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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.

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— 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.

Comments

Stacy Napier 5 years, 2 months ago

Hepburn and Guardian,That will all change once one defendant goes nuts and trys to take out a judge. In KCMO Law enforcement all carry all their full uniform into the courtroom. It is stupid to tell a uniformed cop that he needs to take out his weapon just to go into the court room. There is only a metal detector at one door. All sorts of attorneys and other County staff have access to the other doors. Sure there is a sign that says please do not bring clients in this door.

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Shelley Bock 5 years, 2 months 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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Shelley Bock 5 years, 2 months 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.

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months 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 www.ksag.org, Concealed Carry, KSA 75-7c01 through 7c26, also known as the COncealed Carry legislation.

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Shelley Bock 5 years, 2 months 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.

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Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 2 months 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

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Shelley Bock 5 years, 2 months 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?

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months ago

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

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Shelley Bock 5 years, 2 months 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.

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staff04 5 years, 2 months 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.

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months 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.

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Shelley Bock 5 years, 2 months 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.

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months 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.

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

no, its means we don't agree. I simply don't believe anybody and everybody should freely buy any and all the guns they desire. Guns are a big part of our problems, not the solution.

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months 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?

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

It is my personal opinion, same as what you post.

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months ago

Just trying to determine your qualifications to document your observations.

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

And what does that have to do with fact that I consider a gun nut lacking even an ounce of brains?

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months ago

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

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

Wasn't acquired from NRA obviously.

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months ago

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

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

Not the gun nuts I know, most lack even an ounce of brains . Does that include you?

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months 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.

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

Hepburn, give it up. Anyone with an ounce of brains knows more guns equals more chances for violence. But all the gun nuts believe "their gun" will solve all potential problems. How many, if any cases have ever occurred where an untrained civilian could have ever stopped violence? Bottom line is, a true gun nut believes guns will solve all problems.

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Shelley Bock 5 years, 2 months 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?

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Jim Phillips 5 years, 2 months 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.

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Shelley Bock 5 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.

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Shelley Bock 5 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.

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 2 months ago

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

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bndairdundat 5 years, 2 months ago

Medical errors in hospitals are responsible for 10 times as many deaths as guns in the US. Tobacco claims 440,000 lives in the US every year. These numbers continue to rise every year as gun deaths continue to fall. You are many thousands of times more likely to be killed by your doctor while being treated for illness caused by your nicotine addiction than your neighbors firearm.

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

The more guns available, the more chances of and the higher the probability of tragic deaths. Just republicans feeding the paranoia of gun nuts.

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bndairdundat 5 years, 2 months ago

Can't make it any plainer than that, eleven

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elevenbravo 5 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.

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Shelley Bock 5 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.

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50YearResident 5 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?

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Larry Bauerle 5 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.

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senegal66025 5 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.

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logicsound04 5 years, 2 months ago

This is nonsensical, even if you are a gun proponent.Basically this law would change the status quo so that there would now be guns in a courtroom. That means guns for for a criminal who may have broken free of his containment (we've all seen courtroom vids where a defendant gets loose and goes after someone) to get his hands on, whereas previously, he would have been limited to just his fists.The benefit of having an easier time controlling the environment (prohibiting ALL guns instead of having to determine who is okay to carry) far outweighs the potential benefit of having an armed prosecuter. Hell, an armed prosecutor isn't even a clear-cut benefit, because there is always the potential to hit innocent bystanders in a crowded courtroom.So basically, we are making the courtroom environment MORE dangerous, not less. When was the last time you heard about things getting out of hand in a courtroom in a manner that a gun would have helped without making the situation potentially more dangerous and worse overall.

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timetospeakup 5 years, 2 months ago

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

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yourworstnightmare 5 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.

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madmike 5 years, 2 months ago

Brosiusjb, how long have you been crazy?

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bndairdundat 5 years, 2 months ago

jahawk10 your numbers are still flawed. Assuming every ccw holder is armed at all times is like assuming licensed pilots are flying 24/7.

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Shelley Bock 5 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.)

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jayhawk10 5 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

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bndairdundat 5 years, 2 months ago

Okay, 9:59 to 10:13. three of us down here. I feel safer already

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bndairdundat 5 years, 2 months ago

Okay, but even with nearly 16,000 permits there are probably less than 5% of them on the street at any given time. So spread 800 over the entire state, you could stand on the busiest corner in Lawrence all day and not be near more than 1 or 2. Probably 10 times that many illegally owned guns would pass you in the same amount of time. Once again, I'll trust the ones who have had back ground checks

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Tom Shewmon 5 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 2 months ago

There is no reason that any law-abiding citzen should be deined the ability to defend one's self in any venue.

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WHY 5 years, 2 months ago

What about defense attorneys???

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jayhawk10 5 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.

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jayhawk10 5 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

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bndairdundat 5 years, 2 months ago

This is actually a part of the anti-gun mentality. "Take everyone's guns away except mine", just in case somebody didn't see the sign and brought one in illegally. Anyone who reads the statistics can see that gun related crimes have gone down in states that have adopted concealed carry laws, but have risen in states and metropolitan areas that prohibit concealed carry. The "Wild West" mentality exists only where criminals have no fear of victims shooting back. More guns have been sold during Clinton's reign and now sales are going through the roof with BO in office, yet death by firearms statistics are dropping. Instead of bashing Democratic leaders for their anti-gun politics we should be hailing them as sales leaders. Medical errors in hospitals are responsible for 10 times as many deaths as guns in the US. Tobacco claims 440,000 lives in the US every year. These numbers continue to rise every year as gun deaths continue to fall. You are many thousands of times more likely to be killed by your doctor while being treated for illness caused by your nicotine addiction than your neighbors firearm. Stickers in windows only assure you that law abiding, legally carrying citizens won't be carrying in your store. It's only real effect will be to let the punk intent on robbing you will meet little or no resistance. 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. The likelihood of being in your doctors care, of inhaling tobacco smoke, (your own or secondhand) is a far more likely occurrence. You take your chances, I'll take mine. Personally I'll risk being in a room with someone who has had a background check for carrying concealed over a room full of tobacco smoke.

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Jim Phillips 5 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!

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 2 months ago

A friend who was a parole officer in Seattle carried a concealed weapon daily and that was as far back ast 1987 when he started. He had to. He had to make a believer of the parollee. that his butt might get shot. Better parolee butt than parole officer butt.

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jayhawk10 5 years, 2 months ago

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

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beobachter 5 years, 2 months ago

Another brilliant Republican idea.

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Brosiusjb 5 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.

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Windlass 5 years, 2 months ago

Police officers who do carry guns can't do their job now. Just dumb as hell.

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invictus 5 years, 2 months ago

The criminal’s buddies are not handcuffed. With the Mexican drug cartels expanding their power into the U.S. assassination of legal professionals could become a real problem. Not to mention journalists. If carrying a gun makes lawyers safer I support it.

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denak 5 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

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Windlass 5 years, 2 months ago

Just can't light up if you start to feel edgy. No, you are not free like that!

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