Enforcing Federal Gun Laws Could Become a Crime in Texas

State Representative Mark Keough

We previously reported on a bill (HB110) pre-filled in Texas that would limit enforcement of federal gun laws by state agencies or political subdivisions, or any of its employees in Texas.

Well, one lawmaker has taken it a step further.

State Representative Mark Keough (R) introduced HB 99, The Texas Firearm Protection Act, that adds a new chapter to the Texas Penal Code that creates a criminal offense if any state, county, city or municipal employee enforces or attempts to enforce federal laws regulating firearms.
In particular, the new Chapter 40 provides:

“Sec. 40.02(b) An entity described by Subsection (a) may not adopt a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity enforces, or by consistent action allows the enforcement of, a federal statute, order, rule or regulation enacted on or after September 1, 2017, that purports 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, a registration requirement, or a background check, that does not exist under the laws of this state.”

“Sec. 40.02(c) No entity described by Subsection (a) and no person employed by or otherwise under the direction or control of the entity may enforce or attempt to enforce any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described in Subsection (b).”

Gordon Cooper, an attorney at the Houston-based Walker & Byington law firm, said, “The bill further states that it is a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense for a person employed by or under the direction of a governmental entity to knowingly enforce, attempt to enforce, or assist anyone in enforcing any federal statute, order, rule or regulation described in the new Chapter 40 of the Penal Code. So, the state of Texas—or a governing body of a municipality, a district attorney or sheriff— is prohibited under the threat of criminal prosecution from adopting a rule or policy which enforces a federal statute to regulate a firearm or firearm accessory if the regulation does not exist under Texas law.”

Cooper went on to say that the legislature had tried this in the past, but the bill did not end up passing. “A handful of states have successfully passed similar legislation, and it doesn’t seem unconstitutional; it’s simply saying that Texas resources will not be put to enforcing federal firearm laws that don’t exist here in Texas.”

We will wait and see how far this piece of legislation makes it this session. –by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog 


Photo credit: photo from Texas House of Representative Official Photograph

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