A Summary of Gun Related Bills in the 75th Legislature
What follows is a summary of gun related bills-good and bad. Please take the time to contact your representatives and let them know how you feel about nibbling encroachments on your firearms rights-there are too many restrictions as there is. We need a return to the days when there were virtually no restrictions-and lower crime rates too. (HB = House Bill, SB = Senate Bill).
The Good Bills
HB 311 by Allen Place (D)- This would make traveling, hunting, etc., "exceptions" to the prohibition against unlawful carry instead of mere "defenses to prosecution" as they are now.
HB 2855 by Suzanna Hupp (R)- Would lower the age of eligibility for the CHL to 18, and allow carry on college campuses.
SB 62 by Jerry Patterson (R)- Changes the juvenile justice laws to require that any felony committed with a firearm by a person 14 years of age or older will be prosecuted as an adult.
The Bad Bills
HB 34 by Sherri Greenberg (D)- This bill is designed to regulate the carrying of a firearm in a public park. It's author is one of the most active anti-gun members of our Texas House. She would really like to eliminate carrying of guns period. If this bill is accepted then it would lead to more prohibited places.
HB 76 by John Longoria (D)- Makes a new crime for our children to face: possession of firearms. Due to last session's bill making it a crime for an adult to allow "child access" to a firearm, this bill goes further and creates a separate crime aimed at the child. Combined with HB 141 (below), these two bills would be particularly bad because they would subject to arrest any person whom a policeman believed to be a minor, followed by prosecution in an adult court. Hunting and parental oversight would only be affirmative defenses to the charge, making it onerous on the accused to prove his innocence of the crime (few hire a lawyer to fight class C misdemeanors). Not only does this bill need to be opposed, but the child access law needs to be repealed. It should not be a crime to give your 16 year old a .22 rifle for his/her birthday. Texans have been giving their kids guns since our State began. These bills are nothing more than attempts by the gun-hating crowd to minimize children's experience with firearms, in hopes they will grow up ignorant of firearms (decreasing the number of gun owners over time). It is not needed for safety reasons, as accidental childhood shootings have been falling for 20 years, even as the number of children and guns have increased! What will truly reduce accidental shootings the most is firearms training in the schools. But the anti-gunners refuse to support that!! Any wonder why?
HB 141 by Ted Kamel (R)- The bill reads, "the juvenile court shall waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and transfer a child to the appropriate district court or criminal court for criminal proceedings if the child is alleged to have engaged in behavior involving the use of a firearm. . .." This would not be bad if it were limited to crimes committed with guns against other people. Under HB 76, though, mere possession would be a crime. If you leave your teen at home with your rifle on the wall, is your child in possession???
HB 165 - Filed by Elliot Naishtat, who works closely with Greenberg on anti-gun legislation. This is a typical bill for anti-gunners to file, with no real expectation that it will pass. It would outlaw transfers of handguns to anyone who does not take a proficiency course. If it were to pass, the next step would be to apply it to long arms, then broaden it to mere ownership, instead of only to "transfers."
HB 456 by Ciro Rodriguez (D)- This bill, among others, attempts to capitalize on the current gun-control fad of denying gun rights to persons under protective orders. Do not be fooled by the claims of the advocates of these restrictions that they are trying to protect women and children from "wife" or "child beaters." No one seriously believes that a law banning transfers or possession or ownership of firearms will actually deter shootings by persons intent on killing their ex-spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend. Furthermore, it is far too easy to be placed under a protective order without jury trial or even the right to representation of legal counsel. Anyone who has been involved in a domestic squabble or divorce knows how easily allegations of "abuse" can fly. If domestic violence was truly as serious as this bills' proponents claim, then such domestic violence would be classified as a felony. Felons cannot legally own firearms of any type. Instead, the proponents of these bills want to cast a much larger net: banning guns to people who have not only been convicted of no crime, but who have been merely ordered to stay away from a previous roommate (which is essentially all that protective orders do).
HB 660 by Lon Burnam (D)- This bill is similar to HB 76 discussed above.
