Texas gun advocates prepare for battle in legislature

There's a call to arms in Texas.

Or at least a call to let Texans carry their guns — whether concealed or out in the open — at colleges and pretty much anywhere else they'd like in this state.

Less than two months before the Texas Legislature reconvenes in January, gun advocates are already asking state lawmakers for proposals geared to give gun owners more freedom.

"In Texas, there's no viable reason why Texans are denied their rights the way they are," said John Pierce, co-founder and spokesman of, a group championing expanded gun rights nationwide. "We're talking about a tradition and history of rugged individualism that Texas embodies.

"For them to be off mainstream America with this, it's a shame."

Several gun bills have already been filed, including measures to allow guns at colleges, temporarily exempt guns and ammunition from sales taxes and exempt guns, ammunition and gun parts made in Texas from federal regulation.

Pierce said there's no bill filed yet to make Texas an open-carry state, allowing gun owners to freely and openly carry firearms wherever they go. But he and others who could not find lawmakers to file such a measure in 2009 are working to change that.

"I'm very optimistic," Pierce said. "I am optimistic that even if it doesn't happen in 2011, it will happen in 2013 or 2015."

Brian Malte said he hopes that Pierce is wrong. He said he and others at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence say they are keeping an eye on gun-related bills in Texas.

"We expected to see a slew of pro-gun bills coming down the pike," said Malte, the group's director of state legislation. "But the bills are a bit extreme. ... We'll do our best to derail all of them."

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