Post-Supreme Court ruling, cities restrictions examined
The Ellis County Press
ELLIS COUNTY – Gun-rights advocates might have a new enemy in wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling establishing an individual’s right to bear arms: cities.
City councils from Milford to Ferris to larger cities like Waxahachie provide for exceptions to their gun-control ordinances for basic Constitutional protections, but an analysis shows ordinances restrict toy guns and reserve discharging a firearm for peace officers only.
Gun ownership itself isn’t encased in ordinances like the Supreme Court – in a 5-4 ruling – threw out in Washington, D.C., home to the most restrictive gun ordinance in the nation and home to some of the worst violent crime.
"The city [of Milford] has Firearms Ordinance 116-75 which states that it is unlawful for any person to use a firearm, including rifles and pellet and BB guns inside the city limits of the City of Milford," Milford City Secretary Sandra Smith said.
"Exceptions include persons acting in lawful defense of life or property and peace officers acting in the scope of the duties as such."
Smith said Milford – located in the southern-most point of Ellis County off Interstate Highway 35, passed their ordinance in 1978.
Toy gun bans
Ferris’ ordinance, passed decades ago, bans the use and discharge of sling shots and AirSoft guns.
Though the ordinance doesn’t mention paintball guns, Ferris City Manager David Chavez said the ordinance applies to air guns (paintball guns use air).
Chavez said Section 130.21 of the general offenses for Ferris deems those guilty of discharging the banned arms as misdemeanor offenses.
Reserved for officers
Waxahachie’s ordinance is, according to an analysis of municipal ordinances, the strictest.
Discharging of firearms, according to Section 21-6 C of Waxahachie’s code of ordinances, states, "It shall be unlawful for any person other than a peace officer in line of duty to discharge a firearm within the City limits of the city of Waxahachie."
Section D states, "An emergency is declared to exist due to the hazards to the public health, property, and peace created by the lack of an ordinance regulating the subject of this ordinance, and this ordinance is to be effective immediately upon its adoption."
Waxahachie adopted the ordinance in 1976.
Handguns on city property
The City of Garrett, located north of Ennis on I-45, prohibits the discharge of guns in the city, but allows the use of pellet and BB guns.
When cities were contacted for this story, officials pointed to signs barring carrying weapons on city property, but a gun law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005, according to GunLaws.com, a Web site that tracks state gun laws, allows for concealed-carry permit holders to carry guns on municipal property so long as the buildings are not being used as courtrooms and city judicial proceedings.
"Reportedly, there is a power struggle under way between the citizens of the state, and some government officials who want to ignore the new law and continue to post signs to ban [concealed carry license holders]," the authors of the site said, pointing to the Texas Penal Code Section 30 and to Section 43 for the city judicial prohibitions.
Garrett’s ordinance makes "it unlawful to carry a handgun on the [premises] where city business is conducted."
A copy of the GunLaws.com citation was sent to the cities listed in this article for clarification and information purposes.