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Trimble County Fiscal Court took its first step toward prohibiting possession of weapons in county property during it’s April 18 meeting.
The court heard a first reading of an ordinance to ban anyone, except law-enforcement personnel, to carry “firearms and other weapons” onto county-owned property.
The issue surfaced in March in letters written to the county by Circuit Court Judge Karen Conrad and Trimble County Attorney Perry Arnold, in which they outlined a loophole in Kentucky statutes concerning concealed weapons permits. Even those with such permits, citizens who are not law-enforcement officials, are not allowed to bring weapons into any buildings solely occupied by the courts.
It is unclear if the statutes, however, cover buildings like Trimble’s Courthouse, which also houses other county and state government offices, as well as a courtroom.
“Our chief elected judge in Trimble County, our Circuit Court Judge Karen Conrad, had a legitimate concern about whether the Kentucky concealed-carry statute would prohibit a [concealed] weapon in her courtroom,” Trimble Judge-Executive Randy Stevens said. “Apparently there was enough room in that statute that could be construed to allow it.”
“We can do some things with the concealed-carry,” for instance, enacting an ordinance banning concealed weapons from Fiscal Court meetings, Arnold told the court. “But there is nothing in the law that says you couldn’t carry a weapon in here openly.”
Arnold said he hopes the new ordinance will address both issues, so that no one could bring a gun into a Fiscal Court meeting, the Sheriff’s Office or any other county office.
The ordinance broadens the prohibition of weapons to include the entire courthouse and all properties owned by the county, including the Trimble County Park.
The ordinance does not prevent anyone with concealed-carry permits from keeping a weapon in their motor vehicle parked at or on county property.
“However, the weapon must be kept in the motor vehicle while parked on property owned or maintained by the Trimble County Fiscal Court and may not be removed from the said motor vehicle at any time that the motor vehicle remains on county property,” according to the ordinance.
The ordinance identifies a wide range of weapons, including inoperable and unloaded firearms, including air guns and pellet guns. It also prohibits knives with blades longer than 4 inches, billy clubs or nightsticks, blackjacks or slapjacks, nunchaku karate sticks, shurikens or death stars; artificial knuckles; and any weapon of mass destruction, including but not limited to explosives, incendiary devices, poison gas bomb, grenades, mines, rockets, missiles or similar device, along with any unassembled components of such devices.
“I think it would be prudent for us to say that while we recognize the need for this ordinance, we do not want to pretend that once this ordinance is passed that an ordinance prevents all risk,” Stevens said. “But I think, now, we have a comfortable document we can work with. I don’t think this document provides a ton of protection except through its ability to educate the public.”