AUSTIN, Texas (April 29, 2021) – The sponsor of a Texas bill that takes some steps toward ending enforcement of future federal gun control claims his bill makes Texas a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” State. It does no such thing.
Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) introduced Senate Bill 513 (SB513) on Jan 28. The proposed law would prohibit any Texas governmental agency, including state and local police departments, from adopting a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity enforces, or by consistent action allows the enforcement of, a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation enacted on or after January 1, 2021, that purports 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, a registration requirement, or a background check, that does not exist under the laws of this state.
The bill includes penalties that would apply to persons who enforce such federal acts. But Hall proposed an amendment that neutered the intent of the bill. It exempts law enforcement officers from penalties if they are participating in a federal task force or of a joint task force with federal law enforcement.
As soon as you include some penalties for enforcement, but make exceptions for working with the feds as part of federal task forces, you can be sure you’ve created a loophole so big you can drive a truck through it. Virtually all enforcement of federal gun control happens through these task forces. By creating this exception, Hall effectively green lights participation with federal enforcement in practice.
Sen. Hall took issue with the TAC’s reporting on the bill.
“A California-based organization without contacting our office to clarify their beliefs has attempted to start a firestorm over this legislation by falsely stating it helps Biden’s gun grab by presenting a gross misrepresentation of what the amended bill actually does. While, they are welcome to their opinion, it is an inaccurate interpretation.”
There was no reason to contact the senator. The text of the legislation speaks for itself and it absolutely does not create a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary.
Here are some key points backing our contention.
1. SB513 does not prohibit enforcement of any federal gun control on the books from 1934-2021.
Not at all. None. Zero. Full enforcement support for all federal gun control continues under this new “sanctuary” bill in Texas. And all of it violates the 2nd Amendment.
If you call it a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” for Texas – but have not banned the state from enforcing any federal gun measure on the books today, you’re definitely protecting Biden’s gun control plans that include enforcement of all those current “laws.”
Surely Hall doesn’t take the position that all the federal gun control on the books today is authorized by the Constitution. But it’s difficult to find any other way to view continued enforcement of all present gun control as creating a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary.”
2. The bill does prohibit enforcement of any new federal gun control after Jan. 1, 2021, that doesn’t exist under the laws of the state of Texas.
We consider that a good start in most states. But Texas? Weak. Really, really weak, especially since a stronger bill (HB635) has been totally ignored, and Hall himself sponsored a much better bill in 2019 (SB378).
3. The bill does create a mechanism for an entity to lose state funding
This defunding “may” happen if a local entity adopts “a rule, order, ordinance, or policy” to enforce federal gun control. This rarely happens. You’ll likely never see a written policy authorizing enforcement of federal gun controls, even if you research MOAs and MOUs between local governments and the ATF.
Entities can also lose funding for “consistent action” to enforce federal gun control; This is a better standard but leaves some wiggle room for the occasional enforcement actions.
4. As already noted, the bill does include Class A misdemeanor charges for state and local agents who violate the law
However, Hall’s amendment ensures that those penalties won’t exist when they’re engaging in federal gun control enforcement as part of a state/federal joint task force. Again, most (if not all) local support for federal gun control enforcement happens through these joint task forces.
Washington provides money, expertise and weaponry. Local law enforcement agencies provide much of the manpower. Their officers are deputized as federal agents, which among other things means that the Justice Department can shield them from litigation and local oversight.
Exempting law enforcement officers working on joint task forces from the penalties allows this to continue unabated.
Sen. Hall claims his amendment “merely states that a law enforcement officer on a federal or joint task force will not be prosecuted for doing his job.”
But this is a gross misrepresentation of “their job.”
Their “job” is to follow their oath to the Constitution whether they’re part of a federal task force or not. Participation in task forces with the feds enforcing federal gun control makes a farce out of the “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” claim.
Hall’s main problem is he claims his bill does far more than it really does.
There isn’t a single immigration “sanctuary” in the country that gets that label for passing a bill that says “we’re not going to enforce FUTURE immigration laws.” Not one. Even the most narrow ones address federal acts already on the books.
Hall almost certainly understands the difference, since he introduced a far broader version of this same bill in 2019 – addressing not just potential future federal gun control, but much of what was already on the books at the time too. Even then, we reported it as a “foundation” to create a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary, so the people would understand the truth of what could happen with passage.
Banning enforcement of just future federal gun control can be a good start, but it’s a gross misrepresentation to tell the people of Texas that doing so will make it a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” state.
Texans deserve better. And that means if you can’t get more done than that right now, tell them the truth.
Note: Mike Maharrey edited and contributed to this report.
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