After receiving criticism last week for his committee assignments from second amendment advocacy organizations, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R–Angleton) is shrugging off the attacks.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Bonnen dismissed claims by the Texas Firearms Coalition and others that he had jeopardized the gun rights of Texans by appointing Democrats to chair the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee and the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
Bonnen suggested the Republican majorities in both nine-member committees and his trust in the committee chairmen in question, Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D–Eagle Pass) and Nicole Collier (D–Fort Worth), would ensure that “reasonable bills” would move through the committees with little or no contest:
“I trust in my colleagues in the Texas House. And I trust in my Committee Chairs to allow reasonable bills which reflect the values of Texans to find their way through the legislative process — not just on gun related legislation, but on ALL the many and varied issues of importance which the two committees in question will hear.”
Bonnen also said he plans to keep the ‘A Rating’ from the National Rifle Association. He neglected to mention the Democrat Chairmen and respective members he appointed to the two committees have ‘D’ and ‘F’ Ratings between them from their votes during previous legislatures.
However, those ratings fail to tell the full story as the NRA and its state affiliate, Texas State Rifle Association, have often received criticism of their own for coming up short when it comes to advocating for gun rights protections and, more specifically, constitutional carry legislation.
Constitutional carry, the proposal to allow Texans to carry firearms without a permit, has been a longtime legislative priority for the Republican Party of Texas. Though Bonnen never mentioned the legislation in his post, he did say the legislature would be working “to see if we might be able to actually strengthen the rights for those of us who are responsible gun owners.”
Gun rights activists and conservative legislators have long pitched the idea of constitutional carry as the best and most effective way of accomplishing that goal. The right to carry without a license is a right currently enjoyed by citizens in 15 states, seven of whom have passed the legislation since 2015.
Bonnen’s post said it would “set the record straight,” but it won’t be the Facebook post that matters when the Texas Legislature adjourns. It will be what they have accomplished.