New North Carolina law expands carrying of guns directly into courtrooms; roundup of guns-in-courts legislation in 2015

I noted back in March the litany of bills that would allow for expanded carrying of firearms into courthouses, and in some cases directly into courtrooms. Since then there’s been a great deal of activity.

In late July North Carolina’s governor signed into law a bill (HB 562) that would allow for prosecutors to carry guns not just into courthouses but directly into courtrooms. Moreover, the no-guns-courthouses policy (specifically that “portion of the building used for court purposes while the building is being used for court purposes.”) already in place no longer applies to administrative law judges or employees of the Department of Public Safety.

At the same time North Carolina was debating expanding guns-in-courthouses, Oregon was moving to restrict. SB 385, as introduced, originally added justice courts and municipal courts to the definition of “court facility” in which firearms and other weapons are prohibited except in specified circumstances. As enacted SB 385 still expands the restriction, allowing municipal court and justice of the peace court judges to ban weapons but only to those portions of the “local court facility” used by the court during the hours in which the court operates. Moreover, in buildings where there are multiple types of court (circuit, municipal, justice of the peace, etc.) the presiding judge of Circuit Court can enforce a ban that cannot be contradicted by an order of the lower court’s judges.

A review of 2015 legislation regarding guns in courts is below the fold.

Law

Arkansas SB 159 Permits a county employee or elected official who works in the courthouse and who is also a concealed carry licensee to carry a concealed handgun in a county courthouse.

North Carolina HB 562 Allows prosecutors to carry guns into courtrooms. Allows administrative law judges or employees of the Department of Public Safety to carry guns into those portions of courthouses used for court purposes while the building is being used for court purposes.

Oregon SB 385 Allows municipal court, justice of the peace court, etc. judges to restrict carrying of firearms in “local court facility” used by the court during the hours in which the court operates. Provides in buildings where there are multiple types of court (circuit, municipal, justice of the peace, etc.) the presiding judge of Circuit Court can enforce a ban that cannot be contradicted by an order of the lower court’s judges.

Active

Massachusetts HB 1519 Creates specific crime of carrying firearms into courthouse without written authorization of the trial court administrator and trial court chief justice. Specifies law enforcement may only carry while on duty. In Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

Massachusetts SB 940 Creates specific crime of carrying firearms into courthouse without written authorization of the trial court administrator and trial court chief justice. Specifies law enforcement may only carry while on duty. In Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

Ohio HB 35 Prohibits localities from enforcing “firearm bans” including any limiting possession of a firearm in courthouse. Approved by House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee 2/18/15. In House State Government Committee.

Ohio SB 142 Prohibits localities from enforcing “firearm bans” including any limiting possession of a firearm in courthouse. In Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

Rejected

North Dakota HB 1157 Allows guns into courthouses unless facility is secured. (““Secured court facility” means a building or portion of a building in which court proceedings occur and in which access is not permitted unless an individual passes through equipment that detects weapons and is staffed by armed security personnel.”) Rejected by the House Judiciary Committee. Advanced to the full House, rejected on 45-47 vote.

Died with activity

Arkansas HB 1626 Permits elected officials to elected officials with a concealed carry permit to carry into courthouses. Approved by full House. Died on Senate floor (but see SB 159 above).

Texas HB 2241 Allows county employees and officers to carry guns into courthouses. Approved by House Homeland Security & Public Safety. Died on House floor.

Died with little/no activity

Iowa SB 418 Permits a county employee who works in the courthouse and who is also a concealed carry licensee to carry a concealed handgun in a county courthouse. Provides employer to reimburse employee for court of license. Died in Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

Illinois SB 1637 Allows judges and prosecutors who have a concealed carry firearm licenses to carry into the courthouse but not a courtroom. Died in Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Firearms.