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The masked gunman paces in front of the government building wearing black coveralls and a white ski mask. A large man, he towers over the other armed supporters waiting patiently for their leader to determine their next move. He looks like he just climbed out of an episode of America’s Most Wanted to unload violence on the masses.

Their normal targets are restaurants, retail shops, and traffic stops. Arriving in groups of two to a dozen, they walk into establishments with weapons loaded, frightening employees and patrons and leading several businesses to ban them from entering.

On this cold Saturday afternoon, Open Carry Tarrant County members have chosen Arlington City Hall for attention. The building is closed on the weekends, but that doesn’t matter. They plan to show city officials that their group has had enough. The group’s leader tells news reporters that he expects more than a hundred armed individuals to arrive at any minute, if the weather doesn’t keep them away.

Curly's-rectangle

Kory Watkins, coordinator of Open Carry Tarrant County, had posted a video message to Arlington officials and police officers on Dec. 28, after one of his members was arrested for interfering with a police officer’s duties: “You disobey the oath that you took, and you kidnap and harass citizens who are well within their rights, and this is what you get: pissed-off patriots. And we ain’t going anywhere.”

It’s a battle that has raged for nearly a year between city leaders and the local Open Carry group who’ve designated themselves the watchdogs of the police. The statewide Open Carry organization says Watkins and his group aren’t “nuts” or “loons.” With each passing month, the gun advocates are becoming more aggressive, confronting police with tactics seemingly designed to provoke a response for the group’s YouTube viewers.

Next, they say, they’re heading to the front lawn of the Texas Capitol in support of HB 195, the Texas Constitutional Carry Act of 2015, one of several open-carry bills to be considered by the Texas Legislature, which went into session on Tuesday.

“All of this frustration has been building for a while,” said Robert Harris, who ran last year as a Libertarian candidate for the  Texas House. He’s been taking pictures of the gun advocates in front of city hall for his trip to Austin at the end of the month. The frustration, he said, comes from “all the threats of taking away guns and violating civil liberties, like trying to pass bans on large [ammunition] magazines, which is ridiculous.” Arlington officials, of course, have nothing to do with laws regarding the size of ammo clips.

This “frustration,” Harris said, is what has led Open Carry Tarrant County members to interfere with police investigations and to suggest overthrowing the government. Maybe it even played a role in the recent murder in Arlington of a father and daughter.

“Have you ever thought we might just need to organize a very large group of our own people, like 200 from each state, so we can march armed to D.C., take over the city, arrest the bankers, crooked politicians and restore liberty here in our country?” Watkins said in a posting on Facebook. He later claimed the quote was taken out of context.

Harris doesn’t believe the gun advocates’ actions are becoming more extreme, although he acknowledged that some of the group’s recent behavior may not be helping their cause.

But Open Carry Tarrant County’s extremism has led other gun advocates like the National Rifle Association to call them “weird,” “scary,” “counter-productive” and “downright foolish.”

“Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners,” wrote officials at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action when gun advocates began openly carrying their weapons into businesses. “That’s not the Texas way. And that’s certainly not the NRA way.”

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In the YouTube video, Jacob Cordova looked almost excited as he turned and lifted his shirt, revealing his pistol to Arlington police officers who were initiating a traffic stop. It was a cold December night, and the open-carry supporter had been chasing police for several months with Watkins, his partner in cop-watching. Police said the two had been taunting officers by using a bullhorn to shout obscenities at them, a tactic perfected by the Black Panthers during the civil rights movement.

For months before that, under the aegis of the Tarrant County Peaceful Streets Projects, Cordova and Watkins had been spending their nights listening to police scanners while roaming the streets in search of police officers to film. They were upset at their treatment by Arlington police when they conducted open-carry walks, according to a source inside their group. So they decided to hold police accountable by filming them performing their duties.

Neither Watkins, Cordova, nor several other cop-watchers that night felt it prudent to leave their weapons at home. It’s a free country, and they had the right under Texas law to carry their guns, regardless of how uneasy it made officers and crime victims feel.

At first, police didn’t know how to handle the armed cop-watchers. They weren’t used to having people carrying weapons while recording them at the scene of traffic stops and service calls, trying to engage them in dialogue, or following them as they conducted their nightly patrols.

“They have become bolder and more confrontational,” Assistant Police Chief Leland Strickland wrote in a memo in July. “Group members have increasingly encroached upon officers at scenes of law- enforcement activity.”

