East Austin pastor is unlikely 'open carry' advocate

 As the battle for "open carry" was waged on the house floor on Friday, an unlikely open carry supporter cheered on from his church office.
   
Sterling Lands II is the pastor of Greater Calvary Bible Church in East Austin.
   
He says owning a gun wasn't an issue until the Emancipation Proclamation.

"Former slave owners and masters did not think that it would be a good idea for former slaves to have weapons.  So suddenly they enacted all these laws to ensure that they don't have weapons," Lands said.

He says it's time for a change.

"They're saying 'look let's forget this foolishness.'  Let's go back to the Constitution and see what it says right there number 2 and then why don't we abide by that," Lands said.

Pastor Lands says he's felt this way for as long as he can remember.  But according to Pew research, others in the black community are starting to see things his way.

A Pew study says 54% of the black community say gun ownership does more to protect people than endanger personal safety.  That number is nearly double what it was 2 years ago -- something gun store owner and CHL instructor Michael Cargill has seen in his students.

"Absolutely.  At one time we would never have anyone from the black community sitting in class.  Now I'm starting to see like 5 people here, 6 people there," Cargill said.

At a gun rally in February, a cousin of death row inmate Rodney Reed got into it with Cargill on gun rights issues.

"The dude just said that he would have a gun in [the] birth of his child!  Come on man!  Come on brother," Victor Reed said.  "I'm one of those people that know that when you put a weapon in your hand, bad things happen."

Cargill and Pastor Lands don't agree on everything.  Lands is not in favor of campus carry.  And he's afraid the 54% in the Pew study is a misleading number -- due to all of the recent incidents nationwide between the black community and law enforcement.

"[They] have caused people to become reactive in their need to protect themselves.  That's chaos.  That's not open carry," Lands said.

"I think people are coming to class because they want to know what the laws are.  They want to know 'How do I conduct myself when I'm pulled over by law enforcement, what do I need to do?  Where do I need to put my hands?  Where can I have that gun?" Cargill said.

Pastor Lands is also the residing bishop at the Family Life International Fellowship.  They have congregations all over the nation.
   
He says because he's not a fan of this particular study, he's planning to conduct a similar gun ownership study at all of those churches to see how they feel about carrying.



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