Central Texas Gun Works owner Michael Cargill claims Austin, Texas, could face a $7.3 million fine for not allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry in City Hall.
Mr. Cargill’s assessment comes after he initiated a complaint against the city of Austin, TX. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton turned the complaint into a lawsuit against the City. The complaint and subsequent suit revolve around a 2015 law requiring concealed carry to be honored in government buildings and properties.
The conceal carry in government buildings was part of the “open carry” law signed by Gov. Abbott in 2015.
Mr. Cargill alleged that Austin’s City Hall kept its 30.06 signage, concealed carry prohibited, after the law was implemented. After his complaint, City Hall turning the sign to reduce visibility, and eventually removed it, but still gave him and others “verbal notice” that they could not carry.
The city of Austin said in a statement it’s prepared for the fight.
“The City’s position has remained consistent. It is a criminal offense under Texas law to possess or carry a handgun on the premises of a government court or offices used by the court,” a city spokesperson said. “Because the City of Austin Municipal Court conducts court proceedings in the Austin City Hall building and maintains office space for court personnel we believe state law prohibits possessing or carrying a weapon in City Hall (except by law enforcement personnel). We are prepared to defend this lawsuit and look forward to having this matter resolved by a court.”
The Texas Tribune reports that Paxton brought suit in May 2016, on the grounds that “Austin banned firearms in its city hall under the law’s ‘government court’ exception, which prohibits them ‘on the premises of any government court or offices utilized by the court,’ unless a written regulation or the individual court authorizes it.” However, Paxton’s office indicated it could not ascertain “which government court or office utilized by a government court, if any, is located within the city hall building.”
The suit brought by Paxton is ultimately intended to bring Austin City Hall into compliance with the 2015 law. Should Austin lose, it could result in a hefty fine resulting in the loss of millions of Austin taxpayer dollars.
Michael Cargill spoke to Breitbart News on January 8, saying he had calculated the per-day fine the city of Austin could be facing. Estimating it to be around $7.3 million.
He explained that the fine under the 2015 law is assessed per day of violation. For the first day of violation, the fine is “$1,000 to $1,500; the second day is $10,000 to $10,500; every day thereafter is $10,000 to $10,500 as well.” Mr. Cargill said he began tallying the penalties at the start of 2016 to date, when the new law went into effect.
Even on the lesser scale of $1,500 in fines each day, Austin would owe over $1.1 million at this point.
Mr. Cargill explained the law is structured so that fines collected for failure to comply are used for infrastructure projects around the state. In other words, in the event that the city loses the suit, millions of local Austin taxpayer dollars could be used to repair roads and bridges in Dallas, Lubbock, or other areas around the state.
Austin city attorneys asked that the suit against the city be dismissed, but on December 22, 2017, Fox 7 reported that Travis County District Court Judge Lora Livingston ruled that Paxton’s suit could proceed.
Mr. Cargill reacted to Livingston’s ruling by saying, “It’s time that our elected officials stopped violating our Second Amendment rights, and all of our Constitutional rights. It’s time that they started following the law and that is all that we ask.”
The next step is an actual trial.
“It’s in Austin so it will be a liberal judge, a liberal jury, whoever hears this case, and I’m very interested in how that’s going to come out because I know that we’re going to win this case and we’re going to take it all the way, we’re not going to quit,” Cargill said.
“I will always make sure that governments do not trample on the Second Amendment rights of Texans, and if they do, we will sue,” Paxton said in a statement.
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