Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded the First Court of Appeals of Texas after it ruled that Waller County lacks jurisdiction to sue a private citizen who complained that the county was unlawfully banning firearms from its government building. The attorney general’s office filed a brief in the case, arguing that it should be dismissed.

In reversing a Waller County district court’s ruling, the Court of Appeals held that Terry Holcomb Sr. had a constitutional right to send a letter to Waller County asking it to comply with Texas’ open carry laws without fear of a retaliatory and meritless lawsuit. “The Attorney General alone has the authority to investigate an alleged violation and decide if it merits further action,” the opinion stated.

“This is a great day for the First Amendment and the right of citizens to participate in government,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Waller County should be embarrassed and ashamed of using litigation as a tool to silence someone who merely called on it to stop violating a state law.”

Based on Holcomb’s complaint, Attorney General Paxton filed his own lawsuit against Waller County in August 2016 to bring the county into compliance with the state’s licensed carry laws. The lawsuit, if successful, will require the county to allow citizens to lawfully carry firearms in areas of the Waller County government building that contain non-judicial county administrative offices.

View the ruling here (PDF)