Texas AG Targets Businesses Who Ban Off-Duty Carry By LE Officers

by Tommy Grant

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against five state businesses that don’t allow off-duty police officers their right to carry a firearm on their premises.

In a press release from the AG’s office, Paxton said the lawsuit alleges that The Factory in Deep Ellum in Dallas, Texas Trust CU Theatre in Grand Prairie, Meow Wolf in Grapevine, The Lucky Duck in San Antonio and the State Fair of Texas have violated state law by restricting peace officers, including off-duty officers, from entering the premises with their authorized firearms.

“Texas law must be respected to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens,” Paxton said in the release. “Criminal activity can occur at any time and any place. Peace officers are often well-positioned to prevent and suppress crime, even when they are out of uniform and off duty.”

Texas law provides that establishments serving the public—including businesses, restaurants, hotels, sports venues, arenas and places of amusement—that restrict a peace officer from carrying their authorized weapon are subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 for each violation. According to the release, prior to filing the lawsuit the AG’s office received written confirmations regarding the five named establishments indicating they would follow the law, but since then the AG’s office has continued receiving complaints from peace officers that these establishments are still violating the law.

Concerning Meow Wolf, the lawsuit states: “From at least July 2023 to the present, the defendant has prohibited and restricted off-duty peace officers from entering its establishment with a weapon that such peace officers were authorized to carry.”

“The Attorney General wrote to the Meow Wolf Grapevine, Director of Security Tony Perkins, in an effort to secure a commitment to comply with the law,” the lawsuit further states. “The responsive email from Tony Perkins on behalf of the defendant was received on July 25, 2023, thanking the Attorney General’s Office for its letter, and referencing that the defendant had updated its policies. Despite this, on November 18, 2023, off-duty peace officer Scott Vance (Corporal with the Sherman Police Department) was prohibited by the defendant from carrying his authorized weapon into the defendant’s establishment. This occurred even though Corporal Vance produced photo identification and his peace officer credentials and requested that they contact the Sherman Police Department to verify that he was an officer.”

The lawsuit concludes with a directive that the defendants not only pay the civil penalty of $1,000 fine for each violation, but also be responsible for investigative fees, attorneys fees, court costs and other necessary expenditures.

“Plaintiff has a statutory right to an award of penalties,” the lawsuit stated. “Defendant has shown a continued disregard for state law, which is prejudicial to the state’s interest in protecting the public from criminal activity and harm. Irreparable injury to Texas citizens, persons and property is threatened, irrespective of the imposition of penalties against this defendant. Under the principles of equity, after an evidentiary hearing or trial and upon the entry of a judgment, the court should permanently enjoin the defendant from continuing to violate the [law].

“… plaintiff requests that he be awarded penalties, investigative costs, witness fees, court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees in prosecuting this case through trial and, if necessary, through appeal.”

In a statement sent to spectrumlocalnews.com, one defendant, the State Fair of Texas, stated: “The State Fair of Texas takes seriously its legal obligations to allow peace officers to lawfully carry their weapon at the fairgrounds. To that end, the State Fair requires at least one Dallas Police Officer to be posted at each admission gate to check credentials and ensure compliance.”

The State Fair statement continued: “This policy allows peace officers to deal face-to-face with fellow peace officers to ensure compliance and safety for all our guests. We are looking into the alleged incident referenced in the lawsuit to find out what may have happened.”

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