BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) — Benton County Justices of the Peace will consider a proposal to allow certain elected officials and employees to carry weapons in county buildings.
Arkansas law prohibits permit holders from carrying weapons in certain county buildings.
“There basically is minimal protection in the county administration building. We feel for our own safety and benefit it’s best if by law we are allowed to carry and we do so,” said Brent Meyers, Justice of the Peace for District 14.
Brent Meyers and Pat Adams co-sponsored a proposal that would allow county employees and elected officials to have concealed handguns in prohibited areas, like courthouses, any police station, sheriff’s station, courthouses, among other county buildings. Members of the public would not be allowed to have concealed handguns in these areas.
Meyers says if this proposal passes, it would be a process for county employees, countywide elected officials, and justices of the peace.
“They would first have to have a concealed carry permit issued by the state, then they would have to have enhanced concealed carry permit and then of course they would have to work for the county and be approved to carry by their elected official,” Meyers said.
In order to carry a concealed handgun, officials must have a current permit to carry a concealed handgun issued by the state of Arkansas and complete a training course to be established and conducted by the Benton County Sheriff or Arkansas State Police.
Benton County Judge Barry Moehring says a survey was given to employees on the issue.
“We as elected officials thought it would be a good idea that ‘a’ the employees have their voices heard and that ‘b’ the quorum court heard those voices. They are the ones, our employees are the ones that will have to be in the buildings for 40 or more hours per week, they are the ones that will be impacted by this whether they support it or not,” Moehring said.
Out of the responses so far,
- About 66% said they feel safe in their current county building.
- 50% said they would feel safer if their building had a metal detector and screening station.
- 44% supported allowing all employees to carry concealed handguns
- 33% favored allowing concealed carry for police or sheriff deputies only.
The county will continue collecting responses until Wednesday. The survey was sent out on Monday May 21.
The proposal is still in the early stages. The committee will meet in the Quorum Court of the County Administration building on Thursday at 6 p.m. to discuss the proposal.