‘Open carry’ in Courthouse barred

From staff and press reports


With a new gun carry law taking effect July 1, Winston County Sheriff Jason Pugh and Winston County Board of Supervisors barred any guns from being openly carried in the courthouse.

The laws of the state already barred concealed weapons at courthouses unless the person had an enhanced concealed permit.

Sheriff Pugh provided a letter of concern to the board on Monday during the regular board of supervisors meeting over the July 1 “open carry law”.

The letter stated, “A courthouse is considered to be a “sensitive place”. It is a government building and is the scene of emotionally charged disputes such as child custody battles, criminal prosecution, property forfeitures, tax sales, etc. Opposing parties are often in close contact with one another. Judges, prosecutors, and other elected officials who routinely make unpopular decisions affecting persons have their offices there and are vulnerable. Therefore it is my belief that restricting the carry of firearms on courthouse grounds is in the best interest of preserving security for courthouse proceedings and personnel.”

The board in a 4 to 1 vote to approve an ordinance stating: It shall be unlawful for any person to openly carry or brandish a firearm on the grounds of the Winston County Courthouse unless said person is a duly designated law enforcement officer or unless the person has the express permission of the Winston County Sheriff and /or the Winston County Board of Supervisors. Any person found in violation of this ordinance after being forewarned is to be taken into the custody of the Winston County Sheriff or his duly appointed deputy and delivered to a Justice of the Peace of Winston county where if found guilty of this ordinance said person is to be guilty of a misdemeanor crime comparable to unlawful trespassing.

Sheriff Pugh who noted that he is an advocate of the “right to bear arms” that the courthouse was not the proper place for weapons other than for law enforcement. Sheriff Pugh noted that the Department would be offering other gun classes as it has done previously.

Under the new open carry law, anyone 18 years and who has not been convicted of a felony or domestic abuse may legally carry a firearm on their side in open view.

Private property owners and businesses have a right to restrict gun carriers from coming in to their businesses by posting a sign denoting “We don’t allow guns or open carry weapons on the property.” The sign must be posted and clearly readable at a distance of not less than ten feet.

The Winston County Sheriff’s Department and Louisville Police Department are trying to educate persons on the new law.

The open carry law does not effect the weapons ban at all schools and universities.

If you have any questions regarding the new law contact the Sheriff’s office or the police department 662-773-3511.