Commissioners declare courthouse, many county offices off-limits to guns

Example of a sign as required in provisions of sections §30.06 or §30.07, Texas Penal Code giving notice that handguns are prohibited.

By Curtis Chubb, Special to the Herald

The new Texas law permitting the open carrying of handguns became effective Jan. 1. Before and since that time, the Milam County Commissioners Court has been wrestling with what to do. The problem is that the new handgun laws and pertinent attorney general opinions are not clearly written – especially in regards to where handguns can be prohibited.
At the Dec. 14 meeting of the commissioners court, Assistant Milam County Attorney John Redington concluded that the decision about how to implement the new handgun laws is “really up to the court to decide.”
The consensus of the court at that time was to wait until the attorney general issued his opinion about handgun laws and how they apply to county government. The opinion was issued on Dec. 21.
At Monday’s meeting of the commissioners court, Redington continued the discussion about how to implement the new handgun laws. He mentioned that Bell County had declared their entire courthouse as being utilized by courts of law and therefore was off-limits for handguns – concealed or open carried.
Redington advised the court to approve a formal declaration about which county government offices and buildings should be identified as off-limits for handguns. He also stated that there was not a “notice” requirement for the handgun laws – meaning that signs identifying buildings and departments as off-limits for handguns were not needed.
Michelle Poston, director of the county’s Adult Probation Department, quickly stated that it was important for the commissioners court to make a formal declaration that they approve the posting of signs prohibiting handguns. Poston believed that this was required because of a law that authorizes penalties if a sign prohibiting handguns is posted but the sign is not legally authorized.
Milam County Sheriff David Greene disagreed with Redington about the need to post signs about handguns being prohibited. He said that a recent conference of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas had emphasized the importance of the signs.

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