Guns — and a pair of breasts — were on display Friday afternoon as pro-gun activists and a lone counter protester faced off in crowded downtown Austin hours before President Barack Obama’s visit.
About a half dozen supporters of Open Carry Texas handed out pamphlets as they walked from the Texas Capitol to the Austin Convention Center — about a mile away from Long Center for the Performing Arts where Obama was slated to speak at a South by Southwest event.
CJ Grisham, head of Open Carry Texas, said that the president’s visit had nothing to do with the group’s annual event at SXSW. The demonstration is intended to call festival participants’ attention to new state laws that now permit concealed handguns on public university campuses and openly carrying holstered handguns.
“Open carry is legal. We hope to educate what it really means and what it really looks like. We want people to see that there’s really nothing to fear in a guy that’s got a holstered handgun,” Grisham said, with his hand on a historic replica of a black powder revolver. He also joked that Obama “liked what we were doing so much the last two years that he wanted to come and watch us as well.”
While the event was supposed to be low key compared to previous marches by the group, arguments between Grisham and a bare-breasted anti-gun activist drew the stares of onlookers and giggles from groups of grade-school children visiting the Capitol.
“I saw your guy threaten to shoot the president,” the woman told Grisham. The woman whose breasts were exposed during the entire march did not want to be identified because she said she feared retaliation.
The woman’s comments were in reference to a post on Open Carry Texas’ Facebook page Thursday, which prompted the attention of the U.S. Secret Service and condemnation from Grisham. The post, which read, “If you get a clear shot, please fire for effect!” has since been deleted.
“The guy is banned from our organization,” Grisham told the woman. He also accused the poster of being an anti-gun Internet troll.