The Hopkins County Commissioners Court is trying to figure out what to do about new open carry law in Texas January 1. The court is expected to reach a decision Tuesday concerning signage and placement for the new law. An Attorney General’s opinion is expected. The Governor has spoken. Monday morning the County Commissioners Court met with County Attorney Dusty Rabe and District Attorney Will Ramsey for the work session. We hear from County Commissioners Beth Wisenbaker and Danny Evans, also from District Attorney Will Ramsey and County Attorney Dusty Rabe.
Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker said the courthouse does have a number of activities taking place inside and on the property including county and district court. She the right to carry is the right to carry. Acknowledging that judges have the right to control their courtroom during their hours of activity, she said that if anyone has a problem with the law regarding right to carry, they should go back through the system to change it. She said it is not her place to interpret the law but to go by it.
Danny Evans says the law must be upheld by all including judges and the law gives the right to carry to those licensed. Evans said the only place spelled out in the statute that prohibits the right to carry on county properties is in the judges’ offices and the courtroom.
Will Ramsey, District Attorney, said a sign will have little affect but having a full time security person placed at the doorway of the courthouse along with a metal detector is needed. He said a sign will not stop anyone. Ramsey said he would feel much better on a daily basis to know that those in the courtroom do not carry a weapon. Ramsey said that those entering the courthouse but not the courtroom could be identified and allowed to enter the courthouse as long as those in the courtroom are notified that they are present and the person entering the courthouse is barred from the courtroom.
County Attorney Dusty Rabe said she believes the intent of the law is that no weapons be allowed in the courthouse or court room. Rabe said the law does not allow for the multipurpose use of a courthouse. She said the regional civic center and other county properties can allow the right to carry because court is not being conducted in those areas.
Both attorneys stated that court cases can become volatile and the need to prohibit weapons is need in the court.
Tuesday, Commissioners Court will discuss signage for county properties regarding concealed and open carry.