HB 661 by Lon Burnam (D)- This bill tries to make further inroads on child ownership of firearms in our state. Child ownership of guns has been under attack for years-last session was the first major victory for the gun-haters when they won passage of a bill making it a crime for an adult to "allow access" to a firearm for anyone under 17. Many of us were given our first rifle as a child. The problem of kids and guns arises primarily from criminal use of guns by juvenile delinquents-mostly aged 15 years and up. Accidental shootings of children have been on the decline for the past 20 years and are now half what they were in 1974-the result of training-not laws like this bill. Criminal juveniles will not be deterred by additional laws, and banning possession and ownership of firearms to all other kids-no matter how well instructed and trained-is useless from a safety standpoint. It is not useless from the standpoint of trying to kill the tradition of firearms ownership which is typically passed down from parent to child. The fewer kids who grow up with positive experiences with firearms means that many fewer who will oppose gun prohibition of the future. Tell your representative that you want to see mandatory firearms instruction in the schools-that will reduce accidental shootings even further. As the law stands now, it is illegal for anyone to transfer a gun to your child without your written consent. After this bill, a parent's consent is irrelevant, because it would be a felony for even a parent do it!
HB 919 by Jesse Jones (D)- This bill is similar to HB 661 above.
HB 1370 by Domingo Garcia (D)- This bill would make it a felony to damage any type of building or vehicle with a firearm. Its author says his intent is to make it easier to prosecute drive-by shooters, a goal we agree with. However, the "deadly conduct" statute was created in 1994 specifically for the same purpose, and made it a felony to discharge a firearm at a building or vehicle. So, not only is this bill not needed, it is too broadly worded, and could end up being the reason for prosecuting accidental discharges as felony crimes.
HB 1862 by Robert Talton (R)- A bill to give gun-hating judges the power to require forfeiture of a gun before they accept the entry of a plea in a UCW (unlawfully carrying) case, "regardless of whether the condition is part of a plea agreement between the person and the attorney representing the state." What this means is that, even if you can get the prosecutor to agree that you can have your gun back, (because, once the case has ended, it no longer constitutes "evidence"), the judge can refuse to allow this to happen, and require its destruction.
HB 1980 by Debra Danburg (D)- This bill is an attack on the concept of private transfers between citizens. It sets the precedent the anti's need to go after all private transfers in the future. It is, and always has been, a Texan's right to sell his firearms like he does any other property he might own. Although this bill only outlaws private transactions between individuals at gun shows, it is premised on the idea that private transfers are bad, and should be prohibited. In some states where the anti's have succeeded in outlawing private transfers, it's illegal for you to simply give guns to your own relatives! What they want to do is force all gun owners to use a middleman-an FFL holder-to transfer ownership of any gun, with the attendant expense, wait, background check, and de facto registration. Waiting periods have never, ever, proven to have any statistical correlation to violent gun related crime. Waiting periods have existed in some states for over 50 years, yet after all this time, there is not a single criminological study ever published that shows waiting periods to have any beneficial impacts. Fact is, criminals will not go through legal channels for their crime guns. Neither total prohibition of alcohol nor drugs has kept those items out of criminal hands; can anyone possibly expect that waiting periods will keep guns out of criminal hands? This impacts only good people.
HB 1981 by Debra Danburg (D)- This bill raises the punishment for UCW (unlawfully carrying) from a misdemeanor to a felony.
HB 2282 by Jessica Farrar (D)- This bill would create a
new crime of "failure to report lost or stolen firearm."
It would place a duty on you to report to your sheriff the loss
or theft of a firearm within 10 days. How effectively could this
law prevent crimes with stolen guns? When exactly have you "lost"
something? Haven't we all thought something was stolen, only to
have it turn up later? Since when do police agencies maintain
databases on lost property? What if you simply misplace it and
it turns up a year later? What if you loan it and forget you loaned
it? What if your brother takes it without your permission, would
you not be under a duty to report it as a theft? If you fail to
do so, wouldn't you face criminal charges yourself? This law will
have minimal impact on criminal use of guns, who will not be deterred
from either stealing or using guns. This law is just another gun
regulation designed to trip-up gunowners and land them in trouble.
