AUSTIN – On Monday (Aug. 27, 2018), Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a detailed opinion to increase the safety of our polling locations.
Current state law includes a general prohibition on handgun carry at polling places, creating an unsafe “gun-free zone” and making it difficult for our election officials and voters to defend themselves against someone who may seek to do them harm.
With this opinion, General Paxton clarifies that presiding election judges who are licensed to carry are not generally prohibited from carrying handguns in polling places on election day, citing Section 46.03 of the Penal Code. This means that presiding election judges who are licensed to carry a handgun may carry at polling locations while performing their duties on election day – with some location prohibitions still applicable.
Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey stated: “Thank you to General Paxton and Republican State Representative James White for ensuring that Texans received this opinion that supports our core Republican values and the Republican Party Platform (Plank #72). This is an important step in the right direction to keep our polling locations safe on election day. Areas in which government prohibits law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms become unsafe zones for Texans. General Paxton’s opinion helps keep election judges safe on election day by clarifying that they have the option of self protection if they are licensed to carry and choose to do so.”
Note – Due to existing state law, election judges who wish to carry must still be aware of a few remaining restrictions based on location and type of carry, particularly on colleges and private property. This ruling also only applies to each location’s Election Judge on Election Day. We encourage our Republican County Chairs to review the full AG opinion which can be found here and to share it with their election judges and local law enforcement. We further encourage the 86th Legislature to repeal state laws that continue to prohibit law-abiding citizens from choosing to carry their firearms in certain locations, and we call upon gun owners of Texas to regulate themselves through exercising safe handling procedures, voluntarily receiving training and helping train others, and safely carrying firearms as a deterrent to crime.
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