In the wake of President Obama's efforts to take on gun violence, the head of the group Open Carry Texas told KERA News that the president "wants to make sure that more kids die by refusing to allow us to carry on the schools to protect our own kids."
In a wide-ranging interview, C.J. Grisham talked about the president's proposal, the arrival of open carry in Texas and campus carry, which allows license-holders to carry concealed weapons on public university campuses starting in August.
Grisham was a leader in the fight for the new open carry law that went into effect Jan. 1 in Texas. He also wants to go further, to what's known as constitutional carry -- allowing people to carry handguns without government licenses.
He spoke with KERA from his home in Temple. He refused to be interviewed in person at the station because KERA doesn't allow guns in its building.
Interview Highlights: C.J. Grisham …
… On why he won’t go to businesses that don’t allow guns:
“If I can't defend myself from a threat, I will not go there. I don't believe in gun-free zones. I don't believe that they deserve my money. Because quite frankly, there is not a single place in this country that is immune from criminal activity. And while it may be a rare instance in which that place is targeted, the fact of the matter is I don't want to be a victim.
"I will not go someplace that I can't defend myself and I can't defend my family. Unfortunately, the [KERA] studio is a gun-free zone. And even though I want to talk about gun rights, it's kind of hard to talk about gun rights in a place that doesn't respect them.”
… On private colleges opting out of campus carry, which goes in effect in August:
“We have been, as a nation, for the last several decades, doing everything we can to stigmatize firearms and to somehow create this narrative that you have no right to self-defense around an educational facility. And that brainwashing has worked. It's paid off in spades. And we see that because now that campus carry is legal in Texas, but there are carve-outs for it.
"Those that have the carve-outs are using those carve-outs to again prevent guns on campus instead of using that as an opportunity for education. ... We need our schools and our universities to bring back gun awareness and gun education instead of gun fear.”
… on President Obama’s executive actions on gun violence:
“President Obama's policies is what created, and what creates, dead kids because teachers and faculty are not allowed to defend themselves when they walk through the boundary of a school. So, yeah, I mean President Obama is right that [the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness] was stripped from them. However, he wants to make sure that more kids die by refusing to allow us to carry on the schools to protect our own kids.
"What led to [the Newtown school shooting] was irresponsibility. And what led to Newtown was criminal activity and you can't you can't stop that. The fact is that bad people do bad things. And you can't affect the rights of the law abiding to try and prevent the criminality. What you have to do is you have to make it easier for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, not harder.”
...on the armed men occupying a federal building in Oregon:
"It's kind of interesting because I think we've had terrorists occupying the White House for long enough, that's a federal building. Right now, this is a peaceful thing. This is no different than what we did when we gained our independence from Great Britain."
… on people mischaracterizing pro-gun rights groups:
“Some people try to blame open carry activists or any gun rights activists that do stupid things. What we need to do is look at the bigger picture and recognize that the actions of one or two or, heck, even a hundred people don't justify or paint the rest of that particular community. That goes for every cause, not only gun rights.
"It’s interesting how, in this country, the actions of just a few radical extremists somehow don’t paint an entire religion. But the actions of a few radical gun rights guys do. I think we've got to get past that and recognize that they are exceptions to the cause, not the cause itself.”
C.J. Grisham is the president of Open Carry Texas.
Next Friday, KERA will feature an interview with a gun control supporter.