With the increased likelihood of stricter federal gun regulations coming into fruition under the Biden administration and a Democrat-controlled Congress, the idea of a “Second Amendment sanctuary” has been brought to the limelight in Texas again, this time at the state level.
During a keynote discussion at a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference in January, Governor Greg Abbott said that he wanted to see Texas become a Second Amendment sanctuary “so that no government at any level can come and take your gun away from you.”
At that point, several bills had already been filed in the mold of the “Texas Firearm Protection Act,” which Abbott helped draft in 2013 when it passed in the state House with 100 votes.
That legislation was never considered in the Senate, but Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) introduced the bill again this year along with a few more variations by other lawmakers.
Though Toth’s bill has not been heard in a House committee yet, the Senate companion in the form of Senate Bill (SB) 513 from Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) will be heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Thursday.
But the pro-gun bill in the vein of a Second Amendment sanctuary that has gotten the most traction is House Bill (HB) 2622 from Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall).
Abbott lent his apparent support to the bill sharing an article about it on Twitter and noting that it would “forbid Texas state agencies & local governments from enforcing new federal gun laws or rules.”
In total, 46 of the 150 members in the lower chamber have signed onto Holland’s bill, including over half of the Republican members and Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg).
Four GOP members on the State Affairs Committee, where HB 2622 was referred, have put their names down on the bill — including Chairman Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) and Reps. Will Metcalf (R-Conroe), Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), and Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville).
On Tuesday, the State Affairs Committee reported the bill favorably in an 11 to 2 vote.
Next, the bill will go through the Calendars Committee — chaired by another one of the bill’s coauthors, Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) — which will determine if or when the legislation is brought before the entire chamber.
If passed, the bill would prohibit state agencies and subdivisions of the state from enforcing any new federal firearm regulations that are not expressly permitted under state code.
As Holland noted during the layout of his bill in the committee hearing last week, “HB 2622 does not and cannot prevent federal government from enforcing their new laws, regulations, and restrictions.”
“We just won’t enforce or allow their policies, or direct state resources to any federal efforts in Texas,” said Holland.
During the committee hearing, the bill met some pushback from Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), who questioned the legality of such a proposal.
“I’m having a hard time understanding how we can ask law enforcement not to enforce a federal requirement,” said Howard.
In 2017, Howard supported the “sanctuary cities” that refused to enforce federal immigration law and voted in opposition to legislation that targeted such cities.
During the hearing last Thursday, Howard also asked if the bill would have any consequences related to federal funding, to which Holland replied that in the four other states to pass similar legislation, none have had their funding cut as a result.
“Current and pending legislation, and potentially forthcoming presidential executive orders from Washington, D.C., have threatened and aim to infringe upon the constitutional rights of Texans,” said Holland.
“House Bill 2622 is intended to protect the current rights of law abiding gun owners in the state of Texas.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.