Texas AG: Counties Can’t Restrict Gun Sales During Coronavirus Emergency

Saturday, March 28, 2020
By Paul Martin

27 Mar 2020

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) says local governments cannot act to shut down gun sales in their municipalities and counties during the coronavirus emergency.

Paxton made this point in relation to questions from State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R), regarding the leeway local governments currently possess relating to the regulation of gun sales.

He responded to Borrows saying, “Multiple provisions within the Government Code recognize governmental entities in Texas may require additional authority during times of disaster to address emergency situations.” Paxton went on to described this authority as part of “emergency powers” but made clear it does not extend to the degree of regulating gun sales.

Paxton wrote:

While the Legislature granted local officials certain emergency powers to address disaster situations, that local authority is not without limitation. Relevant to your question, provisions in the Local Government Code prohibit municipalities and counties from regulating, among other things, the transfer, possession, ownership, or sale of firearms, “notwithstanding any other law.”

Paxton showed there is “municipal authority” to “regulate the use of firearms…in the case of an insurrection, riot, or natural disaster if the municipality finds the regulations necessary to protect public health and safety.” However, “municipal authority to regulate the use of firearms during a disaster does not grant authority to also regulate the transfer, possession, ownership or sale of firearms.”

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