Those who oversee the security at city halls and courthouses around the state are hoping to get some more information about what Iowa’s new gun bill signed into law by Governor Branstad will mean for them.
The bill will allow the nearly a quarter of a million Iowans with a concealed weapons permit to carry their guns into the state capitol. Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew is in charge of security at the county courthouse.
“It’s still a little unclear because we’re waiting for the Attorney General’s opinion — which I think should come out within 30 days — of where courthouses that have existing courthouse security will stand,” Drew says. The Iowa Judicial Branch, the Iowa County Attorneys Association and the Iowa Judges Association all opposed to the bill, which becomes law on July 1st. Sheriff Drew says there are also concerns about where someone carrying a gun could go after they enter the courthouse.
“It covers more than just the courtroom, and that’s the definition we are trying to find out. Does that protect the whole courthouse?,” Drew explains. “Because the courthouse in itself isn’t just courts, it has the auditor’s office, the recorder’s office in there.” The Sheriff says we live in a dangerous world, and emotions can run high in court hearings.
“Judges and those involved in the criminal justice system, there’s a lot of days there’s a lot of threats made,” Drew says. “There’s threats made in the courtroom when we have divorce hearings, child custody hearings. You know, a secure and safe courthouse makes it easier for jurors. Jurors are concerned about coming to the courthouse and feeling safe.” Woodbury County officials will meet in May to discuss their concerns about courthouse security.
(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)