Taking Aim Over 'Open Carry' Laws

ABC News' Byron Pitts reports on the controversial Texas group pushing for the open carrying of guns.
4:36 | 07/06/14

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Transcript for Taking Aim Over 'Open Carry' Laws
Back with our "Closer look." States are often called the laboratories of democracy, and this week we're seeing that in action. Washington state's experiment with legalized marijuana begins on Tuesday. We'll get to that in a moment, but first to Georgia where one of the widest reaching gun laws in the country went into effect less than a week ago. Nicknamed the guns everywhere law by critics, it allows licensed owners to carry firearms into public places like bars, churches, schools and some government buildings, but a controversial group in Texas is calling for much more, pushing for the open carry of weapons anywhere. Byron Pitts traveled to San Antonio and brings us this "Closer look." Going to do a little open carry at chili's, guys. Reporter: The movement started in Texas. Gun owners carrying long guns like ar-15s in public places catching many by surprise from critics -- You're coming in here. Yes. You're a dumb -- Reporter: To supporters. If a bad guy comes, there's a lot of good guys here to protect me. Reporter: Causing panic in some communities. 911, what's your emergency? Looks like I see four white men walking toward the jack in the box with assault rifles. Reporter: And quickly becoming an easy punch line for late night comics. We're here. We've got gear. Get used to it. You guys aren't just firearm enthusiasts, you're ammo-sexuals. Reporter: But for die-hard supporters this is no joking matter, rather it's as serious as the U.S. Constitution. This is probably the safest corner in San Antonio right now. Reporter: That is C.J. Grisham, the man who started open carry. A master sergeant in the U.S. Army a few months from retirement. This is sort of my around the house ar-15. I've never heard it phrased that way. My around the house ar-15? Reporter: He proudly showed us the arsenal he keeps at home in his bedroom closet all loaded, his, his wife's and their children's. Grisham says he went from gun enthusiast to gun rights advocate after this confrontation caught on the police officer's dashboard camera. I was arrested last year. My son and I were going on a hike. Reporter: Grisham says he brought along that rifle strapped across his chest to protect them from wild animals. About halfway through our hike, a police officer approached. Some reason why you have this? Because I can. Reporter: Since carrying a rifle is legal even without a license in Texas, Grisham believes what happened next was illegal. Hey, don't disarm me, man. And at that point he pulled his gun, stuck it to my head and threw me in the car. How long are you keeping me in jail for? Let's see. Reporter: That video went viral. A national movement was born. Not just the right to carry a long gun openly in public but handgun, as well. That's the bottom line for you, the right to openly carry a pistol. Right, and, you know, once we get that, people aren't going to be walking around with rifles and you probably won't even see a bunch of people walking around with pistols but we should have that opportunity. Reporter: The open carry movement's chief adversary is a group called mothers demand action for gun sense in America founded by Shannon Watts, a stay-at-home mom. Mom from Indiana. If we use our wallets and we use our votes, we can effect real change. Reporter: Her group pressured big name store chains like Starbucks, chipotle, chili's and jack in the box to ask their customers to leave their guns at home. Just this week, retail giant target weighed in writing, "We respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to target, even in communities where it's permitted by law." They listen to us when we said we don't want loaded assault weapons around our children when we're shopping. Reporter: Nearly every week C.J. Grisham and his wife Emily and often their 12-year-old and 16-year-old hit the road to attend open carry marches across Texas. Ah, our guns are kissing. Ah. Reporter: One weekend we rode along to a rally in San Antonio. Here are people with guns, and they're not shooting up a school. They're not shooting up a business or robbing a bank. There are folks in the country who you are scaring. I realize there are people that have what I call an irrational fear of guns. Reporter: For those that support him nationwide, the battle for open carry is far from over. It's just beginning. For "This week," Byron Pitts, ABC news, San Antonio. Our thanks to Byron. "The Dallas morning news" reports this weekend that Grisham's group recently stopped carrying long guns into businesses to bring the focus back to open carry of handguns.

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