TEMPLE, TX - In anticipation of a new law to be passed and enacted in 2015 expanding gun rights in Texas to include the open carry of modern handguns, gun rights activist organization Come and Take It Texas (CATI) has joined forces with Belton/Temple based Central Texas Militia (CTM) to provide a series of open carry courses for Texans who wish to enjoy their new-found liberty in a safe and effective manner. CATI will host the training while CTM will provide range safety officers and assistant instructors for the events.
Veteran Texas peace officer JR Ryan heads up the training as the primary instructor, giving average citizens a chance to learn how to open carry like a pro, and will focus his training primarily on weapon awareness, retention, how to interact with law enforcement, and self-defense in close quarters confrontations. "Someone who has never open carried a weapon has not had the 'real' threat of their weapon being easily accessible to others before," said Ryan. "It is imperative that anyone open carrying a weapon have training in weapon retention. This way, they have an idea what to do in that situation, and do not have to 'learn on the fly' if it were to happen to them."
The training is meant to head off criticism from both sides of the gun rights debate, that average citizens are not properly suited to openly carry firearms, including the often repeated strawman argument that open carry could make people automatic targets for criminals. To Ryan, this represents a crucial teachable moment for gun rights activists. "The critical message that I want to get out there with this training is that when someone attempts to take your weapon it becomes a fight for your life." For this reason, martial disciplines including arm traps and throws, are a central focus of the training.
However, open carriers are cautioned not to think of their guns as some sort of talisman that grants complete safety by virtue of its being worn, and are reminded that assuming the responsibility of wearing arms demands careful consideration of the risks involved, and an increased level of proficiency and heightened situational awareness.
Part of the training intended to drive this message home involves a 21-foot "sprint" scenario, in which an attacker with a simulated knife closes on the trainee who must attempt to draw before he is overtaken. It is expected that most people, especially using holsters with additional levels of retention, will not be able to effectively employ the weapon while being charged from that distance, and therefore must practice increased vigilance as well as alternative defense and evasion techniques.
Trainees will also be taught that the pistol is not necessarily their only defensive option. As assistant instructor B. McLoughlin of Central Texas Militia explains, "Some situations might not require that level of violence or the gun could have a failure caused from the confrontation or accessing. Then you would resort to other means of defense. Hands, impact objects, knives." McLoughlin is a military veteran who studies and teaches close-quarters combatives, as well as advanced stress shooting techniques.
Some form of open carry legislation, whether licensed or constitutional carry, is expected to pass the Texas legislature this year, and Governor Abbott has promised to sign it. Despite concerns raised from conceealed carry supporters, including recent comments from former Governor Rick Perry questioning the safety and effectiveness of allowing ordinary citizens to open carry, CATI and CTM remain confident that once seeing people openly armed becomes the norm, crime will fall and police relations with the community will become less tense. As McLoughlin explains, "the thought of a firearm being a taboo weapon will change to it now being a tool. Something that you bring. Just like jumper cables or a wallet."
"I see the legislation getting passed," says Ryan, "and I for one support it wholeheartedly. I think it ought to be constitutional carry, but I have a sinking feeling that it will get passed as licensed open carry.... a privilege, not a right. That being said, once it is the norm, I do not see it being a hindrance to law enforcement, and being a positive thing as concealed carry has been."
The training is set to begin in late March, and will be open to anyone who wishes to participate. Those interested in participating are encouraged to contact CATI or CTM for more information. The forthcoming training events will be announced on both organizations' public Facebook pages at www.facebook.com/catitx and www.facebook.com/groups/CentralTexasMilitia later this month.