This whole thing started, as many squabbles are sure to over the coming years, with comments from newly elected Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival, Patrick said that the two open carry bills most popular with gun wing of his party, the ones that would not only allow for Wild West-style hip holsters, but would also make it OK to carry a handgun without a permit, might not have the votes to pass the Texas Senate.
Patrick never said that he didn't support the bills -- both of which are authored by locals, Representative Jonathan Stickland and Senator Don Huffines, respectively -- just that he wouldn't prioritize a bill that did not have the votes to pass. Instead, Patrick said that he would first push so-called campus carry legislation, which would allow gun owners with permits to carry guns on college campuses, through as quickly as possible. Simple pragmatism.
Predictably, Kory Watkins, the leader of Open Carry Tarrant County and a merry band of cop watchers, threw a tantrum.
"Well, it's time to hunt down the Republicans who don't support the Constitution and the Republican Platform," Watkins posted on Facebook. "Then, we will expose them and help them find a new job by making sure they won't have a chance to ever get elected in Texas again. Time to start sending these people to California."
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Watkins cajoled his considerable Facebook following into lobbying Patrick (check out this post for a taste), and lo and behold, Patrick backed off his acknowledgement of political reality.
"As is typical of the media looking to build wedges among conservatives, many stories took words out of context. I did not say the bill was dead but suggested instead that, because the votes were not there (at this time), it had not risen to a level of priority ... at this point. That is far different than saying an issue is not a priority, it just means work still needs to be done," he said in his own Facebook post.
This new spat comes as legislators are still reacting to Watkins and his buddies' occupation of state Representative Poncho Nevarez's office earlier this month. The state House recently made it easier for reps to install panic buttons in their offices and members of both parties have been seen sporting "I am Poncho" stickers this week. Nevarez had joked that, given the attention he's received, maybe his collegues should wear "I'm not Poncho" buttons.