U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway of District 11, of Midland, and Paul Myers, also of Midland, answered questions on several topics including gun control in a candidates forum Monday night at the Adams Street Community Center.
    The Pecan Valley Republican Women’s Club hosted the forum for candidates in the March 6 Republican Party Primary election. Early voting began Tuesday.
    Also speaking at the forum were Texas House District 60 incumbent Mike Lang and challenger Greg Risse, Brown County Judge Ray West and challenger Dr. Paul Lilly and Brown County Precinct 2 Commissioner Joel Kelton.
    Eddie Lord, who is challenging Kelton for the seat, had planned to attend but had to withdraw because of the flu. Kelton spoke briefly.
    Myers, an Abilene native, said he has worked in the oil and gas business in Midland and also has a real estate license.
    “When I was growing up, I was taught that you don’t walk past a mess,” Myers said. “If  you see something, you grab a broom and go to work. Congress is a mess and I’m going to work. We need fresh boots and new ideas.
    “ … Im a conservative and I’m a constitutionalist. When I am in Washington working for you, the good book and the Constitution will be my guiding principals.”
    Conaway, who has represented District 11 for 13 years, said he wants to continue the work he’s done in Congress. “We passed a major tax reform bill signed by the president recently,” Conaway said. “ … I”ll lay out the record that I’ve had for the last 13 years.”
    Conaway noted the number of town halls he’s conducted in the district and his accessibility, and said he’s voted the way his constituents want — but acknowledge there are a few votes he’d like to have back. Conaway said he’ll stack his record against Myers’ credentials.
    After answering a question about the federal farm bill, the men tackled the topic of gun control. Moderator Leland Acker asked each candidate if he supports additional gun control measures or a ban on assault rifles following last week’s school shooting in Florida that killed 17.
    “No sir, I wouldn’t,” Myers replied to the question. “I wouldn’t support a ban on any firearms. Your right to defend yourself and  your family from the common criminal, all the way to a tyrannical government, came from your creator and is above debate by the federal government or anybody else for that matter.
    “What we need to stop schools shootings are armed security with the schools. Safe zones don’t work. The majority of shootings happen inside of those gun free zones. Your right to own a firearm comes from our God and cannot be debated or discussed.”
    Conaway began his answer by saying the safety and security of schools is “up to folks here in Brown County to decide … I can’t think of anybody that’s got a better vested interest in making that happen.
    “With regard to the Second Amendment, I agree with my opponent. It is a right. It’s kind of a linchpin of our constitution in terms of being able to stand against a tyrannical government. If you really think really good gun control works, look at Mexico. They’ve got a system that’s better than any place else int he world and it just means the common, honest folks don’t have guns.”
    Conaway said the real issue in Florida is not the weapon of choice but “what’s going on between these ears, and that’s a more difficult scene to try to come to grips with.”
    Conaway said he is “willing to have a conversation” about gun control but said most of the issues brought up by gun control advocates have nothing to do with stopping mass shootings.
    “It’s a slippery slope that they want to get us on,” Conaway said. “Assault weapons — I’m not going to vote for a ban on that. Just because a gun looks scary is no reason to band that. ‘No’ to the assault weapon band.”
    Other topics included border security, making health care more affordable, the Veterans Administration, how to stop funding for Planned Parenthood and how to ensure Republican success in future elections.