Court officials weigh gun ruling

Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 9, 2018

NATCHEZ — Little will change in Adams County, officials say, after the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that people with enhanced concealed-carry licenses are allowed to take firearms into courthouses.

Currently, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said people with enhanced concealed-carry licenses could bring their firearms onto the first floor of the courthouse, though no weapons are allowed upstairs where the courtrooms are located.

That will not change, Patten said, until he receives an answer from Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood, from whom he has requested an official opinion.

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Patten said no firearms are allowed on the second floor because the area is considered an extension of the courtroom. 

The second floor of the Adams County Courthouse consists solely of courtrooms — in which firearms are not allowed — judge’s offices, a hallway and two restrooms.

“That’s considered courtroom area and they still can’t go up top (with firearms),” Patten said.  “We don’t want to violate anybody’s rights, but we want to make it a safe environment. We’re still restricting guns up there.”

Sixth District Circuit Court Judge Lille Blackmon Sanders said she, too, did not believe firearms should be allowed on the second floor.

“When you’re having court, tempers flare between parties. If you have non-law enforcement with weapons, especially in domestic situations, it would be an extreme safety problem,” she said, “not only for the judges and lawyers, but for the spectators. It’s just a safety issue.”

The courthouse currently has four armed deputies, Patten said, and anyone who felt unsafe should consult with one of those deputies.

“I don’t see the purpose of bringing a gun,” Patten said. “We have four armed guards in the courthouse. What’s the purpose of having a gun?”

Patten said he wondered if firearms were allowed in the offices of the Mississippi Supreme Court.

When contacted, public information officer Beverly Kraft said the Supreme Court had no further comments on the decision, and that the decision speaks for itself.

If the attorney general returns an opinion saying Adams County must allow guns on the second floor of the courthouse, Patten said he would follow that ruling.

Even if firearms were allowed in the upper floor of the courthouse, Sanders said guns are not allowed in courtrooms.

“What are you going to do with it, leave it in the hallway?” she said. “I think a common-sense approach to it will solve all of these problems.”