This week, adding further insult to the liberties of Liberty County residents, the Liberty County Commissioners' Court approved a new security plan for the courthouse that will close all of the courthouse entrances to the public, except the one on the west end facing Travis Street. For quite some time the court has already removed the right of licensed handgun citizens to carry into the public areas of the courthouse. Now, they can also expect x-ray and metal detectors soon.
While there is support both for and against the issue, the fact is according to state law, the county cannot restrict the ability of a licensed gun carrying citizen entry into an entire building simply because a courtroom is inside. While it is illegal to carry a handgun into a courtroom, it is not illegal to carry into public buildings and public areas such as the tax office.
The Attorney General of Texas has issued an opinion on this issue as some local county governments did try to resist the law on allowing licensed carry in various buildings. The concern now is where does this leave Liberty County. The AG could serve notice the county is not in compliance, which could trigger fines of thousands of dollars a day until they do come under compliance. So far, the AG has not sent notification to Liberty County, but that could change any day if a citizen files a complaint and the AG chooses to act.
While counties disagreeing with state law is nothing new, it is odd that a Republican lead court takes such drastic measures that impede the rights of the people of Liberty County. Solutions could range from separating the public area from the rest of the courthouse that contains courtrooms to simply putting the equipment to detect guns at the actual courtrooms. Taking the step to directly challenge state law and the state AG, also a Republican, seems a bit bullish on the part of the commissioners. Additionally, the Republican Party of Texas Platform contains strong language against 'Gun Free Zones' .
Lastly, is there a rash of courthouse shootings in Liberty County? And if so, statistically, it would not be a licensed handgun carrier, as they are safest segment of the public to carry, committing less crime than even Law Enforcement Officers. We feel the Commissioners have bought into the growing false fear of guns. We further feel that they have bought into the belief that restricting the rights of law abiding citizens is acceptable for a little false security as well. Something our founders warned of.
While we support strengthening courthouse security, doing so by infringing on the rights of licensed handgun owners, breaking state law, and going against the opinion of the Texas State AG, is not the way to do so. Especially, when there are plenty of other, conservative and legal, options to choose from to obtain their goals. For the time being, there doesn't seem to be much Liberty in Liberty County for true Constitutional Conservatives.