Gun confiscation laws were center stage during a marathon hearing of the House Select Committee on Community Safety.
“I think it’s just an important bill to preserve due process rights,” said defense attorney Richard Hayes in favor of a measure that would prohibit the federal or local government from enforcing red-flag laws.
House Bill 1894 by State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) would prohibit both federal and local governments from recognizing and enforcing extreme risk protective orders, commonly referred to as “red-flag” laws.
Red-flag laws allow law enforcement, per a judge’s order, to confiscate firearms from anyone they believe is at risk of committing a crime.
“I don’t think we trust the federal government or the tiny tyrants of many counties, municipalities, within our state,” said Cain, explaining that HB 1894 would “create a sanctuary state to prevent the adoption and enforcement of extreme risk protective orders unless the state law is specifically enacted.”
This preemptive measure received the full support of Texas Gun Rights, with President Chris McNutt highlighting that “under red-flag gun confiscation, the decision to confiscate your firearms can be determined by a judge and a secret ex-parte court where you are not present and you cannot defend yourself, all because of an anonymous complaint that you might be a threat to yourself or others.”
“There doesn’t have to be any evidence of you making any threats, and of course, you don’t even have to have committed a crime,” said McNutt.
U.S. Navy Veteran Kimberly Moyers explained how a red-flag law in place for veterans has affected her life. “My red-flag law was put on me because I wanted to have a baby. … And it was put on me because someone didn’t like me.”
When you actually get a red-flag on you at the Department of Veteran Affairs, there is a board you don’t get to go to, there are doctors there and local law and federal law enforcement that don’t know you. They are not my doctors. I’ve never seen them before. And what they do is they rubber stamp and consider you a terrorist because they don’t agree with you.
“In my case, they fired every single staffer that was involved with me,” said Moyers. “And yet the red-flag laws still stays. I went to federal court, and everything was dismissed—the red-flag law still stays. I went to city court—the red-flag law still stays.”
“I have lost all of my medical benefits,” said Moyers. “My daughter has been weaponized against me. Because they dangle her, because they want to show me with a mental defect [to put] CPS on my child. My child is 2 years old. And she is an American and she is a Texan. She has not had one day of freedom.”
Louis Wichers with Texas Gun Sense testified against HB 1894, saying a well-designed extreme risk protective order “can prevent suicides [and] deal with violent threats to others and threats of mass violence.”
“I still believe that red-flag laws are worth discussing at the state level; the local level is even closer to the individuals most affected by potential red-flag ordinances,” testified Jake Wilson against the measure. “There’s even more direct accountability at the local level than there is at the state level.”
Although Wilson said he opposes a federal red-flag law, he believed Texas should consider a state-level red-flag measure.
In addition to Cain’s measure to protect gun rights, a slew of other gun control measures were heard in committee.
Gun control advocates turned out in full force in the wake of the Uvalde massacre, the Capitol brimming with red t-shirts declaring “Moms Demand Action.”
Most testified in favor of House Bill 2744 by State Rep. Tracy King (D–Uvalde), which would raise the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21.
All bills were left pending before the committee Wednesday morning.
The House Select Committee on Community Safety is majority Republican.
Defending Texans’ gun rights—including from red-flag laws—is a Texas GOP priority for the ongoing legislative session.
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