The right to keep and bear arms is an individual, natural right that is recognized – that is, not granted – by the Second Amendment to our United States constitution and Article 1, Section 23 of our Texas Constitution. On the firearms freedom front, there is good news and bad news.
The good news is that two recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court -- Heller v. District of Columbia and MacDonald v. Chicago -- have confirmed that that this is an individual and not just a collective right. These decisions further confirm that this is a right that shall not be infringed.
Heller and MacDonald are encouraging in other respects. For 60 years, the Supreme Court case of Miller v. United States had been wrongly interpreted by almost every legal expert, commentator, and lower court decision to mean that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms. However, through selection of the right case and aggressive and effective prosecution of that case, we have seen how easily 60 years of precedent can be erased. This is most promising, as there are many poorly reasoned Supreme Court precedents that we need to attack and reverse.
The bad news, however, is that our federal government appears eager to deny our gun rights and even confiscate guns given the slightest opportunity. We all saw during Hurricane Katrina how the national guard and FEMA -- pursuant to perverse claims of public safety -- grabbed guns from private citizens just when their need for their weapons could not have been greater. The Katrina experience is one reason behind my plan to revitalize the Texas State Guard to be up to the task of, not only defending our border, but also providing emergency relief. FEMA, and other federally controlled forces like the national guard, should not be asked or allowed to assert their authority in Texas.
International agencies are attacking our gun rights as well. The United Nations proposed Small Arms Ban Treaty would prohibit the sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition and require United State citizens to turn in their firearms! If you think that no American president would ever agree to such a treaty or that no Senate would ever approve it, think again. The current officeholders would do just that.
This is a fight that we cannot back away from or afford to lose. If we lose our right to keep and bear arms, we cannot protect our other rights.
As governor of Texas, I would vigorously use nullification and interposition. I would call a special session to declare any such treaty unconstitutional and void. I would interpose myself and my office and that of all other Texas officials, to resist such a threat by all available means.
Many think that Texans respects gun rights, and that is certainly true with respects to Texas citizens. But there are a number of ways that Texans do not enjoy the same firearms freedom as other states and as the Founders of our state and nation intended. In response to new and ever more alarming threats to our safety and sovereignty, changes in the law are necessary.
Campus Carry – Law-abiding citizens who carry firearms reduce crime They can stop deranged people on violent rampages and respond effectively to terrorism such as that perpetrated at Fort Hood, but there are too many restrictions on where firearms can be carried in Texas. We must change the law to ensure that responsible adults can carry their weapons on university and public school campuses, reducing the numbers of victim disarmament zones to as few as possible. It is crazy to leave our children unprotected from any madman or terrorist who wants to kill them.
Constitutional Carry – Requiring permission to exercise a natural right disrespects that right. Under existing law, Texans can carry pistols concealed in their vehicles without permission, and none of the dire consequences predicted by firearms freedom opponents has occurred. But Texas needs to stop requiring a license before law-abiding-citizens can carry a concealed pistol outside of their vehicle (called “constitutional carry” because the Second Amendment is your license to carry a weapon).
Vermont has had such a law for decades. We need a law like that in Alaska and Arizona that provides for permitting in reciprocity with other states and allows non-felons to carry concealed without permission.
Open Carry – Texas already allows open carry of long arms, and we need to allow open carry of pistols, as most other states do. When criminals can see that citizens are armed, they will be even less willing to commit crimes.
Why should Texans have their gun rights denied when the favorable experience of other states confirms that openly exercise the right to keep and bear arms is a good thing?
Firearms Freedom Act – Texas needs to join Tennessee, Montana, and five other states in passing the Firearms Freedom Act, a law that allows intrastate production and sale of firearms without federal licensing. The United States Constitution only allows the federal government to regulate commerce among the states. It does not allow regulation of items produced and used only in Texas.
Despite what the New Deal era Supreme Court said, regulating commerce among the states does not allow regulation of anything that “effects” commerce among the states. The fight over what the Supreme Court has said that “commerce” means is long overdue. It is fitting that this fight take place over the right to keep and bear arms, but the benefits of a successful challenge to bad precedent extends to almost every aspect of our lives.
So, let’s get started.