Fellow Democrat raises questions about White's stance on guns

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on July 27, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 27 at 7:34 PM

Exactly one year after it became an issue in his Senate campaign, Bill White — now the Democratic candidate for governor — is still explaining his past membership in a controversial group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The issue was not raised by his Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Perry, but by another Democrat who stands by his statements.

White said he has a good record on guns. "I have a 'B-plus' rating from the NRA," he said.

The Texas State Rifle Association confirms it gave White a "B" prior to the primary. But opponents claim White doesn't make the grade politically because of his previous membership in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization.

"Bill White joined that group full well knowing that it was an anti-Second Amendment group," Gov. Perry said.

White, a former Houston mayor, said he joined the group in 2006. It had been founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the understanding it supported laws that would keep stolen guns from criminals.

Then the group published an ad on July 21 last year urging Congress to crack down on legally concealed weapons crossing state lines.

White said he opposed that position. "I quit the day that I saw some ad that was shown to me by somebody at City Council table in USA Today where my permission was, I never gave permission for them to use my name in an ad," White said.

But a spokesman for the MAIG group told the Austin American Statesman that White quit on July 28, 2009 — one day after fellow Democrat John Sharp pointed out White's membership.

Sharp opposed White in the possible Senate race at the time, and claimed White couldn't be elected.

"If Republicans are allowed to talk about this, there is no way in the world you carry Texas; you certainly don't carry East Texas," Sharp said in a July 31, 2009 interview with News 8.

On Tuesday, Sharp told News 8 he still believes it's hard for a candidate who favors gun controls to get elected in Texas.

The Perry campaign says White is lying about the date he quit Bloomberg's group, and calls him anti-gun.

But White, who owns firearms, says he's against any further restrictions. "I support Second Amendment rights, period," he said.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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