AUSTIN, Texas (December 1, 2014) – Today, two bills were filed in the Texas state house that would have the effect of blocking enforcement of virtually all federal gun control measures in the state. Inside sources say that the bills have a good chance of passage, but only with strong grassroots support.
Introduced by Rep.Matthew Krause, (R-Ft. Worth) House Bill 422 (HB422) would require that the state refuse to enforce almost all 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.
This 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 recently, such widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here). Quite simply, the federal government absolutely cannot enforce gun control in Texas without the help of Texas.
A similar bill introduced by Krause in 2013 (HB928) passed out of the state house by a vote of 102-31, but since it was held to late in the session, the Senate never had the opportunity to concur.
Also introduced today is 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.”
Recognizing that the federal government would always require cooperation on a state and local level, James Madison, writing in Federalist #46, advised state “legislative devices” and a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as a strategy to push back against unconstitutional or merely unpopular federal acts.
Landreth 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.
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. The 1997 case, Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone. In it, Justice Scalia held:
The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.
As noted Georgetown Law Constitutional Scholar Randy Barnett has said, “This line of cases is now 20 years old and considered well settled.”
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, where they will need to pass before the full state house can consider it.
TAKE ACTION IN SUPPORT
Even though the legislative session doesn’t officially begin for over a month, activists in support of the 2nd Amendment are encouraged to take the following actions:
1. Find your state representative at this link: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/find-your-representative/
2. Call him or her – a phone call has far more impact than an email. Strongly, but politely ask them to co-sponsor and support HB422 AND HB413.
3. If they do not commit to a YES, ask them why and let us know.
4. If they’re undecided, let them know you’ll give them some time to review the legislation and that you will call back in a week to follow up.
ALL OTHER STATES:
Urge your state rep and senator to introduce a similar bill. Send them the link to the Texas bills to consider, and our model legislation at this link: http://shallnot.org/legislation
contact info here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator