Oct. 23, 2003, 11:47PM
Group sues Metro over rule banning
gun carriers on buses
By HARVEY RICE
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle
The Texas State Rifle Association and Land Commissioner Jerry
Patterson filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to strike down
a Metropolitan Transit Authority regulation banning people
from carrying concealed weapons on Metro buses.
Four other persons licensed to carry a concealed weapon joined
the lawsuit, arguing that the regulation violates provisions
in the Texas Constitution protecting the right to bear arms.
Patterson, District 11 state senator from 1993-99 and author
of the concealed handgun law, said the lawsuit is ultimately
aimed at overturning similar regulations banning concealed
weapons at transit authorities statewide.
"Metro, we believe, have exceeded their police power,"
said attorney Jerod Woodfill, who filed the lawsuit. Woodfill
is chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.
"The state has essentially said that these people are
well qualified and have the proper character to carry a gun,"
Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton said he is unable to comment
until he has seen the lawsuit. He said the regulation took
effect in 1995.
The regulation was written in response to legislation authorizing
concealed handguns, and specifically prohibits them.
Patterson said every transit authority in Texas, with the
exception of Dallas, banned concealed weapons after the Legislature
authorized them in 1995.
"The predictions were that there would be blood in the
streets, but Metro continues with this anachronism,"
As land commissioner, Patterson is required by law to live
in Travis County, but he said he often visits Harris County
and frequently rides the bus. "I have carried my weapon
on the bus and will do so every time I ride," he said.
Patterson said the association, which claims 3,000 members
in the Metro operating area, chose Metro as its first target
because it was easy to find plaintiffs.
He said two of the plaintiffs joining him in the lawsuit,
James and Mary Ann Knouse, are an elderly couple who have
been barred from riding MetroLift because they carry concealed
Clayton Gaskill, 49, a motion picture camera technician who
lives in Houston, said he joined the lawsuit because "it
doesn't seem to make sense for them to be able to set a policy
that's not lawful."
Gaskill, who has carried a concealed weapon since 1995, said
the weapon was "like having a fire extinguisher or a
spare tire for your car."