Gun rights group sues Arlington, Texas, over limits on handing out literature

Arlington, Texas, sued by gun rights group that says an ordinance limiting where literature can be handed out violates the First Amendment.
By Frances Burns  |  May 29, 2014 at 4:40 PM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, May 29 (UPI) -- Open Carry Tarrant County says that an Arlington, Texas, ban on handing out literature at busy intersections and on some roads violates its members' free speech rights.

The group filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in Fort Worth. Its members hand out Open Carry literature and copies of the U.S. Constitution while armed with long-barreled guns and black-powder pistols.

The Arlington city council amended a 1994 law on the handing out of leaflets, making it less restrictive. Two Open Carry members had been ticketed for giving out literature during a demonstration.

Assistant City Attorney Robert Fugate said the ordinance is a safety measure.

"The ordinance doesn't have anything to do with guns," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "There are many other places in the city where they can go about their business, distributing copies of the Constitution or distributing bananas. The content of their speech is irrelevant to the ordinance."

But Warren Norred said that even the amended ordinance violates the First Amendment: "They passed a law to stop people from handing out the United States Constitution. Really?"

Fugate said the city plans to enforce the amended ordinance. The amendment took effect Thursday.

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