|Objective:||To provide the public with parameters and guidance regarding the general prohibition of weapons on SOAH premises, as part of the agency’s commitment to provide and maintain a safe workplace for all employees and visitors.|
|Legal Cites:||The Firearm Carry Act of 2021; Texas Government Code Chapter 411, Subchapter H; Texas Local Government Code Chapter 179; Texas Penal Code §§ 30.06 –.07, 46.01, 46.03, 46.05, 46.15|
Visitors to SOAH are not permitted to bring a firearm, illegal knife, club, or other prohibited weapon to SOAH courtrooms or offices, unless expressly authorized by law or by written authorization of the court. When conducting contested case hearings, SOAH acts as a government court in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity, rendering it unlawful to possess such prohibited weapons on its premises. Pursuant to Texas Penal Code 46.03(a)(3), the carrying of handguns by visitors to SOAH courtrooms and offices is prohibited regardless of whether the person is licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, or carrying a handgun under the authority of the Firearm Carry Act of 2021 (also known as “constitutional carry”). Only visitors or witnesses who are currently elected, employed, or appointed as a peace officer under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 2.12 and certain other military and criminal justice personnel, and/or who are currently employed or otherwise serving as a first responder for certain less populous municipalities and counties and who hold a license to carry a handgun and meet other requirements, are authorized by law to carry their duty weapon(s) on SOAH premises. Signs prohibiting the concealed or open carry of handguns by a valid license holder are publicly posted on SOAH’s premises in accordance with Texas Penal Code 30.06, 30.07, and 46.03 and all other unlawful weapons are prohibited. Violation of this policy may result in removal from SOAH’s premises and/or criminal liability.