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AG and McLennan County come to agreement on gun ban signs

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Posted at 4:18 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 19:12:32-04

The McLennan County Commissioners and the Texas Attorney General's Office have reached an agreement about the gun ban signs outside of the courthouse.

County commissioners said they met with representatives from the AG's office for about three and a half hours last Wednesday and gave them a tour of the McLennan County courthouse. After the tour, the county informed the Attorney General's Office of their preliminary plan to relocate the district attorney's pre-trial diversion and hot check department to the administrative office area of the old McLennan County Sheriff's Office adjacent to the courthouse annex. The new location would also create a more accessible public entrance at Columbus Avenue.

In a letter dated April 15, the AG's office said with those plans in place, the county would be in compliance with state law and they do not need to take the "no weapons" signs down. The letter states that the AG's office will not file suit or seek the collection of civil penalties.

"Our stance from the beginning is that it seems somewhat vague and we felt that if we could have a dialogue with the AG's office and share with how we actually function here in McLennan County that we could reach some sort of compromise as we have," said McLennan County Commissioner Precinct 4 Ben Perry. "This is a result of good government. The state being willing to work with a county government. Good dialogue, good conversation and a reasonable compromise has been achieved."

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said if an agreement hadn't been reached, the county would have to pay thousands of dollars.

"Our cost for additional security would have been tremendous," said Felton. "In just a few short years it would have been in the millions of dollars range."

Felton said he and the county commissioners are relieved they reached an agreement with the AG's office.

On March 30th, the Texas Attorney General's office sent a letter to Judge Felton stating that the "no weapons" signs posted outside of the courthouse prohibiting weapons in the building were in violation of state law.  

The letter said, "Although both the courthouse and annex house government courts, such as district courts and county courts-at-law, not all of the offices located in the courthouse or the annex are offices essential to the operation of the courts."

The letter added that the commissioner's court and the district attorney's offices, for instance, are not judicial county administrative offices according to Penal Code. 

The county was given 15 days to respond or comply to the letter.

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