Dallas County mulls lawsuit over open carry in county buildings

Dallas County commissioners are trying to determine if they can sue the state over where signs banning guns from the Dallas County Government Center can be posted.

The county says the signs should be on doors as you enter the building, but Attorney General Ken Paxton says that’s not right and has ordered Dallas to remove the signs from the government center on Marsh Lane.

One man who visited the government center complained the county could not ban guns from the whole facility and filed a formal complaint with the state.

“They told me that they absolutely had the right to put them up there,” said the man who didn’t want to be identified.

“The way that we understand the law and the legislative history says they are not allowed to bring guns in there,” said Dallas County Commissioner Matt Cantrell.

However, the attorney general ruled guns can be at the government center because the building provides more than just courts and ordered Dallas County to move the signs to outside the truancy and justice of the peace courts. Commissioners were not happy.

“Probably some of the most volatile instances happen in truancy courts dealing with children and in justice of the peace courts in relationships in proximity neighbor-on-neighbor conflicts,” said Dallas County Commissioner Will Price.

In an emergency meeting Thursday, commissioners voted to remove the signs to avoid fines from the state starting on Friday.

“The DA’s office is going to go back in and look at the possibility of filing a declaratory judgment action,” said Cantrell.

Attorney Chad Ruback says the county will ask a judge to decide who is right, which could lead to a lawsuit over the signs.

“The statue could have been a little better written,” said Ruback. “It’s not all that clear.”

Hilda Molina and Beverly Goldman who do business in the government center both want the signs to stay where they are.

“Once a person brings a gun in here, they are two steps further from the court,” said Goldman. “What’s to stop them from going in the court? Nothing.”

If the DA takes the commissioners’ request to a judge who decides the county is right in its interpretation, the signs will go back on the government center.