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Officials reviewing new state gun law

POSTED: June 7, 2014 12:15 a.m.


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FORSYTH COUNTY — The shootout outside the Forsyth County Courthouse on Friday morning came about two weeks after county commissioners started to review the new state gun law.

Beginning July 1, the law will allow weapons, including knives and guns, to be allowed in government buildings during regular hours if entrances to the building are not being secured by a certified law enforcement officer.

During the work session May 20, commissioners were briefed on changes by the county’s attorney ahead of a public presentation set for June 10.

While the new law doesn’t apply to courthouses, the proximity of the courthouse to several government buildings and the severity of Friday’s incident involving gunman Dennis Ronald Marx, warrant a closer look.

Commissioner Cindy Mills said while the incident was a scary situation, “I don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction.”

“Anytime you have a crisis, sometimes you tend to have a knee-jerk reaction and I think we need to calmly look at what happened and then assess,” she said.

“When everything is settled, I think it would be a great opportunity to sit down and talk to everyone involved, including our judicial department, with our sheriff’s office and with our administrative staff.”

While nothing could have been done to have stopped the attack, Mills said law enforcement’s reaction went as smoothly as it could have gone.

“It could have been much worse,” she said. “I want to celebrate those people that did their job in the right way ... I’m very proud of how quickly it was handled.”

During the public presentation Tuesday, County Manager Doug Derrer and County Attorney Ken Jarrard are expected to present information about who falls under the official county employee category.

They also will cover the potential costs to secure entrances at various buildings, both on a daily basis and for special meetings.

Last month, Jarrard described the setup at the county courthouse as the “quintessential example” of properly guarding an entrance under the new law, noting that all entrances to the building would need to have a certified officer to prevent guns from getting inside.

Private access offices or restricted locations will remain that way under the new law, Jarrard said, and the commissioners can still regulate employee policies on carrying guns.


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