State Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, has been assigned a security detail since a confrontational visit by gun rights activists to his office two weeks ago and subsequent threats to his safety.
Nevárez confirmed that officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety have been assigned to keep track of him in Austin. Another detail has been designated to watch his family in his district.
The representative said he has received threats that include posts over Twitter from people telling him that he “will be dealt with” for his stated opposition to a bill that would allow Texans to carry handguns openly without a permit.
Nevárez said authorities are looking for at least one person who threatened him. The man threatened him through Twitter from Arizona and later boarded a plane for Texas. The man was on the move Tuesday, Nevárez said.
“They are looking for him,” he said. “They are going to find him.”
DPS spokesman Tom Vinger would not comment on the case, saying that “DPS does not discuss security-related matters or investigations.”
Nevárez said he wasn’t too concerned about his own safety. He even joked about making signs for his colleagues that read “I’m not Poncho.”
But when it came to his loved ones in Eagle Pass, it was a different story.
“I am worried for my family,” he said, bluntly.
Beyond violent threats, Nevárez has been subject to several racist Twitter posts and other slurs for being Hispanic.
Even after all the vitriol, Nevárez said he might consider voting in favor of some form of open carry legislation.
But he said he wouldn’t support just any bill. He would need the measure to require training and licensing for anyone to openly carry a handgun, he said.
“I think it does have a chance,” Nevárez said, adding that some other Democrats would be open to supporting an open carry law.
Nevárez said he had a respectful meeting with representatives from Open Carry Texas on Monday. The meeting represented a sharp contrast with the more aggressive stop-by on the opening day of the Legislature in which a gun rights group, led by Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County, demanded Nevárez’s support for a measure to allow open carry without a license. The group put the exchange on YouTube.
“It was a completely different conversation,” Nevárez said.
See the YouTube video of the exchange between State Rep. Alfonso "Poncho" Nevárez and a gun rights group here.