Recent judge ruling changes gun regulations in courthouses

MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- A recent judges order is changing gun regulations within some courthouses.

Before when court was in session people with permitted concealed weapons were able to enter the courthouse but not the courtroom.

Thursday things are changing.

Courthouses in the First Circuit Court District have new rules to follow when it comes to weapons.

The first circuit judges say the entire courthouse is an extension of the courtroom which means guns, even permitted concealed weapons, aren’t allowed during court session.

The reason, safety.

“The whole intention of this law or this order that we got from the judges just to make sure that the courthouse is safer for the general public, is safe for the judges, is safe for the deputies that are working there, and the people that are employed there,” said Sheriff Cecil Cantrell.

But guns rights activist, Rick Ward, says this won’t change anything.

“Nationwide State Court Statistics show only 78 so-called “violent attacks” occurred in the last 10 years studied in county courthouses. None of those involved guns, explosives or fire… 5 or less occurred inside the courthouse where regulation of firearms would prevent such shootings. And in every case, the shooting occurred with the use of a deputy’s gun after being overpowered by a suspect,” said Ward.

He says this goes against a recent ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Ward filed a case in the Supreme Court against the 14th Chancery District in Lowndes County, and the Supreme Court decided the orders were too broad and could never be Constitutional as written.

“They said the Judiciary had no authority outside the courtroom doors. And said the State Constitution only allows the Legislature to regulate Concealed Weapons,” said Ward.

The difference between the 14th Chancery District order and the most recent order is when it applies.

The first circuit order only applies when court is in session.

“While court is in session that no one even in the courthouse because it’s an extension of the courtroom can do that. Also, I think that’s a good situation because we want our court people are court staff to be just as safe as people in the courtroom and that’s just another way to make courthouses safe,” said Sheriff Cantrell.

“The Judges are using the wrong language when they say, “in session.” The statutory law says, “during a judicial proceeding.” We have “terms” of court which could last months. We have “sessions” of court that normally apply to a particular day. But the law says “during a judicial proceeding,” and some of the orders even interpret those words their own way,” said Ward.

For now, Sheriff Cantrell says the judges ruling stands.

“We’re going to keep the weapons out of the courtroom and out of the courthouse at this point that’s what the judges have ordered, and that’s what we’re gonna go by that order,” said Sheriff Cantrell.

The ruling applies to courthouses in the first circuit court district.

That includes Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tishomingo Counties.​​​​

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