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'Constitutional Carry' Gun Bill Is Dead, North Texas Republican Says After Activist Visits

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, speaks at the Republican Party of Texas convention in San Antonio on June 16, 2018.
Bob Daemmrich
The Texas Tribune
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, speaks at last summer's state Republican convention in San Antonio.

After news broke that an activist pushing a “constitutional carry” gun proposal tried to visit the homes of several Texas House leaders, state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, declared his bill on the matter dead and wrote in a statement Friday he’s “officially canceling” his request for a committee hearing.

House Bill 357 would give Texans the right to openly carry a firearm without a permit. While the proposal has failed to gain traction at the Legislature in prior sessions, it made headlines after The Facts reported that a gun rights activist, angry at the lack of movement on the bill, visited the homes of House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and other House leaders seemingly hoping to convince them to advance the gun legislation.

The activist, Chris McNutt, executive director of the nonprofit group Texas Gun Rights, was intercepted by officers with the Department of Public Safety when he attempted to visit Bonnen’s home.

Other gun rights activists on Facebook urged Bonnen to advance Stickland’s bill, with some posting threatening messages such as “Drag ’Im Out ... To The Nearest Tree.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, Bonnen called the activist's move “gutless.” And Democratic state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, who chairs the House committee where Stickland’s legislation was referred, told The Texas Tribune this morning that he initially planned to give the bill a hearing but, “the behavior of certain groups and/or individuals who are unreasonable on their expectations and even more unreasonable in their behavior caused me to reconsider.

“I have no hearing currently planned as a result,” Nevárez said.

In a Facebook video, Stickland said he was “saddened by the act of a few individuals who have that have stolen the conversation about legislation that I deeply care about. … There is a right way and a wrong way to influence the legislative process. … It is never okay to target their homes or personal businesses when you know they are not in town.”

Stickland admitted defeat in subsequent statement. He said that while “constitutional carry” was of “great importance” to him, it “will not become law this session.”

“I refuse to act like it is still a possibility and continue to provide false hope to my constituents,” Stickland said. “I cannot participate in political theater and ask that Texans come to Austin to spend their time and money for a piece of legislation that has no path to success.”

This story was provided by the Texas Tribune.

Alex Samuels is a reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune and a journalism senior at The University of Texas at Austin. She came to the Tribune in fall 2016 as a newsletters fellow, writing the daily Brief and contributing to the water, education and health newsletters. Alex previously worked for USA Today College as both a collegiate correspondent and their first-ever breaking news correspondent. She has also worked for the Daily Dot where she covered politics, race, and social issues.