Despite drawing national headlines for coinciding with a presidential visit, an Austin open-carry demonstration at the Texas Capitol last Friday afternoon proved to be more flash than bang.
At its high point, four armed men who represented the entire demonstration argued amiably with a half-naked woman about gun rights while more than a dozen reporters watched. The tiny group was more than a mile away from the Long Center for the Performing Arts, where President Barack Obama would eventually be speaking.
The goal of the demonstration was to show visitors in town for South by Southwest that open carry laws can be safe and non-disruptive, according to C.J. Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas.
Some national media outlets portrayed the event like an armed militia intent on intimidating the president, but Grisham said he planned to stay far away from the presidential entourage.
The small demonstration was met with some resistance — one Austin woman, who declined to give her name because she feared being harassed by gun rights activists, took off her shirt and shouted "more boobs, fewer guns" and "boobs for peace" at passersby.
"I've been doing topless protests since the '70s," she told Texas Weekly. "These boobs are very political."
Eventually, the four men and their new shirtless acquaintance took off down Congress Avenue. Austin locals did not seemed phased by the demonstration.
Texas will intervene in a complicated — and politically charged — court battle between Red River-area landowners and the federal Bureau of Land Management.
A federal district judge has granted the state standing in the tug-of-war over land along a 116-mile strip of the river, whose meandering has spurred a century’s worth of property disputes along the Texas-Oklahoma border.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the development late Monday.
“Washington D.C. needs to hear, loud and clear, that Texas will not stand for the federal government’s infringement upon Texas land and the property rights of the people who live here,” the Republican said in a statement.
Questions have swirled near the stretch of river since December 2013, when bureau representatives arrived in North Texas to discuss updates to its resource management plans in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — specifically how the land would be used for the next 15 to 20 years.
The area includes about 90,000 acres along the Red River that the agency considers public land, with perhaps a third of it on the Texas side.
The agency has said its claim comes from a 1923 U.S. Supreme Court decision, one that delineated the boundaries between Texas and Oklahoma and assigned to the federal government the patches in between.
But Texans have long managed swaths of that area. They hold deeds to the land and have diligently paid their local taxes. The bureau has not fully surveyed the area, so it is not clear precisely where the public boundary lines intersect with private lands.
The U.S. House voted Thursday to authorize Speaker Paul Ryan to file an amicus brief on a Supreme Court case addressing President Barack Obama's 2014 executive action to prevent many undocumented immigrants from being deported.
Texas members voted along party lines, with Republicans supporting the resolution and Democrats opposing it.
“This Republican resolution is counter-productive, it’s anti-immigrant, and it’s contributing to the ugliness of this political season, a season when the Latino community and immigrants of all backgrounds have been slandered by the Republican Party," U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said on a conference call with Hispanic House colleagues.
Many of the Democrats on the call, members from places like California and Illinois, aimed to tie the resolution to the rhetoric of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
Some Texas Republicans bristled at the comparison to reporters after the vote.
"It's a precedent issue. It doesn't deal with the president's motives at all," U.S. Rep. Ted Poe of Humble countered at a news conference.
"It deals with whether or not the rule of law will be followed in every case or whether the executive, even future executives can make exceptions because the executive doesn't like the law."
The program, announced in November 2014, is known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. It would shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to apply for a renewable work permit.
Texas was the first state to file suit to stop the program; 25 states eventually joined the case.
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville put a halt to the program, ruling the Obama administration didn’t comply with the federal government’s Administrative Procedure Act guiding how federal regulations are made. A Nov. 9 decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hanen's decision.
Proponents of the program have also weighed in through several briefs of their own. Earlier this month, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. joined more than 300 religious and civil rights groups in asking the Supreme Court to let the program stand.
“Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities,” the brief stated.