December 23, 2015 AD
Open-Carry Law Becomes Effective January 1, 2016. With respect to gun-free areas of a county courthouse, particularly Rockwall County Courthouse, where the entire building is not “essential to the operation of the courts”, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued KP-0049, an official AG opinion, on December 21, 2015. You can read the entire opinion by clicking on the link in the preceding sentence.
Thus, it is only the courtrooms, and those offices determined to be essential to their operations, from which Hays County may prohibit concealed handguns without risk of incurring the civil penalty in section 411.209 of the Government Code.
WRONGFUL EXCLUSION OF CONCEALED HANDGUN LICENSE HOLDER. (a) A state agency or a political subdivision of the state may not provide notice by a communication described by Section 30.06, Penal Code, or by any sign expressly referring to that law or to a concealed handgun license, that a license holder carrying a handgun under the authority of this subchapter is prohibited from entering or remaining on a premises or other place owned or leased by the governmental entity unless license holders are prohibited from carrying a handgun on the premises or other place by Section 46.03 or 46.035, Penal Code. Read the full code…
In a brief exchange with Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson he stridently objected to this provision of the law. He remarked how he AG would soon publish an official opinion, saying to me “we have to follow the law”. I replied, “that goes for both of us”. From this brief discussion, I got the impression he assumed the AG would rule an exception to the law, the entirety of our County Courthouse.
Sheriff Eavenson’s two objections spoken to me:
- too costly
- too many risks out there
To the first, I say let’s weigh the meager cost of screening persons entering courtrooms or court offices against the extreme cost in personal liberty guaranteed to us by the Second Amendment to our Constitution.
To the second, I say I face comparably far fewer risks in the courthouse than I do in everyday life. So I ask, is it to be every citizen is a suspect? As Thomas Jefferson said to James Madison, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
General Paxton issued his opinion and Mr. Paxton’s interpretation of the law agrees with my own and with the opinions of the lawmakers who authored and sponsored the bills that became the law of the land.
A point of order: That county courthouse on Yellowjacket Lane is not the personal property of any elected official. That courthouse is OUR property. We are a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Next? Will our County Commissioners Court follow the law or maintain the status quo?