A Response to Sen. Dan Crenshaw
A long response based on his defense of House Bill 4350
Hello Mr. Crenshaw,
I've read over your remarks on HR 4350, and your defenses for voting in favor of this. To quote your Instagram comment, (https://imgur.com/a/38RkqT8), you claim that this is a bill to fund the military and that it's not worth voting against. Now that is a fair argument. I understand the need for a strong military presence, especially in the wake of what's happened in Afghanistan over the past couple months. However, you claim that 1) there is no red flag law in the bill. 2) This section won't be in the final bill. 3)The bill isn't worth voting against even with these clauses.
Now I'd like to take a moment to break down a few things. First of all you claim that there are no red flag statues in the bill. I would like to draw attention to Section 527, specifically subsections (G) and (J). Subsection (G) states that under any "reasonable suspicion" someone can be reported for domestic abuse. Now sure, on a basic level this seems fine, but once you look at recent history with how broadly sweeping wording like that has effected college campuses and sexual assault stories, you have to at least accept that at some point you'll be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This is all up to a subjective opinion of an Incident Determination Committee, who then passes judgement if someone should be investigated or not. Under subsection (J), part of the analysis from the aforementioned committee can judge the eligibility of the accused to possess or own firearms. This is before any trials or tribunals have taken place, based on the wording of this bill as you voted for it. This is, by definition, a red flag law. To claim that "There is not a 'red flag' law in there." is blatantly false. Either you're lying to people on social media, or you have not properly read the bill you voted yes for. Either way this is morally and ethically dubious.
Your next point is that this clause won't end up in the final bill. Having gone over the 31 amendments to the bill, I don't see any that were proposed by Republicans at all, or more specifically any targeting the weakening or removal of this section. While yes, you can hope that there might be a stronger Republican than you in the Senate who will stand up against this clause, your job isn't to kick the can down the road and hope someone else does your job for you. You were elected by the people of Texas to stand strong, and that's the platform you stand on. And in this moment, where you could have stood strong in favor of pro-2A rights, you instead decided not to. You let this section get through without any thought, and you haven't (at the time of writing and publishing) made any formal comments on this outside of the Instagram comment I found. Unless you have some concrete evidence that this clause will be edited at least, or removed entirely in the Senate, you shouldn't claim that it won't be in the final bill. You're hoping that someone else will take the stand you didn't.
Your third argument is that even with this clause, the bill isn't worth voting against. Like I said before, this is a fair argument at face value. however, having spent about an hour reading over the bill to find the red flag clause that started this whole thing, I managed to find another section that should have been a downright no from any Republican without question. Section 529A deals with "Countering extremism in the Armed Forces". This section starts with setting up an Office of Countering Extremism, and then details the duties and responsibilities of said office. Once again, on the surface level, another ok idea. However, after some reading and context of current events, this falls apart. They use section 1804 to define "extremist activities", and in said section they define them as "Supremacist, Extremists, or Criminal Gang Activity in the Armed Forces." Now sure, I don't think that racists or terrorists belong in the military at all. However, with the current administration, you cannot in good faith expect this to stay as a specifically defined group of people. Presumably the Secretary of the Office of Countering Extremism would be appointed by the President, who has gone through and tried to purge everyone appointed by Trump or that has disagreed with his policies. This Office would be nothing more than a way for him to legalize his inquisition against dissenters in the military. If you think this is ok because "it isn't worth defunding the military and voting against the entire bill", you should at least be honest with your constituents. Additionally, Sec. 1805 goes on to say that "The terms `extremist activities' and `extremist organization' have the meanings prescribed by the Secretary of Defense". This means that Biden's administration will have direct control over how to define these terms.
In my opinion, you at least need to start being honest with people. Since you were elected, I thought that you would be a great new face for the new, more conservative and freedom loving Republican party that we're trying to build. But this bill, and your actions so far have not impressed me at all. You vote yes on this garbage heap of a bill, and then claim a bunch of things that end up contradicting each other. My opinion is the reason you're not coming clean about this is because you know that the people who voted for you don't like this and once they know what's really in this bill your days in office are numbered. Needless to say, I'm not only disappointed in you, but also all the other Republicans who voted for this bill. I will be writing my own representative in the coming days with a similar letter calling them out for voting yes.
Co-host of the Weekly WIN