AP Photo/Eric Gay
Oh, what a mess in Texas.
It seems the very same House speaker that claimed gun rights advocates came to his home–apparently vastly overstating what transpired–is now stepping up his beef with the group.
Now, he’s accusing them of death threats.
Speaker Dennis Bonnen says he’s received “repeated death threats” since becoming the House’s leader in January.
On Monday, Bonnen’s office released copies of about two dozen menacing messages the Angleton Republican has fielded over the past two months as he faced a backlash for squelching passage of a “constitutional carry” bill sought by ardent gun-rights advocates.
Most of the messages discussing a need for Bonnen to sustain physical harm were posted on Facebook, on either Bonnen’s page or those of two gun-rights groups, said Bonnen spokeswoman Cait Meisenheimer. A few threats came in emails or calls to Bonnen’s office, she said.
Get a rope and hang him high,” one commenter said.
“Off with his head,” said another.
Bonnen spokesman Gene Acuña acknowledged that the speaker’s office doesn’t know if Lone Star Gun Rights and Texas Gun Rights, the two groups with Facebook pages receiving some of the comments, sanctioned or encouraged the talk of violence.
Chris McNutt, who as executive director of Texas Gun Rights has been the chief Bonnen irritant, said his group is “professional” and had nothing to do with the comments urging physical harm of Bonnen.
McNutt’s comments were relatively subdued, especially considering the history between him and Bonnen.
However, the Texas Gun Rights’ parent organization’s spokesperson was a bit less circumspect in his assessment.
“Speaker Bonnen is a proven liar,” Dudley Brown, president of Texas Gun Rights’ national affiliate, the National Association for Gun Rights, said in a written statement Monday. “His voters deserve to know the truth, not only regarding his rabidly anti-gun policy position, but about his laughable campaign to silence the gun owners of Texas.”
I’m going to say right now that I don’t support death threats against anyone for any reason. Besides them being crude, crass, and completely out of line, they also never accomplish anything. While a fearful lawmaker might change their public position on a single issue–something that rarely happens, by the way–it doesn’t change any minds. If anything, it hardens positions.
With all of that out of the way, NAGR’s Brown has a point. There’s a question of honesty regarding Bonnen. He blatantly misrepresented a canvassing effort as a personal visit to his home by gun rights advocates. He left out that the group had been handing out fliers in his neighborhood, nor that there were state troopers there, meaning there was no threat to his family.
As such, anything like this has to be taken with a grain of salt.
While Bonnen does have screenshots of supposedly threatening comments, we know nothing about the posters themselves. Yes, some gun rights advocates get carried away. However, some are saying he needs a butt-kicking, which isn’t a death threat at all. Yes, it’s violence, but it’s a far cry from a death threat.
Further, we don’t know if these are even gun rights advocates. False flag efforts aren’t unheard of. Someone could easily infiltrate a group and post stuff like that in to paint gun rights advocates as unbalanced.
It doesn’t help that we have reason to doubt Bonnen’s honesty, either.
So, if you’re someone posting that stuff, knock it off.
If you want to hurt Bonnen, back a primary opponent against him next election, that’ll do the trick nicely.