Prosecutors are debating whether to pursue the death penalty for Veronica Dunnachie, a North Texas woman now charged with capital murder, who fled to a mental hospital after she shot to death her husband and stepdaughter just days ago at their home.
The couple had mutual restraining orders against each other and were in the process of a divorce. One of her profile pictures included an image with the text, “Sometimes removing some people out of your life makes room for better people.” It has also been reported that according to relatives she had recently “become very distant, lost weight and become heavily involved in gun-rights activist groups.”
I first heard of the incident from a concerned parent and friend in Tarrant County who received a notification that a near by elementary school was on lockdown due to the homicides.
This case is getting a high volume of social media attention because she was a member of the controversial gun rights groups Open Carry Texas and Open Carry Tarrant County. Its members gain attention by posting pictures and video of their frequent demonstrations in front of businesses with visible firearms, many times assault-styled rifles. Their actions and subsequent protests by Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America have led to many major box stores like Target and fast food chains like Sonic to ban the open carrying of weapons at their locations.
Kory Watkins, president of Open Carry Tarrant County, told Guns.com that Dunnachie “was not a member of the group,” even though she appears in photos on the groups social media pages, and Watkins himself appears in photos on her page as well, and in some cases side by side (as in the one to the left). In addition the photo at the top of this article is from a May Facebook post by Open Carry Tarrant County with the text, “One of our members who is dedicated to the cause. She is openly displaying her self defense tool. A pre-1899 Black Powder revolver. Mamma didn’t raise no victim!”
CJ Grisham, president of Open Carry Texas posted the following on his Facebook page, “Regardless of what group she was a part of, OCT is no more responsible for her actions than the Republican Party or Sam’s Club, both of which she was a member.”
As for the groups themselves they chose to post indirect comments that defend their positions against criticism of her actions. Open Carry Texas posted on their Facebook page, “We support open carry, not open fire. With gun rights come gun responsibility.”
Before the tragedy happened these groups were gearing up for the upcoming legislative session in which they believe they could attain “constitutional carry.” The bill, HB 195, is being carried by Jonathan Stickland, a Tea Party House member from Tarrant County. If passed it would allow for the carrying of a handgun without a license. Stickland told the Texas Tribune, “There are a lot of people who are sick and tired of paying a fee for their basic rights and liberties.”
Governor-elect Greg Abbott has been courting open carry advocates and already agreed to sign the bill if it crosses his desk. He signed a printed copy of the bill presented to him by Rachel Malone the the legislative director for Come and Take It Texas. She said that Abbott said he needed gun owners to show up and being active to support this bill.
It looks like they plan to do just that. Activists for Come and Take It Texas have planned an open carry rally at the state capitol for January 13 in which they plan to bear arms and make a statement. Veronica Dunnachie and Kory Watkins were both listed as “going” on the Facebook event.