As I’ve noted over the years, there’s been more and more of an effort to expand where people can carry firearms into courthouses, but the traditional (and in some states constitutional) boundary is the courtroom door. But what is a “courtroom”? And what about law enforcement?
The debate did not stop there, however. Enter HB 1581, which would specifically
HB 1581 was approved by the House Judiciary B committee on February 5.
Does law enforcement have a “right” to carry into a courtroom?
The other question is whether a judge could prohibit law enforcement from coming into a courtroom armed. When the New Hampshire legislature tried to force this issue in the 1970s, that state’s high court ruled against a statute that required judges let law enforcement come in armed (State v. LaFrance, 124 N.H. 171, 471 A.2d 340, 1983 N.H. LEXIS 377 (1983). The provision in RSA 490:4-a (“Notwithstanding any other rule, regulation or order to the contrary, law enforcement officers shall be permitted to wear firearms in any courtroom in the state.”) struck as unconstitutional. Violates the separation of powers doctrine provided by part 1, article 37 of the Constitution of New Hampshire.)
Mississippi law already provides “A law enforcement officer, as defined in Section 45-6-3, shall be authorized to carry weapons in courthouses in
Arkansas is debating a similar courtroom-carry-by-law-enforcement bill. Arkansas law already contains a provision that law enforcement “is permitted to possess a handgun in the courtroom.” SB 197 as originally filed would have allowed for both on-duty and off-duty certified law enforcement to courtroom carry.
This was amended, however, with a proviso: an off-duty officer may not courtroom carry if he or she is “a party to or a witness in a civil or criminal matter unless the law provides otherwise.”
SB 197 is set for a hearing in the Arkansas Senate City, County, and Local Affairs Committee tomorrow (2/12).