Texas attorney general defends tweet threatening lawsuit

Texas attorney general defends tweet threatening lawsuit
By Ashley Goudeau
January 10, 2013

AUSTIN — It’s the tweet that raised eyebrows and upset many. Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott posted a message that said “If Austin or Travis Co. try to ban gun shows they better be ready for a double-barreled lawsuit.”

“Well first of all, we haven’t made any decisions, so I don’t know what he thinks is unlawful or what he believes is unlawful,” said Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez. “And secondly, if we have an attorney general who’s going to threaten lawsuits via Twitter, he might want to reconsider his legal opinions.”

Abbott calls the tweet transparency.

“If you follow my tweets at @GregAbbott_TX, you’ll find that I send out a lot of information about what we’re doing here because I believe in open government,” Abbott said.

The attorney general sent the message out on the day Travis County commissioners met to discuss the possibility of banning gun shows at the Travis County Expo Center in wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“I think that’s the ultimate issue. It’s not whether guns are sold, whether guns are owned, it’s really whether public facilities should be used,” Judge Sam Biscoe said Tuesday.

The county delayed any action on the matter until next Tuesday, January 15 — the same day the Austin City Council plans to talk about it.

“We plan to have a presentation before the Health and Human Services Council subcommittee, and so we have some basic questions. One is, ‘Legally what can we do?’ Two, ‘What are we doing and what have we done?’ And three, ‘What is our plan moving forward?'” Martinez said.

Abbott’s answer — there’s nothing cities and counties can do on a local level without facing a lawsuit.

“The county and cities can prohibit illegal conduct on their premises. They cannot, however, choose to allow in or exclude people based upon their philosophical belief. The Second Amendment is not a philosophical belief; it is a constitutional guarantee,” Abbott said.

And it’s a guarantee he said he will fight for, similar to the fight that happened with Houston.

“The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, federal court, was very clear. The City of Houston violated that Texas law because it tried to impose restrictions on gun shows in the City of Houston on city property. State law could not be more clear. The courts could not be more clear. We expect Travis County and the City of Austin to follow the law,” Abbott said.

Abbott said if local leaders and the people in Austin and Travis County want a change, they should reach out state lawmakers to change the law.

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