The Texas House passed 13 bills to make guns easier and cheaper to carry in the state. Class time for concealed handgun lessons went from 10 to as little as four hours. Permit costs were cut in half for military and national guardsmen. College campuses were opened for concealed handguns and elementary schools could get school marshals.
A full story on the bills can be read here, but a lot of the debate in the rapid-fire succession of gun bills was aimed at Washington and any national attempt for assault weapon bans, smaller ammo clips or even background checks.
The most heated exchanges were reserved for a proposal to nullify new federal gun control laws. Those gun laws not already on the books in Texas couldn’t be enforced here under the sweeping and unadjudicated argument that they wouldn’t be constitutional under the Second Amendment.
And for those cities or counties that tried to enforce a new federal gun law, their entities would lose any state grant money. And, under the bill that passed on a strong voice vote, the law would prompt the Texas attorney general to sue and pursue hefty fines against a police chief, district attorney or any other public official who tried to enforce such laws.
Supporters of the bill said they worked with the attorney general’s office in shaping the so-called Firearms Protection Act. But other lawmakers — all of them Democrats — said the bill ignored the constitution, especially the supremacy clause that establishes federal laws override state ones.
Rep. Steve Toth, R-Woodlands, said his bill to refuse enforcement of any new federal gun laws was needed to “preserve this right that keeps all people free.”
Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, said Toth and others were going to make taxpayers foot the bill for a rant – a political statement against Washington. Inevitably if the bill became law, it would be challenged, the attorney general would go to court and Texas would lose, Turner said. Other Democrats pointed out that Attorney General Greg Abbott has fought environmental federal regulations, health care, redistricting, the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws at a cost of millions of taxpayers dollars already — only to lose.
These bills will venture to the Senate next week where they are likely to get mowed down, based on statements made by key senators.