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Court Hands Open Carry Group Victory Over City Of Arlington

TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) - The open carry movement won a major victory Monday in federal court. A judge ruled the City of Arlington can't enforce a law used to keep demonstrators off the streets -- at least for now.

Monday night a CBS 11 News crew met with member of Open Carry Tarrant County, who were already back on the streets of Arlington.

They had their guns. They had their pocket constitutions and they were here handing them out.
It's something the group had not been able to do in Arlington, for months.

Long guns by their side, the small group celebrated a federal court victory over one of Texas' biggest cities. They were always optimistic the first and second amendment fight was one they would win.

"It's always good to win a little bit more for freedom, and when I was in the courtroom I felt the judge was in our favor as far as what he was saying," one member said.

What Judge Reed O'Connor said, in a 26-page opinion, is "the fact that plaintiffs tactics or message may cause some people to be uncomfortable is not a proper motivation for limiting free speech rights."

The ordinance in Arlington had ordinance kept Open Carry supporters from handing anything out to drivers.

The city had claimed he issue was about safety. But the judge said the ordinance was "over inclusive and burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to achieve its interest in pedestrian and traffic safety."

Arlington leaders did not respond to the decision Monday. The city can now simply repeal the ordinance, or choose to keep fighting.

Embolden by one victory, the group was already arming for the next fight -- changing state law to have less restrictions on carrying guns.

"We have to be organized. Organized is more ammunition, if you want to say it that way, to make sure we're doing the things we need to get the legislation passed."

A constitutional law expert at the Texas A&M University School of Law said he decision places the burden on Arlington now, to prove that people handing things out is a safety issue. It's an issue she said the judge apparently has doubts about that.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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