News & Politics

Texas Officials Sue Gun Rights Advocate ... For Sending Them Letters

These days, it seems like political stances are more than enough for some people to justify punishment. However, officials in Waller County, Texas, have taken that to a whole new level.

They’ve decided to file a lawsuit against a Second Amendment advocate who has sent numerous letters asking that the county adhere to a letter sent by the Texas attorney general. The letter stated that while guns may be banned from the courtroom, that ban should not extend to the rest of the courthouse.

Apparently, the appropriate county response to someone trying to engage with their local government is to sue him:

[Terry] Holcomb argues that the “heavy-handed” decision by Waller County to sue him makes his case much more than a Second Amendment matter.

“We can agree or disagree on the gun issue but this is different than that,” he said, contending that the county’s suit is frivolous and “borderline official oppression.”

The suit appears to be a highly unusual step. Dave Workman, spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, Washington, says he’s never heard of a situation where a government has sued a person who complained about a gun restriction.

Holcomb has responded by filing a countersuit that asserts the county is acting in bad faith.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said Friday that Holcomb misunderstands the county’s intentions. Mathis said he’s simply seeking a ruling by a state judge that the county had the legal right to ban guns from the entire courthouse building.

That’s not how this works, Waller County.

What’s worse is that it’s incredibly unlikely that the county’s attorney doesn’t know just that. Which means this lawsuit isn’t for the purpose the county claims, but is exactly what Holcomb claims it is.

Another example of how full of it Mathis is? The lawsuit seeks damages in the amount of $100,000. He claims this is just boilerplate language and that the county won’t really seek monetary damages. Surely, Holcomb rests easy now.

The truth is, the county should encourage Holcomb to take them to court over the courthouse issue. That’s how this usually works. Counties don’t sue private citizens who take issue with how their local government is run. I’m not the only one arguing that either:

David Anderson, a University of Texas law professor specializing in First Amendment issues, said he understands how Waller County wants a judicial ruling to settle the matter. “But you don’t do that by suing the person who filed the complaint,” he said.

In this day and age, free speech is only a quaint concept. If you actually try to use it, then you’re asking for whatever comes next, apparently.