No Weapons Allowed

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Deputy Sheriff David Stokes is posted at the elevator in the courthouse.

There are good reasons. "To keep the courtrooms safe and secure from people who want to go up and harm the prisoners or harm the judges or the jurors," said Stokes. Asked if he ever had any indication such people were roaming around, Stokes said, "Well, we've pulled 19 guns in three years out of people's purses and back pockets and briefcases."

The guns range from small to very large. "From .22 derringers to 45 caliber automatics," said Stokes.

The deputy said he doesn't know why people would have a weapon on them and signs are posted throughout the first floor. "Some of the derringers and stuff are hidden in cigarette packs and back pockets," he said.

Larger varieties are found in briefcases and in hip holsters. Stokes said it's possible that some people do not fully understand the law. "Some people think that because they have a permit they can carry them legally in but they can't," said Stokes.

Those who try get more than just a slap on the wrist warning. "We remove the gun from that person, disarm it, unload it and book them in the jail for carrying a weapon in the courthouse," said Stokes. He added that, under state law, it's a crime to try. The penalty, a fine and perhaps several days in jail.