Before people start showing up armed at public buildings, Kane County officials should begin taking steps to prepare for Illinois' inevitable concealed carry legislation, according the county's top judge.
Chief Judge Judith Brawka told a county board committee Friday she expects a flood of citizens showing up to court with weapons once state lawmakers enact concealed carry legislation. An appellate court ruled the state ban on concealed weapons unconstitutional in December. Lawmakers have until June 8 to form enacting legislation.
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Brawka said county lawmakers shouldn't assume the state law will ban concealed weapons from public buildings. Several states, such as neighboring Wisconsin, prohibit most people from carrying concealed weapons into courthouses. However, Wisconsin does not ban concealed weapons in places such as the county treasurer's office.
"When that first person comes to make their tax payment armed, you have to decide what you're going to do about it," Brawka said. "And what about your own employees? Are you going to allow them to be armed?"
Brawka said there are a slew of liability issues involved with letting people who aren't trained in the use of firearms carry concealed weapons. That includes judges and prosecutors in courtrooms who don't know how to prevent someone from disarming them and using their own weapon against them.
Brawka said there may also be a cost involved with banning weapons from public buildings, especially the courthouse. A gun isn't the same as a cellphone, she said. The county may have to find money for gun lockers if officials put a ban in place.
"I don't think we want to tell anyone to go back and put their guns in their cars," Brawka said.
Allowing guns in the courthouse also undercuts the recently enacted Judicial Privacy Act, Brawka said. That law allowed judges to petition for the removal of their names, addresses and other identification from public documents, such as land records. The idea is to help prevent retribution against judges for their court rulings. The Kane County Recorder's Office reported more than 20 Kane County judges have recently had their names removed from property records. Brawka said if someone can bring a gun into a courtroom there is no need to try to find out where a judge lives if revenge is on someone's mind.
Board members indicated they'd take Brawka's call to action under advisement. They expressed no opinions about a weapons ban in public buildings, including the courthouse.