Strickland warned officers not to assume that the local armed cop-watchers are harmless. He said officers across the nation have been attacked by people associated with such groups.

He further recommended that officers call for backup when armed observers appeared at a scene, notify supervisors, and consider assigning one officer to answer questions and provide officer identification information. He also mentioned having officers themselves record the encounters, just as the observers were doing.

At first police seemed to heed Strickland’s recommendations, but then in August, officers began arresting cop- watchers, whose numbers were growing. Officers said the observers were not listening when they were told to stand back from the crime scenes.

On numerous occasions, police officials later said, cop-watchers responded to officers’ instructions by shouting, “Arrest me!” and “It’s legal to carry!” before slipping into a barrage of obscenities.

In early September, Watkins, his wife Janie Lucero, and Joseph Tye were arrested for interfering with police in the performance of their duties. According to police reports, the three were armed and ignoring officers’ commands. Police also charged Watkins and Lucero with obstructing the highway and Tye with failure to identify himself.

“An officer has to be able to do the job that the community has asked them to do,” Chief Will Johnson told reporters after the arrests.

The confrontations between cop- watchers and Arlington police seemed inevitable. Officers began requesting instructions in their start-of-shift briefings on how to handle such groups, according to an internal e-mail.

Lt. Donald Fulbright, commander of the department’s South Patrol Division, told officers in September to give clear, specific directions when telling individuals where they want them to go and why.

“If we lose our temper and act unprofessionally, then we are only making the situation worse,” Fulbright wrote.

But the situation was already worsening as Open Carry supporters shed their peaceful protest image and became armed, cursing nuisances begging police to take them to jail.

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51 COMMENTS

  1. There’s a video making the rounds today of Kory Watkins and a bunch of the open carry thugs making the rounds of offices in the capital threatening people. Had to be asked to leave some offices, and they acted like junior high jerks. Very unpleasant people.

  2. Wasn’t there a recent episode of lethal domestic violence where an Arlington “Open Carry” female( gang member?) killed her husband and step daughter just because the husband threatened to divorce her? These people belong in an asylum for the criminally insane.

    • These people are terrorists, plain and simple. The Open Carry movement is not about protecting American’s rights. It is about depowering legitimate authority in anticipation of a violent overthrow of the government and Open Carry Tarrant County’s lack of respect for police officers and trained military personnel is proof of that.

  3. I have witnessed these half-wits, into their act, on four different occasions. Absolutely, clearly, every knuckle-head participating in these half-witted escapades are pure Repugs…..to the bone….guaranteed. Two dollars will get you five if you think not. What do these people eat? My bird-dog Roxy is way smarter than these babboons. I’m pretty sure one of the goofiest acting ones was one of those Startle-Gram reporters that continue bothering the decent people who visit this site. I’m praying for them.

  4. Watkins and his bunch are do nothing but causing problems for those of us who are legal, sensible and decent gun owners and carriers. If Watkins brains were gunpowder, their wouldn’t be enough to blow his nose!

  5. You’re railing against a protected right. If you replace open carry with political speech or voting you can clearly see how absurd your protestations are.

    • Tom is railing against hammer-headed half-wits, not protected rights. You’re the one who needs to get it right. I will add the obvious observation that the loons pulling this cheap, childish crap are clearly from the butt-scratching, racist, half-wit wing of the Repug party (not a big secret but unpleasent to admit). You common greed-head Repugs are ready to french kiss the dip-sticks around election time, but you prefer them to get lost when you are not rewared by their fifth-grade behavior and beliefs. Poor babies…boo hooo hoo.

  6. I firmly believe in our right to carry a weapon legally and open. I differ with the methods these people are using to provoke people, not just cops. I am a Marine Vietnam vet, assault rifles have their uses, but there is absolutely no need to go to Wendy’s with an M16 or some derivative. Having someone approach my car with a slung rifle makes my PTSD kick in. I don’t believe these people have thought this approach out.

    If they are approached by a bad guy with a handgun they will find that unslinging a rifle, aiming and getting off a shot will be long after someone with a Glock has put a few rounds through them.

    I personally don’t care for the Arlington cops, too many bald bullies, but I actually take their side in this. I think the demonstrators are making more enemies than helping any ’cause’.

    • There are many things that can trigger a PTSD episode, are you saying that we should outlaw them all? Children playing in the streets triggers my PTSD from Iraq, so maybe we should outlaw children playing?

