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Minutemen in Houston can carry firearms

Associated Press | August 21, 2005

HOUSTON – Volunteers for a citizens border-patrol group will now be allowed by the organization to carry firearms while they observe day laborers in Houston.

The group is offering those who have a concealed weapons permit a discount to join the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

Leaders of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of Texas initially said they would only let volunteers use video cameras to film suspected illegal immigrants.

Now the group is offering those who have a concealed weapons permit a discount to join the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

The controversial group grabbed national attention in April when members patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border to report suspected illegal immigrants.

Prospective Minuteman members are usually charged $50, which is used to conduct a criminal background check. Since those with a concealed weapons permit have already undergone a background check and taken a handgun course, the fee can be waived, said George Klages, a spokesman for the Minutemen in Houston.

Volunteers carrying guns won't cause problems, Mr. Klages said.

"About 50 or 60 percent of our members are veterans," he said. "These are people who know how to handle a weapon."

Critics worry about the change.

"They only want people who are armed," said Juan Alvarez of the Coalition Against Intolerance and For Respect, a group that works to aid Houston day laborers. "It will incite violence."

Former Minuteman leader Bill Parmley said he's concerned about the Minutemen being armed, particularly in a city.

Mr. Parmley led the Minuteman Texas chapter but resigned last month, citing racism among members in the Goliad chapter.



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