McLennan County Vows Fight with Texas AG over Concealed Handgun Signs

McClennan County Commissioners are defying instructions by the Texas Attorney General to remove 30.06 signs prohibiting licensed gun owners from carrying a concealed handgun into areas in the courthouse and annex where they are permitted. The dispute is over common areas where Texas law says it is legal for license holders to carry handguns. The commissioners have hired lawyers to fight the directive of the attorney general.

The commissioners have voted to hire lawyers “to take whatever action is necessary to protect the county from Paxton’s command,” reports the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The commissioners voted to challenge a March 30 letter from the Office of the Texas Attorney General warning them to take down 30.06 signs prohibiting licensed gun holders from carrying in areas lawfully allowed. Concealed carrying is not allowed in actual courtrooms or in judicial offices.

Breitbart Texas reported on April 5 that the Office of the Texas Attorney General sent letters to local governments and warned them against illegally and improperly posting signs prohibiting licensed Texans from carrying handguns.

The 30.06 signs are being used by some government bodies to prevent Texas Handgun License holders from carrying concealed weapons on the property. The notice is called a 30.06 notice because it is governed by Texas Penal Code, section 30.06 (entitled Trespass by a License Holder with a Concealed Handgun).

The 2015 Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 273, and Texas Governor Abbott signed it into law last June. It became effective September 1, 2015. The bill was passed in order to give private citizens the right to file complaints against city and county governments that unlawfully post 30.06 signs and prohibit the rights of licensed Texans to lawfully carry. The state website of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton provides the form that citizens can use to file a complaint for a 30.06 violation.

A statement on the Office of the Texas Attorney General website provides that “When uncooperative governments post signs to ban Texas citizens from carrying where it is legal, they are breaking the law and infringing on Texans’ Second Amendment rights.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton sent letters to ten offending governmental entities in Texas. In addition to the McLennan County Courthouse and Annex (attached below) they include:

  1. Abilene City Hall
  2. Austin City Hall
  3. Brazos County Courthouse
  4. Dallas County Government Center
  5. Dallas Zoo
  6. Melissa City Hall
  7. Mineola Nature Preserve
  8. Pasadena Convention Center
  9. Tom Bean City Hall

The sites were given until the 15th day after notice was served upon the entity. The recipient has the option of contesting the OAG’s complaint and offering proof as to why they are not in violation of the law.

Breitbart Texas reported that the improper signs have been removed at the Abilene City Hall, Austin City Hall, Melissa City Hall, Mineola Nature Preserve, Pasadena Convention Center, and the Tom Ben City Hall. The OAG found that the Dallas Zoo was not violating the law because the Zoo is considered to be an amusement park because rides are located within the Zoo. Texas law prohibits the carrying of a handgun by a licensed handgun owner on the premises of an amusement park.

After the law became effective in September, the McLennan County Commissioner’s Court double-downed in late December and approved a law enforcement officer to help maintain the ban on guns in the county courthouse and annex, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported in December. The Commissioners Court unanimously approved a new policy that maintains the ban on guns and weapons. County Judge Scott Felton was reported to say that he was disappointed with the AG’s opinion and wanted to challenge the opinion.

According to the letters from the OAG, the offending local government may be held liable for a civil penalty of:

  • Not less than $1,000 and not more than $1,500 for the first violation; and
  • Not less than $10,000 and not more than $10,500 for the second or a subsequent violation.

The letter also placed the entities on notice that each day of a violation constitutes a separate violation.

The OAG website states the following process for citizens to file a complaint:

Individuals who observe violations must first file a complaint with the government that appears to be in violation. If the entity does not remove the sign within three (3) days, citizens may file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office to investigate the matter and enforce the law. If you believe a political subdivision is unlawfully posting 30.06 signs and you have already filed a complaint with that entity, you may call The Texas Attorney General’s 30.06 Hotline at 1-844-584-3006, or fill out the online form.

Breitbart Texas has reported about the criticism of the McClennan County District Attorney and Waco Police Department in McClennan County for the handling of bikers at a Twin Peaks Restaurant after a shootout last May. Criminal defense lawyers and citizens citing the U.S. and Texas Constitutions have criticized these officials and rallied because of the mass arrests of 177 bikers without individual probable cause findings. They have also decried these officials for keeping the bikers in jail for months after they could not post $1 million bonds. Criminal defense lawyers called the bonds “unconstitutional” and “astronomical.” Lawyers unsuccessfully sought the recusal of the judge who set them.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2

2016 03 30 McLennan County Courthouse Letter From AG


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