Courthouse thought to be exempt from gun rule
By RANDY GONZALES
The concealed carry law that goes into effect July 1 might not affect the Ellis County Courthouse after all.
Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund still plans to write a letter to the Attorney General's office asking for a six-month exemption for implementation of the law at the courthouse. County officials then would draft a plan for adequate security; most likely it would be one entry point with a metal detector.
However, after meeting with judges and law enforcement officers Tuesday, Sund reread the new law. He found a section in the code where it listed buildings where people still couldn't carry concealed weapons -- and courthouses were one of those buildings.
Sund said "it appears to be the case" the courthouse is exempt from the law. He checked with county counselor Bill Jeter, who he said "seems to think we don't have to."
"We might issue the exemption letter to have a little more time to study it, to make sure," Sund said.
Sund added even if security changes do need to be made at the courthouse under the new law, instead of having to have them in place in six months, the county would have four years to implement them.
Security changes already were part of the remodeling project for the courthouse. The project is expected to be completed in fall 2015.
"If we can do it as part of the renovation project, then we don't have to put out additional money we weren't anticipating," Sund said.
Sund said he hoped the state would provide additional clarification on the law's requirements.
"I'm wondering during this period of time we'll start to get some more definition out of the attorney general's office," Sund said. "Because there's going to be a lot of people asking these kind of questions. There's no sense every county asking the same question."