Facing feisty opposition and a threatened filibuster, two bills that would prohibit Texas police from enforcing new federal firearms laws and leave officers facing criminal charges if they seize guns improperly stalled Friday in the Texas Senate.
House Bills 928 and 1314 failed to garner the 21 votes needed to be brought up for debate, a surprise in a legislative session in which gun-related legislation has advanced with broad support.
Sens. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, both thought they had the votes to pass the bills.
HB 928 would prohibit state and local law officers from enforcing new federal firearms laws, a measure sparked by fears that the Obama administration would move to ban more types of assault guns and large-capacity ammunition clips.
HB 1314 would make it a misdemeanor crime for law enforcement officers to unlawfully seize firearms from citizens.
Sens. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, challenged HB 1314 as unconstitutional.
“Law enforcement already has enough in their jobs without exposing them to criminal charges,” Hinojosa said.
Uresti questioned what would happen if, during a drug raid, police seized guns they believed were illegal — but a court later returned. Patrick said he did not think those officers would be charged.
“We just want to be sure we don’t have anyone taking someone’s gun,” Patrick said. “This bill is necessary.”
“This is one of the worst bills I’ve seen come to the Senate floor,” Uresti shot back.
Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, notified Senate leaders he intended to filibuster either or both bills if they were debated.
After consulting with Senate leaders, Patrick and Estes withdrew the bills from consideration, but they could try again to bring them to the floor.