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Senate State Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Second Amendment Protections

By TCCRI Staff. Feb. 26, 2020

As part of our testimony to the Senate Committee on State Affairs for today's hearing, TCCRI made the following recommendations to the Committee regarding proposals "that may further protect and enhance Texans' Second Amendment right to bear arms." Click here to read the full testimony.

TCCRI’s recommendation to the Committee and to the entire Legislature would be to stay the course. Continue to look for ways to protect the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and to do so with the confidence that it has shown over the last several legislative sessions. The Legislature considers numerous bills pertaining to firearms and the Second Amendment every legislative session, and these bills are broad in scope and intent. Here are but a few examples of bills filed in past sessions that are worth considering again:

Senate Bill 117 (Creighton, 86R) – SB 117 would have clarified that firearms prohibited on school premises under the Penal Code are only prohibited on premises owned by and under control of a school district and where school sponsored activities are taking place. This addresses a situation in which gun owners who are licensed to carry may arguably be prosecuted under Section 46.03(a)(1) of the Penal Code even though no school activity is taking place or if the district does not own or control the premises.

Senate Bill 459 (Huffines, 85R) – Senate Bill 459 would have expressly preempted and prohibited local governments from regulating the sale, purchase, and manufacturing of firearms, ammunition, knives, and air guns. It also would have prohibited the imposition of taxes on the same items and transactions. The bill would be a strong second amendment protection as local governments have shown an increasing willingness to impose unreasonable restrictions on their residents.

House Bill 227 (Krause, 86R) – HB 227 makes clear that all firearms, parts, and ammunition manufactured in Texas are not subject to federal regulation under Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce. The effect of this would be that firearms, parts, and ammunition existing solely in intrastate Texas commerce would be subject only to the laws of Texas. Such a policy would reinforce the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees that people have rights not enumerated in the constitution, as well as the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which specifies that powers not expressly granted to the federal government in the constitution are reserved to the states and to the people. HB 227 was scheduled for a public hearing on April 17, 2019, but no further action was taken. In the 85th Legislative Session, the bill (HB 131) passed out of committee, but was never placed on a House calendar. The bill would be a strong second amendment protection.

House Bill 1126 (Bell, 86R) – House Bill 1126 would have provided that the person with control over the premises of a business (such as an owner or manager) who allows entry on the premises by a license holder with a concealed handgun would not be civilly liable for damages arising from the lawful carrying of a concealed handgun on the premises. Under current law, a business owner (or his or her insurance company) could theoretically face a lawsuit for actions arising from the lawful carrying of a handgun on the premises. For example, a business owner could be dragged into litigation if a licensed handgun holder inadvertently shot an innocent person while attempting to stop a robbery of the business. The bill would eliminate this concern.

House Bill 781 (Shaheen, 85R) – HB 781 would have required the immediate issuance of an electronic format temporary license to carry a firearm upon approval of an applicant to be issued as license to carry. As of February 24, 2020, the Texas Department of Public Safety currently states on its website that it “will make every effort” to issue a license within 60 days of receiving a completed application packet. People carry handguns for self-defense, and closing a 2+ month window between approval and issuance is a worthwhile goal that will enhance their ability to protect themselves and their friends and loved ones.

House Bill 4041 (Toth, 86R) – House Bill 4041 would have prohibited a state or local entity or any of their officers from adopting “a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity enforces, or, by consistent actions, allows the enforcement of, a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation” that imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation that does not exist under the laws of Texas, and that purports to, among other things, regulate a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition. An entity that violates these provisions would be ineligible to receive state funds. Enforcement could be initiated by citizens or the attorney general. An individual who acts as an officer for a covered entity commits a Class A misdemeanor for acting to violate these provisions. The bill essentially creates a “sanctuary” from unconstitutional gun laws. The bill was scheduled for a public hearing on April 17, 2019, but no further action was taken.

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