CAMDEN COUNTY, MONTANA —Normally courthouses are on the prohibited list of places a concealed carrier can go with his firearm. But if you’re an elected official in Camden County, Montana, those rules are fixin’ to change!
As it previously stood, county employees couldn’t carry their concealed carry firearm to work if they worked at the Camden County Courthouse. According to Lake Expo, there was even a policy change in the works to bar elected officials from carrying, too.
According to a county commission meeting on June 30th, though, the issue came up and it was discussed. Three of the county’s commissioners discussed the possibility of allowing a caveat for elected officials to carry into the courthouse. The Presiding Commissioner, Greg Hasty, asked for a show of hands to find out who amongst those officials wanted that ability.
As both Lake Expo and the minutes of the meeting show, it was all hands on deck.
When given the option to maintain your concealed carry firearm on your person, who wouldn’t want to have that option? That’s one less place a criminal can decide to take out his twisted vision and one fewer locked glovebox with a firearm in it.
‘Right To Carry’ May Still Come With Strings Attached
Bev Thomas, one of the county commissioners, noted that none of the commissioners voted on the issue because they asked the question. She says she doesn’t currently carry a weapon and this decision won’t affect that. “It’s just a personal thing,” she said for a phone interview with Lake Expo.
And that’s fine and good. She has an office of elected officials and law enforcement who are and will certainly come to her aid in the event it’s needed now that they’re allowed to carry into the courthouse.
Thomas added, “If that’s what the elected officials want, then I think we would abide by it.”
Commissioner Cliff Luber additionally commented that the policy change prohibiting elected official from carrying their firearms would have not reflected state law. According to Montana state law, elected officials can carry a concealed weapon into a courthouse.
He [Luber] said he would be opposed to any such ordinance, and added, “I will make it known whose idea that was, to restrict somebody’s 2nd Amendment right.”
He added, “I will carry if it’s legal for me to carry, with that policy. If it’s not legal, then I will not.” Several elected officials currently carry a weapon at the courthouse, Luber pointed out. He personally carries a Glock 27 or 42.
Commissioner Thomas said Sheriff Dwight Franklin proposed that if elected officials are permitted to carry, the county should impose the following stipulations:
1. Armed employees must have their concealed carry permit.
2. Everyone who is carrying a firearm needs to be on a list maintained by the sheriff.
Security Risks Prompt Reasonable Decisions
Courthouse security, according to Hasty’s phone interview with Lake Expo, is “in the stone age.”
“The only thing that protects employees in this building… is an elected official with a weapon,” he acknowledged, adding, “We have to address this.”
Hasty has a CCW and owns a Kahr PM9, but says he doesn’t typically carry it on him.
Even Commissioner Bev Thomas, who previously admitted she doesn’t maintain a firearm on her, said that allowing elected officials to carry at the courthouse doesn’t bode well with her. She recommends for metal detectors at the entrance, guarded by a deputy.
Commissioner Luber, however, takes the opposite approach. His argument is that the more officials that can legally carry their licensed weapons will equate to a safer work environment at the courthouse. He is open to consider allowing unelected employees to carry as well.
“My personal view: If you’re an employee and you have a CCW, I welcome you carrying in there,” he said.
In the end, it may likely be a combination of both options – a deputy manning the front and armed employees in the back. In either case, having more armed employees means any criminal attempting to take the courthouse will have more than just a few deputies to reckon with.