Kansas Governor Sam Brownback recently signed legislation which could allow armed citizens to be seated in local courtrooms during session, according to Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn.

Courthouses can be secured with one entrance, similar to what is done in the big cities, including metal detectors, or licensed concealed carry individuals will be allowed to carry firearms into and throughout the courthouse.

"In their infinite wisdom, legislators have decided citizens can protect the courtroom better than law enforcement," said Chinn. "I don't know why anyone should be able to carry firearms in the courtroom."

Chinn added that switchblade knives are also now legal to carry.

"There are only 10 courthouses in Kansas which are secure and all the rest you can walk into," said Pratt County Counselor Robert Schmisseur.

Chinn was asked why the change of attitude among the legislators in Topeka.

"Legislators turned a deaf ear to common sense," said Chinn. "It just makes me sick – you can secure your courthouse, or you can allow people to carry firearms. If the Kansas State Firearms Association is behind it, legislators will not touch it."

Additionally, Chinn added the cost to the county could be between $200,000 and $300,000 annually. At least three officers would be needed to control a single entrance into the courthouse. Even if officers could be hired to perform the duties at a lesser cost than a road deputy, it still would require a 40-hour week.

Excerpt from Senate Substitute for HB 2052, which becomes effective July 1:
New Sec. 2. (a) The carrying of a concealed handgun as authorized by the personal and family protection act shall not be prohibited in any state or municipal building unless such building has adequate security measures to ensure that no weapons are permitted to be carried into such building....

In other matters, commissioners:

• were informed rebuilding the undercarriage of the track loader at the landfill would take from three to five days. The Road and Bridge Department may have to transport the loader to Wichita for repairs.

• accepted a bid from CDS in the amount of $1,369.85 for installation of cameras at Pratt County Veterans' Memorial Lake.

• approved a guarded crossing at SW 110th Ave. to be installed by the railroad. A meeting will be held May 15; to discuss the possibility of another guarded crossing to be installed at NE 50th Ave.

• met with Wayne Day to discuss erecting a halfway house for homeless veterans in Pratt County to house 20-25 inhabitants.

• approved funding a $1,500 study to convert retirement programs for the Pratt County Sheriff's Department and Emergency Medical Services from KPERS to KP&F programs.

• discussed purchasing various emergency equipment with approximately $8,000 left in an emergency preparedness grant.

• approved advertising for a summer intern for the Pratt County Weed Department.

• approved reimbursing Lee Rose $400 for trees destroyed accidentally by county personnel.

• named Joe Reynolds and Jason Winkle to the Pratt County Solid Waste Management Committee.

• discussed upcoming meetings with county department heads, to go over county policies and bid procedures.