Lone Star Gun Rights Sues Texas House Speaker Bonnen For Blocking Access to His Facebook Page

lone star gun rights lawsuit

Texas Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Texas gun rights advocates have been going at it with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen for months now. The Speaker is no fan of constitutional carry and kept a bill to legalize permitless carry bottled up in the House.

Bonnen then used campaigning tactics by a Texas Gun Rights activist as an excuse to kill the bill last month. But that was just a fig leaf to euthanize a bill he opposed anyway (read our post on the topic here). The media dutifully provided the cover Bonnen was looking for.

Now, Lone Star Gun Rights has filed suit against Bonnen for blocking their access to his Facebook page (where they’ve tried to counter his dubious claims about the constitutional carry bill). Does that sound crazy? Tell that to a New York thee-judge Appeals Court panel that ruled President Trump couldn’t block readers from his social media accounts.

Here’s Lone Star Gun Rights’ press release announcing the lawsuit . . .

Austin-based grassroots gun rights organization, Lone Star Gun Rights, has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Texas House Speaker, Dennis Bonnen, of House District 25 (Angleton/Lake Jackson). The organization is claiming that in his official capacity as both the Representative of District 25 and as Speaker, Dennis Bonnen has silenced critics on his public Facebook page, where he constantly gives legislative updates to his followers.

At the beginning of April, news broke that Speaker Bonnen was proclaiming HB357 (also known as Constitutional Carry) “dead” after a grassroots organizer was utilizing campaign-style tactics to raise awareness about the bill being stalled in committee. Taking to Facebook on April 6th, the Speaker stated that the various grassroots organizations “want anyone – including criminals – to be able to carry a gun without a license,” giving the impression to anyone not familiar with the contents of HB357 that the bill would legalize the carrying of handguns by convicted felons. A couple of days following that post, the Speaker doubled down on this deliberate misstatement by saying on The Chad Hasty Show that Constitutional Carry was “an issue that would allow a criminal the ability to carry a gun.”

As there is no official Speaker of the House Facebook page, and all official updates from the Speaker’s Office are posted only on his campaign Facebook page, LSGR and several members left comments to voice their disapproval of the Speaker’s actions. This resulted in an abundance of members, including those who operate the LSGR Facebook page, being banned from interacting on the Speaker’s page. This also resulted in their comments being deleted, leaving only the one side of the argument to be seen by the 15,321 Facebook users that follow the Speaker’s page, as well as the countless number of people who do not.

Lone Star Gun Rights as an organization, along with two individual plaintiffs, are suing Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen in Federal Court for 1st and 14th Amendment violations for silencing his critics in what senior Courts have concluded to be a public forum. The suit seeks an injunction against the Speaker to unban all Facebook users who have been banned thus far, and reinforce the already established precedent that an elected official may not silence critics in a public forum. No punitive damages are being sought; however, the plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement of legal fees.

comments

  1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    I wrote the s o b a letter and he sent me a long blah blah blah letter about being pro second amendment . Later , I saw where he found an excuse to block the constitutional carry bill so I sent him a letter urging him not to penalize thousands of Texans because he didn’t like what a couple of folks did that he didn’t approve of. I ended the letter stating that if the carry bill did not get back into the process that I would raise money for anyone that would run against him in the future. Funny I never got a reply on this.

    1. avatar Mark says:

      Bonnen is as phony as he is here on everything. He banned me from his page a couple of years ago for commenting and asking questions. He NEVER answered any of them and I am, sadly, a constituent. He’s worthless!

  2. avatar California Richard says:

    “But, but, but the rules only apply to my political enemies! This isn’t fair!”

    1. avatar Karl says:

      Like the good book says, payback’s a bitch.

      1. avatar Frederick Jones says:

        Do what we did to Straus. About 31 Texas counties Republican Parties send a lot of people in Austin a letter of non-support for the Texas House Speaker and he resigned shortly afterward. The Taylor County Republican Party of which I’m the Secretary did that for Straus, and we got rid of him. So get involved with your local County Republican Party and get the Executive Committee to do the same. You should also contact your State Rep. and tell him to vote against Bonnen next time they are voting for Speaker or a vote of confidence comes up, and vote for a real conservative to take his place.

  3. avatar Dave says:

    If a politician’s primary conduit for communications is social media, then would blocking a citizen from their official social-media page constitute burdening 1A rights of petition of grievances?

    1. avatar Slow Joe Crow says:

      Since there’s established case law and 1st Amendment issues are typically subject to strict scrutiny, he’s likely to lose. One bright spot is that he may be on the hook for LSGR’s legal fees since it’s his campaign page and not an official page.

    2. avatar Andrew says:

      Insofar as it being their only mode of communication, quite possibly. Were they to have two profiles, one for personal use and one for the office, it would likely stand to reason that blocking on the personal line would be allowable as they also have a right to privacy. Forcing someone to allow everyone to follow their personal line would be akin to forcing them to take all letters written to their spouse and post them up on a bulletin board in the town square. However, that in turn is dependent on the official line being active. “Having” a office profile that never replies to anything or is used at all when the matching personal profile is heavily used would indicate that the official profile is a sham for only compliance sake and not a valid method of petitioning for redress. It was likely on the potential for abuse from that line of attack that superior courts ruled Trump can’t block people on his personal Twitter even though he is active on both his personal Twitter and the POTUS Twitter.

