROTUMS let me smoke weed legally?

Sure, carry your mass murder weapons in public, just don't try to relax in the comfort of your own home.

Yeah, their opinions mean shit to me!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@whateveryousay "The Second Amendment is clear and SCOTUS has backed it."


Clear? ... what part of  "Shall NOT be INFRINGED" are they relying upon when they deny -- and criminalize -- the possession of firearms by Ex-felons, Ex-Domestic Batterers, the Mentally Defective, non-resident aliens, those unconvicted, uncharged facing domestic restraining orders, handguns to every ADULT under 21, possession or display of firearms in Federal Courthouses, etc, etc ?

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

@TheRuddSki There were baby-back-ribs to be eaten. People don't raise their heads from that stuff.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@lecterman @Daniel  As that ran in the opposite direction.  Especially our little wiry vacation Croation pal.  Yet they go for people in fast food or drug stores, you know the people who can really make a difference. Yes, I think this is about the penis.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@MikeO You say mass murder weapon and I say my tool for hunting. Eh.  I think weed should be legal.  Period.  I think the country is finally catching up to the majority of its residence sentiment on the issue.  

You may not respect their decisions but they should mean a lot to you.  When they rule it directly effects you even if you don't like it. 


RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @TheRuddSki Only if balanced by the conservative angle. (which was brought up in the original comment by Daniel, along with the race angle.)  Tit for Tat.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheRuddSki

I'll give you points for readiness.

You always seem to have several up your sleeve.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

No national conversation is complete without playing the Muslim card.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@billmarvel

The truly frightened would do as the woman in the video did - confront, curse and belittle the terrorists while provoking them with her phone.

If it weren't for her, they probably would have opened fire.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum

Like, "I have a bomb," while at the TSA checkpoint.

That works anywhere.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum Better yet: When they walk into the restaurant where you're eating, scream "Look out! They have guns!" And dive under the table. (Which I probably woulds do anyway.)

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @wasabi1 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Like, "I have a bomb," while at the TSA checkpoint. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@TheRuddSki you see, this isnt about the right to open carry, they already have that, no one is taking it from them.  This is more about what their true intention is.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@TheRuddSki its a lose lose, you confront them about their intimidation tactic and you become the loony, you slink away from them hoping they dont try to accost you and you are the scared pussy being intimidated.  And yes they are accosting you when trying to hand you a mini constitution, just like the bum wanting money or the shriner holding his bucket up to your car window

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin

The public seems to be hiding their fears quite well in the videos I've seen of these demos.

Last post, it was one guy calling 911, in the vid below, the demonstrators were the ones being "intimidated" by a single obnoxious person. No-one else even seems to take much notice... big shrug.

Daniel
Daniel

@ScottsMerkin @TheRuddSki They're inviting confrontation, they're armed, and they're clearly not quite in their right minds. Only a matter of time before one of these dickless wonders hurts or kills somebody.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@RTGolden1

Only if balanced by the conservative angle.

If someone could work in the bible-thumpers, NRA and Glenn Beck, we'd have all the necessary bases covered.

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