Texas is a state that has always seen itself as somewhat independent of the federal government. Most recently, its secession petition to the We the People petition website garnered a high number of signatures. Even though there was no chance of it actually happening, there was still a lot of support for it, with over 125,00 signature. Of course, that’s not going to deter the average strong-willed Texan.
The next item on the independence agenda is a bill that would follow the lead of another independent state, but one that most people don’t notice and many probably couldn’t identify on a map – Wyoming. What did Wyoming do that caught the attention of Texas? It will be the first state to introduce a bill that makes secessionists feel like they won a small battle in the much larger war. (Some supporters even warn that any action by the federal government might trigger a civil war.)
Wyoming will soon be introducing a bill called the Firearm Protection Act. Like Wyoming, Texas wants to pass legislation at the state level in order to prevent the federal government from enforcing any restrictions on firearms, accessories or bullets within the state. The Wyoming version would allow for the arrest of federal agents who come to enforce federal laws at the state level – at least one year in jail and/or $5,000 in fines. Since Texas has to do everything big, the fine in Texas may be up to $50,000.
The bill’s author, State Representative Steve Toth, understands that the bill will likely face a court battle. He’s so confident that he says it will pass without a problem. During an interview with a local radio station, he laid out his feelings about what he thinks about the current state of the federal government:
We’ve got an administration in Washington that is just executive order-happy. They are blowing off the Constitution, they’re blowing off our rights, especially our 10th Amendment rights, and are subjecting the states to not even legislation, but edicts by the king.
Toth’s mention of the 10th Amendment is one referenced by some on the far right, used when talking about their assumed freedom to defy the federal government on issues they feel only states should be able to legislate. The fact is, history shows that courts rule on the side of government – supremacy of the law of central government over that of the states. As a result, the court battle could likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some may ask, who is this guy to introduce a bill that he knows will likely end up costing the state’s (i.e. taxpayers’) money? He is a freshman legislator, but he does have the support of the state’s Attorney General, Greg Abbott.
Attorney General Abbott is no pushover when it comes to suing the federal government. He has pursued 20 lawsuits against the federal government at a cost of $2.5 million. That doesn’t take into account any revenue that has or will be lost as a result of refusing to follow federal laws. The state has already forfeited $35 million for Medicaid funding directed at preventive health care for poor women. While making a case sounds like a great movie, it does posit the question, do the taxpayers support such a move? And are state officials willing to arrest federal agents? It seems that the debate and ensuing legislative process for gun control is going to be long, expensive and hard fought.