AUSTIN, Tex. -- Attention New Yorkers: Texas wants you. And your guns.
Last week, the day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York approved a broad package of gun-control measures that made New York's tough gun laws even tougher, the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, began running Internet advertisements in Manhattan and Albany asking New York gun owners to consider moving to Texas.
The two ads -- displayed on news sites and aimed at Web users with Manhattan and Albany ZIP codes -- promote the state's low taxes and gun culture, with one asking, "Is Gov. Cuomo looking to take your guns?" The other reads, "Wanted: Law abiding New York gun owners looking for lower taxes and greater opportunity."
When clicked on, the ads lead users to a Facebook page where a letter from Mr. Abbott, the state's chief law enforcement official, promotes Texas's strong economy and lack of an income tax, allowing transplanted gun owners "to keep more of what you earn and use some of that extra money to buy more ammo."
The ads are a rare burst of political theater from Mr. Abbott, a former State Supreme Court justice who has built a reputation as a gentlemanly yet fiercely conservative litigator eager to challenge the Obama administration, and who, in a speech last year, described his job this way: "I go to the office. I sue the federal government. And then I go home."
Mr. Abbott has been laying the groundwork and raising millions of dollars for a possible run for governor in 2014, regardless of whether Gov. Rick Perry, his ally and fellow Republican, decides to seek re-election.
Mr. Abbott's ads were paid for not by the attorney general's office but by his political campaign, Texans for Greg Abbott. A campaign spokesman, Eric Bearse, said the ads began running on Wednesday and were "interest targeted" to those in Manhattan and Albany who visited several news sites, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Mr. Bearse said the ads were created in response to New York's new gun-control laws as well as the executive actions that President Obama announced the same day to curb gun violence. He declined to say how much they had cost Mr. Abbott, whose campaign account has grown to $18 million.
"It's a somewhat unconventional method to weigh in on a very serious issue," Mr. Bearse said. "It makes the point that Texans value freedom, and specifically their freedom to protect themselves. Our state has experienced the largest population growth in the country from places like California and New York because our culture does value freedom."
The ads illustrate the extent to which the debate over guns and gun violence since the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has played out differently in Texas than it has in other parts of the country.
In Texas, guns and the right to carry them continue to be closely linked to the state's self-image. Those licensed to carry a concealed weapon can do so in restaurants, shopping malls and even the Capitol building here in Austin.
Responding to Mr. Obama's gun proposals, Mr. Perry said in a statement that he was disgusted to see the political left and the news media use the school shooting to advance a pre-existing agenda, and he suggested that prayers rather than laws were in order.
A day after the president unveiled his proposals, a different sort of gun debate unfolded here, after a Republican state senator from Granbury, Brian Birdwell, filed a bill to allow those with a concealed handgun license to carry their firearms on college campuses.
Mr. Abbott posted his ads on his Facebook page, creating an impromptu cross-state forum and occasional shouting match between New Yorkers and Texans on both sides of the issue. A woman from Jarrell, Tex., called the ads "another embarrassing example" of politicians in the state. Another woman in Texas complained of Yankees and their liberal attitudes, adding, "Stay up North we don't want you in Texas."
And one Republican New Yorker wrote that she was sick of Mr. Cuomo, ready to move to Texas and would greatly appreciate "any info, regarding employment, schools, and city to live in."
New Yorkers moving to Texas might find that the two places have more in common than they expect: each is as much a state of mind as it is an actual state. The century had barely gotten started when Mr. Perry declared in his inaugural address in 2011 that historians would look back and call it "the Texas century." New Yorkers are as New York-centric as Texans are Texas-centric.
And there is at least one place where newly arrived New Yorkers might feel strangely at home: New York, Tex., an unincorporated community amid the green acres of East Texas, about 1,500 miles from Times Square. It is made up of a handful of houses, a cemetery, a church and Reynolds New York Store.
Carolyn Reynolds, who runs the feed and fertilizer store, paused when asked for the population. She started counting under her breath. "Right now, I'd consider it 11," she replied.
Still, Mr. Abbott said in a statement, because of the state's low taxes and gun laws, "our New York is better than their New York."nation
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.