The 88th Texas Legislature opens

The 88th Session of the Texas Legislature opened Tuesday, when the House convened. The Senate will begin its session today.

Since the election last November, new and returning legislators have been busy pre-filing proposed bills. They have until March 10 to file new bills, so the number is certain to grow significantly.

As of the most recent update, there have been dozens of 2A-related bills. The vast majority call for the same gun control laws that have been proposed in previous sessions: Universal background checks, bans on certain types of firearms, red flag laws, etc. And from what we can see, they really don’t have any new pages in their playbook, either. Clearly, the Supreme Court ruling in NYSRPA v. Bruen (aka “Bruen”) hasn’t fazed the Liberals in the Legislature. Neither have the new requirements for due process in the red flag law requirements contained in the Safer Communities Act of 2022.

As you may remember, the  “Bruen” opinion was not just about “shall issue” vs “may issue” but provided  clear and cogent guidelines for the lower courts when deciding 2A cases; in a nutshell, they must consider the history around any given 2A issue.

The U.S. District Court Judge Mark Pittman’s ruling in Andrews v. McCraw, which became final when the state of Texas dropped its appeal, hasn’t yet sunk in, either. If a federal judge declared the law restricting legal handgun carry to those 21 or older to be unconstitutional, the chances for raising the age to buy a rifle or to even possess a handgun aren’t good. But there are a number of bills attempting to do exactly that.

Certainly, from a historical perspective, this shouldn’t hold water in a court of law. Historically, if you were considered an adult for all of your other constitutional rights, you certainly were and should be for this one. We don’t cherry-pick which rights you can have and when. Can you imagine if we did? “Oh you can have the right to free speech at age 18 but you can’t have the right to due process until you’re 21: Y’all know the line- because at 18, you’re too young” and while we’re at it, we don’t think you are old enough to choose your own religion until you are 21, so until then you will be a member of the “Oobligots” Church. And for those of you who remember your history, that last example isn’t way off the mark. Our founding fathers left England so they could choose their own religion for themselves and their families. When their children were adults, they got to do the same in America; not so much in England at the time.

A very recent ruling by an en banc panel (which means all of the judges and not just a single judge in a particular court) in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is sure to cause some additional heartache (or heartburn) for gun-grabbers. In Cargill v. Garland, the en banc panel said the ATF exceeded its authority by imposing the bump-stock ban demanded by former President Trump. One of the reasons cited for the ruling was that the agency had previously said that bump stocks were okay.

While you might not be interested in what happens with  bump-stocks, this decision could have a far wider impact on the current administration’s efforts to do an end-run around Congress by using executive fiat to say unfinished frames and receivers are now firearms or that pistols with arm braces are now short-barreled rifles, despite the ATF having said the exact opposite previously. 

The 62-page opinion issued by the majority of the en banc panel painstakingly details the court’s reasoning. This means the district courts in the Fifth Circuit, which had previously upheld the ban, will have a reference to use in other challenges to the ATF.  This is important for Texas gun owners because, like the Pittman decision, the ruling affects Texas, one of the states in the Fifth Circuit.

Since the ban was declared unconstitutional by the highest judicial authority in the Fifth Circuit, the government’s next step is an appeal for review by the Supreme Court, which hasn’t accepted other bump-stock cases. Of course, any action by the nation’s highest court is unlikely to happen before the Legislature’s adjournment in May.

It’s pretty clear that Democrat legislators are either ignoring all that has happened since the last session or are completely out of ideas and are hoping to see some action with reruns or repealing the laws passed in the last session.