State AG Ken Paxton Sues Waller County Over Courthouse Gun Ban

State Attorney General Ken Paxton says guns are okay in Waller County Courthouse, as long as they aren't in the actual courtrooms. However, Waller County officials don't seem to take that view of things.
State Attorney General Ken Paxton says guns are okay in Waller County Courthouse, as long as they aren't in the actual courtrooms. However, Waller County officials don't seem to take that view of things.
bradhoc/Flickr

Well, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton certainly doesn't mess around when it comes to open carry. 

After warning Waller County officials that he'd make them get in line with state law if they didn't do so of their own volition, on Tuesday morning Paxton followed through. He filed a lawsuit against Waller County to force county officials to comply with the state's open carry laws and allow guns into the Waller County Courthouse. 

Waller County banned licensed gun carriers from bringing their firearms into the Waller County Courthouse, but Terry Holcomb, the executive director of the gun-rights group Texas Carry, took issue with this rule. At the beginning of August, Holcomb filed a complaint against county officials arguing that the ban should extend only to individual courtrooms, not the entire courthouse.

Waller County officials responded by suing Holcomb, asking a judge for a declaratory ruling to affirm their right to ban guns from the entire courthouse, as we've reported.

Meanwhile, the case was sent up to Paxton's office for review.  Why? Holcomb was able to formally object about the ban in the first place under a new law that allows Second Amendment-focused Texans to oppose gun bans they dislike. If the entity doesn't respond the way the complainant likes, the issue can get kicked up to Paxton's office. Paxton then has the authority to determine whether the gun ban is valid or not and to sue if he determines it is invalid.

Of course, Paxton opted to go the lawsuit route. First, he gave county officials a "final notice" to comply with the law. They refused. Thus we get the lawsuit, which says that the county is required to allow citizens to carry firearms "in areas of the Waller County Courthouse that contain non-judicial county administrative offices, such as the county clerk, county treasurer and county elections office, as the law requires," according to a release from Paxton's office. 

The lawsuit may seek between $1,000 and $1,500 for the first violation and no less than $10,000 for any subsequent violation. Each day passed without compliance with the state open carry laws as Paxton's office interprets them constitutes a separate violation under Texas law, according to the lawsuit.

“A local government cannot be allowed to flout Texas’s licensed carry laws, or any state law, simply because it disagrees with the law or doesn’t feel like honoring it,” Paxton stated in the release. “I will vigilantly protect and preserve the Second Amendment rights of Texans.”

It's really marvelous how Paxton is so invested in making local government follow the law whether the government officials agree with it or not, and no matter if they feel like honoring it or not. Waller County isn't the only local government entity that Paxton is pushing on the open carry requirements. The attorney general recently filed a similar lawsuit against the City of Austin seeking compliance where Austin claims its city hall is a government court.

Interesting that this statement came from the same guy who told government employees to disregard the law when it came to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year legalizing gay marriage, isn't it? Apparently, while all laws are equal, some laws — particularly the ones pertaining to having all the guns in all of the places one can possibly legally carry them — are more equal than others. Go figure. 


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