  4. avatar Robert Powell says:

    NO MATTER WHAT COLOR YOU USE TO PAINT A COCKROACH, ALL YOU HAVE AFTER ALL THE WORK TO PAINT IT ,YOU STILL HAVE A COCKROACH… VOTE THE ASSWIPE OUT OF OFFICE.

    1. avatar joefoam says:

      Don’t wait for a vote. Get him recalled now.

  5. avatar DrDKW says:

    I believe criminals already have the ability to carry a gun.
    AFAIK, it’s still going to be illegal for criminals to possess a gun, But I’m sure legality isn’t an issue for them. just as logic and reason isn’t an issue for the grabbers.

    1. avatar Darlene A Pendery says:

      Excellent point, Dr. DKW. Let’s not lose site of one important thing: It was the lawful distribution of information to Bonnen’s constituents that prompted him to weaponize public news media to launch outrageous defamatory allegations against one with whom he disagreed on Constitutional Carry. Bonnen set out to destroy a man who was merely exercising his First Amendment Rights. Bonnen used unethical cutthroat tactics to silence differing views from his own. This is the focus regardless of where one stands on Constitutional Carry.

      1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

        And our TSRA lobbyist fell for the lie and criticized the individual that was blamed by Bonnen.

  6. avatar Andy says:

    Bonnen is just another Joe Straus and turning out to be worse. As the story goes, he killed the ConCarry before it left the launch pad because he and his family were harassed. Really is hard to be harassed when no one was home to answer the knock on the door. Funny how his story DID NOT match the DPS video.
    You’re giving us bald head guys a bad name by acting like a democrat in a republican t-shirt.

  7. avatar NORDNEG says:

    I liked the old Texas better…

  8. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    Sadly, the Texas legislature has always been filled with progressives. Bonnen is just another version of Joe Strauss. And Strauss was a lot closer to John McCain’s style of “governing” than any serious belief in conservative principals. Texas elected Republicans used to be able to successfully pretend to be conservatives to their constituents while simultaneously voting as progressives. Now it’s a bit harder to do that.

  9. avatar HellBelly says:

    He looks like the bad guy out of a movie I saw once, but I just can’t put my finger on it. He wasn’t a hardass kind of bad guy, more like a nerdy science driven bad guy.

    1. avatar EnDangerEd says:

      ….and when he failed it was ALWAYS someone else’s fault… Right? The artfull Dodger lives again! Beware!!

  10. avatar Mr no says:

    The insanity is reaching out from nysafe state all the way to Texas. See if the judge’s have balls or are scumo wannabes

  11. avatar Gary Lankford says:

    Texas Constitutional Carry was made a priority for this legislative session by the Texas Republican Convention. The House elected Bonnen as Speaker to replace Joe Strauss based on his assurances, including his claim that he is pro-gun. Knowing that Johnathan Stickland had introduced Constitutional Carry as HB357, Bonnen appointed anti-gun Democrat Pancho Nevarez as chairman of the Homeland Security committee where HB357 would be heard. When citizens pressured Nevarez, he scheduled the hearing date such that it had to be postponed due to a floor budget debate conflict, but did not reschedule. Then when citizens pressured Bonnen, he used the lies about Texas Gun Rights as his final straw to kill Constitutional Carry…

    Bonnen is an elitist, like many other Texas Republican legislators who hate Texans who are lower social status. Quite apart from the more important issue that Constitution Carry represents as a rights issue, is the practical extention of that right to carry to lower socioeconomic strata persons who are less likely to pursue licensing. The right to keep and BEAR arms should never require government permission.

    Bonnen will be up for reelection in 2020, but to dethrone him as speaker will probably require giving his seat to a Democrat. Not being in his district, I can’t vote against him in either primary or general election, but I will donate my support to any opponent, Republican or Democrat, in order to end his Speakership.

  12. avatar Sam I Am says:

    An interesting aside to Texas government structure: thanks to Sam Houston, the Speaker of the House is actually the power holder. The Governor is relatively unimportant; not helpless, but hobbled to a fair thee well.

    (If I remember correctly, the Land Commissioner is the second most powerful; even waterways fall under the Land Commission)

    1. avatar Andy says:

      Lt. Governor is the power holder, speaker is #2. Railroad Commissioner is right up there close to them as he/she pretty much controls the rails and anything that moves on them including petroleum and the like.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Lt. Governor is the power holder, speaker is #2.”

        Thanks for the reminder, it has been a coupla decades since stationed in Tejas. Knew the Speaker at the time (well, attended some functions he was at), and the impression he was the true power was imprinted, somehow. Anyway, Texas is kinda strange (being bumped up against Lousyana is probably the reason) about some things. However….Shiner Bock beer is still the berries.

  13. avatar Johnny Gungetter says:

    What constitutional amendment covers Facebook access? Hey even the president who lives in public housing should be able to shut the door when he takes a crap.

  14. avatar Mike says:

    Oregon State Senator (and senate president) Ginney Burdick does the same thing in put state.

  15. He looks like a jackbooted Purin enforcer who’d do any heinous act to please the leader! How did he get elected in the first place?

  16. avatar Frederick Jones says:

    Complain to your State Rep., and push your County Republican Party to write a letter of non-support for Bonnen. That’s what we did to Straus and he resigned shortly afterward. Tell your State Rep. to vote for a real conservative to take his place as House Speaker so we can get really good legislation passed by the House!

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