Why Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales Voted for Sweeping Gun Legislation

UVALDE, TX — Congressman Tony Gonzales represents Congressional District 23, an oddly-shaped district that spans from the urban edges of San Antonio through rural southwest Texas to the urban outskirts of El Paso. CD-23 also contains the city of Uvalde where the horrific school massacre by a crazed boy with a semiautomatic rifle killed 19 children and two adult teachers in an elementary school on May 24.

As is expected in the days following a tragedy, calls for more gun laws erupted in Washington. Gonzales, a Republican and ex-Navy intelligence corpsman, was forced to decide how to react.

This past week, had Gonzales voted against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, billed as a safety measure to address gun violence, rank-and-file CD-23 constituents who experienced the up close horror of the Uvalde shooting might wonder why their congressman would not do anything to try to prevent another school shooting.

There is more to consider about the makeup of the Texas congressional district that sits along the longest stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border of any political subdivision in the U.S.

The 2022 election numbers in CD-23 tell a story of a congressional district where the moderates in the middle call the shots. During the 2022 primary elections, Gonzales handily won the Republican Primary Election on March 1 with 22,697 votes, or 78.7% of the 28,832 total Republican votes cast. His challenge will be November 8 when he faces Democrat John Lira. Lira won 20,129 votes, or 56.1% of the 35,893 Democrat votes cast in the Democrat Party Primary. In CD-23, Democrats have a 7,061 vote advantage. To win on November 8, Gonzales cannot position himself as a fire-breathing right-wing Republican who is an absolutist on gun rights and the Second Amendment.

On the other hand, for voting in favor of the legislation, Gonzales has been called a Republican In Name Only, or RINO, and compared to Senator John Cornyn who was a lead negotiator for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that was signed into law on Saturday by President Joe Biden. We examined Cornyn’s situation in The Sins of Senator Cornyn earlier this week.

Facing the political challenges CD-23 offers, Gonzales’ chosen political strategy was to be pragmatic rather than ideological.

“I was never an automatic ‘yes’ for gun control legislation,” Gonzales explained in an exclusive interview Saturday afternoon. He said a few very bad gun control bills were presented for a vote in the House immediately following the Uvalde tragedy.

“I voted ‘no’ on those Democrat bills,” he said.

He said he worked hand-in-hand with several gun lobby groups and firearm manufacturers to make sure the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act didn’t diminish the Second Amendment and did not encroach on due process. He said he believes the law accomplishes this and at the same time will stop the next Uvalde. Gonzales said his ultimate goal, if Congress was to pass sweeping gun control legislation, was to insure the legislation was effective.

As a personal test each step of the way as the legislation was marked up, Gonzales said he continuously asked himself, “Would this have prevented the massacre in Uvalde?”

“I know the bill would have,” Gonzales said. “The guy (the 18-year-old gunman) was crazy. He had severe mental problems as a juvenile.”

The law will address ways to enforce firearm confiscation and the forbid the right to purchase firearms by those deemed a threat to themselves or others by incentivizing states to enact Red Flag Laws.

“I don’t believe in all of this Red Flag stuff, but at the same time, I have firearms vendors in my district who tell me that they don’t want to be selling firearms to the mentally unstable,” Gonzales said.

The Red Flag provisions in the law are what has brought the most scorn from the conservative press. For Gonzales the tradeoff in the compromise with the Democrats — minimal Red Flag provisions traded for more ways to address mental health — was worth it.

“There is $11 billion in that law that will be granted to the states to combat the mental health crisis,” Gonzales said. He noted that in CD-23 there are zero beds available to treat the mentally ill in lieu of outright jailing them in the rural Texas county jails. “In a state of 30 million people, we have maybe 1,000 beds for the mentally ill.”

“Lets bring a lot of that money back to Texas and work towards fixing this problem,” Gonzales said.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) departs from the U.S. Capitol Building on November 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said earlier today that he expects the House to vote on U.S. President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda before lawmakers break for recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) departs from the U.S. Capitol Building on November 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said earlier today that he expects the House to vote on U.S. President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda before lawmakers break for recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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The problem with Red Flag laws is the probability for abuse…especially considering how concerned parents were designated “domestic terrorists” by Biden’s corrupt DOJ for simply speaking out during school board meetings.

If they can do that they can do anything, including trampling on your 2nd Amendment right ;)

MakeME, Sun, 06/26/2022 - 16:51

When you threaten violence, you might be labeled as a domestic terrorist.

Only if you’re republican democrats get a pass…especially if you happen to be a Congressperson or a U.S. Senator ;)

Van, Sun, 06/26/2022 - 13:20

Red flag laws will be ruled as unconstitutional unless they have a due process position.  The law itself will due very little to reduce gun violence.

Van, Sun, 06/26/2022 - 13:23

We all know where most of the gun violence occurs, in democratic cities urban areas.

MakeME, Sun, 06/26/2022 - 16:49

Name the republican run cities that are doing better then. 

Republicans don't run cities. That is why you have to compare state to state.

“Republicans don’t run cities”

Fair point that explains why they’re all turning into crime-ridden shitholes ;)

Don Jones, Mon, 06/27/2022 - 19:36

If you do a proper comparison, like state to state, the top crime states are all republican run. 

Don Jones, Mon, 06/27/2022 - 19:39

So you admit that you cant name any republican run Cities that are doing better then? Good for you.

Sorry for your confusion. Obviously referring to very large metropolitan areas…which like was explained, are all run by democrats ;)

Don Jones, Mon, 06/27/2022 - 16:04

Name some republican cities that are doing better

Speaking of “due process”…as of now, only 165 of the 800+ cases that were brought as a result of January 6th have been fully adjudicated.

Liberal organizations like the ACLU used to be concerned about such things as due process apparently not any more ;)

What he should have voted for was law enforcement that weren't spineless. Sitting outside of a school with an active shooter for 30 minutes plus all while keeping anyone else from entering is far from fulfilling their duties to protect and serve. No wonder they want to demolish the school. IT's full of EVIDENCE

Tony and all right all right all right are nothing but RINO leftnut jobs working on their see me images.

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