A bill that would have allowed Texas residents to openly carry firearms without need for a permit was taken off the table in the state’s House of Representatives after Chris McNutt, an avid proponent of the bill, turned up at the House speaker’s residence to advocate for the legislation.
House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, a Republican who has served his district for more than 20 years, declared the bill “dead” Friday, due to McNutt’s unannounced appearance at his home more than 50 miles from McNutt’s hometown of Dallas.
“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. “Threats and intimidation will never advance your issue. Their issue is dead.”
Bonnen’s residence was not, however, the first to receive an unwelcomed visit from McNutt, who serves as executive director of Texas Gun Rights.
According to reports, McNutt had also paid visits to the homes of Reps. Four Price and Dustin Burrows while they were in House session in Austin — again, while their families were home alone.
“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 told The Dallas Morning News. “Then coming to my home or any other member’s home is crossing the line.”
Bonnen said that he believes McNutt’s actions were “overzealous” displays of “insanity,” telling the Hearst Newspapers’ Houston Chronicle it was a “gutless” political stunt.
McNutt had been updating social media for the entirety of his three-day trip around Texas, ranting about the bill being stalled in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee and even posting pictures from the street of one of the representatives with whom he had attempted to speak.
Those posts have since been removed.
Democrat Rep. Poncho Nevárez — the chair of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee — said that despite disagreement with the legislation, he did have plans to have a hearing on it shortly.
McNutt, on the other hand, said he believes the House’s quick motion to kill the bill was 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.
Regardless, Nevárez said Friday that this display has forced him to dispense with the idea of ever seeing the legislation voted on.
“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,” Nevárez said, “I’m not going to do it. Because that’s not any way to do it.”
If passed, the bill would have made Texas the 16th state in the Union to legally allow its residents to possess and carry a handgun without a state license or permit.
Advocates for constitutional carry say this is the unrestricted system as the one laid out in the Second Amendment, and that the U.S. Constitution should be enough “license” to protect their right to carry a handgun.
Rep. Jonathan Stickland — who initially introduced House Bill 357 — has since said that he is disheartened by the events of this past week and the way they will influence the dialogue around firearm ownership.
Stickland took the time Friday to address his constituents via a video pertaining to McNutt’s actions and the future of Bill 357 that he posted to his Facebook page.
“I am saddened by the acts of a few individuals that have stolen the conversation about legislation that I deeply care about,” Stickland said.
“Advocating for issues and bills are not only a good thing, but I believe it is the duty of every liberty-loving Texan. With that being said, there is a right way and a wrong way to influence the legislative process. Calling, writing, protesting — even showing up at the capital,” Stickland added. “All of these things can and should be accomplished with respect and decency.”
Stickland has also released a statement announcing that he will be pulling his request for the constitutional carry bill to be heard.
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