Perry Wants Texas Gun Firms to Sidestep Fed Oversight

Gov. Rick Perry, speaks at the site in Jonestown, Texas, where volunteers will build a home for injured war veteran Augustine "Augie" Pena.
Gov. Rick Perry, speaks at the site in Jonestown, Texas, where volunteers will build a home for injured war veteran Augustine "Augie" Pena.

Amid his recent high-profile effort to draw firearms manufacturers to relocate to Texas, Gov. Rick Perry is also expressing an interest in amending state law to allow Texas-based firms that only sell guns to Texans to sidestep federal regulations.

Perry raised the idea this week during a tele-town hall hosted by Empower Texans while answering a question about various bills filed this session in response to gun control measures proposed in Congress after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

“One of the interesting things is we’re having the conversation with [the] attorney general and with constitutional lawyers about whether intrastate manufacturing, intrastate development of weapons and/or ammunition could be regulated by the state of Texas if it’s just used for this state,” Perry said.

Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General Greg Abbott, said Abbott does not discuss private conversations with state leaders.

“General Abbott strongly supports policies that free Texas from overreaching federal regulations regarding firearms and accelerate Texas’ strong economy,” Bean said. “Limiting law-abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional right to own firearms has no place in Texas and General Abbott will continue his fight to protect Second Amendment rights.”

Several other states have considered similar measures related to intrastate gun manufacturing and use. The concept has drawn criticism from some legal experts. A Montana law is currently the subject of a federal lawsuit.

In Texas, state Reps. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, and Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, have both filed bills that would exempt intrastate manufacturers of firearms from federal laws or regulations. House Bill 627 and House Bill 872 were the subject of hearings by a select House Committee on Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility in March. Neither bill has been voted out of the committee yet.

“We feel like wholly intrastate commerce is an area where Texas can frame its own debate,” Krause said at the hearing.

John Harrington, founder of Shield Tactical, a firearms retailer, announced earlier this year he is moving his company from California to Texas, in part out of concerns about gun-control efforts in California. He testified last month in favor of Krause’s bill.

“I’m glad to set up my company here and if it comes down to it and my wares can only be sold to the 19th largest economy in the world, I can live with that,” Harrington said.

Texas passed a law in 2011 allowing light bulb manufacturers in the state that sell only to Texans to avoid federal regulation phasing out the sale of incandescent bulbs. As of January, no light bulb manufacturers had taken up Texas on the offer. 

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