Armed demonstrators gathered outside the Texas capitol building in Austin on Wednesday, seeking to highlight the state's right to openly carry rifles. While some were unsettled by the display, the protesters said the event was designed to get people accustomed to the weapons and show that those carrying them were normal citizens.
"That's why we're here. Trying to make people feel more at ease, so they don't feel that way," said Scott Smith, a member of the group Open Carry Texas, which organized the event.
Spectators weren't the only ones made uneasy by the firearms. Members of the group came with their guns loaded, according to KEYE-TV, which at one point prompted troopers stationed at the capitol to ask the protesters to consider removing the magazines from their rifles. They declined, noting that they were within their rights to have live rounds in their weapons.
Later in the day, demonstrators attempted to enter the state capitol building with their guns out. They were turned away by a trooper, who told them that while concealed handguns were permitted inside, their semi-automatic assault rifles weren't.
In Colorado, other gun rights activists used Independence Day to rally for their cause. Members of a local tea party group brought their weapons to a parade in Custer County, Colo. on Thursday, though theirs were reportedly not loaded.