The entrance to the City of Olmos Park.
The City of Olmos Park is a municipality within San Antonio. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Olmos Park’s City Council voted in a special meeting Thursday to repeal an ordinance that made it illegal for anyone other than a law enforcement officer to carry a loaded rifle or shotgun on any public street within the San Antonio municipality.

City Councilman Enzo Pellegrino told the Rivard Report that the ordinance change follows several interactions between open-carry gun activists and Olmos Park police officers, some of which have led to detainments and arrests.

Olmos Park police arrested CJ Grisham, founder and president of Open Carry Texas, on March 27 as he and others openly carried rifles on McCullough Avenue. A video of the arrest posted on YouTube appears to show Grisham being thrown to the ground by officers.

“He was suddenly, deliberately, and violently attacked by [Olmos Park Police Chief Rene Valenciano],” said Rick Briscoe, legislative director for Open Carry Texas, which advocates for the open carry of firearms in Texas. “He was tased, received head injuires, and a concussion.”

Briscoe said Grisham and others face a number of criminal charges related to the incident. Valenciano did not respond to repeated requests for comment, including several phone calls to the Olmos Park Police Department that went unanswered.

“The ordinance was always illegal,” Grisham stated in a Facebook post on Thursday.

The Olmos Park ordinance conflicted with Texas state law, which allows for the open carry of long rifles and shotguns. Since Jan. 1, 2016, it has been legal for Texas who have concealed-carry handgun licenses to openly carry handguns.

“It’s my personal belief that [the Olmos Park ordinance] is probably not going to be valid in court,” Pellegrino said. “The only thing that we did today was to really make sure that our ordinances were in line with state law.”

Pellegrino also said, however, that the state should provide guidance on whether openly carried weapons may be loaded.

Briscoe acknowledged that the repeal of the ordinance was “a good first step” towards compliance with the law, but said the city has “a great deal more to do to address the matter of, quite frankly, an overly aggressive, out-of-control police department.”

Briscoe told the Rivard Report that Open Carry Texas plans to hold an open-carry demonstration rally in Olmos Park on April 7 at noon.

“It’s our intention to peacefully and lawfully exercise our rights in Olmos Park to indicate that we wish the City to obey the law, because we do,” Briscoe said.

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.