Friday, May 17, 2013

Texas Moves To Restore Gun Rights

Several gun rights bills aimed at restoring the Second Amendment to Texas citizens have been circulation Texas's 83rd Legislature.

Some of these bill were previously stonewalled and left "pending in committee". Others, such as the one regarding storage and transportation of firearms on college campuses, are regarded as ineffective attempts at compromise.

Texas has been doing this legislative two-step regarding gun rights since the Sandy Hook shooting in Newton, CT.

Three bills recently had positive movement. They appear to be headed towards passage and execution by Governor Perry.

Protecting Gun Rights: Nullification of Seizures


HB 1314 better insures gun rights and Second Amendment protection by prohibiting law enforcement officers and government officials from seizing firearms. Under this bill, it will be a misdemeanor for any law enforcement or government official to take away a firearm under any law that is not part of Texas state statutes. For example, if a federal law were passed to seize any rifle that looked like an AR15, it would be a crime against the officer to seize the firearm.



       Sec. 46.16.  UNLAWFUL SEIZURE OF FIREARM. (a) A person who is an officer or employee of the United States, this state, or a political subdivision of this state commits an offense if the person, while acting under color of the person's office or employment, intentionally or knowingly seizes a firearm as permitted or required by a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation that imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation on firearms that does not exist under the laws of this state.


The full text of the engrossed bill is available here. HB 1314 already passed the Texas House. It is on the Senate intent calender and will likely be passed within the next few days.


State Officials Will Not Infringe on Gun Rights


HB 928 appears similar to HB 1314. Like HB 1314, 928 has passed the House and is on the Senate intent calender. It also is likely to pass the legislature and head to Governor Perry within the next week.

HB 928 makes is a crime for any government official to assist federal officers in enforcing any federal infringement of gun rights that is not also a Texas state law. The organizations are also prohibited from accepting any funding from a federal program directed at restricting or seizing firearms or accessories.


       (b)  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.

       (c)  A political subdivision of this state may not receive state grant funds if the political subdivision adopts a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the political subdivision requires the enforcement of any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b) or, by consistent actions, requires the enforcement of any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b). State grant funds for the political subdivision shall be denied for the fiscal year following the year in which a final judicial determination in an action brought under this section is made that the political subdivision has intentionally required the enforcement of any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b).

The full text of the engrossed bill to be voted on by the Senate is available here.

Gun Rights On College Campuses

As graduates prepare to cross the stage at Texas A&M University, San Antonio Campus, some of them will, undoubtedly, wish this bill were passed years ago.

Texas nears passing the controversial "campus carry" bills that would allow concealed carry licensees to carry on college campuses. With violent crime on college campuses on the rise, this appears the best solution to protect students. Across the nation, most states ban firearms on college campuses. Some believe  that these "gun free zones" create an environment permissive to rape, armed robbery, and other violent crimes.

HB 972 will allow concealed carry licensees to carry concealed on campuses. It allows for private colleges to apply further restrictions with the consent of the student body. Within reason, colleges may request exemptions for select buildings and structures on the campuses.

The Senate companion bill, identical in text, is still stalled in committee. However, campus carry and gun rights advocates are watching HB 972's progress in the Senate. The bill (full engrossed text available here) will see a floor vote within the next few days.

Some Gun Rights advocates believe the new law gives too much power to the colleges. However, especially in the cases of private universities, property-owners' rights must apply as well.