Texas Bills Would Prohibit Enforcement of Federal Gun Laws

Law Shield would like to alert our members that two bills have been filed in the Texas state house that would have the effect of nullifying many federal gun-control measures in the state, according to Michael Boldin at the Tenth Amendment Center.

The Tenth Amendment Center identified the bills as House Bill 422 (HB422), introduced by Rep.Matthew Krause, (R-Ft. Worth), which would require that the state refuse to enforce certain federal gun control measures enacted at anytime – past, present or future. It reads, in part:

An agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, and a law enforcement officer or other person employed by an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, may not contract with or in any other manner provide assistance to a federal agency or official with respect to the enforcement of a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation purporting to regulate a firearm, a firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition if the statute, order, rule, or regulation imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation, such as a capacity or size limitation or a registration requirement, that does not exist under the laws of this state.

Also introduced was a bill known as the 2nd Amendment Preservation Act. Filed by Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Ft. Worth), House Bill 413 (HB413) is an exact duplicate of HB176 filed last month by outgoing Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington). Since Kleinschmidt is retiring from the state house to accept a new position with the state, HB176 is considered “dead” and HB413 is the active bill in its place.

HB413 declares all federal restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms to be “invalid” and “not enforceable” within the State of Texas. It reads, in part:

A federal law, including a statute, an executive, administrative, or court order, or a rule, that infringes on a law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 23, Article I, Texas Constitution, is invalid and not enforceable in this state.

If passed into law, all government agencies and employees within Texas would be banned from enforcing any federal law in violation of the act. The prohibition on enforcement includes any federal act that:

(1) imposes a tax, fee, or stamp on a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition that is not common to all other goods and services and may be reasonably expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by a law-abiding citizen;

(2) requires the registration or tracking of a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition or the owners of those items that may be reasonably expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by a law-abiding citizen;

(3) prohibits the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition by a law-abiding citizen;

(4) orders the confiscation of a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition from a law-abiding citizen.

State employees who knowingly violate the act would risk a suit for damages for helping the federal government violate a person’s right to keep and bear arms in Texas. A defense of sovereign immunity would also be prohibited in such a suit.

“With these bills, Texas could help lead the country forward,” said Scott Landreth, campaign lead for ShallNot.org, a project of the Tenth Amendment Center. “Passage would have serious impact on the federal government’s ability to carry out its unconstitutional gun control measures already on the books.” Landreth also suggested that this could create a domino effect.

“If a few other states follow this leadership from Texas, it’ll also give Washington D.C. pause before even trying to pass new restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms,” he said.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the approach is on sound legal footing, with notable Supreme Court opinions backing the view that the federal government cannot require a state to expend manpower or resources in the enforcement of a federal act — in particular, Printz v. US from 1997.

In 2013, similar legislation was passed in Idaho, although not as far-reaching as the bill from Kleinschmidt. Another bill was signed into law in Alaska, but lacked the specifics of which federal acts the law addressed. And another law was signed in Kansas, but is currently not being enforced due to a court challenge from the Brady Campaign over provisions that include criminal charges for federal agents.

HB422 and HB413 will first be assigned to a committee, before the full state house can consider it.

A word of caution when it comes to these types of statutes: These laws may not have the desired effect.  For example, a federal officer or federal prosecutor could still charge a Texas resident with a serious crime in federal court.

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