Monday, November 17, 2014

Texas Republican Party Supports Restoring Full Right to Bear Arms

Texans marching in support of the right to keep and bear arms

Some people may not know that the Texas revolution for independence against dictatorial rule, like the American revolution, started with an attempt to disarm the citizens.  It is not surprising that when Texas became a state, they had written the right to to keep and bear arms into their constitution.

Prior to the losing the Civil War, or if you prefer, the War Between the States, Texas had one of the strongest right to keep and bear arms protections in its 1845 constitution.  It was:
 "Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defence of himself and the State."
Texas sided with the Confederacy in the War between the States, or Civil War, if you prefer.  They lost, and the carpetbagger government created a new Texas Constitution in 1869.    That Constitution gutted the right to keep and bear arms.

 "Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the state, under such regulations as the legislature may prescribe."

 In 1872  and 1873, Texas voted out the carpetbagger government.  The Governor begged the federal government for troops to keep him in power, but none were sent.  He fled the governor's mansion as an impromptu militia of armed citizens advanced on it.

The post reconstruction Texas approved of a new Constitution in 1876.  It had stronger protection of the right to keep and bear arms, but left in a crucial loophole for the legislature.  It provided that the legislature could regulate the wearing of arms with respect to fighting crime.
"Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defence of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power by law to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime."
The legislature did not repeal the reconstruction ban on the carrying of arms, and the courts refused to invalidate the law under the 1876 Constitution.   The law was widely used to disarm former slaves and others out of favor with the local authorities.   Democrats would control Texas for over a century.

Republicans have controlled the state since 1999.  They have reformed Texas' restrictive gun laws with many incremental improvements.   Now the Republican Party is calling for fully restoring the constitutional protections lost in 1869 and 1876.  Here is the resolution, from the Texas Republican Party Platform, page 40 (pdf):

We call upon the 84th Texas Legislature to propose to the people of Texas a constitutional amendment to strike “; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime” from Article I, Section 23 of the Texas Constitution. Further, we request the State Party Chair and the State Republican Executive Committee consider adoption of such an amendment and other legislation necessary to remove restrictions on Texans' right to own and bear arms a legislative priority for the Republican Party of Texas for the 2015 legislative session and to utilize reasonable Party resources necessary to promote and support their passage.
The platform was released in June, 2014.  This is a strong statement of support for the right to keep and bear arms in Texas.  Notably, several nearby states have been on the same path.   Louisiana strengthened their constitutional protections in 2012.   Oklahoma narrowly missed putting a stronger protection of the right to keep and bear arms on the ballot this year; it died in legislative maneuvers after getting strong support.  Missouri passed a strengthened amendment in 2014, and Alabama did the same.   These amendments to strengthen the right to keep and bear arms passed by overwhelming majorities of the electorate.  

Governor elect Greg Abbott has said that he will sign constitutional carry legislation if it reaches his desk.

Texas Republicans now have strong majorities in both houses and control all the statewide offices.   The state Senate has 20 Republicans to 11 Democrats.  The State House has 98 Republicans and 52 Democrats.   To put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, a joint resolution of both houses of the Texas legislature is required.   It needs 100 votes in the House, and 21 votes in the Senate.   If all Republicans vote for this measure, it would require them to convince one Democrat state Senator, and two Democrat state Representatives.

That does not sound like an impossible task.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.    Link to Gun Watch

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