Texas court sides with county government over local gun ban

A district court judge delivered a setback to Terry Holcomb’s fight against Waller County Courthouse’s gun free zone this week, while a challenge from the Texas Attorney General is still pending. (Photo: Valentine Gonzalez/Open Carry Texas)

A district court judge delivered a setback to Terry Holcomb’s fight against Waller County Courthouse’s gun free zone this week, while a challenge from the Texas Attorney General is still pending. (Photo: Valentine Gonzalez/Open Carry Texas)

A district court on Monday upheld a controversial gun free zone covering the entire Waller County courthouse that has a gun rights group and the Texas Attorney General up in arms.

State law permits local authorities to ban firearms from courts and court offices, but challenges were brought against Waller County because its ban extends to the non-judicial county offices under the same roof.

Upholding the ban, Judge Albert McCaig, Jr. ruled the law “prohibits all firearms and other weapons in the entire government building that houses a court,” according to reports by the Houston Chronicle.

Terry Holcomb, executive director of Texas Carry, who initially raised awareness of the issue, disagreed with the decision, Waller County officials and said he’s planning an appeal.

“If the tyrants in Waller County think they have prevailed, they are sadly mistaken,” he said in a message on his group’s social media page. “This will easily be turned over on appeal. I also intend to fully address this in the up and coming legislative session. If they want to behave like thugs then we will certainly treat them as such and get legislation passed to penalize such behavior.”

Holcomb aired grievances in May when he sent a registered letter to Waller County officials and the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that argued the “no guns” signs posted at the county courthouse were illegal under state law. He asked they be removed within three days or he would take legal action.

In response, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis filed a lawsuit against Holcomb in July, holding the law is on the county’s side and asking a state court for a judgement against the advocate that could top $100,000 in damages.

When Paxton weighed in a month later, he sided with the advocate and warned the signs violated state law. Once it became clear the county wasn’t backing down, he filed suit against Waller County.

While McCaig’s ruling keeps in place the ban for now, it does nothing to stop Paxton’s case in Travis County, which is still pending, though Waller County officials are seeking to have it dismissed.