Gun Issue Key in Texas Governors Race

Down here in Texas, we love our guns: We love owning them, talking about them, and being able to use them to defend our lives and property. And this goes a long way in explaining why we’re so fond of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, the longest serving governor in the history of the state and one of the best friends a gun owning citizenry could ask for.

It also shines a light on one of the central reasons why Perry’s challenger in the upcoming 2010 gubernatorial elections, former Houston Mayor Bill White (D), is going to have a hard time persuading Texans to support him. For while Perry’s pro-gun resume reads like something the late Charlton Heston would have been proud of, the anti-gun resume of White reads like something the gun control proponents at the Brady Campaign would fully embrace.

While mayor of Houston, in 2006 White joined New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” Ostensibly, the group’s goal was to somehow limit the trafficking of illegal weapons across state lines. In reality, however, the group’s greatest “success” was helping to defeat Sen. John Thune’s (R.-S.D.) “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill” in 2009. Thune’s bill would have made it legal for a concealed-carry permit holder from one state to carry his concealed firearm across a state line, as long as he was crossing from one state that allowed concealed carry into another that allowed it as well.

During White’s time as a member of “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” the group also did its best to sink to the Tiahrt amendment, a pro-gun amendment that consists of a series of ‘riders’ to the appropriations bill that funds the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Since its inception in 2003, the Tiahrt amendment has protected the privacy rights of every day citizens by mandating privacy in gun purchases. It does this in part by guaranteeing that once a person passes a federal background check and is cleared to purchase a firearm, the paper records of that check are destroyed within 24 hours. This is just another way of saying the Tiahrt amendment has, to date, prevented the government from compiling a national registry of all gun owners in this country.

Yet on June 6, 2007, “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” ran a full-page ad in USA Today, opposing the Tiahrt amendment and then-Mayor Bill White endorsed the ad with his signature.

Call me crazy, but White is going to have a hard time convincing Texans that his opposition to Thune’s reciprocity legislation and his stand against the Tiahrt amendment were aimed at stopping the flow of illegal guns.  He’d have better luck arguing that denying me butter will somehow make Rosie O’Donnell thin.

And it’s demonstrable that other Democrats in Texas have distanced themselves from White in the past for fear that his anti-gun reputation would render them unelectable. Last July, former Texas Comptroller John Sharp (D) commented on White’s intention to run for Senate: “Mr. White’s war on guns is already making it impossible for him to be elected statewide in Texas.… He should immediately disassociate himself from [‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns’] so he doesn’t also hurt the chances of other Democrats running for public office.”

To be fair to White, he did quit “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” shortly after Sharp’s criticism. Yet he did so under the false premises that he left the group over its opposition to the Tiahrt amendment: the very amendment against which he’d endorsed the USA Today ad in 2007.

While White is running from his anti-gun past, Perry strongly supports the individual right to gun ownership and the subsequent right to use guns in self-defense. White has no pro-gun endorsements whatsoever but Perry has the endorsements of the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association,

The bottom line is this: Perry is a pro-gun governor and White is an anti-gun Democrat.

Texas will have to secede from itself before White has a chance of winning.