County mulls costs to keep guns out

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

The county would have to spend at least $283,559 to pre­vent people from legally car­ry­ing a gun into the New­ton County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing or the His­toric Court­house.

When H.B. 60 goes into ef­fect July 1 of this year, gun own­ers would be al­lowed to carry their legally reg­is­tered guns into sev­eral pub­lic build­ings, in­clud­ing govern­ment build­ings, un­less the govern­ment in­stalls a metal de­tec­tor or other screen­ing de­vice.

Here’s the cost break­down, ac­cord­ing to a New­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice pro­posal given to com­mis­sion­ers:

• $16,485 for three walk­through metal de­tec­tors

• $63,360 for three x-ray ma­chines

• $1,194 for six hand­held metal de­tec­tors

• $202,520 for four additional sher­iff’s deputies

Two of the walk-through

metal de­tec­tors and x-ray ma­chines would be needed for the Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, be­cause it has two main pub­lic en­trances, the front en­trance and the en­trance near the Board of Elec­tions. Sim­i­larly, the Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing would re­quire more deputies. The Board of Com­mis­sion­ers only briefly dis­cussed the is­sue, agree­ing to do so in more depth later.

Com­mis­sioner John Dou­glas said he didn’t have a prob­lem putting de­tec­tors at the Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, but he didn’t be­lieve there was any need to do so at the His­toric Court­house.

“I don’t have any fear of law-abid­ing cit­i­zens,” Dou­glas said.

The break­down by build­ing would be $205,717 for the Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing and $77,842 for the His­toric Court­house.

Chair­man Keith El­lis said the most dan­ger­ous times would be dur­ing com­mis­sion meet­ings, which are held on the first and third Tues­days of the month.

The money is not in­cluded in the budget for the next budget year, which be­gins July 1, so com­mis­sion­ers will have to de­cide if the ex­tra se­cu­rity is worth the cost.

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