Update: About forty gun activists marched from the Capital and down Sixth Street today, many openly carrying black powder revolvers and rifles strapped across their backs. The rally occurred right in the middle of the South by Southwest festival.
“We’re trying to get open carry of hand guns passed," says Chris Way from Fort Hood. That’s be a lot easier than carrying an AR-15 over the street. Really all it is, is we don’t want the government in our lives and we don’t want telling me how to protect my family and my little one.”
Way attended the festival with his two-year-old son.
Currently, you can only open carry long gun and powder weapons in Texas.
The website Infowars said the march was in response to an anti-gun event at SXSW, but organizers say they aren’t protesting anything at the festival. Instead, organizers say the event just means more people will see them rally through downtown.
As seen in the comment thread below, the event has generated lots of discussion online. See a Storify timeline of reactions at the bottom of this post.
Original story (March 11): Gun activists are planning to march down Sixth Street Wednesday openly carrying black powder revolvers and long guns such as rifles.
"We actively engage in conversation with fellow Texans to educate them on our rights," says Justin Delosh with the Austin chapter of Come and Take it Texas.
They did a similar march last Saturday, prompting some stunned SXSW festival goers to ask, "Is this normal Texas?"
"You'd be surprised man. We get lots of people coming up wanting to take photos with us," he says. "It really sparks a lot of conversation."
Delosh says they tell people participating to practice "proper etiquette" when openly carrying a rifle. That means they have to make sure the gun is pointing up and down, so other people don't think it's pointed at them.
They also don't allow anyone to walk with a bullet in the chamber. Loaded magazines, however, are allowed.
"We’ve literally done hundreds of walks and you haven't heard about an incident yet, and that's due to the fact that we do practice safety when we're doing this," he said.
Delosh says they were asked to organize the Wednesday event by Infowars, the website affiliated with radio talk show host Alex Jones.
Infowars says the march is "in response to the anti-gun event" at SXSW, a panel last Saturday that discussed how to disrupt the gun lobby through social media. But Delosh insists they're not protesting anything at SXSW.
"That's not our objective. We go out and engage in conversation with people," he said. "I don't care what [SXSW] is doing at all."