By: José Niño
It used to be that Texas gun owners would walk away disappointed each legislative session when Republicans failed to pass Constitutional Carry legislation. That’s the nature of no compromise activism. The political environment is, however, slowly shifting in an anti-gun direction — which has even ensnared “pro-gun” politicians, such as Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
After the Midland-Odessa mass shooting in August, Patrick tried to do his best reasonable Republican impression by conceding ground on the issue of universal background checks. Patrick tried to rationalize his weak-kneed move by claiming that “not expanding the background check to eliminate the stranger to stranger sale makes no sense to me and … most folks.”
Patrick immediately caught flak from conservatives for entertaining this idea. Michael Quinn Sullivan, the CEO of Empower Texans, called out Patrick for his cowardly posturing. The grassroots conservative activist published a thread on Twitter talking about the threats that gun owners face in Texas. He not only mentioned former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who recently called for the confiscation of AR-15s, but also looped Dan Patrick into this discussion.
Quinn Sullivan noted that gun rights are not safe with either party in charge: “Whether it is @BetoORourke wanting to outright seize your firearms, or @DanPatrick trying to manage what you do with them, it is sadly evident too many politicians are all too willing to betray our Constitution in the name of their own political power.”
After this comment by Quinn Sullivan, Patrick was incensed.
Patrick went on the defensive and insisted that, “You know my plan exempts family and friends, so apparently you are fine with selling your guns to total strangers who can’t pass a background check because they could be a violent felon or someone bent on mass violence. BTW, release the tape. You are destroying our party.”
The Empower Texans CEO quickly responded by pointing out that Patrick’s “‘plan’ is rightly derided by the @NRA, @GOA, and every other Second Amendment group. Your willingness to defend the rights of law abiding citizens to appease Democrats is what's destroying the GOP."
A nasty exchange if I do say so myself.
What does this mean for Texas?
Due to the changing demographics and political dynamics, the state is becoming more politically competitive, which means the Texas GOP has a tight rope to walk. Elections will be close, and every vote will count. Taking the conservative base for granted could mean certain defeat at the polls for the GOP at both the state and federal level.
The GOP has already disappointed the grassroots by not passing Constitutional Carry. Embracing broad-based gun control measures like universal background checks will not only certify the Republican Party’s anti-gun status, but also cause many voters to sit out. A weak GOP will only make Texas’ politics lurch leftward faster.
The next year will be crucial for gun owners and their grassroots conservative allies. If gun rights are to be restored in Texas, gun owners must be ready to hold their politicians’ feet to the fire.
José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist writing from Fort Collins, Colorado. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.