Wendy Davis, seeking to become the first Democratic governor in Texas since 1995, favors the rights of Texans to carry handguns openly, a policy that failed to pass the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature last year.
“Any Republican who hasn’t come out for open carry is now to the left of Wendy Davis,” said Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of Empower Texans, an Austin group that grades lawmakers’ voting patterns and favors free-market principles. “On what planet does that make sense?”
Davis, responding to an Associated Press questionnaire, said licensing for “open carry” should track the state’s policies on concealed handguns. “This should help ensure that only mentally stable, law abiding citizens may carry whether concealed or open,” Davis said in the statement, which was provided by her campaign office.
A bill to permit open carry of handguns stalled in the Texas House last year. No bill was filed in the Senate, where Davis serves.
State Republican candidates often make support for gun rights a staple of their campaigns, though Texas is among only five states that specifically ban public display of handguns.
“We aren’t interested in campaign promises, we want action,” said Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, which promotes gunowners’ rights.
The Texas Democratic Party doesn’t agree with Davis.
“We have also always supported common-sense firearm regulations that ensure public safety. In our opinion, “open-carry” does not meet that threshold, spokesman Emmanuel Garcia said in an e-mailed statement. “There is little to no public safety justification for open carry.”
Davis is expected to face Attorney General Greg Abbott, in the November election to succeed the retiring Rick Perry as governor of the second-most populous state. Both face opponents in the March 4 primary.