Three people were reportedly arrested on Friday for openly carrying Civil War-era pistols during a pro-gun protest outside the Texas Capitol. Gun rights activists tell TheBlaze the arrests were unlawful as it is legal in Texas to openly carry a pre-1899 antique firearm.
Terry Louis Holcomb, 44, identified as a Huntsville-area pastor, and Scott Douglas Smith, 50, a military veteran from San Antonio, and Gary Hayes, a quadriplegic, were reportedly arrested by state troopers in Austin and charged with disorderly conduct, which is defined, by law, as an action with a firearm “calculated to alarm.”
However, witnesses say the men, one of which was in a wheelchair, had their “black powder” pistols holstered and weren’t causing alarm in any way. More than a dozen other gun-rights activists openly carrying rifles walked free.
Under Texas law, a gun manufactured before 1899 isn’t even considered a “firearm,” therefore not subject to open carry laws:
(3) “Firearm” means any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use. Firearm does not include a firearm that may have, as an integral part, a folding knife blade or other characteristics of weapons made illegal by this chapter and that is:
(A) an antique or curio firearm manufactured before 1899; or
(B) a replica of an antique or curio firearm manufactured before 1899, but only if the replica does not use rim fire or center fire ammunition.
All three of the arrests were reportedly caught on video and uploaded on YouTube. In the first video, an individual presses police to clarify how the pro-gun activist was carrying his pistol (holstered) in a way “calculated to alarm.”
“What other manner can he carry it in not to calculate alarm?” a man asks. (Warning: Some strong language in videos below)
In the video below Texas DPS troopers arrest Gary Hayes, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair:
Open Carry Texas, the group behind the protest, is claiming the arrests were “illegal.”
A spokesman for Open Carry Texas, told TheBlaze that Holcomb and Smith are currently out on bond. Hayes, the quadriplegic, chose to remain in jail in protest. He also confirmed that all three men were carrying “pre-1899 black powder revolvers” when they were “illegally arrested.”
“All three are lawyer’d up and plan to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if need be,” he added.
The group was publicizing the arrests on Twitter late Friday:
The guys behind Open Carry Texas also tell TheBlaze they had similar issues with the San Antonio Police Department about a month ago. The group is planning “large armed gathering and protest,” titled “Come and Take It San Antonio,” in the city on Saturday, October 19.
“Over the past few months the San Antonio Police have shown their disregard for Texas law and the Constitution. They have harassed people exercising their rights that open carry rifles. We have come a long way in showing the public and police that gun owners are responsible,” the event’s description reads. “We refuse to go backwards in this cause. We will all meet in San Antonio to stand up in one of the most important challenges we have had to face.”
Open Carry Texas is also planning an additional open carry protest in response to the arrests in Austin on Friday. Though there is not a set date yet, that event will likely be held in November, a spokesman told TheBlaze on Saturday.
This story has been updated.