Texas lawmaker files bill to ban the display of firearms at public demonstrations

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bill filed in the Texas House would ban the display of firearms at public demonstrations, creating a misdemeanor charge.

State Rep. Vikki Goodwin, an Austin Democrat, filed the bill in response to threats of violence at the Texas Capitol in the run-up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday.

The Texas Capitol grounds remain closed through Wednesday after the Texas Dept. of Public Safety warned of violent extremists intending to demonstrate at the Texas Capitol, where it is legal for licensed-to-carry individuals to possess firearms.

“I believe strongly in the First Amendment rights of citizens to exercise their freedom of speech and to petition their government,” Goodwin said in a statement. “But the US Constitution states clearly that the people have the right to assemble ‘peaceably.’ If the threat of protesters carrying guns can shut down the Texas State Capitol for nearly a week, then we need to do more to ensure that such demonstrations remain nonviolent.”

The bill would ban the display of firearms within 500 feet of a demonstration in a public place. Peace officers, members of the armed forces, and uniformed security officers would be exempt from the law.

Goodwin’s bill likely faces opposition from the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature.

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