WASHINGTON -- Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Thursday he was skeptical of open carry gun laws, as conservatives in his home state are attempting to push such measures through the legislature.
Texas currently allows gun owners to carry rifles and shotguns in the open, but not handguns. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said he believes there is a "high probability" that an open carry bill will pass this session.
In an interview with the The Texas Tribune and The Washington Post, Perry said he was "not necessarily all that fond of this open carry concept." His concerns, however, seemed to be more practical than philosophical.
“I don't want the bad guys to know if I'm carrying," he said. "I don't want to be the first person shot if something's going down.”
A Perry spokesman didn't immediately return a request for clarification on whether Perry would sign open carry legislation if he were still governor.
In his interview Thursday, Perry also said gun owners should be "appropriately backgrounded, appropriately vetted, appropriately trained."
"We license people to drive on our highways,” he said. “We give them that privilege. The same is true with our concealed handguns.”
Last year, Perry actually had his concealed carry privileges taken away when he was indicted on charges that he abused his authority to pressure the Travis County district attorney's public corruption division. The case continues to hang above Perry's head as he contemplates running for president in 2016.
If someone is indicted for a felony, the state of Texas will suspend that person's concealed carry license during the indictment period.
The push to legalize open carry in Texas faced a bit of a crisis this week after a prominent open carry advocate in the state posted a video in which he seemed to threaten lawmakers, warning that restricting Second Amendment rights is essentially "treason" and therefore "punishable by death."
The video by Kory Watkins, who heads Open Carry Tarrant County, was quickly condemned, even by those pushing for open carry laws. Watkins took the video down and tried to control some of the damage by arguing, "Let me make it clear and unequivocal: I was not talking about hurting legislators, or anyone else. I am an advocate of peaceful non-cooperation.”
This week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) fast-tracked two open carry bills. According to The Houston Chronicle, "While several open carry bills have been filed this session, lawmakers appear to be leaning toward licensed open carry rather than so-called 'constitutional carry,' in which no permit is required."
On Thursday, Abbott said that even after Watkins' problematic comments, "the votes probably are there for open carry." He previously said he would sign such legislation if it reaches him.