      • I agree about ‘Stressers’ affecting ones PTSD but if kids set yours off perhaps you should cloister yourself or increase your Xanax. Someone approaching my car or entering a restaurant with an assault rifle is different than a group of kids or a kid setting you off.
        I wish you well dealing with your PTSD, I, in no way, am making light of it but let’s be realistic a group of people trying to make a point by being confrontational is in fact avoidable. Kids aren’t.

        • I cannot imagine how difficult it is to deal with PTSD and I too wish YOU well with that struggle. I also totally agree that independent random citizens– whose gun safety qualifications are unknown —in busy commercial shopping/restaurant venues or on street corners with large intimidating weapons, totally stress ordinary people out. It comes with a degree of emotional upset to any cautious person going about their usual routine. My fear is that a weapon is seized by a thug who proceeds to shoot up McDonalds or Macys, or a gun goes off accidentally wounding or killing an innocent bystander. These people are narcissists with “me first” personality disorders. Their need to show of their big “bang-bang” is as sicko as a pervert who has to expose himself to innocent women or school kids, weird and inappropriate behavior, indeed.

  7. Here is the problem:

    The law violates the constitution. These legislators are lucky these people are only expressing their frustration because some hotheads may take action. Such actions would take this to a whole different level. Gun owners are getting pissed at more than just bad laws regarding guns; they know the government has been violating a variety of rigths with impunity for some time now.

    Be happy they only want to talk, because this could go south very, very quickly if a hardline police chief decides to crack down. We do not need another confrontation similar to that at the Bundy Ranch. That would have gone badly for the onsite agents and likely very badly politically in Congress.

    We need honest political dialogue, but it’s not happening. For example, many people spent huge amounts of money on concealed carry legislation for many years before the courts forced the issue. In every instance, legislators lied about their intent and buried the bill. This frustrated Illinois gun owners to no end for years. This has moved to Washington state and it’s not a good thing.

    I hope everyone calms down, but Washington gun owners may not have the patience for it.

  8. I agree that these folks are way over the top in offensiveness, but with apparently rare exception, they’re nonviolent. The same cannot be said of the Ferguson and Occupy protesters, but it’ll be a cold day in hell when Fort Worth Weekly does an article critical of them.

    • Everyone agrees the local Tea-Bagging, attention-craving loons are non-violent in their half-witted behavior thus far,( your deep thinking tribe elected one of those heros Governor a short while back), but you are not suggesting to equate this simple arrogence & bone stupidity to a grown-up, self-entitled, Peckerwood child killer of a hands-helt-up, surrendering, shop-lifter of cigars…are you??? You Startle-Gram dips need serious council. Your reasoning is shameful…what’s new here?

      • Benny, are you aware the Grand Jury released their report regarding the Ferguson shooting? Please read that and then comment, as you appear to be ignorant of the facts.

        • Frank, are you aware the Grand Jury was composed of 100% Repugs and that two of them were Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers? Are you aware that the Southern Baptist Convention’s basis and reason for exixtence was to insist that Negroid humans were in fact inhuman ( that they lacked a God-given soul ) up until they retracted that belief in the1980’s with a one sentence apology? Did you know Repug Texas textbook pickers censure textbooks or refuse them? Ignorant of facts? Pull your head out. Good grief. Grow up.

      • – “Everyone agrees the local Tea-Bagging…”

        What is it with you dopes and your reliance on childish sexual epithets?

        • Which sexual epithet would that be, O Wise Holy One? You got your feeble brain in gear??? Dopes, childish? Stupid is as stupid does….right? Where do they find you flakes? What do you eat? Your lighs turned on???

          • Monk…you alright??? How old are you??? Ask the next tea-bagging, peckerwood, knuckle-head, greed-head, Republican-voting , anti-gay, anti- feminist, anti-civil rights, butt-scratching, self-satisfied, Bible thumping, half-wit what a Repug is? Again….how old are you. You supposed to still be up at 9:30? Are you gay? I’m a Democrat, so if you’re gay, then we’re both minorities here in cowtown. We should be buddies. Maybe you’re just rich? Get a grip kid. Good luck to you.

