AUSTIN – During a trial this week, lawyers from Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office asked a Travis County district court to require the city of Austin to allow residents to lawfully carry firearms in City Hall, as the state’s open carry law requires it to do.
“The city of Austin cannot defy Texas’ licensed carry laws, or any state law enacted by the Texas Legislature, simply because it disagrees with the law or feels like ignoring it,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I will always vigilantly protect and preserve the Second Amendment rights of Texans, and I’m hopeful the Travis County district court will uphold Texas’ open carry law passed by the people’s representatives.”
In July 2016, Attorney General Paxton filed a lawsuit against the city of Austin after a resident with a concealed gun permit complained of being turned away from City Hall on several occasions. Under Texas law, the city of Austin can be fined $1,500 a day for more than 500 days during which the city has barred citizens with a handgun license from bringing handguns into City Hall since the lawsuit was filed. The attorney general’s legal team asked the Travis County district court to impose a total fine of over $750,000.
Prior to the lawsuit, Attorney General Paxton issued a letter that found the city of Austin’s ban violated Texas’ open carry law. While Texas law prohibits people from bringing firearms into courtrooms or court offices, the exemption does not apply to Austin City Hall. Even if a building has a courtroom, guns must be allowed in parts of the building that aren’t exclusive to courthouse functions.