The NRA-ILA’s Chris Cox is claiming that a statement criticizing long gun open carry in restaurants was a personal opinion produced by a staffer, and is not the official position of the organization:

The National Rifle Association has rolled back an earlier statement criticizing “open carry” rallies in Texas in which gun rights advocates have brought military-style assault rifles into public places.

Chris Cox, the executive director of the group’s lobbying arm, said in an interview Tuesday on an NRA-hosted radio show that the statement was “a mistake” and that it was written by a staffer who was expressing his personal opinion.

“The truth is, an alert went out that referred to this type of behavior as ‘weird’ or somehow not normal, and that was a mistake. It shouldn’t have happened,” said Cox, who added that the group “unequivocally” supports open carry laws.

As a general rule of thumb, when you see a group—public, private, or government—issue a statement and then walk it back days later instead of immediately, it strongly suggests that the original comment is precisely what the group does think internally, but that they have found that position to be politically inconvenient. I’m not saying with any degree of certainty that this is what happened here, but I have my suspicions.

I am firm in my conviction that the open carry of long guns into private businesses, particularly restaurants, is both abnormal and potentially dangerous. Even in colonial times, it was customary for muskets to be discharged before entering a tavern or meeting house, and as a matter of historical  fact, it was one of these discharge volleys by the Lexington militia who were entering a tavern on Lexington Green that convinced British officers to release a captured rider by the name of Paul Revere, early in the pre-dawn hours of April 19, 1775. The open carry of loaded long guns into private businesses is no more normal now than it was then.

The responsible open carry of long guns on public property in an organized protest may be disconcerting to some (primarily supporters of gun control), but it is typically obvious to all that such carry is part of a political protest, hoping to evoke change.

The recent tactics of brashly open carrying long guns into private businesses, however, is an obvious political loser that upsets anti-gunners, those in the middle that previously had no position on the matter (but whom are now siding with the anti-gunners), and most gun owners. It forces businesses into a “no-brainer” decision to ask customers to keep guns out of their establishments, because they merely want to make a living, not be caught in the middle of a political protest.

Just as importantly—and I should have mentioned this previously—there are real safety concerns in play here. If you watch the videos taken by these open carry groups, count the number of times they muzzle one another and other patrons with their firearms. It simply isn’t safe to carry a long gun in a place where it is difficult to impossible to find a safe “downrange” in which they can safely point the muzzles of their firearms.

The NRA-ILA is free to walk back their statement.

We’ll continue to hold the view that the open carry of long guns into private businesses is a political and public relations nightmare that accomplishes nothing more than force businesses to ban firearms nationwide, while hurting the stated cause of these groups to allow the legal open carry of handguns in Texas.