Some might think that common sense says that allowing guns in a courthouse, where people go on what can be the worst day of their lives, makes sense. But not Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said in a statement this week, “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. I will vigilantly protect and preserve the Second Amendment rights of Texans.”
Because he's a stickler for detail, and because Waller County has its non-judicial administrative offices — like the county clerk, treasurer and elections offices — housed in its courthouse, the AG says they are breaking the law by barring open carry in the whole building. Texas' open carry law requires licensed holders be allowed to carry in any government building except where government meetings or court hearings are held.
A similar scene is unfolding in Texas' capital. At the tail-end of July, Paxton filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin, which had prohibited open carry in its City Hall. While Waller County just posted a sign, Austin officials etched its no guns in City Hall sign into glass, according to Paxton's lawsuit. A spokesperson in Austin told the Texas Tribune
that it plans to fight Paxton's litigation, saying municipal court takes place in City Hall and court personnel have offices there.
San Antonio hasn't had much of a problem, though. There had only been one complaint. Edward Guzman, first assistant city attorney, told us in a statement that an attendee at a private event in a rented space at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center complained that the renter prohibited open carry in the space. "The AG asked the City to respond. The City responded that the private event holder had temporarily placed a sign within their rented area, and removed the sign after their event," Guzman told us at the end of July. "The City did not encourage, produce, or mandate the use of the sign. No further action was taken by any party. The AG has not responded to our response, which was submitted on June 13."
And he probably won't. City Spokeswoman Thea Setterbo said Wednesday that Paxton issued an opinion saying that private entities leasing government space can temporarily prohibit open carry. In the world of local government in San Antonio, officials can only prohibit open carry where public meetings are being held and in buildings where court proceedings, school activities or sporting events are taking place.
While Paxton is busy defending the right to carry guns into courthouses and city halls on the taxpayer dime, he's also filing lawsuits against the federal government over its transgender-inclusive guidelines for schools. Meanwhile, the criminal and civil cases against Paxton continue to crawl forward. On the criminal side, Paxton is accused of encouraging people to invest in a tech company called Servergy without telling them he'd get a cut of their investment. Paxton has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of securities fraud and one count of failing to register as a securities agent. The Dallas Morning News reported today
that Paxton has to refile his appeal because his attorneys didn't submit the paperwork properly the first time.
The feds accused Servergy of misrepresenting its products by claiming its servers used less energy than any other on the market, which wasn't true, and lied about ink already drying on contracts for sales to large companies like Amazon. The Securities and Exchange Commission eventually sued Paxton and Servergy over the activity. And in another development this week, William Mapp, the founder and CEO of the company, decided to settle with the SEC, leaving Paxton as the lone defendant in the case, the Houston Chronicle reported
. The charges in the civil case are identical to the criminal charges against the state's top attorney, who, by the way, admitted to violating state securities rules
and was slapped with a fine by the state for the charges he's facing now — even before winning election in 2014.
Texas' top law enforcement official has sued Waller County because it tried to ban open carry from its courthouse.