Kansas Concealed-carry Bill Would Let Prosecutors Be Armed In Court


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Reno County prosecutor Thomas Stanton says decades of holding dangerous, unpredictable felons to account for crimes sometimes triggered death threats that left him feeling vulnerable.

"We act to insure those who violate the laws of Kansas receive consequences for their actions," the deputy district attorney said. "This can lead to prosecutors being targets of violent acts perpetrated by defendants, their families and their friends."
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Stanton said he would carry a concealed firearm for defensive purposes, but a 2006 law forbids federal, state and county prosecutors from packing that kind of firepower in a courtroom and other special locations.

A bill before the full Senate would extend to prosecuting attorneys who are Kansas conceal-and-carry permit holders an opportunity to obtain additional training at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. If supplemental training was completed, the prosecutor working in Kansas would be viewed more like a law enforcement officer in terms of locations a concealed weapon could be taken.

Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, chief sponsor of the bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the rationale was simple.

"Prosecutors deal with the same group of often-unsavory characters that law enforcement officers deal with," he said. "They have personal safety issues that are more similar to those of law enforcement officers than those of most other citizens."

The legislation was amended to include Attorney General Steve Six among those eligible for the special conceal-and-carry status.

Richard Delonis, president of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, said the Kansas legislation had the association's endorsement. The organization represents 5,300 assistant federal attorneys, including 50 working in Topeka, Wichita or Kansas City, Kan.

He said judicious placement of firearms in the hands of trained personnel was a proven method of countering threats posed to courtroom litigators.

"It is narrowly and reasonably crafted, yet desirably promotes and expands the assurance of public safety," Delonis said.

Jerome Gorman, district attorney in Wyandotte County, said the bill was needed because prosecutors assigned to "hot" courtrooms with a docket of serious cases endured the risk of personal harm each day.

"Felony prosecutors in Kansas should be permitted the possession of firearms and the authority to carry firearms concealed from public view whenever they might be in harm's way, which is in any place and at any time," he said.

Gorman and Stanton said the bill should be amended to allow employers to pay for the firearms training of prosecutors. The legislation says the cost must be paid by the individual.

In addition, Gorman said dual-training requirements in the bill might be excessive. Training of prosecutors shouldn't be more burdensome than mandates applied to full-fledged law enforcement officers, he said.

By Tim Carpenter
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Many counties have armed deputy sheriff's, court security officers, in the courtroom if requested. I was SN county's first court security officer. I would think a uniformed deputy sheriff would be preferable in a courtroom setting. If there was any concern over safety in the courtroom, judges would request one of us. I know judges that are armed under their robe, too.

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