Democrat Wendy Davis has shaken up the governor's race by enthusiastically endorsing the idea of open carry of firearms, something that puts her at odds with the Texas Democratic party, and in support of a measure that not even Republicans have been able to push through the Legislature, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  Davis says she backs the open carrying of firearms in public, and on private property where the owner gives his or her consent.


  In a statement, Davis said background checks required to obtain a concealed handgun permit would "help ensure that only mentally stable, law-abiding citizens may carry, whether concealed or open."


  In the Legislature last year, Davis supported a measure to allow college students who have concealed carry licenses the right to carry their guns onto campus parking lots, but not into buildings and dormitories.


  "In the Texas Senate, she usually sides with the pro-gun crowd," prominent Texas Democratic consultant Harold Cook told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.  "I don't see how this is that much of a surprise."


  It is certainly a surprise to the Texas Democratic Party, which opposes open carry laws and worked hard to defeat an open carry bill in the last session.


  "There is little or no public safety justification for open carry," Davis said.


  Open Carry advocates are more and more pushing for their right to carry weapons in the open.  They staged a large open carry protest on the grounds of the Alamo last fall, during which people brought various types of long guns and walked down San Antonio streets openly carrying AR-15s and AK-47s.


  While Texas law does not allow individuals to carry handguns in the open, it is legal in certain circumstances to carry long guns in public, in laws passed to protect hunters.


  Cook says the goal of the open carry announcement is to help Davis get past the controversy over discrepancies in her life story, and focus more on issues that will push her campaign.


  "Now Wendy Davis and her campaign can get into the issues that are more attuned to her, like public education," he said.