Dallas

Denton Constable Won't Enforce Gun Ban at County Buildings

Denton County Constable Ron Smith does not believe a gun ban at some of the county’s offices is legal under state law.

Currently signs are posted outside the Sandy Jacobs Denton County Government Center Annex in Carrollton banning guns from being carried inside, concealed or not.

Smith, whose office is in the building, said the signs first went up a few months ago but only came to his attention when several residents sent complaints to him about the policy.

"[I] told them that, number one, we should not be doing it, and number two, that I would not enforce it," said Smith, who serves as constable for Precinct 6.

Smith said personally he believes in the safety benefits of having trained concealed carries in public, but that this situation just boils down to what is allowed by state law.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton handed down the opinion that a similar ban inside a Dallas County building violated the state’s new gun carry laws. Paxton said bans in county facilities had to be limited to courtrooms and offices essential to court proceedings.

In that case, Dallas County leaders chose not to challenge the opinion and instead just move the signs to those areas.

Smith believes Denton County will come under the same fire if a formal challenge is brought up.

County Judge Mary Horn said Wednesday that the constable is entitled to his opinion on the matter, but that county commissioners would await the state’s opinion on Denton County’s situation.

Horn said they have been discussing this matter, as have most county leaders in Texas, and she has reached out to Paxton for an opinion on it.

A gun owner herself, Horn said she believes some laws have unintended consequences and that this may be one of them in her opinion.

“It’s a poorly written law,” she said over the phone on Wednesday, “it needs clarification.”

Horn hopes the state legislature will take the law back up and give more consideration to security in government offices.

In Denton County’s case, gun carry is also banned from the main county courthouse in Denton where security checkpoints exist at the front doors, but Horn said it just wouldn’t be possible to properly secure every single court room and court office individually.

While the county awaits that opinion, Smith said he’s not standing by the ban at the annex.

"This needs to be uniform and if there is anything well than certainly go about it the right way with state legislators,” he said.

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