  9. Once again the liberal media are making a mountain out of a molehill. Guess that is why they didn’t post the link to the video Mr Watkins recorded. In the video you can tell the immense amount of mutual respect and calm atmosphere. Why anyone would object to this kind of behavior is beyond me. See for yourself.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYqSP4xoP5U

  10. We don’t need protection from 99% of the the people, just the 1% that are the problem. In Texas 125 years ago the lawmaker/cowboys decided that open carry (pistols) was a problem. What did they know that we have forgotten? Maybe they had too many encounters like this one with Tarrant County Open Carry in the Austin statehouse.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYqSP4xoP5U

    • That’s a scrappy argument, Mark, because if you use Texas of 125 years ago as your guidepost, then you would have to agree with Jim Crow laws.

  11. Don’t be a bed-wetting pantywaist. Grow a backbone and butch up.

    These guys are no danger to you, only to bad actors who would attempt to attack them.

    Metrosexual don’t make it.

    • Re: “These guys are no danger”

      Tell that to Open Carry Arlington gun activist Veronica Dunnachie’s dead husband and step daughter, killed as recently as December 2014, by local gun slinging Open Carry activist Veronica allegedly because her unarmed husband was about to divorce her. These people are bullying nuts with lethal weapons.

  12. These guys are offensive even to a two-week old dead skunk. What do you eat? You crackers are really precious. Live with it (and the half-wits) Repugs.

  13. Benny: You are a piece of work. Look at all the names you’ve spewed out during this comment string: half-wits … knuckle-head … Repugs … babboons … hammer-headed half-wits … loons … butt-scratching, racist, half-wit wing of the Repug party … greed-head Repugs … dip-sticks … Tea-Bagging, attention-craving loons … Peckerwood child killer …

    If your name-calling were redacted, you wouldn’t be saying anything! My favorite is your old stand-by: What do you eat? I’m glad you’re a Lib. Conservatives wouldn’t have you.

  14. Stouty…I got your piece of work. I call them like I see them. Your beliefs, behavior, and odor are repulsive. You and your lay-about buddies, employed by the Star Telegram, infect the Weeklys pages weekly. Your actions and additudes are contemtible and childish. Have you no shame? Grow up. how old are you? I went to a casual KKK get-together in Upshur County, Tex. with a cousin (who was a Repug member of the low-life outfit) back in the early 1970’s. The rats gathered up at one of their members fishing camp on Caddo Lake. Quite a few half-wits brought their wives, dogs, and baby bigots. The Repug County Chair said Grace before we dined on fried cat-fish & hush-puppies & Pearl Beer. I got your conservative here swinging. You’re disgusting, get a decent life. Go away.

  15. Lol Benny, you are still wasting your time being a sheep, and bashing a group you have no knowledge about, funny how you stated other people who oppose your ideologies are childish yet you do the exact same thing, contradicting much? Keep living your mind as a close minded loser, maybe someday someone will literally punch sense into your minuscule head

    • Jesus said it was a good thing to oppose black-hearted snot-rags and jerk-offs. You Tea-Bagging nit-wits breaths stink. A fifth-grader knows a vile, self- entitled and cowardly half-wit when he reads or hears one. Household-variety, conservative Texans pray that the snuff-spitting, butt-scratching, pretend cow-boys would shut up and sit down. You’re a stupid person and dead wrong. I like sheep, Jesus did too. What’s wrong with you and sheep. You taking your meds?

  16. I didn’t notice it before and just now snapped, Mr. Anonyymous Startlegram flake…are you stupid enough to threaten me? Looks like it to me? Easy does it.

  17. If a person can safely and responsibly handle a weapon, the idea of open carry doesn’t bother me. I understand that weapons make people uncomfortable and or scared but comfort and fear alone should never be the reason to take someone else’s rights. I also think however, i do not agree with some of the methods used by protesters.

    • Josh, thanks for speaking up, Sir. You hit the nail directly on the head. IF is the key word…we are together on our reasoning. This issue is clear and simple. We can not, if you are honest, no way Jose, sort out the jerks, mentally disordered, and normal half-wits, from the competent, citizen squares. It’s impossibe, wish it was. You certainly can recognize that. If we could, I would be in line to sign up on open cary in front of you. I have caried a fire-arm all my life, since I was nineteen. I am seventy years old. I played poker every tuesday night for seven years with a Fort Worth policeman who should never have been allowed to carry even a night-stick. An elderly, stand-up, square, elderly gentleman was murdered, in his own home, by a Fort Worth policeman recently. The cop was, I assume, well intentioned, trained, supposed to be O.K., but he clearly was not O.K. We very clearly are foolish to give permission for squares, including me, to carry firearms. Foolish, childish, dumb, it’s dangerous for the squares and the law enforcement. No way is it necessary or needed. Clearly, one of the most cock-eyed suggestions of the century. If you have a brain and some life experience, you will recognize that it’s stupid and childish to insist on it. It is clearly impossible to sort out the incompetent fruit-loops….they are plentiful as Johnson Grass or fire-ants.. You see them on T.V. everyday. Pray about it, do what’s right. God bless you.

