The Texas House approved a dozen pro-gun bills on Saturday, according to news sources. Designed to further soften gun laws in a state that’s the country’s friendliest regarding firearms, they easily passed scrutiny with very minor opposition.
The voting in Austin came at a time when tens of thousands of members of the National Rifle Association were attending the organizations annual convention in Houston. Governor Rick Perry welcomed members on Friday, and showed a video of him taking target practice using a semi-automatic rifle.
The twelve bills will now have to clear some procedural steps before going to the Senate. The legislation is expected to fly through the voting there, just as they did in the House. The House passed most of the bills by voice-vote.
There was only one bill that was shot down, and it was on a Democratic point of order. The legislation, introduced by Van Taylor, R-Plano, would have allowed concealed handgun licenses to be used as proof of personal identification.
A bill introduced by first term Republican tea party representative Steve Toth of The Woodlands is sure to be the most volatile piece of legislation passed on Saturday. It nullifies, within state borders any federal laws banning assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and expansion of background checks for firearms owners.
“There are 27 amendments in the Constitution, but only one says ‘shall not be infringed,’” Toth said. “The Second Amendment is the amendment that keeps the people free.”
Texas will be joining a growing number of states with similar laws that violate the U.S. Constitution. Another bill passing the House would punish by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine police officers or government officials who try to enforce federal firearms limits in Texas.
A bill that passed 136-0 reduced the concealed handgun license fee for police officers, military veterans, national and state Guard members and even some Criminal Justice Department employees, even though it will cost the state up to $2 million in lost revenues.
College students will be allowed to carry handguns to class. To appease the opposition, a clause allows colleges and universities to opt out of the new rules annually. Current law already allows the schools to opt in.
As one journalist wrote, “it will be interesting to see how many of these bills make it. Representatives dubbed Saturday as “gun day” in Austin. Texans will be holding their breath waiting to see what the Senate does before all the hoopla dies down.