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A Second Amendment advocacy group is calling on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to cancel his financial support of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), arguing the Republican leader shouldn't funnel money to lawmakers who have backed "anti-gun" legislation.
Fitzpatrick was one of five Republicans to break with the majority of the GOP in June to vote with Democrats to approve gun control legislation that cracked down on the sale of semi-automatic firearms for people under 21 and established stricter regulatory frameworks for ghost guns without serial numbers.
Patrick Parsons, executive VP of the American Firearms Association, told the Washington Examiner House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) should cease supporting Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick's (R-PA) March 29 fundraiser over his track record voting for "anti-gun" bills.
Patrick Parsons, executive vice president of the American Firearms Association, told the Washington Examiner that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "would never let one of her members co-sponsor a bill on a core issue to her constituency with 181 Republicans. Never."
"Not only does Speaker McCarthy say nothing about this. In fact, he's going to hold a fundraiser for this guy with every D.C. swamp lobbyist in Washington, D.C.," Parsons, who was chief of staff to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), said of the planned March 29 fundraiser.
The AFA leader took aim at "Fitzpatrick’s anti-gun Second Amendment record," arguing it is "one of the worst we've ever seen" for a GOP congressman.
In July 2022, Fitzpatrick voted for HR 1808, a bill making it a crime to "knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD)." He also voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a bill backed by President Joe Biden that expanded background check requirements.
"And so this comes on the heels of the pistol brace ban by Biden [and] just two days ago [Biden] basically announced national gun registration by executive fiat," Parsons said, adding he was calling on GOP voters to urge McCarthy to cancel his fundraiser support.
Parsons previously said in a video posted to Twitter that his frustrations with McCarthy also stem from his belief that the speaker has done nothing since Republicans took the House to protect gun rights.
While the AFA is followed by tens of thousands of users on social media, the executive vice president of the gun rights group would not disclose its number of members. The group bills itself as America's "never-compromising" and "hardest hitting" defender of the Second Amendment.
Meanwhile, the 5.5 million-member National Rifle Association released a statement upholding its support of House GOP leadership in light of accusations that McCarthy is not doing enough for the Second Amendment.
“The House Republican leadership has made clear that protecting the Second Amendment is a pillar of their agenda," an NRA spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner. "We are confident in their governance not only by the commitments they have made but also by looking at their records over the last four years."
Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, from left, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speak to reporters about their proposed gun ownership legislation at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 16, 2023.
The NRA was also supportive of a new bill backed by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to codify key Second Amendment decisions by the Supreme Court over the past three decades. However, a separate organization known as the Gun Owners of America withheld support of the bill, known as the Respect for the Second Amendment Act.
One reason GOA's federal affairs director, Aidan Johnston, cited for not supporting the codification law was that it uses an "entirely different test" than the one the Supreme Court established last year in its 6-3 decision that significantly curtailed states' ability to restrict citizens' right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
Johnston, who has been critical of Republican lawmakers such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, did not raise qualms with McCarthy's leadership surrounding the Second Amendment but reaffirmed his belief that lawmakers like McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) "have a long way to go before" regaining the good graces of gun owners.
Last August in Texas, Cornyn was censured by the Collin County Republican Party over his support of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and other actions the local chapter believed ran afoul of the values of the GOP.
Cornyn pushed back on "any suggestion that I don't support the Second Amendment" during a press conference over the codification law, adding, "nothing I've ever done as a member of the United States Senate has eroded the rights of law-abiding citizens."
"It's been focused strictly on keeping guns out of the hands of people who are criminals, and who suffer from mental illness — I would think that would be a commonsense way to reconcile the competing interests here," Cornyn added.
Fitzpatrick, the co-chairman of the Problem Solvers Caucus and a leading GOP centrist, has made himself a crucial figure in the narrow House GOP majority, namely for his undying support for McCarthy during the historic vote that ultimately took 15 attempts for the California Republican to secure the speakership.
Also at the fundraiser event will be Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), and tickets are slated to cost between $500 and $2,500.