IN-DEPTH: Why Montgomery County’s ‘gun sanctuary’ resolution doesn’t mean much

GREELEY, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 12: Pistols and other weapons are displayed at a shooting range during the “Rod of Iron Freedom Festival” on on October 12, 2019 in Greeley, Pennsylvania. The two-day event, which is organized by Kahr Arms/Tommy Gun Warehouse and Rod of Iron Ministries, has billed itself as a “second amendment rally and celebration of freedom, faith and family.” Numerous speakers, vendors and displays celebrated guns and gun culture in America. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (2019 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to make the county a gun sanctuary. The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Charlie Riley who said he wanted to take steps to protect citizens’ guns after politicians like Democrat Beto O’Rourke said he’d take away people’s guns and also called for a mandatory buyback of AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles.

The resolution recognizes Montgomery County residents’ constitutional right to bear arms. It also says the county will not authorize or appropriate government funds or resources, “for the purpose of enforcing or assisting in the enforcement of any element of such acts, laws, orders, mandates, rules or regulations, that infringe on the right by the people to keep and bear arms."

With this resolution, Montgomery County is the largest of 11 other Texas counties that have adopted the gun sanctuary status. The other counties are:

Edwards CountyHood County
Stephens CountyHudspeth County
Smith CountyPresidio County
Parker CountyPalo Pinto County
Mitchell CountyKaufman County
Ellis County

Big Spring is the only Texas city and Chester is the only Texas town to also have passed such resolutions.

What does this mean?

From a legal standing: Nothing, according to KPRC 2 Legal Analyst Brian Wice.

This type of resolution is typically symbolic and rooted in making a political statement.

If at the state or federal level, a law was passed that county officials considered an infringement on people’s second amendment rights, this resolution would not provide the citizens any protection. The county could file a lawsuit trying to block such a move in court, but the resolution would not achieve anything in that situation either.

While Riley understands this resolution is entirely symbolic, he still maintains it is important.

“It may not create law but when the time comes and somebody does say, ‘Hey were going to start counting your guns or go see what kind of guns you own or see what kind of ammunition you have,’” Riley said. “We’re going to tell em ‘No, not in Montgomery County you’re not.’”

Basic tenets of Texas gun laws

During the last legislative session, Texas lawmakers loosened some gun laws including allowing handgun owners to carry concealed firearms without a license during disaster evacuations and the removal of the cap on how many school marshals can carry guns on public school campuses. So here are the basics on gun laws in Texas:

  • You must be 18 years or older to buy a rifle in Texas and at least 21 years old to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer.
  • Texas does not require background checks for private firearm sales.
  • Texas doesn’t limit the purchases of multiple firearms or large-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • Texas is a “shall issue” state when it comes to licenses which means as long as the applicant meets the basic requirements for buying a firearm, local law enforcement has to furnish a license to carry.
  • Texans can openly carry handguns in public so long as they are in hip or shoulder holsters. Texas does not require a license to openly carry a rifle in public.

KPRC 2 media partner The Texas Tribune created a comprehensive list of gun laws in Texas along with how they compare to the federal laws. You can read more about Texas gun laws here.

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