Court Security

Two states pass laws allowing some officials to bring guns inside courthouses

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Guns Case


Two states have new laws on the books that allow some people to bring guns into courthouses. The new legislation in Arkansas and Oklahoma has brought the debate over the right to carry weapons "quite literally, at the courthouse door," the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Bill Raftery, a senior analyst with the National Center for State Courts, tells the ABA Journal that the governors of both states have signed the bills into law.

The new Arkansas law allows state employees who have concealed carry permits and who work at county courthouses to bring their weapons into the buildings. County employees already have that right.

The Oklahoma bill allows elected county officials who are licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons into courthouses when they are performing public duties.

Guns are still generally banned from courtrooms, however. A different bill in Arkansas would have allowed those with concealed handgun permits to carry guns into a courtroom, but that bill was set aside after debate, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Iowa Supreme Court, meanwhile, took the opposite tack. Last month, the court issued an order banning guns in courthouses. The Iowa Firearms Coalition claimed the order amounted to “judicial overreach” and one county board decided not to comply with the directive.

The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors justified its refusal by pointing to a new state law that lets Iowans adversely affected by local gun laws to sue for damages.The board reasoned that complying with the court directive could lead to lawsuits.

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