By Matt Manda
Gun rights are in the DNA of Texans and freshman U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) had seen enough intrusion on the firearm industry and firearm ownership. He put his foot down and took action.
Noticing the likes of gun control billionaire and failed Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg and other antigun groups pledging millions to flip Texas legislative seats for more gun control, Rep. Crenshaw went on the offense. He encouraged several candidates to mount challenger campaigns in the Lone Star State to help keep congressional seats in the hands of Second Amendment supporters. Rep. Crenshaw even organized an “Avengers”-themed campaign video to help boost his recruits to “Save Texas.”
The Second Amendment Superheroes, dubbed “Texas Reloaded,” joined forces and spoke with dozens of firearm industry leaders about critical industry issues during a virtual town hall event in the latest of the NSSF Political Action Committee (PAC) series. Moderated by NSSF’s Larry Keane, the event included Rep. Crenshaw (R-Texas-2) and U.S. Congressional candidates Wesley Hunt (R-Texas-7), Tony Gonzales (R-Texas-23), Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas-24) and Genevieve Collins (R-Texas-32). Each candidate is running their own congressional contest, but all spoke to the unique and important role the Second Amendment plays in their respective races.
Keane addressed how the Democratic presidential ticket of former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is setting the table for severe gun control at the federal level.
“It is, without question, the most antigun platform of any ticket that we’ve ever seen,” Keane warned. “They want to ban and confiscate modern sporting rifles. They want to impose liability on the industry for the actions of criminals. And the list goes on and on,” Keane warned.
“The issue of gun control is something that is very serious to us, especially in light of what we’ve seen in Portland and Seattle, Chicago and Atlanta,” explained Wesley Hunt, a West Point graduate and former Army helicopter pilot. “You’re talking about these areas not being able to rely on law enforcement to be able to defend them. It becomes incumbent upon the people to own weapons to defend themselves, and so here in Texas, if you haven’t noticed, we haven’t seen that high level of violence.”
Former Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Tony Gonzales noted some early advice he received. Gonzalez was to be cautious and tiptoe on the Second Amendment. His response was the opposite.
“We haven’t done that. We’ve leaned into it,” Gonzales said. “These [the Second Amendment] are Texas values and at the end of the day, we believe they are going to hold true.”
Former Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne explained of how she’d seen the gun control messages of antigun groups like Everytown and Moms Demand Action ring empty.
“They’ve fallen completely flat when you’ve seen mob rules across cities in the country. When you’ve seen in Dallas, in this district, riots that have happened and gone into neighborhoods,” Van Duyne said. “You’ve seen a lot of moms, a lot of citizens saying this is ridiculous. You can’t at the same time talk about defunding the police, you can’t talk about letting criminals out, and then take away our way of being able to protect ourselves. It’s become less an issue on gun control and more an issue on safety.”
Genevieve Collins, the first woman to serve on the Dallas City Council, described of her own recent experience with a burglar in her home. She recalled the words of wisdom her dad passed on to her Texas roots of firearm owners and the importance of possessing and being familiar with using a firearm.
“A Texas woman has to be able to shoot, kill, clean, cook and eat your kill one day, and then wear a dress and work a board room the next,” Collins said. “That is exactly who I am and that is who a lot of women in our community are. There are a lot of suburban women in my district and the reality is they just want their kids and their families to be safe.”
Growing Gun Owners
NSSF’s Keane recalled current industry trends and described the national landscape and the importance of the congressional candidates’ support for the Second Amendment as vital to the industry. Firearm sales have reached historic highs due to coronavirus pandemic shutdowns and the subsequent ongoing riots, violence and looting occurring in cities across the country. Law enforcement has been stretched thin and calls to “defund the police” continue. That’s created a growing diversity among gun owners as well. Of the nearly 16 million firearms sold so far in 2020, more than 6.2 million have been to first-time buyers.
Rep. Crenshaw cut to the chase about how the Second Amendment movement can continue the momentum and the importance for the industry and existing gun owners to change the way they recruit and welcome new firearm owners into the community.
“We need a lot less guys dressing up in their Call of Duty outfits, marching through the streets and we need a lot more women who are talking about how they need the right to defend themselves against a larger man. That’s the argument – and it’s a good argument.” Rep. Crenshaw said. “We should really take advantage of this current environment where people understand that self-defense is important. The right to self-defense is an individual right, a God-given right, it does not get taken away.”
There are less than two weeks to go before the Nov. 3 Election Day and millions of Americans have already begun casting their ballots. NSSF launched the #GUNVOTE® campaign to make sure gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are educated and energized to vote so they don’t risk their rights.
Matt Manda is the manager of Public Affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.