Facebook / Windhand
State Rep. Leo Pacheco speaks to a group during a 2019 appearance.
The Bexar County Democratic Party has censured State Rep. Leo Pacheco, who once served as its chairman, for voting to approve a controversial bill nixing the requirement for Texans to obtain permits to carry handguns.
Pacheco was one of just seven Democrats
in the Texas House to vote in favor of the GOP-backed legislation, which is likely to be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. Democrats largely opposed the measure, as did gun control groups and some members of law enforcement.
A letter of censure posted Wednesday
by the Bexar Democrats points out that the party's state platform calls for preserving gun rights while "implementing prudent safeguards" to avoid firearm deaths. The platform also calls for prohibiting “open carry of all firearms and repealing ‘campus carry’ policies."
In an emailed statement, Pacheco's office declined comment on the letter.
"The representative is waiting until after the end of session to issue any response because his priority is focusing on passing substantive legislation," the statement said.
Pacheco served as chair of the Bexar Democrats
for four years during the 1990s.
In the U.S. political system, letters of censure are formal and public condemnations of a lawmaker's actions. While they don't result in the removal of an officeholder, they're often weaponized in campaigns, particularly when a lawmaker faces a primary challenge from a member of their own party.
Pacheco has served two terms in the Texas House, winning handily against his Republican opponents in both elections. While he faced a primary challenger in 2018, no other Democrat ran for his seat in 2020.
Pacheco was elected during the 2018 wave in which Democrats flipped 12 House seats. At the time, he told the Express-News
that the Democratic gains would yield a “kinder, gentler” legislative session.
The majority of Texans oppose permitless carry, according to a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll
. During Democrats' attempts to shut down the so-called "constitutional carry" legislation, State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, warned that it could lead to mass shootings like the August 2019 massacre in his home town that claimed the lives of 23 people.
A conference committee made up of members of the Texas House and Senate are now ironing out differences
between open-carry bills passed by each body before it heads to Abbott's desk.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.