Conroe, April 4 – County Attorney J.D. Lambright made clear during a meeting of the Montgomery County Tea Party last night, “You can carry handguns into the Sadler Administration Building. Call my office if you have a problem.” Lambright’s strong pro-gun carrying stance is important but seems to contradict the practice inside the Sadler Administration Building.
The Sadler Administration Building has four usable floors. The County Commissioners Court only has administrative offices and the Courtroom on the 4th floor. County “Judge” Craig Doyal is not a real judge; he merely holds the title of the office to which the voters elected him. Doyal does not preside over any legal cases, because he’s not a licensed attorney. In fact, since August 2, 2016, the Texas Judicial Conduct Commission has suspended Doyal from performing any judicial functions.
The bottom three floors of the Building are administrative offices for other County Departments. For example, the County Engineer and County Permitting Departments take a large portion of the first floor. The County Auditor and County Treasurer take up a large portion of the second floor. The County Attorney is on the third floor. The County Human Resources and Purchasing Departments are on the fourth floor along with the Commissioners Court.
The metal detector is at the front of the building on the first floor, however, and that’s where the problem lies. Many citizens have complained to The Golden Hammer that the security guards at the first floor metal detector do not permit handguns into the building, even if the carrier has a License-To-Carry Permit under Texas law which allows a person either to carry handguns concealed or under the open-carry provisions. It’s actually a violation of Texas law for “uncooperative governments” to ban Texas citizens from carrying where it is legal, according to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “They are breaking the law and infringing on Texans’ Second Amendment rights,” explains General Paxton on his website.
Only the premises of a government court or offices utilized by the court may exclude weapons. Specially, Section 46.03 of the Texas Penal Code prohibits a person, including a handgun license holder, from bringing weapons on certain premises.
Nevertheless, the prohibitions cut both ways. Section 411.209(a) of the Texas Government Code prohibits governmental entities from prohibiting license-to-carry license holders from carrying a handgun on premises under than the specific locations which Penal Code Section 46.03 prohibits, i.e., government courts or court offices.
In several opinion letters and responses to complaint letters, General Paxton has made clear that government offices may not prohibit licensed handgun holders from entering. Such offices include all county administrative offices, including, without limitation, the tax assessor/collector, human resources, adult probation, juvenile probation, elections, the auditor, and the treasurer. If a county violates Section 411.209 by restricting a license-to-carry handgun licensee from entering a county building, the Office of the Attorney General may file suit in district court and seek civil penalties of not less than $1,000 and not more than $1,500 for the first violation, and not less than $10,000 and not more than $10,500 for the second and subsequent violations of the statute.
Several county and city governments have run afoul of the law but none have refused to comply with General Paxton’s warnings.
Montgomery County’s government, now under the dictatorial direction of County Judge Craig Doyal, clearly violates Texas law and the Second Amendment. The County should – and must – move the metal detector in the Sadler Administration Building to the 4th floor. In fact, since Craig Doyal is not really performing any “judicial” functions, the metal detector probably ought to be right outside the doors of the County Commissioners Court. Since the Commissioners Court only meets once every two weeks, following the law in this regard would seem to be great way for the County to save a lot of money on the kind ladies and gentlemen who operate the metal detectors in the Sadler Administration Building.
Doyal better listen to Lambright on this issue.