Even with court ruling, handguns to remain banned at Austin City Council meetings, other events, city says

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Although a court ruling will force Austin to lift its ban on handguns in City Hall, licensed handgun carriers will remain unable to bring their weapons into Austin City Hall during City Council meetings and other special functions, the city said following the Jan. 17 district court ruling.

Austin received a total of $9,000 in fines—six $1,500 fines for each time licensed carriers were turned away from City Hall—after Judge Lora Livingston handed down the ruling in favor of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sued the city back in 2016 over its self-imposed City Hall ban.

Paxton’s position was that local governments in Texas cannot ban guns in public facilities, with a few exceptions. The city had turned away handgun carriers six times between April 4 and Sept. 7, 2016, according to court documents.

Handguns will still be banned at City Hall during City Council meetings and when the facility functions as a polling place, courthouse or location for educational activities—all in accordance with state law—the city maintained in a statement released after the ruling.

“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,” the city’s statement said.

The city is still unsure whether security guards at City Hall will now be armed, according to a city spokesperson.

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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