The courthouse is now a weapon-free zone, thanks to the ordinance passed by the Starke County Commissioners at their recent meeting. A public hearing was held regarding the proposed ordinance that would restrict firearms and other weapons at courthouse facilities as well as other public meetings. There was no public comment, and the Commissioners voted to approve the ordinance.
“We’re just trying to protect our court, protect our judge, protect the people who work at the courthouse, and also us,” said Commissioner Dan Bridegroom.
The ordinance creates restrictions for weapons in the county courthouse building, and classifies weapons into two categories: firearms, and other weapons. The County is able to ban citizens from carrying weapons into courthouse facilities, which are considered to be any government building in which a courthouse or court offices are housed, and this ordinance does exactly that. In Starke County, the only building that is really affected by this ordinance is the county courthouse.
A further restriction is currently a bill being passed through the state that prohibits displaying a weapon in any public meeting regardless of location. Weapons can be concealed and carried into these meetings, but if this bill is passed, it would be unlawful to display or show it in any way.
Penalties for carrying a weapon into the courthouse include a charge of Indirect Contempt of Court with a fine not to exceed $2500, and the firearm or weapon can be confiscated. There will be no additional security added to the courthouse, such as metal detectors, but it will be enforced by the current building security.
The installation of signs displaying the ordinance as well as penalties is being discussed but nothing has been decided at this time.