State Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, has been assigned a security detail following a confrontational visit by gun rights activists 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 and another detail has been designated to watch his family in the district.
The representative has been told that he “will be dealt with” and “they are coming” for him for his stated opposition to a constitutional carry bill that would allow Texans to carry handguns opening without a permit, he said.
At least person with threatening words for Nevárez has raised concerns. An Arizona man threatened Nevárez and later boarded a plane for Texas. He was on the move Tuesday and being sought by authorities, Nevárez said.
“They are looking for him,” Nevárez said. “They are going to find him.”
Tom Vinger, a spokesman for DPS, would not comment on the case, saying only that “DPS does not discuss security-related matters or investigations.”
Nevárez took a tough stance about his own safety and said he wasn’t too concerned. He even joked that he would make signs for his colleagues, saying “I’m not Poncho.”
But when it comes to his loved ones in Eagle Pass, it’s 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 about his Hispanic heritage.
Even after a hostile confrontation with gun rights activists and all the threats and harsh words, Nevárez said he might consider voting in favor of open carry legislation.
But 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,” he said and added 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 that demanded Nevárez support a measure to allow open carry without a license. The group put the exchange on YouTube. Coverage is available here.
“It was a completely different conversation,” Nevárez said.