It’s not something you see often, or ever: Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, long time darling of the National Rifle Association, is defending background checks from far-right Republicans.
In a Tuesday Twitter battle, Patrick accused Michael Quinn Sullivan – the Tea Party-aligned Empower Texans CEO at the center of the House Speaker Dennis Bonnen controversy – of destroying the Republican Party.
After Sullivan attacked Patrick’s newfound stance on background checks, Patrick hit back, writing, “You know my plan exempts family and friends, so apparently you are fine with selling your guns to total strangers who can’t pass a background check because they could be a violent felon or someone bent on mass violence.”
“BTW, release the tape. You are destroying our party,” Patrick added.
Earlier this month following a string of mass shootings in Texas, Patrick reversed his position on background checks, going as far as saying he was “willing to take an arrow” and defy the NRA on the issue.
Under current Texas law, background checks are not required for private gun sales, such as transactions between individuals or at gun shows. In the mass shooting in Odessa last month that left seven dead and at least 25 injured, the shooter acquired his firearm via a private sale without a background check. The shooter had also previously failed a background check, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.
Tuesday’s Twitter spat isn’t the first time Sullivan has gone after Patrick. When Patrick revealed his legislative priorities last session, Sullivan lamented the fact that many of the red meat issues that were present in the 2017 session were missing from Patrick’s list. “… it is frustrating that it appears conservative reform is now being rationed in the upper chamber of the Texas Legislature,” wrote Sullivan in a blog.
Patrick himself, until now, has kept the ongoing House Speaker Bonnen investigation and surrounding controversy at arms length. During a radio appearance on the Mark Davis Show, Patrick said he was worried the investigation into Bonnen’s alleged quid-pro-quo deal could cost Texas Republicans in 2020. “We don’t have to lose many seats to lose the House to the Democrats, and this could play a part in that,” Patrick said at the time. “The sooner it’s behind us — however this turns out — is the better.”
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images