The Texas gun debate has gone wild, wild west.

A confrontation between gun owners and a state lawmaker who later was given a state security detail. Panic buttons installed in legislative offices. Guns made and displayed at the Capitol gates.

What many thought was a slam-dunk in the Republican-controlled Legislature — allowing the open carry of handguns in Texas — turned into a tempest in the opening weeks of the session. And its chances of passing seemed to further diminish when one of the state’s most outspoken conservatives flip-flopped on whether it’s even a priority issue.

The antics have left some gun-rights advocates shaking their heads.

“(Open carry) has been pushed off the rails by the nut jobs,” said Jerry Patterson, a former Marine, gun enthusiast and open-carry advocate who wrote the state’s concealed handgun license law as a state lawmaker in the early 1990s.

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