AUSTIN, Texas – After a three-year battle, a Travis County District Judge declared Thursday that guns are allowed at Austin City Hall.
- Ruling applies to most government facilities
- Judge upholds state law enacted in 2015
- Extends to all Texas License to Carry permit holders
Plaintiff Michael Cargill tested the ruling Thursday afternoon. The judge's ruling requires local governments to allow people with Texas licenses to carry to bring holstered handguns into a public building. The few exceptions to the law are if City Council meetings, court proceedings or events catering to children are underway.
"There are a bunch of cities that are not following the law, and we are coming after them," Cargill said. "Within the next 30 days, we are going to come after about 50 cities and put them on notice: they need to take down their signs, they need to follow the law because we are coming after them."
The City of Austin issued the following statement:
"We are disappointed because City Hall is a multifunctional building that is at times a court facility, a polling place, a location for educational activities and the location of City Council meetings, all of which meet the state legislature’s conditions for restricting the carrying of handguns.
"Consistent with the Court's order, we will continue to ban handguns from City Hall during those times when the legislature's limitations allow, and we will be amending our communications to clarify when our handgun ban will be in effect."
District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo, who represents Downtown Austin and has served on the Austin City Council since 2011, said she is disappointed in the judge's ruling.
"Prohibiting guns from public spaces is, in my opinion, the best practice," she said. "I certainly hope the city will appeal this ruling and continue to take a strong stance."
Cargill said he is working with state lawmakers to further clarify what he calls gray areas of the law. That includes if local governments are allowed to ban firearms from the entire building during protected functions, or if the limits only apply to the rooms used for the event.