Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Senate bill would give prosecutors right to carry guns into court

Prosecutors could win the ability to carry guns into court under a new bill passed by the state Senate.

January 22, 2009, 3:26 p.m. Updated January 22, 2009, 11:38 p.m.


— Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman thinks allowing prosecutors to carry concealed guns in county courthouses could give them an added measure of protection if they ever needed it.

And on Thursday, the Senate voted 39-0 for a bill that would let county, state and federal prosecutors — including Attorney General Steve Six and his assistants — carry concealed guns into county courthouses.

“The courthouse is our workplace where we come in contact with people who pose us the greatest threat,” said Gorman, who has been prosecuting criminals in Kansas City, Kan., for 28 years.

There was no debate in the Senate. The measure now goes to the House, where Majority Leader Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, said he thought it would have “a pretty good chance.”

Gorman, who has received several written death threats over the years, said he works in two courthouse buildings and he and his staff often walk between them. “We’re out in exposed areas, not behind a locked door,” he said.

He recalled that several years ago, he was standing in line at a mall with his wife and daughter waiting to see Santa Claus when he spotted the family of a man he convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

When Gorman saw them talking among themselves, he left with his family.

“It was time to get away, but I could have been in a position where they saw me before I saw them,” he said.

In Lawrence, though, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said he didn’t think the move was necessary, given the court security guards stationed at the entrance to the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

“We’ve not had any problems since the installation of the security at the front of the building,” Branson said. “I think our courthouse is pretty safe. We have the metal detectors people pass through. They can be hand checked with a wand, belongings such as backpacks and briefcases can be examined. I don’t see the necessity.”

Prosecutors wanting to carry a concealed gun would have to complete firearms training.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, who handled the bill, said it was limited to courthouses, although prosecutors could carry a concealed gun wherever else the law allowed it.

A 2006 state law authorized concealed carry by qualified Kansans who obtain permits. The measure specifically bans concealed guns in courthouses — with no exceptions for prosecutors — and in several other locations such as schools, churches and polling places. Violations in some of the off-limits sites can be prosecuted only if signs are posted, and businesses also can post signs saying no guns are allowed.

“Prosecutors are treated more like private citizens even though they function more like law enforcement officers,” said Schmidt, an Independence Republican.

The bill would require prosecutors to obtain concealed gun permits, as 15,783 Kansans already have done, and to undergo additional firearms training set up by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.

The concealed gun permit costs $150 and is valid for four years after it’s issued by the attorney general’s office.


denak 9 years, 2 months ago

Is there really a need for this in court?Most criminals who are in court are petty criminals going through their prelims and are not a danger to anyone.The ones who are a possible danger or a flight risk are shackled and there are at least 2 armed police officers.Except for the very rare instance, prosecutors are not in any more danger than anyone else in the courtroom.Dena

Brosiusjb 9 years, 2 months ago

Wow. So now we are a state that allows people to pack heat whenever they want as long as a business doesn't have a "no guns" sticker (like a sticker is going to do any good), we will have guns in court, in Dr.s offices, in school. When did the days of Wyatt Earp really end, have they yet? I've already made the point that its impossible to be both pro-police and pro-handgun, most cops hate hand guns because they cause the most trouble. This is assanine.

jayhawk10 9 years, 2 months ago

concealed carry permit holders commit much less crime than the general public

Jim Phillips 9 years, 2 months ago

"Brosiusjb (Anonymous) says… ...I've already made the point that its impossible to be both pro-police and pro-handgun, most cops hate hand guns because they cause the most trouble."Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Now, that's funny!

jayhawk10 9 years, 2 months ago

"With less than 3000 CC permits issued in Kansas"did you mean less than 30,000?currently 15,783 permits have been issued with another 1,480 applications in process

jayhawk10 9 years, 2 months ago

"With less than 3000 CC permits issued in Kansas the likelihood of you being in the vicinity of a legally concealed weapon at any given time is very remote."also, about 1 in 100 people over the age of 21 have permits so your around people carrying concealed weapons all the time every day.

jayhawk10 9 years, 2 months ago

assuming around a 1 in 100 ratio. on the corner of 23rd and iowa, you probably have almost 100 cars passing every 5 to 10 mintues. so a concealed carry holder is probably going by pretty often... however the ratio is probably less in lawrence since so many college students live here and are under 21 so they can't have a permit

Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

This would be great? No provision to allow the judges to carry weapons? How about defense attorneys? Why do you think the prosecutors are the only ones who would be attacked? Maybe the defendant wants to fire his attorney, so to speak? Can't defense attorneys defend themselves?Officers in Douglas County don't wear their weapons into the court room. Why should prosecutors carry? There's security at the entry way, so it would fe difficult for someone to get a weapon into the courtroom.Arm everyone...judges, court reporters, prosecutors and defense attorneys. It would be like the old nuclear warfare deterence called "MAD"...mutually assured destruction. it would be just like Dodge City. How comforting!I'm 99% certain that none of you know the last time someone did take a weapon into a courtroom here in Lawrence. And, while I was a probable target, I felt secure in courtroom security and am in opposition to this bill. (Heck, the prosecutor was a great attorney, but I don't believe would shoot straight.)

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 2 months ago

Now we are talking.Guns should also be allowed in the Capitol and in the Legislature. It is disingenuous of legislators to allow guns to be carried in many places but not in their workplace.

timetospeakup 9 years, 2 months ago

Hepburn - judges can already carry in their own courtroom, been that way for a couple years now.

Bobo Fleming 9 years, 2 months ago

The next thing is defense attorneys. They make enemies too. And most court people will tell you that its not the criminal cases where you need the metal dector, its the child custody cases. Its a poor idea.

Larry Bauerle Jr. 9 years, 2 months ago

What statistics are available to establish this as a need? Have there been attacks or is this in the "realm of possibility" category? If it is the latter, aren't there several places where that possibility would exist? If so, how do we determine where the threats are greater or more important? Not being a jerk here, just wondering.

50YearResident 9 years, 2 months ago

For those of you that oppose this bill, do you trust anyone to carry a gun? Do you trust the police, a soldier, a vetran, the FBI, KBI, the secret service or ATF? All of these people were drawn from the same pool of citizens that concealed carry holders are drawn from, the general population of the United States of America. If you can't trust these people, then who do you trust?

Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

50YearResident…I trust those individuals you identify to exercise appropriate judgment outside of the courtroom when they do their work. Since in Douglas County none carry their weapons into courtrooms, I trust their and other citizen's to act appropriate there as well.

elevenbravo 9 years, 2 months ago

When will the irrational fear of ccw end? We are still hearing about the “wild west” and “Wyatt Earp”. Is there a time line for these predictions? When will the blood in the streets occur?This type of math is simple, lets give it a shot. 33 licenses have been suspended or revoked. There are 15833 licensees. I will even ignore that some number of the 33 suspended licenses have been reinstated. 33/15833= .2%. That’s it .2% not a scary number.Also of the 33 licensees in question only one was a firearm charge. All stats are on the KS AG site. There is no issue here.On the issue of the prosecutor carrying concealed he/she will be like the rest of us no one will know if he/she is carrying or not hence CONCEALED. It is a non-issue until the weapon is drawn.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 2 months ago

"Senate bill would give prosecutors right to carry guns into court"Who then gets to carry out the bodies?

Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

Why is it necessary to carry a gun into the courtroom? In Douglas County, there's a metal detector at the entry way. Officers don't even carry a gun into any Douglas County courtroom. Yes, they do have tazers, but not firearms.There is no need for this legislation. It is simply political pandering. I'm disappointed in local legislators who apparently approve of such.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

bndairdundat...why would carrying a gun into the court room even be necessary? Do you believe that courtrooms are lawless areas at this time? Are you afraid to go into a courtroom now? Who are you protecting, if local law enforcement officers have no problems going into a courtroom armed only with a tazer, handcuffs, mace and their intelligence?If it is more likely that you are "to be killed by your doctor while being treated for illness caused by your nicotine addiction than your neighbors firearm", then why is it necessary to carry a weapon into a courtroom?Why introduce a weapon into an environment where emotions might be high? This proposal doesn't make sense.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

Hepburn-You might want to check again. Officers coming to testify cannot openly carry their weapons, but the Court Security Officers, supplied by the Sheriff's Office, do openly and plainly carry their sidearms into the court room.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 1 month ago

Guardian...I certainly am not all knowing, but as recently as last Friday, Court Security Officers in Douglas County do not take weapons into any courtroom. No officer subpoenaed to testify in court, whether they be police, sheriff's deputy, highway patrolman or other, carry weapons into court.They carry tazer devices which have the appearance of weapons. I will check tomorrow and advise if I'm wrong. (I'm not like Marion who can't admit he's made an error.)Your question reminded me of the only time a weapon discharged in the Douglas County Judicial Building was when a prosecutor was handling a weapon he didn't know was loaded. He accidentally fired it in the Judge's chambers. That weapon was presumed to be secured without a round in the chamber. Gosh, accidents happen don't they. Do we need more?

