National Rifle Association News defended the conduct of fringe gun group Open Carry Texas (OCT) after it intimidated four members of the gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action (MDA) by displaying assault weapons as the four members met at a Dallas-area restaurant.
While MDA founder Shannon Watts said the MDA members and other restaurant patrons were “terrified” by the sight of a group of about 40 OCT members milling around the restaurant parking lot, NRA News host Cam Edwards said there was “no evidence” OCT engaged in intimidation.
Edwards' comments on the controversy came during a November 12 segment on Cam & Company that featured National Review Online writer Charles C.W. Cooke, who wrote a series of articles about the OCT protest that attempted to call into doubt MDA's claims that they felt intimidated by the armed protesters.
Cooke claimed on NRA News that OCT “didn't interact at all, at least offensively, with Moms Demand Action” and later added that OCT had “absolutely every right to do what they did” even if “it's not always helpful to walk around with rifles when you have somebody who's going to go on NBC and lie and lie and lie about you” -- apparently referring to Watts.
According to Edwards, members of OCT “were there in a group, they were posing in pictures. Clearly, they were there to make a political point, and I don't know how you can see that otherwise, I really don't.”
He also suggested that coverage of the protest was colored by media bias against gun owners, stating, “We as gun owners, who are activists, have to understand that anything you do will likely be portrayed in the worst light possible by, you know, any media outlets. There is a great desire to make gun owners look as bad as possible.”
While right-wing media and the NRA have attempted to excuse OCT's actions -- it is apparently stupefying to them that a group that openly displays guns at political protests could not be intimidating in its own right -- the group has an ugly history of anti-law enforcement animus and flirtation with calls for violence against the government.
During an October 19 OCT rally held at The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, speakers suggested that violence may be needed to overthrow a tyrannical government. Mike Vanderboegh -- a well-known insurrectionist whose anti-government views inspired a domestic terrorism plot -- told the crowd, “When democracy turns to tyranny, the armed citizenry still gets to vote.” At an October 26 protest at the Texas Capitol, after two OCT supporters were handcuffed by police who believed they broke the law by openly carrying handguns, an agitated crowd screamed obscenities and insults at law enforcement officers.