Did Texas gun owners just get duped?
On April 27, 2021, a bill ostensibly marketed as a firearms sanctuary measure was effectively neutered by the Texas GOP. The bill in question, SB 513, would have prohibited Texas state and local enforcement agencies from enforcing any new gun control laws and regulations coming from DC.
In effect, GOP leadership amended the bill in a way that the state of Texas would still be supporting all gun control schemes the Biden administration signs off on.
Originally introduced by Senator Bob Hall in late January, SB 513 was able to garner 6 co-sponsors and the support of Governor Greg Abbott by this month. Back in March 9, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed the bill, without any amendments to water it down, despite the intense pressure from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT).
However, Hall decided to add an amendment to his own bill on April 27 that effectively gutted the entire bill, which the Tenth Amendment Center was able to catch. As a result, the Texas state government will continue to help enforce new federal gun control under this new amendment.
The amendment reads as follows:
Amend SB 513 (senate committee printing) in SECTION 2 of the bill, in added Section 40.03, Penal Code (page 2, between lines 62 and 63), by inserting the following:(i) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (h) that the person is a local or state law enforcement officer who, as a member of a federal task force or of a joint task force consisting of local or state law enforcement officers and federal law enforcement officers, enforces or attempts to enforce a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b).
Subsection (h) gets even juicier:
(h) A person commits an offense if, in the person’s official capacity as an officer of an entity described by Subsection (a), or as a person employed by or otherwise under the direction or control of the entity, or under color of law, the person knowingly enforces or attempts to enforce any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b). An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
On paper, SB 513 purports to impose a ban on the enforcement of newly passed federal gun control laws and gives lawful Texans the ability to take legal action against rogue state officials who carry out unconstitutional laws. However, the amendment scraps the penalty for any state functionary who decides to work with the feds to implement gun control.
Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center made an interesting point about how it takes two to tango when it comes to the implementation of federal gun grabs:
Local police rarely, if ever, initiates and enforces federal gun control measures on their own. In almost every situation, they’re responding to a request from a federal agency to help, and in most situations they do so as part of a federal/state joint law enforcement task force, of which there are literally hundreds throughout the country.
Shockingly, the amendment passed without any pushback on the Senate floor. On its third reading, SB 513 was passed on a strictly partisan vote of 18-13. In its current state, SB 513 would allow state and local law enforcement to implement any gun control policies from the federal government provided that the federal government requests assistance.
According to several sources close to liberty activist circles, Hall ended up removing the teeth from his bill because of pressure coming from the police lobby group, CLEAT. As of now, the bill still has to go to the House for further debate. A similar sanctuary bill, HB 2622, is also waiting to be debated on and eventually receive a vote.
The gutting of Texas’s gun sanctuary bill should serve as a warning to Second Amendment activists rallying around Constitutional Carry. A political class that’s capable of watering down a sanctuary bill will do whatever it takes to neuter Constitutional Carry, the holy grail that has long eluded Texas activists. We better operate under the assumption that the same law enforcement lobbies who pushed for sabotaging SB 513 will do the same for Constitutional Carry. Without grassroots pressure, Republicans will inevitably fold to the law enforcement lobbies.
In gutting pro-gun bills, establishment Republicans have the ability to hide behind weak bills that eventually get passed. From there, Republicans from Greg Abbott down to the typical establishment hack in the State House can pound their chest about being pro-gun, while doing nothing to change Texas’s gun laws.
Republicans must be held accountable for their underhanded actions to undermine otherwise sensible pro-freedom legislation.
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