AUSTIN (KXAN) - Some of the customers at the Congress Avenue Starbucks store stood out a little more than others on Friday.
“We are exercising our rights before we lose our rights,” said Justin Delosh. He was sitting at a patio table with a cup of coffee and a loaded AR-15 by his side.
He was one of nearly a dozen people carrying rifles through the streets of downtown Austin.
The group Open Carry Texas says they bring the firearms with them, not to frighten or scare anyone, but to do the exact opposite.
“We are making people aware that law-abiding citizens with firearms are no danger to anybody,” said Delosh.
According to Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code concerning weapons, a person is allowed to carry a rifle, but not a handgun unless it is a pre-1899 antique.
On Friday, Delosh’s AR-15 had fully loaded magazine, but he did not have a round in the chamber.
People passing by had varied reactions.
“It caught my attention,” said Morgan Burger, a tourist from Mississippi in town for the Texas-Ole Miss football game. “It is definitely raising awareness.”
Albert Mitchell admits to being a little scared as he walked by. “It was shocking,” he said.
Delosh and other members of OTC were willing to talk with anyone who inquired about their firearms.
“Nobody seems alarmed. People question us and we tell them about Open Carry Texas.”
Burger admits once she stopped to talk to members, she gained an appreciation for their effort.
“It is a little scary and it catches people off guard, but now that I know, I think it is great.”
Mitchell was not quite as accepting.
“You want to make a point, but it is too extreme to be out there with guns. Especially with all that is going on now days.”
Despite their right to carry the firearms, two members were arrested by DPS Troopers Friday morning near the capitol building including Pastor Terry Holcomb, a gun rights advocate who has received previous attention for demonstrations.
The arrests were for “disorderly conduct” which is defined, by law, as an action with a firearm “calculated to alarm.”
OTC says that was not the case and they plan on fighting the charges.
“We believe it was two illegal arrests today,’ said Delosh.
KXAN contacted Austin Police Department to find out how they respond to calls from concerned citizens who report an armed subject.
APD says many times it will depend on the nature of the call. A report of a person armed with a rifle will likely result in a police response, but the action may not be as urgent as a report of someone brandishing the weapon or making threats.
The location of the individual may also play a role in their response.
Open Carry Texas says they do not carry their weapons near federal buildings or school campuses.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.