Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen slammed a gun activist’s demonstration of “insanity” and declared that a “constitutional carry” gun bill was dead because of his actions.
The Republican speaker called out Chris McNutt as an “overzealous advocate for criminals to get a gun” after he went to Bonnen’s home in Lake Jackson on Wednesday to push for the bill which would allow Texans to carry firearms without a license, according to the Dallas Morning News.
McNutt, the executive director of Texas Gun Rights, supported the bill by Bedford Republican Rep. Jonathan Stickland and reportedly complained on social media about it not moving forward before he headed to Bonnen’s home. He reportedly also stopped at the homes of Reps. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock and Four Price of Amarillo.
Bonnen was in the state capital of Austin Wednesday when McNutt made the visit to his Lake Jackson home, which is about 50 miles south of Houston. But the lawmaker’s wife and teenage sons were inside the home at the time.
“If you want to talk about issues and you want to advocate, you do it in this building. You don’t do it at our residences,” Bonnen said Friday, condemning McNutt’s actions which led to his home being placed under surveillance by the state Department of Public Safety.
“Threats and intimidation will never advance your issue. Their issue is dead,” Bonnen said.
He blasted McNutt for “crossing the line” by visiting district residences and endangering his and other lawmakers’ families, noting that Burrows has three boys under the age of seven.
“Anyone who has a strong position should advocate vigorously for it. And I respect it and I even enjoy it. But crossing the line of going to Rep. Burrows home, posting the street of Rep. Price’s home — he posted a picture of his house with his street on social media,” Bonnen said.
“Then coming to my home or any other member’s home is crossing the line,” he added. “I can only guess the level of influence he was trying to create over Mr. Burrows and Mr. Price and myself by going to my home knowing I was not there but my family was.”
“It’s rattling, certainly, to have people attempting to advocate in our home knowing that Dennis isn’t there. I don’t think there’s any way for me or the children to take that as any way other than an intimidation factor which I don’t appreciate,” Bonnen’s wife Kim said. “I don’t want my boys to feel like we need to have DPS in front of our house. That doesn’t provide them comfort in the safety of their environment. It’s unsettling for them.”
The stalled bill apparently prompted McNutt, who reportedly has worked for North Texas legislators like former state Sen. Don Huffines and Stickland, to post his displeasure on social media and then drive to the homes of lawmakers. He called Bonnen’s response a “deliberate overreaction.”
“If politicians like Speaker Dennis Bonnen think they can show up at the doorsteps of Second Amendment supporters and make promises to earn votes in the election season, they shouldn’t be surprised when we show up in their neighborhoods to insist they simply keep their promises in the legislative session,” McNutt said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Hearings for the bill have now been canceled in the wake of the incident. Strickland, who released a statement saying the bill was dead, also posted a video on Facebook saying he was “saddened by the acts of a few individuals that have stolen the conversation about legislation that I care deeply about.”
.@RepStickland out w/ statement on his “constitutional carry” bill. Says he has canceled a committee hearing request on the legislation. “I refuse to act like it is still a possibility and continue to provide false hope to my constituents,” he says. #txlege pic.twitter.com/VDXyepJdTc
— Cassi Pollock (@cassi_pollock) April 5, 2019
“There is never a time or place to physically threaten an elected official with violence. It is never okay or helpful to your cause to curse out their staff. It’s never OK to target their homes or personal businesses when you know they are not in town,” Stickland said. “I want to thank the tens of thousands of Texans who are involved in the political process and they are doing it the right way. We must all individually hold ourselves to the highest of standards in our fight for liberty.
According to Dallas Morning News:
Four months into the session, the constitutional carry bill remains pending in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. Bonnen appointed Democrat Poncho Nevárez of Eagle Pass to run the committee, which usually handles gun legislation, and Nevárez said Friday he no longer plans on having a hearing on the bill.
He had intended to hold one last Wednesday but opted against it because the House was debating the state budget late into the night. Debate on the bill would have started after midnight, with many witnesses expected to testify.
“I wasn’t canceling the hearing. I was postponing it,” Nevárez said. “But … once they started harassing, one, the speaker, and then these other representatives for no good reason, then I think it’s incumbent upon me not to reward bad behavior or make them believe that somehow this harassment led to me giving them a hearing.”
Today, @RepDennisBonnen presented me with a gavel to commemorate my appointment as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. It is an honor to serve the State of Texas and #HD74. Thank you Speaker Bonnen for this gift and your continued leadership! #txlege pic.twitter.com/AOFImNN67a
— Rep. Poncho Nevárez (@poncho_nevarez) March 26, 2019
“I want to expand Medicaid, but if you came to my house and camped out and threatened to kill me or made my family uncomfortable so that I would expand Medicaid, guess what? I’m not going to do it. Because that’s not any way to do it,” he said.
Bonnen is reportedly a gun owner with an “A” rating from the Texas State Rifle Association, according to the newspaper.
“The bigger point is they can attack me all they want, but don’t go to my residence when you know there’s zero opportunity of my being there,” he said. “Don’t go where my two sons and my wife are and I am not.”