For the first time in its 164-year history, the annual Belton, Texas, 4th of July Parade will be a gun-less event after an insurance company threatened to drop coverage of the parade if organizers allowed firearms to be present.
Parade organizer and Belton Chamber of Commerce CEO Stephanie O’Banion spoke about the cherished history of the parade, which had always trumpeted and embraced a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.
“The Belton 4th of July parade is deeply rooted in tradition here in Belton, Texas, the first documented parade was in 1850,” O’Banion told local news affiliate KEYE.
Part of that tradition includes the Color Guard soldiers and American Civil War re-enactors, who typically carry replica and antique firearms — but even those will be banned in this year’s parade.
“We would have not received any coverage for firearm-related accidents when we talked to our insurance carrier,” O’Banion told local affiliate KWTX.
“There’s a list of safety regulations that have developed over the years to insure we are executing a very safe event for the community,” she added.
Obviously, gun-loving Texans weren’t very thrilled with the news, especially because the chosen theme for this year’s parade was “Symbols of Freedom.”
“It’s a bad decision in a state like Texas, in a city like Belton that is so pro-gun that you would ban firearms, the symbol of freedom which is the theme this year of the parade,” CJ Grisham, the Founder and President of opencarrytexas.org, told KEYE.
To showcase their support of the Second Amendment, Grisham along with members of his pro-gun organization applied to march in the parade, toting long-guns. The Chamber of Commerce approved their application and they were all set to go until the insurance company pulled the plug on the idea.
Now, ‘Open Carry Texas’ will be permitted to march, but only if they’re unarmed. However, they can still carry firearms along the route of the parade, which is something they all plan on doing.
“Now that we’re not allowed in the parade we’re going to be walking around the parade and educating people that way,” Grisham said.
What a shame! A gun-less parade deep in the heart of Texas? Now, I’ve seen everything.
On a serious note, I’m glad to see that ‘Open Carry Texas’ is not boycotting the parade, which they could have easily done and probably to a great effect. Instead, by having a presence in and around the parade, they have a great opportunity to win over the hearts and minds of those who may be on the fence concerning gun rights and gun ownership. Educating the non-gun owning public is the key to securing our right to keep and bear arms.
With respect to the parade organizers, here’s a question, why not shop around for a different insurance provider!? I’m sure there’s one in Texas that will cover an event involving firearms. It seems like the Chamber of Commerce was a little too quick to accept the insurance company’s gun-free demand.