HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — The National Rifle Association sharply criticized fellow gun-rights activists, saying the Texas “open carry” demonstrations have “crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness.”

In an unsigned Friday statement through the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action website, the country’s largest gun rights group said that Open Carry Texas members’ practice of carrying high-powered rifles into public places – most notably restaurants such as Chipotle, Starbucks and Applebee’s – is “downright weird.”

“Let’s not mince words,” the post on the NRA’s site said, “not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself.”

Last month, the open carry demonstrators patronized several Lone Star State restaurants while toting AK-47s and other semi-automatic weapons. On Saturday, the gun rights advocates carried similar weapons to a protest in a Home Depot parking lot.

Under Texas law, unlicensed rifles – but not handguns – are permitted to be carried openly in public venues.

The NRA statement said that the Second Amendment advocates are unlikely to garner much support for gun rights causes and candidates demonstrating such a “rare” practice.

“To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.”

“Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners,” the NRA post continues. “That’s not the Texas way. And that’s certainly not the NRA way.”

On Monday, Open Carry Texas blasted the NRA post on its Facebook page: “The NRA has refused to learn for themselves how Open Carry Texas conducts itself other than what the liberal media and [former New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg funded gun control extremists have falsely portrayed. The more the NRA continues to divide its members by attacking some aspects of gun rights instead of supporting all gun rights, the more support it will lose.”

But the NRA argued that the “consequences” of such behavior could potentially backfire, giving more credence to gun-control advocates’ calls for additional firearm regulations.

“As gun owners, whether or not our decisions are dictated by the law, we are still accountable for them. And we owe it to each other to act as checks on bad behavior before the legal system steps in and does it for us,” continues the NRA post. “If we exercise poor judgment, our decisions will have consequences.”

— Benjamin Fearnow

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