Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is once again lending his voice in support of a measure that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing any new federal gun control laws. Back in January Abbott announced that a Second Amendment Sanctuary bill was one of his top legislative priorities for this session, and on Thursday the governor tweeted out his approval of a bill introduced by Rep. Justin Holland.
A bill filed in the Texas House by Represntative @JustinaHolland would make Texas a Second Amendment Sanctuary State.
It would forbid Texas state agencies & local governments from enforcing new federal gun laws or rules.https://t.co/GBWrxZ411A
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 19, 2021
You can read the entire bill for yourself here, but I’ll go ahead and quote the most pertinent part of the legislation.
An agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, and a law enforcement officer or other person employed by an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, may not contract with or in any other manner provide assistance to a federal agency or official with respect to the enforcement of a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation purporting 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 or a registration requirement that does not exist under the laws of this state.
In other words, this wouldn’t necessarily just apply to any new federal gun control laws, but rather any federal gun control laws that aren’t mirrored in Texas statutes as well, though the statute does carve out an exception for any “contract or agreement to provide assistance in the enforcement of a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation in effect on January 19, 2021.”
As for enforcing these provisions, the bill would cut all state grants to law enforcement agencies that continue to cooperate with the feds in enforcing gun control laws, but would also allow individual citizens to bring complaints to the state’s Attorney General. If the AG found that a locality was operating in violation of the Second Amendment Sanctuary Act, they could bring a lawsuit against the city or county to compel their compliance.
According to a March 5 release from Holland, under House Bill 2622 “Texas state agencies and other political subdivisions would be prohibited from enforcing or providing assistance to federal agencies on any new federal laws, orders, rules or regulations on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition inside the state.”
“I look forward to working with Senator Springer and Governor Abbott on passing the Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act this legislative session,” Holland wrote. “Now is the time to step up and protect our 2nd Amendment rights in Texas. We can’t rely on the Federal Government to lead on this issue and in reality – they will do vastly more harm than good for gun rights. The State of Texas is now and forever shall be a place of refuge for the 2nd Amendment and our ability to protect ourselves, our families, homes and businesses.”
The bill is on solid footing from a legal perspective. The language of the legislation doesn’t attempt to nullify any federal gun control laws within the borders of Texas, which would almost certainly be struck down by the courts. Instead, the bill relies on the Supreme Court’s decision in Printz vs. United States, in which the Court ruled that state and local law enforcement have no duty to assist in the enforcement of federal gun control laws, though they cannot impede federal agents from enforcing federal law.
The passage of a Second Amendment Sanctuary bill in Texas would be a huge step forward for the movement, which has until recently been relegated to resolutions and ordinances passed at the local level. Other states are getting involved in the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement as well, with a measure similar to the bill in Texas passing out of the Oklahoma State Senate earlier this month. With Democrats poised to take up a pair of gun control bills in the U.S Senate in the near future, expect to see more action from 2A-friendly states in the weeks ahead.