The Associated Press reports that State Senator Wendy Davis, the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor, has announced her support for “Open Carry,” the idea of carrying an uncovered handgun on your hip, in full public view. As the Press notes, this recent lurch to the right puts her on similar ground to Attorney General Greg Abbott, the likely Republican nominee for Governor, on the issue.
Davis did qualify her remarks by noting that training requirements, background checks and other restrictions upon gun ownership and use would still be both feasible and needed. She also reiterated a belief that private-property owners should decide what type of guns should be allowed on their properties. If this sounds familiar, it sure is. The idea of private-property rights running roughshod over Second Amendment rights has actually been found in the Republican primaries, notably with Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
For this new revelation, Davis has received attacks from all sides. A local gun control organization roundly criticized her for being complicit in the rise of what they called a “strange” new trend. The NRA, as well as Greg Abbott’s campaign, also lambasted Davis’ change of heart as too little, too late.
Other figures on the left were also not shy about their disdain towards the Gubernatorial nominee. The Texas Democratic Party expressed their indignation at the news, noting that “There is little or no public safety justification for open carry.” State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, was leveled in her disagreements with Davis, though she did tell Evan Smith this morning that she unequivocally opposes open carry.
This issue has the capacity to cause two substantial shifts in politics. First, open carry will be thrust into the mainstream. As one conservative blogger notes, Republicans far and wide will be flocking to the right on this issue out of fear of being perceived more liberal than Wendy Davis on the topic. No longer will the issue be even a topic for debate among Republicans. Among the Democratic slate, the result will be more nuanced, though definitely still noticed. Some candidates with significantly more elastic foundations on issues, such as David Alameel, may easily take up the cause. As we have already seen, not all Democrats will do this, the most recent of which being Van de Putte.
The second side-effect of this announcement is to bring up other gun issues. “Guns on Campus,” that is CHL holders being able to bring their weapons onto a college campus, will be sure to make an appearance. As a newly minted UT student, if Davis throws caution to the wind on this issue, it will especially irk me and many others. No matter what Davis nor her consultants may think, it is impossible for a Democrat to play catchup with a Texas Republican on this issue.
UPDATE: Dos Centavos has more.