SIOUX CITY -- Weapons can be brought on the entire portions of floors five, seven and eight, while guns cannot be brought on any parts of floors two, three and four, but they can be on some portions of floors one and six.
The chief judge who heads court operations in the Woodbury County Courthouse as of Wednesday is expanding the portions of the building in which people can't bring weapons. Now, there is quite a hodge-podge of places people can carry guns to varying county departments and areas of the courthouse.
In January, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors had the impression that guns would only be banned on floors two, three and four of the courthouse. But on Tuesday, Duane Hoffmeyer, who is the chief judge of the Iowa Third Judicial District, said there are clerk of courts offices on the first floor and judicial branch offices on the sixth floor, so parts of those floors are not areas where members of the public could carry guns.
Therefore, more machinations played out Tuesday in the growing pains to implement the 2017 Iowa law that expanded gun rights in the state.
The subject came up when Hoffmeyer spoke in the public comment portion of the weekly board meeting. Hoffmeyer said he had discussed his upcoming order with a county supervisor last week, then passed around copies of the final version to the five supervisors as he spoke Tuesday. He said it will become effective Wednesday, but how it will be enforced is still a murky point.
"We understand that the sheriff is in a tough spot trying to enforce this," Hoffmeyer said.
The Woodbury County Courthouse added security technology and personnel for the first time in late 2014.
At that time, the former entrances to the building were limited to one door on the north side of the building, and a security station with a metal detector for people to walk through was added. County Sheriff Dave Drew overseas the crew of security workers.
County supervisor Marty Pottebaum said there will be a significant cost to ensure that security workers keep guns out of prohibited parts of the courthouse.
Whether guns would be allowed in the Woodbury County Courthouse has been a contentious issue since the gun law passed in the spring of 2017.
The new law, among other things, broadens the state’s so-called stand-your-ground provision, so a law-abiding citizen does not have a duty to retreat in a public place before using deadly force when confronted with danger to life or property.
There have been two important supervisory orders from the Iowa Supreme Court since June on the guns in courthouse issue.
Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady issued the latest supervisory order in December, to update his weapons prohibition order of June 2017.
Cady's more recent order says the other elements of the June order remain, but after consultation with chief judges, sheriffs and other county officials, there can be a way for weapons to be taken in floors without court system elements.
According to the order by Cady, judges shall approve the requests.
The Woodbury County Board sent a letter in January to Hoffmeyer, requesting that weapons be allowed on five of the eight floors, excepting floors 2, 3 and 4, which have court functions.
On Tuesday, Hoffmeyer wanted to make sure the county supervisors understand his order and if they felt it was consistent with Cady's order.
"It is consistent," answered Supervisor Keith Radig.