Such a law will lead to calls for registering firearms in order
to trace ownership of all firearms.
HB 2301 by Peggy Hamric (R)- This is similar to HB 456.
HB 2753 by Sherri Greenberg (D)- This would make movie theaters a "prohibited place" under the right-to-carry law.
HB 3128 by Elliott Naishtat (D)- This bill would give counties and cities authority to zone and further regulate gun ranges, both indoor and outdoor. Local zoning regulations have become a favorite tool of anti-gunners in recent years to regulate gun shops and ranges out of existence, or at least make them more expensive and less profitable. This is why many states have adopted "range protection" laws that prevent this sort of harassment by local governments. Indeed, a range protection bill for Texas in this session is HB 601, being sponsored by Bill Carter. Naishtat's bill is apparently an attempt to counteract HB 601.
HB 3467 by Sherri Greenberg (D)- This bill essentially creates a state-level "Brady law" that actually goes far beyond the federal Brady law that was forced upon our state by the federal government. One method it does this is by creating a presumption that you are not legally able to own firearms unless and until your local police agency says you are. Thus, any failure of the local agency to respond means you cannot buy. Under the federal Brady law, there is no such presumption; if there is no "denial" within 5 days, then you are free to buy.
SB 242 by Mike Moncrief (D)- This bill attempts to expand upon the current PC trend of denying gun rights to persons under some kind of protective order. As a result of a bill that passed last session, it is now illegal to "transfer" a handgun (not longarms) to a person who is "subject to" a protective order. The DPS now keeps a database of all protective orders that are issued by county judges to be checked as part of the federally mandated Brady background check. These type of protective orders can be entered only after a hearing has been held at which you can present evidence that you are not guilty of "family violence." "Ex parte" orders are specifically excluded from the law. (Ex parte means "one sided" and refers to orders issued without hearing both sides of a dispute). Moncrief's bill tries to expand the types of protective orders to include ex parte protective orders. Not only are laws denying gun rights to people that have been convicted of no crime outrageous, but to deny them to people who have had no chance to respond to allegations is downright contemptible.
SB 548 by Florence Shapiro (R)- This bill attempts to raise from a misdemeanor to a felony the punishment for transferring a handgun to a minor, as if this would deter black market sales to juvenile delinquents. We do not need any more firearms felonies; we have far too many on the books already.
SB 558 by Carlos Truan (D)- Since the antis have not succeeded in banning guns-they have turned to the next best thing, which is to ban groups of people from owning guns. As the list of groups that cannot own guns gets longer, the closer the antis get to reaching their goal of prohibiting firearms ownership altogether. This bill is an attempt to ban guns for life to all juveniles who have been "adjudicated" to have committed a felony grade offense. This would mean that a juvenile who got in trouble only once would be prohibited for the remainder of his life from ever owning firearms. The fact is that many kids get in trouble at some point but once they mature, become fine, capable citizens. They should not be tainted for life because of some childhood indiscretion. Often, kids who really commit no crime at all, but were with "friends" who did, end up with juvenile delinquency adjudications (e.g, joy-riding in a stolen car). On the other hand, Senator Patterson's SB 62 is an intelligent approach to dealing with firearms related felonies committed by juveniles (i.e., punish them as adults) because it focuses only on juveniles committing crimes with firearms. The distant prospect of being banned from owning guns is simply not going to enter into the minds of youngsters and deter them from getting into trouble. Children do not think of the long term consequences of their actions; this is what makes them children!
SB 560 by Carlos Truan (D)- This bill would prohibit minors from possessing pepper sprays! This would render our children completely defenseless. This is the wrong direction. Instead of making kids more vulnerable to crimes of violence, we should be educating them on the proper use of defensive weapons, including firearms.
SB 1471 by Rodney Ellis (D)- Would repeal the right-to-carry
law. We can expect to see this bill re-filed every session from
now until the foreseeable future, because that is how the antis
operate-they file bill after bill in the hopes that some will
sneak through. And if we ever let our guard down, some will.