County officials are suing a conservative activist for up to $100,000 for informing them they may be breaking the law.
Terry Holcomb, a pastor and Executive Director for Texas Carry, filed a complaint with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in May regarding Waller County’s courthouse. In the complaint, Holcomb alleges that Waller County officials have unlawfully posted signs at each entrance to the courthouse to prevent lawful handgun license holders from carrying their weapons on the property.
County officials maintain that the signs are legal and are suing Holcomb for damages up to $100,000.
While the state’s open carry law does allow governmental entities to ban the carrying of handguns “on the premises of a government court,” Paxton has opined that “premises” refers only to courtrooms and essential court offices rather than the entire building in which the courtroom is located.
While Paxton’s office is yet to issue an opinion regarding Waller County in particular, his office did find Brazos County, McClennan County, and other counties across the state out of compliance with the law over similar courthouse signage. Given Paxton’s interpretation of the law, it is reasonable to assume he will find Waller County’s signs in violation of the law as well.
If he does, Paxton could file suit against them like he has against the City of Austin for the same violation.
If liberal local officials in Waller County believe that Paxton’s interpretation of the law is wrong, they can sue him or the state government. Instead, they’ve chosen to go to war against an individual citizen for speaking up. Lawsuits like the one filed by Waller County officials chill the constitutional rights of citizens and are sanctionable under the state’s anti-SLAPP law.