For each of us involved in the Open Carry movement there is of course a unique combination of reasons for our involvement. Some in our ranks find themselves involved in activism for the first time while others are involved in several causes including Open Carry and Second Amendment rights. As for myself I’ve been interested and involved in other grassroots movements over the years, most of which are still important issues for me, but never before have I been so singularly dedicated to just one issue.
As a Texan I’m proud that we’re among the first, if not the first people mentioned whenever the subject of Constitutional Open Carry comes up. Texans everywhere are proud to proclaim that we are the “most American of all American citizens. The virtues of independence, self-reliance, and each of the natural birth-rights of an American that are enumerated in our country’s Constitution are the vital components that a Texan’s soul is comprised of. My family consists of a long line of determined and willful people that have charted their own path on this continent since before 1616 AD beginning with John Johnson, an Ancient Planter, in the Jamestown Colony of Virginia. Many of us have been farmers and others military men, business owners and tradesmen. We helped to wrestle this land from the British and make it our own. Later we moved westward carving out homesteads in uncharted forests and unfamiliar territory. We eventually settled in Texas having found a home among like-minded people; and we kept on doing as we always had, raising our families and contributing to our communities.
Though this story is my own I imagine that it’s familiar to most of you; and so our organization is comprised of people and families that willfully accept the burden of self-governance. We know that a people without self-determination are like so many cattle afield. They are owned, possessing neither rights nor privileges. Likewise, we recognize that our duty to preserve our Constitution cannot be carried out if we are uninformed concerning our country. We have all seen the direction that our country has been progressing on at an ever-quickening pace. It is without question that our government is no longer one that is ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. The historians among us will confirm that none of us have ever lived in the country that our founders intended for us to inherit. Since long before we were born the effort to undermine, nullify, and render our Constitution void has been well under-way. Yet in the past two decades this ignoble war has been waged against us so openly and shamelessly that even people who are apolitical are suddenly very concerned with what’s going on behind the closed doors of government.
While the path of our country is on conjures up a whole host of emotions, it gives us hope that each day more people are paying attention to what’s happening. Many believe that it is precisely for this reason that our right to own firearms is being restricted from all sides with a zeal never before seen. Indeed, in many places around the country knives, bows and even hammers have become highly regulated items, if not contraband. Sadly, it is in these areas where the Second Amendment has been nullified that we see the highest rates of crime including murder, and the victimization of women and children. In states and municipalities that still “allow” for the private ownership of firearms there exists ‘victim disarmament zones’ otherwise known as ‘gun-free zones’ and similarly it is precisely in these locations that we see disturbed individuals flocking to in order to perpetrate the mass killings that are cited as the reasons for further disarmament of innocent, law-abiding people.
I am a husband and a father and quite frankly I will not allow my right to secure the safety of my family to be restricted, nor do I intend to stand silent as our other rights are continuously infringed upon by those that exempt themselves from the laws that they write for us.
Over the course of the past few years the relative safe-haven of my state has been encroached upon by anti-Constitutionalists to the degree that writing and talking about what needs to be done no longer sufficed and I began looking for something more to do. The question was never whether or not I should get involved but rather how to get involved. It was late in September and I was just sitting down to take off my boots after work, when my oldest boy asked me if I had heard about the upcoming “armed march at the Alamo”. I think he intended to surprise & impress me with how much he was ‘in the loop’, and surprise me he did. I’d been so busy putting in twenty hours a day or more in the oilfield that I hadn’t heard a thing about it. I guess the opportunity to specify the difference between an “Open Carry rally” and “armed march” had never presented itself so once I had found what was being planned for the “Come and Take It San Antonio” event I explained it to him and made plans to attend. Unfortunately for me, the work in the West Texas oilfields stops for no man and I wasn’t able to make it. In the days that followed I found out that this was being hailed as the first group demonstration at the Alamo since the battle that turned that small building into an historical icon. As a proud Texan and an ardent defender of the Constitution it was particularly painful to have missed such an historic and meaningful event. Over the next couple of weeks I felt a type of regret that was similar to the blow I received when my enlistment into the military ended after only a few days and I was simultaneously diagnosed with Lupus. In the early hours of October 29th as I was switching on the coffee pot I was hit with a certainty that it was not simply a desire, but rather a need to start an Open Carry group in my hometown. For the rest of that day it was all I could think about. Some of it was nervousness, some of it was an invigorating drive but more present than any other thought was the overwhelming certainty that this would become the singular, most powerful action that I had yet taken to ensure that I do everything I can to help remake our country into a Constitutionally adherent one before passing it on to my children. When I got home that night I told my wife what I was planning and asked her to join hands with me and to help me make it happen.
It’s been less than two months since we started CATI Midland/Odessa. We’ve established a mutually respectful relationship with our local police department and tomorrow we’ll be spreading the word about our organization’s presence and purpose on a local AM radio show called The Morning Drive. This past Sunday the front page of the local paper featured a picture of my wife and me ordering coffee in a local coffee shop with rifles on our backs and on Monday morning the AM stations were buzzing about gun rights and Open Carry. At the same time the newspaper was posting pictures on Facebook showing my wife and me braving 19 degree temperatures with our Gonzales flag and rifles on our backs. Two hours later our membership had nearly doubled. We held two walks that Saturday; on the first walk, a newspaper photographer found the two of us and asked a few questions while taking the pictures. A few hours later we met up with one of our founding members and a recent mayoral candidate and we were also joined by the newspaper photographer. Only this time instead of a camera he was carrying a Remington 700.
This Saturday we will be holding our fourth walk and certainly our biggest one yet. It occurs to me how fortunate we’ve been and how much we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time. I don’t have the words to describe how great it feels to be making a difference and to have a hand in shaping history. We’ve done so much in the past few weeks that while the time has flown by, it somehow seems like we’ve been doing this for years and I feel like a new man. As Stephanie and I were reviewing the analytics on our Youtube channel last night, we were amazed at how popular Saturday’s video was. Less than 6% of our views were from the link to our group on the newspapers Facebook and we’ve received views from Germany, Mexico, and a couple of other foreign countries. The look of joy and pride in my wife’s eyes was unlike any I’d ever seen before and I will never forget it. I’m eagerly looking forward to being joined by our sons in the future and I’m proud to know that preservation of Freedom is quickly becoming one our family traditions. It’s exciting to imagine what great things our boys will be inspired to do in their adulthood because of what they’re learning now.
If you have considered, or are considering taking part in an Open Carry walk either with a group or even as an individual, then you know in your heart how important and worthwhile it is. I urge you to indulge your Liberty-loving nature. Get in contact with a person or group like Come and Take It America that can help you make the necessary preparations and show you what steps to take. Stand with us and with our forefathers so that you too may proudly bear the title of Patriot.
James Franklin – CATI Midland/Odessa