The Hopkins County Commissioners Court took action Tuesday morning on the new state open carry law set to take effect January 1. The court was swayed by the opinion of County Court at Law Judge Amy Smith who had read the Attorney General’s opinion on the matter.
Judge Smith said that according to the Attorney General’s opinion any premise of any government offices and grounds that are utilized by the courts allows a ban on open carry by those licensed by the state. Judge Smith said open carry cannot be prohibited in the basement because that area is not used by the courts for any reason. However, under the AG’s ruling the courtroom and premises of the courtroom “where transactions of the court take place” are areas where open carry can be prohibited. According to her honor, this includes areas such as hallways that are used for witnesses awaiting their time to testify, consolation by attorneys, transfer of jurors from the courtroom to the jury room, and other specific activities of the court. She stated at all areas inside the Hopkins County courthouse except the basement qualify for prohibiting open carry.
Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker, concerned with the bigger issue of courthouse security, offered this motion that was seconded and approved. Her motion called for the current sign to be left in place at the front door of the courthouse based on the AG’s opinion and the interpretation of Judge Smith. The motion also called for a work session to further study the question with the commissioners’ court attorney and look into fulltime courthouse security to be implemented during this budget period.