South Dakota bill aims to allow concealed carry in courthouses for employees

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. (KOTA TV) - In South Dakota, people cannot carry guns in county courthouses or in the state capitol, including those with concealed permit holders.

Fall River County Courthouse in Hot Springs.

"We are a gun-free zone, there is a sign on the door that says there are no weapons in the courthouse, and by weapons that means you can't have pepper spray, you can't a taser, you have no means of protecting yourself," said Lile Jensen, maintenance supervisor for the Fall River Oglala Lakota Courthouse.

Guns inside courtrooms, it's something we've been talking about in the state of South Dakota, and with Senate Bill 169 county courthouse employees would be able to conceal carry in county courtrooms.

"Pennington County, they have their own separate building and so they've got higher levels of security and so it works there, here we don't have the money or manpower to keep a security force active every day of the month," said Paul Nabholz, County Commissioner for Fall River County.

For Fall River County, it's a part-time courthouse, and full-time administration building.

The county only increases their security when court is in session.

"There's sort of a feeling that you don't want more guns, well obviously we don't want more guns in criminal hands but this is a matter of putting guns in law-abiding citizens hands," Nabholz said.

Under this bill, employees would not be able to carry in the courtroom while it is in session.

"And I believe this would ... just the fact that the sign won't be on the door anymore that now a sign says employees may carry, would help to deter somebody coming in that wants to do harm," Jensen said.