Texas Dem Lawmaker: Of Course Gun Activist’s Video Was A Threat

A group of open carry activists confronted Texas state Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D) during the first day of the legislative session.

Texas state Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D) told TPM on Thursday that a video in which an open carry gun activist ranted about “treason” being “punishable by death” was clearly a threat to lawmakers who disagree with loosening gun laws.

But, the Democrat noted, it wouldn’t dictate how he planned to vote on the state’s open carry bill.

Nevarez was responding to a video posted to Facebook earlier this week by open carry leader Kory Watkins. In the video, Watkins said that he planned to “step it up a notch” in dealing with lawmakers and made the comments about treason. Watkins later took the video off his page and said it was never meant to be a threat or advocate violence against legislators.

But Nevarez told TPM he saw it much differently.

“I think anybody who sees that video can interpret what it means regardless of what the gentleman said after the fact,” Nevarez said. “It’s a threat.”

In fact, Nevarez said he reported the video to the Texas Department of Public Safety and said the department was monitoring the situation. The department did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment on Thursday.

Nevarez also told TPM that a panic button was recently installed in his office at the state Capitol following a Jan. 13 confrontation there in which Watkins and other open carry activists refused to leave. The activists posted video of the confrontation online afterward.

Although he’s often out of the office, Nevarez noted the precaution was meant to help protect his interns and staff. The option to install panic buttons was approved by the state House following the confrontation.

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Despite all the trouble, Nevarez maintained that the latest video wouldn’t affect his decision.

“I’m not gonna let somebody dictate to me how I’m gonna vote on something by threatening my life,” he said. “That’s not the way the process should work. … It’s a mockery of the process that somebody can do this and then the outcome’s the way they wanted. They can always look to the fact that they applied this kind of pressure and say that’s the result that I got.”

Nevarez also said that regardless of the issue, he would vote against physical threats on principle.

“That’s not the way anybody should dialogue about a bill, about anything,” Nevarez said.

He also said that he likely would have supported some from of open carry had he not been threatened on the issue.

“The truth is I probably would’ve voted for some form of open carry, not the one they were advocating, because the one that they’re advocating was ridiculous, but there’s another form of open carry that seems sort of plausible to somebody like me who’s a gun owner,” Nevarez said. “I mean I have a shooting range on my property. But now, what does that say about me if I vote yes? … That’s not gonna happen.”

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