By Alex Samuels, Texas Tribune
Two usual political allies — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association — traded rhetorical blows Friday after Patrick continued to advocate for requiring background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales.
Calling his support for the background checks a “political gambit,” the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action said in a statement that Patrick’s “‘proposals’ would resurrect the same broken, Bloomberg-funded failures that were attempted under the Obama administration.”
“The NRA remains at the forefront of legitimate efforts to combat crime in our country,” the group wrote. “We encourage Lt. Gov. Patrick to join us in support of the same.”
The statement referenced former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the most prominent gun control advocates in the country.
In Texas, person-to-person sales of firearms do not require background checks, but after two mass shootings in Texas in less than a month — one in El Paso and one in Midland-Odessa — the lieutenant governor has openly supported closing the supposed loophole. President Donald Trump has also endorsed the idea.
The man who fatally shot seven people in West Texas, Seth Aaron Ator, was federally barred from possessing a firearm, ABC News reported. It was later reported that he purchased his weapon in a private person-to-person sale, allowing him to avoid a background check.
In an interview with Fox News last weekend, Patrick said the NRA “needs to get behind” Trump on background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales. And in an extensive interview with The Dallas Morning News on Friday, Patrick called it “common sense” to tighten background check laws because in many instances, buyers in stranger-to-stranger sales aren’t required to be vetted through a federal database before they purchase firearms.
“That gap of stranger to stranger we have to close, in my view,” Patrick told the News. “Look, I’m a solid NRA guy … but not expanding the background check to eliminate the stranger to stranger sale makes no sense to me and … most folks.”
Over the past few days, both Patrick, who presides over the state Senate, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen have appointed lawmakers in their chambers to committees on mass violence prevention and community safety. Both Republicans directed their committees to examine ways to keep firearms out of the hands of felons — and others who would not pass a federal background check — while protecting Second Amendment rights.