Could Texas Become A Second Amendment Sanctuary State?

At least 63 counties in Texas have passed Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions in the past year or so, but the movement could get an even bigger boost in the coming weeks as lawmakers return to Austin for their legislative session. Rep. Steve Toth, a Republican from The Woodlands, has authored a bill that would make the entire state a sanctuary for the right to keep and bear arms.

HB 112, also known as the Texas Firearm Protection Act, would prohibit the state or any local governments from enforcing any “federal statute, order, rule, or regulation enacted on or after January 1, 2021 that purports to regulate a firearm 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.”

Under the bill, any entity that chose to enforce any new federal gun control law would be subject to the loss of state grant money, and the individual officials who would enforce those new laws could face a Class A misdemeanor charge.

The Texas Firearm Protection Act differs from the vast majority of local Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions by outright forbidding government entities from enforcing new federal gun laws, which could raise some legal issues if the bill were to pass the legislature and be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. Most of the local resolutions express an intent not to spend any public resources on enforcement of new federal gun controls, which is a little more vague but also less legally challengeable.

Personally, if I were writing a state-level Second Amendment Sanctuary bill, I would actually take a page from one of the most anti-gun states in the Union. Back in 2017 California passed a “sanctuary state” measure dealing with illegal immigrants which dramatically curtailed the ability of local police to detain illegal immigrants until federal authorities could take them into custody.

In June of last year the Supreme Court upheld the California law by refusing to hear a challenge to it. Since the language on enforcing or helping to enforce federal immigration law has withstood legal challenges, it seems to me the safest bet would be to base any state-level Second Amendment Sanctuary bills on the language in California’s law; hewing as closely as possible to the original text while changing the topic from protecting illegal immigrants to protecting gun owners.

The Texas legislative session kicks off next week, and since lawmakers in the state only meet every other year, it’s always a mad scramble to get bills passed during the 45-day session. I don’t know if HB 112 is a priority for Republicans in the state legislature, but it should be. If you’re a Texas gun owner or 2A supporter, make sure you contact your lawmakers and encourage them to support HB 112. The language may not be exactly what I would have written, but I believe it’s still a bill worth backing and would definitely send a message to anti-gun politicians in Washington, D.C. that Americans aren’t going to roll over and embrace or comply with unconstitutional attacks on their individual rights.