A bill some say would lead to gun control appears to be gaining traction and Republican support in the Texas House and has law-abiding gun owners on red alert.
Last week, lawmakers voted House Bill 545 by State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D-Eagle Pass) out of the Criminal Jurisprudence by a vote of 7-2. Despite testimony against it from a bevy of Second Amendment-supporting organizations and Texas Young Republicans, only Republican State Reps. Bill Zedler (Arlington) and Phil King (Weatherford) were recorded voting against the legislation.
Only Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control organization, testified in favor of the legislation.
If passed, HB 545 would make it a Class A misdemeanor for Texans to lend, sell, or gift their firearm to anyone who has ever received mental health treatment by court order, even if they are ignorant of that fact or were never convicted of having committed a crime.
Under Texas law, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Gun owners argue the measure would place an intensely restrictive burden on those seeking to buy or sell firearms through private sales, as well as infringe on Texans’ natural and constitutional rights and serve as a backdoor to a red-flag law.
“HB 545 is the closest thing to a red-flag law that is actually moving in Texas, and it needs to be stopped now. It absolutely must not get to the floor,” says Rachel Malone, the Texas Director of Gun Owners of America. “This bill is intended to play into people’s fear of guns in the hands of crazy people, while slowly maneuvering its way into taking guns away from people without due process of law. That’s irresponsible, unacceptable, and dangerous to a free society.”
Further comments from Malone including an explainer on the legislation can be viewed here.
The advancement of the bill comes as House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) has publicly killed constitutional carry—the top legislative priority of Texas gun owners and the Republican Party of Texas.
With such a scenario, Lone Star Gun Rights says Republican legislators cannot be trusted to protect the Second Amendment on their own and is calling on Texans to ensure they make their voice heard. In an email to supporters, the organization said:
“This is Texas! The fact that the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature is killing pro-gun legislation and advancing gun control should be a huge wakeup call! Take to social media and help spread the word of this atrocity! Also, please call the members of the Calendars Committee and urge them to stop this bill!”
The contact information for members of the Calendars Committee is as follows:
CHAIR: Rep. Four Price (512) 463-0470
VICE CHAIR: Rep. Joe Moody (512) 463-0728
Rep. Joe Deshotel (512) 463-0662
Rep. John Frullo (512) 463-0676
Rep. Craig Goldman (512) 463-0608
Rep. Oscar Longoria (512) 463-0645
Rep. Will Metcalf (512) 463-0726
Rep. Tom Oliverson (512) 463-0661
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (512) 463-0674
Rep. Toni Rose (512) 463-0664
Rep. John Wray (512) 463-0516