At a meeting Thursday the commission passed a resolution that prohibits possessing a weapon in the public building and permits the posting of signs notifying the public of the no-weapon policy.
“Weapons” refers to firearms, knives and a number of other specified items.
The commission’s resolution comes two weeks after Calhoun County resident Jason Dean Tulley, a gun rights activist, publicly asked the commission to remove no-carry signs that are posted on the building.
“They have no right to have that sign out there,” Tulley said at the time.
County officials denied Tulley’s request at the meeting and later in writing. Officials said that the resolution simply reinforces an existing no-weapons policy. They maintain they are legally permitted to restrict the public from carrying firearms into the building because it is designated as a courthouse annex.
“The Legislature has given us this authority to protect courthouses and judicial business,” said Jason Odom, an attorney for the commission.
Tulley said Alabama Gun Rights, an organization he said he is affiliated with, is reviewing the county’s action and preparing a response. He said the organization would pursue legal action, if necessary. According to Tulley, state and federal laws bar the county from banning firearms in the building.
“They can prohibit it in the courtroom but they’re trying to encompass one little law that allows them to prohibit in the courtroom to prohibit in the entire building,” Tulley said. “How far are they going to carry it? You can only go so far.”
Alabama Gun Rights is currently engaging in what organizers have described as a statewide push to require local governments to honor gun possession rights.
“It’s not a push to reverse policy; it’s actually a push to get them to follow state law,” said Eddie Fulmer, a regional coordinator for Alabama Gun Rights. “Cities, municipalities and counties don’t know the law. They think they have more authority than they actually do.”
The commission’s resolution sets forth the specific concern that weapons would exacerbate the potential for danger in the building, given that mental competency hearings are held in the Probate Court there.
“The Calhoun County Commissioners are concerned about the presence of weapons,” and “the threat that such presence will pose to the health, safety and general welfare of citizens, employees and officials,” the resolution states.
The resolution requires the county administrator “or his or her designee” to post signs on the building to notify the public that carrying weapons is prohibited.
The notice is to be posted to the entrance of the building and state that no firearms, knives or other weapons are permitted inside by order of the Calhoun County probate judge and by resolution of the Calhoun County Commission.
The resolution states that violators may be detained and may be subject to punishment for contempt by the Probate Court and the commission. Violators may also face civil or criminal actions and could be charged with violating laws concerning trespass or other criminal violations.
The policy makes provisions that would allow active members of the United States armed forces and some officers to carry firearms in the building.
Tulley, however, maintains that citizens should have the right to carry weapons in the building to defend themselves against those they consider dangerous.
“If that person is unstable and you want me to leave my weapon in my car,” Tulley said. “You’ve taken away my right to defend myself and my family.”
In other business the commission:
• Issued nuisance abatements at 4614 and 4618 Saks Road, Anniston; 203 Smith St. Front, Anniston; on Jamback Road and at 217 Tillman Ave.
• Dismissed nuisances at 3321 Oakridge Ave., and 718 Loy St., Anniston.
• Declared nuisances at 3500 Old Birmingham Highway, Anniston, 311 Weaver Lane, Waver and 0 W. 49th St., Anniston.
• Allocated $2,000 to Alexandria Youth Activities.
• Allocated $30,380 to Children’s Services Inc.
• Allocated $36,679 to the Calhoun/Cleburne Children’s Center.
• Allocated $7,500 to All Saints Interfaith Center of Concern.
• Allocated $7,500 to Interfaith Ministries, Inc.
• Modified a contract for veterinary services at the Calhoun County Animal Control Facility to pay veterinarian Eric Clanton $125 per hour to euthanize animals.
• Approved a property deed agreement to accept land from William P. and Bettye Ann E. England in order to make improvements to a bridge on Possum Trot Road.
• Approved a G-Squared Task Order to allow Calhoun County Revenue Commissioner Karen Roper to pay $75,000 for aerial mapping services.
• Appointed Calhoun County Commissioner Tim Hodges to serve on the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Board and on the Community Action Agency Board.
Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star. Editor's note: This story has been modified from its original version to correct the name of Jason Dean Tulley, who initially provided an incomplete version of his name to a reporter.