SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A felony indictment for abuse of power will hit Texas Governor Rick Perry, an avowed gun enthusiast, where it hurts - by curtailing some of his rights to bear firearms.
Perry, a possible candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential race, has sought the spotlight since his indictment last week, holding news conferences to denounce the charges as politically motivated and turning his booking into a campaign-style event where he spoke to cheering supporters.
Under state law, Perry, a staunch supporter of gun rights who said he shot a coyote to death with a pistol while jogging in Austin in 2010, is no longer allowed a license to carry a concealed handgun because of the indictment.
Someone whose license is revoked can appeal or reapply two years after the date of revocation.
Perry has entered a not guilty plea to charges of abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony, and coercion of a public official, a third-degree felony, handed down by a state grand jury last week. He faces up to 99 years in jail if convicted of the first-degree felony.
The longest-serving governor in the state’s history, Perry became the target of an ethics investigation last year after he vetoed $7.5 million in funding for the state public integrity unit run from the Travis County district attorney’s office. His veto was widely viewed as intended to force the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she had pleaded guilty to drunken driving.
Edwin Walker, a gun rights attorney in Houston, said if someone is indicted for a felony the state will suspend his or her concealed handgun license during the indictment period. Texas does not generally allow for the open carrying of handguns in public.
But a suspension would not prevent the governor from carrying a handgun while at home.
“He is allowed to have a concealed handgun wherever anybody is allowed to have one,” Walker said. “That is on property that they own or property that they control.”
At work, Perry is protected by an armed security detail.
Perry has been photographed firing weapons and posted a video called “What to do on a Day Off” that shows him shooting weapons at an Austin gun range. He has told reporters he owns several guns, including family heirlooms and historic handguns.
Under federal law, he is prohibited from buying guns and ammunition while under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
“What he has he can use, but he can no longer purchase new stuff because of this felony charge,” said Josh Felker, who runs Lone Star Handgun, a shooting range near San Antonio.
Perry has waived his right to appear at an arraignment scheduled in Austin on Friday, where his lawyers said they may seek to have the charges dismissed.
Under state law, Perry can keep his handguns, including the Ruger .380 he said he used to kill the coyote.
Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler