A county sues a gun rights activist

  • 1 September 2016
  • NormanL
A court sues a gun rights activist

A Texas gun rights activist writes letters to various state agencies and courthouses complaining that they unlawfully ban license holders from carrying their weapons in public buildings. What does one county do in response? It filed a lawsuit against the guy who wrote the letters:

In the case of courthouses like the one in Waller County, Texas law prohibits guns from being brought into courtrooms and related offices, but Attorney General Ken Paxton issued separate opinions in December saying firearms can’t be uniformly prohibited from an entire courthouse complex.

Holcomb argues that the “heavy-handed” decision by Waller County to sue him makes his case much more than a Second Amendment matter.

“We can agree or disagree on the gun issue but this is different than that,” he said, contending that the county’s suit is frivolous and “borderline official oppression.”

The suit appears to be a highly unusual step. Dave Workman, spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, Wash., says he’s never heard of a situation where a government has sued a person who complained about a gun restriction.

Holcomb has responded by filing a countersuit that asserts the county is acting in bad faith.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said Friday that Holcomb misunderstands the county’s intentions. Mathis said he’s simply seeking a ruling by a state judge that the county had the legal right to ban guns from the entire courthouse building.

The county’s suit seeks up to $100,000 in damages from Holcomb but Mathis said that was included as boilerplate language and he promised that the county would not pursue any monetary damages.

Lawyers in his office have spent months reviewing state statutes to ensure any restrictions on weapons are lawful, Mathis said, but a mish-mash of laws continue to create confusion in Texas.

“We decided we wanted to put the issue to bed,” he said.

One would think such a lawsuit would be laughed out of (another, more sensible) court. And perhaps even punished, as a frivolous lawsuit.

But we've sen too many oddball rulings in state courts to be confident of such an outcome. Which is why we will be watching developments here closely.