The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Texas’ 87th Regular Legislative Session Has Begun
A new legislative session means law-abiding gun owners in Texas need to be on guard for the latest assault on the Second Amendment. We have seen a record number of bills filed that could affect your gun and self-defense rights—most of them, unfortunately, for the worse. Here is a preview of some bills and issues that have been filed and raised (so far) that we think are noteworthy. Keep in mind, all the bills and resolutions listed below are currently proposals and not law. There is still quite a way to go, and we predict the bills filed thus far represent only about one-third of the total that will be filed.
Firearms Are Essential During a Disaster
Proposals that would remove the Texas governor’s authority to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of firearms during a declared disaster. HB 26 by Swanson; HJR 40 by White; HB 340 by Cain; HB 629 by White.
Gun Sales and Related Items
Proposals that would criminalize the private sale of a firearm without utilizing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”). HB 52 by Reynolds; HB 218 by Meza; HB 213 by Bernal; HB 760 by Goodwin.
Proposals that would require the private sale of a firearm be conducted by a Federal Firearms License (“FFL”) dealer (e.g., gun store). HB 118 by Ortega; SB 242 by Eckhardt; HB 606 by Goodwin.
Proposals that would make it a violation of Texas law to provide false or misleading information on the ATF Form 4473 (Firearms Transaction Record). SB 162 by Blanco; HB 347 by Geren; HB 880 by Hinojosa; HB 883 by Hinojosa.
Proposal that would require an FFL to notify law enforcement that a firearms transaction was denied by the FBI (NICS “denial”). HB 227 by Meza.
Proposals that would make firearm safety supplies exempt from sales tax. SB 60 by Zaffirini; SB 313 by Huffman; HB 524 by Rosenthal.
Extreme Risk “Red Flag” Protective Orders and Related Items
Proposals of “red flag” and similar orders that are discriminatory and dangerous to gun owners. SB 84 by Miles; SB 110 by West; HB 164 by Meza; HB 395 by Moody.
Proposal that would preempt (take the authority away from) counties and municipalities (cities) from passing their own “red flag” laws. HB 336 by Cain.
Proposal that would outline Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) reporting, training curriculum and standards, and deployment protocols, such as the existence of a legally owned firearm in the home of an individual does not itself constitute evidence of an imminent threat for purposes of administering SWAT. HB 579 by Dutton.
Texas License to Carry a Handgun (“LTC”) and Reciprocity
Proposal that would remove a Texas License to Carry a Handgun (“LTC”) as an acceptable form of identification to vote. HB 110 by Reynolds.
Proposal that would prohibit Texas from recognizing any other state’s license or permit to carry a handgun. HB 603 by Meza.
Proposal that would simplify eligibility requirements for an LTC. HB 821 by White.
Proposal that would make the LTC application free for everyone. HB 825 by Geren.
Proposal that would allow a person under 21 years of age and otherwise eligible for an LTC, to obtain an LTC if they are under certain protective orders. HB 1094 Oliverson.
Proposals that would prohibit Texas’ enforcement of federal laws that relate to firearms. HB 112 by Toth; HB 635 by Krause.
Proposals that would attempt to exempt firearms (and suppressors) that are “Made in Texas” from federal law. HB 915 by Krause; HB 957 by Oliverson.
Proposals that would generally prohibit the carrying of a rifle or shotgun in a public place. HB 127 by Ortega; HB 213 by Bernal.
Proposal that would prohibit the display of a firearm in or within 500 feet of a “public demonstration.” HB 791 by Goodwin.
Proposal that would reduce the penalty (Class A to Class C Misdemeanor) for carrying by a license holder in a hospital, amusement park, or open meeting of a governmental entity, under Texas Penal Code § 46.035 unless notice is provided by oral communication. HB 854 by Burns.
“Assault Weapons” and “Large-Capacity Magazines”
Proposals that would criminalize the possession or transfer of an “assault weapon.” HB 172 by Meza; HB 231 by Ortega; HB 241 by Ortega.
Proposals that would criminalize the possession or transfer of a “large-capacity magazine.” HB 178 by Meza; HB 234 by Ortega.
Proposal that would criminalize storing a firearm in a place other than a locked firearm storage device. HB 185 by Meza.
Proposal that would increase the penalty for making a firearm accessible to a person younger than 18. HB 693 by Moody.
Repeal of “No Duty to Retreat” and Other Self-Defense Provisions
Proposal that would impose a duty to retreat before acting in self-defense in most locations and repeal the legal presumptions of reasonableness if acting in response to a robbery. HB 196 by Meza.
Repeal of Campus Carry
Proposal that would prohibit the carrying of a handgun by a license holder on the campus of an institution of higher education. HB 201 by Meza.
Manufacturing a Firearm Without a License
Proposal that would prohibit the manufacture of a firearm (homemade gun) without an FFL. HB 208 by Meza.
Proposal that would standardize the size of effective written notice under Texas Penal Code §§ 30.06 and 30.07 to a sign no larger than 8.5 by 11 inches. HB 236 by Bernal.
Repeal of Statutory Preemption
Proposal that would allow counties and municipalities (cities) to craft their own firearm law. HB 238 by Meza.
Proposal that would generally allow the unlicensed carrying of a handgun in public. HB 1238 by Biedermann.
“Firearm Safety Awareness Month”
Proposals that would designate the month of June as “Firearm Safety Awareness Month.” HB 328 by Gervin-Hawkins; HB 909 by Gervin-Hawkins.
Disposition of Firearms
Proposal that would require each county to create a task force that would be responsible for the disposition of firearms surrendered by a person who is prohibited from possessing under certain circumstances. HB 1253 by Moody.
Expansion of Defense Rights
Proposal that would clean up the threats as justifiable force provision of Texas Penal Code § 9.04 (“threats as justifiable force”) and add an additional legal presumption of reasonableness if deadly force is used to prevent arson under certain circumstances. HB 796 by King.
To learn about how a Texas bill becomes a law, check out The Legislative Process in Texas by the Texas Legislative Council. Additionally, here are some dates of interest for the 87th Legislature:
- Tuesday, January 12, 2021 | (1st day) 87th Legislature convenes.
- Friday, March 12, 2021 | Deadline for the unrestricted filing of bills and joint resolutions other than local bills, emergency appropriations, and emergency matters submitted by the governor.
- Monday, May 31, 2021 | (140th day) Last day of 87th Regular Session (sine die).
Federal Proposals on the Horizon
Last session, the 116th U.S. Congress proposed assault weapons bans, red flag orders, mandatory reporting of NICS denials to law enforcement, and countless other anti-2A legislation. All of these individual proposals were awful, but none were worse than the omnibus HR 5717 (Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020), which would have incorporated the worst provisions of each of these proposals. If you want a preview of what anti-gun bills filed during the 117th Congress could look like, pay attention to HR 5717. The 117th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2021, and their term ends on January 3, 2023. To learn about how federal law is made, check out The Legislative Process by the United States House of Representatives, and stay tuned. We are keeping a close watch for bills and resolutions that would affect Second Amendment rights.
Should you have any questions about the bills discussed or the legislative process, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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