      • Another thing…..Speaking of your incompetent fruit-loops and , Startle-Gram reporters that don’t do much reporting, but lots of fifth-grade sky-larking….. just how many similar entitled, free-loading flakes do you figure are employed by the Fort Worth School Admenistration? Both outfit’s bone stupidity and self-satisfied arogence go together like ham and eggs. Have you read this weeks article in the Weekly concerning the tragic situation in our schools? Seen anything worthwhile in the Startle-Gram on this crisis or just fluff? Does anyone actually pay money for a Startle-Gram paper now-a-days? I don’t know anyone who does. What gives??? The rags printed over in ‘Big D’. Who pays the bills, the Koch boys???.

  18. I live very close to the open arms protesting that has been apparently happening in Arlington and this is the first time I have heard anything like this. It surprises me that people would go to such length in attitude in order to get their voices heard about open carry. I believe that the protesters are using the most frightening form of violence there is. I don’t believe that they realize the depth of their pursuit in making this topic public because a gun can cause a lot of damage in less than one second. So this type of protesting is not a responsible way of getting their point across. All they are doing is creating fear in unarmed bystanders and causing disruptions in law enforcement. So yes I am an advocate using your rights to exercise our firearms commandment, but I am not advocating for the irresponsible actions of someone to possibly harm our general public by using the saint in open arm carry.

    • Take a look at the fiifth-grade, attention seeking retards marching around like snuff-dipping peacocks…..you think these irresponsibile loons are what Texans really deserve? This deep-seated stupididy is legal.This is Texas and they are knuckle-head Repugs…ham and eggs it is. That’s what even the normal, grown up Texans are going to see in our playgrounds and churches if you people go for it. On the square, really, are you signing on to this idiocy? Think back and recall the pustule, fifth-grade jerk named Ted Nugent that our upcoming governor paid to draw a crowd for his campaign just prior to the recent election, Did you see them on T.V? Would you kindly dig them up on YOU TUBE and get back? The sacred right to bear arms was intended to countenance well regulated militias, not fifth grade level, unbalanced idiots. How smart does one need to be to get it? Get it right Repugs.

  19. Amen. Thanks kindly, Tom. I truly respect your thinking. If you are a Republican, let me tell you, you’re O.K. Having said that, if you are a Republican voter, would you consider standing up and saying so? Republicans call the shots most of the time in Texas nowdays and have done so for many years. I play poker frequently with a few Repub Fort Worth policemen and they certainly agree with you. I have an opinion, but being a liberal since before I was born, I don’t pull a lot of weight with the majority. Peace.

    • Benny, regarding your claim that the Second Amendment was intended to countenance a well-regulated militia and not the right of an indivual (not part of a militia) to bear arms, you’re wrong. The US Supreme Court said it does apply to the individual.

      • I don’t know the depth, or the amount, of mature desire you posess to grow up and discard your fifth-grade foolishness. I have read nothing, ever, from you or your lay-about, knuckle-headed Startlegram buddies of much value. I don’t predict much of anything that amounts to anything to spring from you. I don’t recall even one instance of a Tea-Bagging flake endorsing any rulings from our Supreme Court previously. What are you smoking, whose on first? Your lights turned on Bubba? You childish Tea-Bagging squirls give grown-ups heart burn. Get lost, good grief.

      • The Scalia majority opinion was not based on what the founders intended or meant. That is well known and published amongst Constitutional scholars. Scalia rendered a rogue, “activist” opinion. The founders would have him tarred and feathered if they could. The Second Amendment’s inclusion in the Bill of Rights had everything to do with appeasing Virginia to gain their ratification of those amendments and nothing whatsoever to do with individual rights to guns. You know nothing about the 2nd Amendment, its history, and even less about why it’s in the Constitution. Guns, in the 18th century were highly regulated as was gun powder, etc.

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