There's a call to arms in Texas.

Or at least a call to let Texans carry their guns -- whether concealed or out in the open -- at colleges and pretty much anywhere else they'd like in this state.

Less than two months before the Texas Legislature reconvenes in January, gun advocates are already asking state lawmakers for proposals geared to give gun owners more freedom.

"In Texas, there's no viable reason why Texans are denied their rights the way they are," said John Pierce, co-founder and spokesman of, a group championing expanded gun rights nationwide. "We're talking about a tradition and history of rugged individualism that Texas embodies.

"For them to be off mainstream America with this, it's a shame."

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Pierce said there's no bill filed yet to make Texas an open-carry state, allowing gun owners to freely and openly carry firearms wherever they go. But he and others who could not find lawmakers to file such a measure in 2009 are working to change that.

"I'm very optimistic," Pierce said. "I am optimistic that even if it doesn't happen in 2011, it will happen in 2013 or 2015."

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Open carry

Texas is one of seven states -- along with Arkansas, Illinois, Florida, New York, Oklahoma and South Carolina -- where handguns cannot legally be worn in plain view in any form. Texas residents may carry concealed handguns if they have a permit.

Supporters say open carry is needed because under the concealed-carry law, gun owners can get in trouble for displaying their weapon even inadvertently, such as if a jacket blows back enough to show a gun. More than 66,000 people have signed an online petition asking Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature to make Texas an open-carry state.

Pierce said he hopes to have two versions of the bill to give lawmakers a choice. One version would require Texans to have a permit to carry their weapons openly. The other would require Texans to have a permit to carry concealed weapons but would allow open carry without a permit.

"The number of states that don't allow any form of open carry are dwindling," Pierce said. "For Texas to be one of the last holdouts on a gun issue, it just seems un-American."

Katherine Cesinger, deputy press secretary for Perry, said: "The governor believes that a person ought to be able to carry their weapon with them anywhere in the state if they are licensed and have gone through the proper training. He would be open to looking at any proposals lawmakers bring to the table regarding open carry."

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Online: To sign or see the petition seeking open carry in Texas, go to

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