Houston Zoo officials have removed “no gun” signs posted around the zoo after an attorney complained that the notices violated a Texas gun-rights law that just went into effect.
Reports the Houston Chronicle:
Though the Houston Zoo is operated by a private entity, the Hermann Park land it sits on belongs to the city. Private business owners can restrict gun usage; on most government properties, however, licensed Texans are allowed to carry guns.
Now, under legislation that took effect Sept. 1, residents who believe governments are violating that law have a streamlined and strengthened means to file a complaint locally, with the option of appealing to the Texas attorney general. Local governments risk daily fines of up to $10,000, depending on the number of violations, if they fail to remove signage deemed illegal.
Houston attorney T. Edwin Walker with Texas Law Shield, a gun rights advocacy legal firm, quickly put the law to practice Sept. 3, sending a letter to the city stating the zoo’s “no guns” signs were illegal.
You can read Mr. Walker’s letter to the Houston Zoo here.
Houston Zoo officials said in a statement to Law Blog that the City of Houston asked them to remove the so-called 30.06 signs on Thursday and the zoo took them down the next day. Here is an example of one that came down:
“While the zoo is currently investigating the legal options as it relates to the new and evolving law, we have complied with the city’s request,” the zoo’s statement said. “Effective immediately, the Houston Zoo will not ask anyone who is lawfully permitted to carry a concealed legal hand-gun to stow their weapon in their vehicle while visiting the zoo. We do recognize that this has the potential to confuse or concern our guests and members and we want to emphasize that this will not alter our number-one priority, which is the safety of our guests, employees and animals.”
Zoo officials said they had been under the impression that the zoo is an educational institution. Under state law, hand guns may not be carried at schools and places defined as “educational institutions.”
“I’m very pleased,” Mr. Walker told Law Blog on Tuesday. He said concealed-carry license holders in Texas “are very educated about their ability to carry their handguns. They’re well aware of places they can take their concealed handguns and places they may not.”