Texas Lawmakers Consider Gun Legislation

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A number of bills have been introduced in the Texas legislature that deal with gun ownership and gun rights, most of which are in reaction to the drive for more gun control on the federal level in the wake of the Newtown Massacre.

Bill to make local enforcement of federal gun laws a crime

According to the NBC affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth, Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, has introduced a bill called the Firearm Protection Act. The bill would make it a state crime for local law enforcement to confiscate so-called assault rifles and large-capacity magazine clips should they be prohibited by a federal statute. It is unclear whether such a law would pass constitutional muster, since the supremacy clause states that federal law trumps state and local laws. However an article in Politico concerning the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington suggests that legal experts have concluded that local law enforcement officers cannot be forced to enforce federal laws. Presumably, then, if Toth's bill passes, federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the ATF would have to enforce new gun laws without the help of local police.

Removing Texas guns from federal regulations

A bill recently offered by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, would go further than Toth's bill in that it would prevent federal gun control laws from being enforced in Texas if the gun is manufactured in Texas and never leaves the state, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The theory is that any federal gun control law would violate the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution that allows the federal government to regulate commerce that crosses states lines. However legal scholars suggests that Krause's gambit will not work because the courts have taken a very expansive view of the commerce clause so that federal regulation of guns would still be permissible. Krause suggests that his bill will be a test of that expansive view, which would be decided by the courts.

Regulating gun shows in Fort Worth

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that a group of local Democrats are seeking to impose new regulations on gun shows in Fort Worth. They are asking the city government to "allow only licensed sellers there, require background checks for all gun sales there and require a seven-day waiting period for all gun sales" on city property. The proposal is said to be in response to Obama administration calls to close the so-called "gun show loophole," which it contends allows the sale of guns without background checks to possible criminals. Considering the cultural bias against government control of gun ownership, it is unclear whether the Fort Worth city council will go along with the idea.

Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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