The Waller County Criminal District Attorney’s Office staunchly safeguards, respects, and even educates our local citizens about their rights under the 2nd Amendment, the Texas Constitution, and the new open carry laws. However, our office must also help ensure the safe and orderly operation of criminal justice in our courthouse. The Attorney General would have us violate the clear statutory language of Section 46.03(a) of the Penal Code just to pander to a small group of voters who refuse to accept that even the 2nd Amendment has limitations. We do not allow guns in prisons, hospitals, or sporting arenas, and we should continue to prohibit them in courthouses as well. The Legislature realizes this, judges realize this, rationale Republicans and Democrats agree on this, and unless and until the Legislature changes the law we will enforce the laws as written aside from political pressure or pandering. Allowing citizens to carry inside the courthouse in violation of state law as the Attorney General would have us do is not only illegal, but would subject witnesses, victims, jurors, officers, prosecutors, and judges to an unnecessary and unjustifiable risk. In the last fifteen years there have been at least three shootings just outside Texas courthouses, and that was when guns were completely prohibited inside the buildings. Courthouses are places where murderers are sentenced, where couples finalize angry and bitter divorces, and where children are removed from their parents for their own protection; the presence of firearms during these proceedings, even in the hallways during breaks, would only make these tense and precarious situations more dangerous.
The FBI and the Texas Rangers are currently investigating individuals involved with advocating the murder of the district attorney over this issue. These are some of the individuals who would be allowed to carry firearms in courthouses under this wrong interpretation of the law. This fact alone highlights the importance of courthouse security and the recognition of the heightened emotions and security considerations involved.
In addition to the misinterpretation of the law prohibiting firearms in courthouses, there is also a misinterpretation about what the County is seeking in the lawsuit with Mr. Holcomb. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure require us to include a statement about what we are seeking in the lawsuit and that statement must include a dollar amount. However, the County is not seeking to collect monetary damages or to punish Mr. Holcomb for submitting a complaint about our sign at the courthouse. The County is seeking a judicial ruling confirming that Texas law prohibits firearms throughout the entire courthouse, not just in individual courtrooms. We are confident in our interpretation of the law and look forward to a court settling the disagreement and verifying that firearms are prohibited in courthouses.