The Texas affiliate of a national self-styled “gun rights” group led by a man who described Donald Trump as a “gun grabber” and a “poison that infects the GOP” has begun sending mailers and other communications making false claims about the voting records of members of the Texas Legislature.
Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights, is a longtime critic of Trump, who he claims “did more damage” to the Second Amendment than Barack Obama. In a tweet last week, Brown indicated that he planned on voting for a third party candidate for President, adding, “I’ve never voted for Trump and never will.”
In another tweet that same day, Brown described Trump as “poison that infects the GOP.”
The embattled Defend Texas Liberty Political Action Committee has been a significant financial supporter of Brown’s group. According to campaign finance records, Defend Texas Liberty has donated $48,500 to the National Association for Gun Rights since 2022.
Defend Texas Liberty has a history of making large donations to Republican candidates who have publicly opposed Trump. In the upcoming special election to replace disgraced former State Representative Bryan Slaton, Defend Texas Liberty has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Brent Money- who has been critical of Trump and once offered a “Never Trump” perspective on national television.
The National Association of Gun Rights has also attracted criticism for its tactics from nationally known conservative leaders. Radio talk show host Mark Levin once described the organization as a “little nutjob group that likes to raise money by saying Mark Levin wants to take your Second Amendment rights away.” Levin has been a prominent supporter of a Convention of States, while Brown and the National Association for Gun Rights have opposed the idea.
The National Association for Gun Rights’ website lists Texas Gun Rights as the organization’s Texas state affiliate and links to the organization’s website. Texas Gun Rights has recently sent mailers and text messages into the districts of several Republican lawmakers, accusing them of aligning with Joe Biden on anti-gun policies.
Lawmakers targeted by Texas Gun Rights’ attacks have supported pro-gun legislation in the legislature and have earned endorsements from the National Rifle Association.
The basis for Texas Gun Rights’ attacks appears to be Senate Bill 728, which aligned Texas law with federal law concerning specific reporting requirements for federal background checks required for firearms purchases. The bill was limited to reporting instances where a child who was at least 16 years old engaged in conduct resulting in a judicial juvenile delinquency proceeding. The reporting requirements are only applicable in situations where the child is determined by the court to be mentally unfit to continue with the court proceeding, determined to be not responsible for the conduct as a result of mental illness, or is committed to an inpatient mental health treatment facility due to their condition.
Senate Bill 728 passed the Texas Senate by a vote of 31-0 and the Texas House by a 116-28 margin.
Despite the unanimous vote in support of Senate Bill 728 in the Texas Senate, Texas Gun Rights’ recent ad campaign has been targeted toward members of the Texas House. However, during the legislative session, the group was vocally critical of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, accusing him of “embracing Joe Biden’s gun control agenda.”
As is the case with Texas House members who are under attack by Texas Gun Rights, Lt. Governor Patrick was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in his most recent re-election campaign. A senior official from the National Rifle Association praised Patrick’s record on Second Amendment issues in a press release issued by Patrick’s campaign touting the endorsement.
“Your endorsement reflects your lengthy and proven record of support for the Second Amendment and our sporting traditions,” said Jason Ouimet, who was then the Chairman of the National Rifle Association’s endorsement arm. “Your strong commitment to law-abiding Texans’ right to self-defense has been demonstrated by your office prioritizing landmark NRA-backed emergency powers reform, firearm industry non-discrimination legislation and traveler protection laws. It has also been demonstrated by your work ensuring the passage of Texas’ historic permitless carry law. Your work has made Texas a beacon of freedom for gun owners and sportsmen across the nation.”
In the current Republican primary election cycle, the National Rifle Association has endorsed Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan as well as a host of other incumbent Republican legislators due to significant pro-gun legislation they have supported.
Last year, The Texas Voice reported that Republican Party of Texas State Chairman Matt Rinaldi was listed as a member of Texas Gun Rights’ board of directors on paperwork filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office. In a subsequent interview with Current Revolt, Rinaldi confirmed to Current Revolt that he had briefly served on the organization’s board of directors and said that he resigned once he learned that the group would be attacking Lt. Governor Patrick.