UN Arms Treaty Makes NRA Evaluation of Texas Attorney General Candidates Crucial
One of the biggest issues potentially facing the next Attorney General of Texas may well be defending the 2nd Amendment rights of Texans against President Obama's Administration's signing of the United Nations Small Arms Treaty and a potential ratification of said treaty by a Democrat controlled Senate. This could make the NRA's evaluation of our AG candidates even more crucial than in normal elections.
The current Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, has already committed to filing a lawsuit against the Obama Administration should the treaty become law by either ratification or other executive action by the Administration. This means we are pretty well protected for any action that might take place in the 2014 election year season. But what about when the next Senate and the next Texas AG take office in 2015.
The National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund PAC routinely grades Members of Congress, Senators, state legislators and senators and other elected officials that have a track record relating to 2nd Amendment and gun ownership related issues. While the 2014 rating has not yet been released, we can look at their evaluations of our three AG candidates during the 2012 election cycle.
During the 2012 Republican Primary election and the 2012 General election, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman was the only one of the three candidates to receive a grade of "A+". State Senator Ken Paxton (R-SD8) received a grade of "A" while State Representative Dan Branch (R-HD108) fell even shorter with a grade of "B". Neither Branch nor Paxton were graded in the primary election.
Let's take a look at what these grades mean. According to the NRA-PVF website, the grade of A+ is the highest grade a legislator or elected official can earn. The A+ grade received by Barry Smitherman is defined as follows:
"A legislator [or elected official] with not only an excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues, but who has also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment."
The grade of A ranks slightly below that of A+ and has a distinct difference. The A grade received by Ken Paxton is defined as follows:
"Solidly pro-gun candidate. A candidate who has supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office or a candidate with a demonstrated record of support on Second Amendment issues."
The key difference between the two is that the candidate receiving a grade of "A+" has made "a vigorous effort to support and defend the Second Amendment." This difference will be explained below.
Finally the much less supportive grade of "B" is a barely passing grade, especially for a Republican candidate or elected official. The B grade received by Dan Branch is defined as follows:
"A generally pro-gun candidate. However, a "B" candidate may have opposed some pro-gun reform or supported some restrictive legislation in the past."
This is an extremely poor grade for someone we will be counting on to protect and defend the Second Amendment rights of Texans against not only the UN Small Arms Treaty but any other over-reaching actions that might be taken by the Obama Administration or the Democrat controlled Senate (and potentially the House in 2015). If you are a gun-rights voter, you have an easy choice in ruling out Dan Branch from being the next Texas Attorney General.
That leaves Smitherman with his "A+" rating and Paxton with his "A" rating. Some have argued that Paxton and Branch have had a much longer track record that can be measured than does Chairman Smitherman. In looking back over the years, Branch's grade has been slipping from A to A- to B where it currently sits. Paxton has consistently been graded with an A but has never achieved the A+ rating provided to Smitherman.
Perhaps that is because actions speak louder than votes on the floor of the Texas House or Senate. In his personal life, Smitherman has chosen to go through the training to receive a concealed handgun license (CHL) while Paxton and Branch have not. This clearly makes a statement as to the personal value Smitherman places on being able to carry a firearm for personal protection. But it goes much further than that.
As the Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, Barry Smitherman took action to ensure that his employees (many of whom work in very isolated locations) would be able to carry a firearm, if they so chose, by authorizing Railroad Commission employees who have a CHL to carry a firearm while on duty. He then went further to provide classes to those employees who did not already have a CHL so that the maximum number of employees could provide for their own personal protection while on duty.
This is one of the key differentiators between candidates who only have a legislative record but do not have any executive branch experience. With Smitherman, we can look at actual actions taken as opposed to simple votes on a popular Republican issue.
Paxton and Branch have only served in the legislative branch of government. The Texas Attorney General is an executive branch elected office. There is a big difference.
If you are a gun-rights voter, it is easy to rule out Dan Branch from consideration of your vote. His declining rating from the NRA that has left him currently ranked with a "B" clearly rules him out for consideration under this issue.
Paxton has a good rating with an "A" but has never achieved the ranking of A+ as far back as 2006.
Smitherman is clearly the top choice for Second Amendment voters with not only his "A+" grade from the NRA but also the demonstrated actions in his personal and public service life.
There are many other issues than just Second Amendment issues. But with three more years of an out-of-control Obama Administration, I think the Second Amendment is clearly an important issue for consideration as to who to vote for in the 2014 Republican Primary.