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Texas bill to take on federal gun control given public hearing in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas (May 4, 2015) – Last week, a Texas House committee held a hearing on a bill that would effectively block in practice the implementation of most federal gun control within the state.

Introduced by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), House Bill 422 (HB422) would deny state-level compliance with all federal gun control measures that supersede Texas law. The bill 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.

HB422 would make a huge dent in any new federal effort to further restrict the right to keep and bear arms in Texas. As Judge Andrew Napolitano has said, such widespread noncompliance by a single state would make federal gun control laws “nearly impossible to enforce.” Quite simply, the federal government absolutely cannot enforce gun control in Texas without the help of Texas.

The bill received a hearing in the House State & Federal Power & Responsibility, Select Committee on April 30. Testifying on behalf of HB422, Rep. Krause began the hearing by mentioning that many of the committee members had voted affirmatively on this bill when it was introduced during the previous legislative session.

“If the federal government has a more onerous or restrictive firearm regulation than the state does, then the state is not going to use any time, personnel, or energy to enforce those laws,” Rep. Krause said in a succinct description of his bill.

“We are not saying the federal government cannot enact a law. We are not saying the federal government can’t do this, can’t do that,” Rep. Krause said. “We are just saying if you’re going to do it, it’s contrary to what we believe is in the best interest of Texans, especially in relation to firearm regulation, we’re not going to help you enforce that.”

Eight people registered to the committee in favor of HB422, but did not testify. A lobbyist from Texas Gun Sense spoke in opposition of the bill. She admitted that she was confused by the bill, and didn’t quite understand it. She expressed concerns about the state of Texas possibly losing the spoils that come from federal-state collusion, but did not seem very concerned about 2nd Amendment freedoms being infringed.

“If we already entered into a cooperation with the federal government, it wouldn’t touch this at all… We won’t lose any funds. We won’t go out of programs,” Rep. Krause said to alleviate the lobbyist’s concerns.

At the end of the hearing, HB422 was left pending. It must receive another hearing in the House State & Federal Power & Responsibility, Select Committee before it can be voted upon and sent to the full state House for consideration.