District Court Fines Austin, TX, $9,000 for Refusing Carry of Handguns at City Hall

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 1: On January 1, 2016, the open carry law took effect in Texas, and 2nd Amendment activists held an open carry rally at the Texas state capitol on January 1, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

On Thursday, the Travis County District Court ruled that the City of Austin, Texas, violated the law by barring handguns in City Hall and assessed a nine thousand dollar penalty against the city for the violation.

The concealed carry of handguns has been legal in Texas for decades and open carry for Texas’ concealed handgun license holders became legal on January 1, 2016.

In the January 17, 2019, ruling, Judge Lora J. Livingston explained that the Plaintiff was able to show that open carry was refused on April 4, 2016, April 6, 2016, April 12, 2016, July 1, 2016, July 29, 2016, and September 7, 2016. Judge Livingston ruled that the Defendants did not prove why City Hall should be treated differently among other public areas in  Texas, writing, “Defendants did not meet their burden to establish an exception to Section 411.209(a) on any of the dates” that open carry was refused.

Livingston assessed a $1,500 fine for each of the six violations, with the result that the City of Austin owes a total of $9,000.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) sent Breitbart News a press release in support of the decision. Paxton said:

The district court’s ruling preserves and protects the Second Amendment rights of Texans and sends a strong message to the city of Austin that they are bound by the same laws as all other Texans. The city of Austin cannot violate the open carry law or any other law the Texas Legislature has enacted simply because they disagree with it. If the city of Austin appeals the district court’s decision, my office will continue to strongly defend the right of law-abiding Texans to keep and bear arms in accordance with our handgun laws.

The complainant in the case was Michael Cargill of Central Texas Gun Works. Cargill spoke to Breitbart News after the ruling was issued and said, “Today was a huge victory for the Second Amendment community in Texas. A judge in Austin ruled that under state law handguns by license holders are allowed in Austin City Hall. Licensed holders are the most law abiding citizens we have so there is no reason to prohibit them from carrying.”

Assistant Attorney General Cleve Doty argued the case on behalf of the state. The county will likely take the case to the Texas Third Court of Appeals.

The case is Paxton v. City of Austin, et al; No D-1-GN-16-003340 in the 53rd District Court of Travis County, Texas.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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