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

beo, You are so correct when you say "[a]nyone with an ounce of brains knows more guns equals more chances for violence." Fortunately, the rest of us have more brains than that.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

And is that your diagnosis Dr. beo? May I ask where your degree in psychiatric medicine is from?

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

beo,So, am I to assume you are not a licensed and practicing psychiatrist?

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

Just trying to determine your qualifications to document your observations.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

So since my personal opinion equates to "having an ounce of brains" as far as your concerned and since you are an antigun nut, does that make your opinion superior to mine?

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

Thank you. And we are free to disagree.Our nation was built with the understanding that people have a right and even an obligation to disagree at times. It does not mean either side is stupid. This is how we change and grow as a culture and that change is not always for the best.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 1 month ago

I have fired a bb gun, a .22 pistol, a .22 rifle, a 35 cal pistol, 45 cal pistol, M-1, M-14, M-16, M-79 grenade launcher and a 5"/54 cal. naval gun (pushed a big red button). I have modest experience around weapons.Weaponry is not an obsession of mine. I realize that marksmanship is an art and avocation for some. Taking out "Bambi" before it wipes your car out is OK.I simply don't find having weapons in a courtroom as a responsible or reasonable demonstration of the civility of our society. I fear that the desire to bear arms inside a courtroom is more a reflection of the fears than a strength of our society.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

Hepburn,The only people allowed to have firearms in a courtroom are law enforcement pesonnel and only at the discretion of the presiding judge. Law enforcement personnel include judges and prosecutors. No one else, including concealed carry licence holders, can legally carry any weapon into a courtroom.

staff04 9 years, 1 month ago

I don't support the expansion of guns in public places, but if they want to take the responsibility of being officers of the court, I think it is ok. On the other hand, given my visits to the courthouse, there is no risk that an armed person will enter the courthouse. I used to work at the US Capitol, and the security at county courthouses is more stringent. I never had to take off my belt and shoes to enter the US Capitol, but to enter a county courthouse, I get searched down to my shorts.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 1 month ago

The rule in the Douglas County Judicial Buidling, Lawrence, Kansas, is that no law enforcement officer shall carry a firearm into a courtroom unless there is a need based upon the maintenance of public safety.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

Except for the court security officers who, do in deed, carry tasers along with their Glocks.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 1 month ago

Marion says...."There is no reason that any law-abiding citzen should be deined the ability to defend one's self in any venue."Now there you go again "no night games" Marion (I'm referring to another topic where Marion was obviously wrong and refuses to admit a mistake.)Most citizens are law-abiding until they commit a crime. Then the question becomes defense of property, others, self. What about a duty to retreat? What about force no greater than the aggressor but sufficient to make them abandon their attack?

Alexander Neighbors 9 years, 1 month ago

Guns are the last thing prosecutors Need. Why don't we give guns to the Janitors and the Jury and the desk clerks and the Defense attorneys....Don't they need to be Safe too?..... I could under stand a request for Tazers but really come on now people. what if the criminal get a hold of that gun ?I got a better idea how about a video conference from the prison, so the criminal never really leaves prison. How is that for Safety

Shelley Bock 9 years, 1 month ago

Again, Guardian, if I'm wrong on this, I'll reply tomorrow morning after I finding out. I am of the understanding that they don't carry firearms.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

Hepburn,Kansas operates under the "Castle Doctrine". You may or may not know, but that means a person's home is their castle and there is no duty to retreat. Nor is there a duty to retreat if someone tries to forcefully remove you from your vehicle. I refer you to, Concealed Carry, KSA 75-7c01 through 7c26, also known as the COncealed Carry legislation.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 1 month ago

Sorry Guardian if I've made myself confusing.I'm very familiar with the concept of when and why retreating or the use of appropriate force in defending one's self play in the legal theory of self defense. When used in the public domain there are requirements for retreat and use of force only requiste to deter the attack. Courtrooms by definition are public and not residences. A firearm used in a perceived self-defense situation n a courtroom could be unfortunate "over-kill" (bad pun intended).Residences define an entirely different venue for consideration.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 1 month ago

Guardian, you are correct; my error. Security deputies at the Dougalas County Judicial Building are authorized to carry both tazers and a sidearm. I have verified it in person this morning. These are the only persons authorized by the local court to have weapons in a courtroom. I suspect that security would like to keep it that way, too.I stand corrected.

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