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Governor Terry Branstad signed HF 517 back in April, a comprehensive law to reform Iowa’s antique weapons restrictions. Part of that law was requires uniform firearm laws across the state. Local restrictions on the carry of weapons were eliminated.

On June 19, however, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, Mark Cady, banned all weapons in county courthouses (not including peace officers on duty.

The claimed reason for the order was to institute a comprehensive and uniform statewide policy prohibiting weapons in the state’s court houses. Iowa had a mixed bag of regulations governing firearms in courthouses across the state; some where guns were prohibited by the chief judge in the county, and some where weapons were allowed.


Chief Justice Mark Cady says in his order that after reviewing the policies on guns across the state he found 44 of the 99 counties prohibit weapons in courthouses, 11 prohibit them in all county building sand sixteen prohibit weapons on in areas controlled by the judicial branch.

From the order:

Accordingly, under our constitutional authority and responsibility to supervise and administer Iowa’s district courts, the supreme court now orders that all weapons are prohibited from courtrooms, court-controlled spaces, and public areas of courthouses and other justice centers occupied by the court system. This order does not affect the authority of county or city officials to determine appropriate employment policies for their employees in county and city offices located in courthouses and other justice centers. This order also does not affect the authority of peace officers to carry weapons in courthouses and justice centers while performing law enforcement duties. The chief judge of each judicial district is authorized to work with county and city officials as well as courthouse and public building security committees to develop additional policies and procedures necessary to implement this supervisory order. This order applies to the Judicial Branch Building.

It’s legal for the Chief Justice of Iowa to do this because the Iowa courts are a separate and co-equal branch of Iowa’s government, not a lower level of government such as county, town, or city.

A similar situation occurred in Arizona a couple of decades ago. Early in the 1990’s I could and did carry weapons into the county courthouse without any problems. I seldom carried into a court room, because I had no reason to go there.

A notorious double murder was committed in Yuma County, and the county Chief Justice banned citizens from carrying weapons in the courthouse during the trial. The Chief was well known for his anti-Second Amendment proclivities. Metal detectors and armed guards were installed at considerable expense.

After the trial, the precautions were kept in place. The Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court issued a similar order to that of the Iowa’s, except that he left the issue up to the county Chief Justices.

The separation of powers is an integral part of the checks and balances that keep state and federal governments from becoming tyrannical. The difficulties that result from banning people from exercising their Second Amendment rights in courthouses versus court rooms can be mitigated. Arizona requires public buildings that ban the carry of guns to have facilities to “check” carried guns. Such a system could be implemented in Iowa as well, if the legislature so desires.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. Fuckin’ prick!

    So less than half the counties don’t allow it so he arbitrarily bans weapons in the other 55 counties?!? Did he arbitrarily require those counties to install metal detectors and employ guards at every entry?

      • About ten years ago, Michigan’s Supreme Court “recommended” metal detectors in every court in the state.
        It’s not universal, but it applies to every county building containing a courtroom that I’ve been in. (I’ve only been in county/court buildings in a handful of counties in recent years, and not in the 2 or 3 counties that still allow non-tyrant carry)

        My county office complex only has one public entrance now, with an overcrowded parking lot, cattle chutes, and three overpaid and overweight deputies to herd their employers through the chutes and pilfer their personal belongings.

        And since it applies to every court overseen by every judge that I have the right to vote for, it’s been about ten years since I voted to reelect a black robed tyrant at any level, and I won’t ever vote to re-elect any of those bastards unless they take a position against the metal detectors.

  2. I’ve never been to a courthouse where they didn’t make you go through a metal detector before entering, but that’s just how it is in Ohio, I guess.

    • I’ve never been in an Iowa Courthouse that had one. But that would be rural counties (which typically have population of 10-50000). When the entire County Sheriffs dept has 10-15 deputies total you don’t plant 2 of them on their butts operating a silly ass “metal detector” in the name security theater..

      • A couple of years ago I had to go to the Dallas County courthouse and, not knowing if weapons were allowed or not, I left the gat in the car, but forgot about my 3-1/2″ pocket knife. The deputy was nice enough to let me leave it with him with the understanding that he was in no way responsible should the knife go missing, which was fine because it was only a $25 Buck. Anyway, I notice a while later, well after I went through the metal detector that I forgot to leave the speed strip with 6 rou nds of .357 in the car. Turns out those metal detectors don’t detect lead, brass or copper. And I got my knife back. And my wife got four fir earms gifted to her with permission of the court.

        Story county didn’t ban them BTW.

  3. While it s BS not all that simple. Going to make an interesting next few months.

    As I understand it, under the Iowa Constitution Cady has authority over the rules in the Iowa Courtrooms (the actual inside of a door area with seats and the judges bench). Perhaps also the associated office space they occupy. Banning of firearms by lawful citizens in these areas is wrong but will make for an interesting debate.

    He has no authority in/over any other portion go the Courthouse (big building which in typical Iowa county multiple county offices (accessor, auditor, treasurer, public health, etc)). The Courthouse is where most county business is transaction by citizens. In a few larger counties this may be a separate building from the building housing the judicial courts and offices. So Cady has a long track record as over reaching idiot. But then the Iowa Supreme Court has a long record of unlawful (and dimwitted) judicial activism.

    The Iowa Leg has some control over their budget and is a pretty conservative bunch as of Nov 2016. Likely WILL smack him/them down. Guy is just clueless.

    Rather unique, though fortunately, in Iowa Judges must stand for reelection every 8yrs. Cady apparently has decided that conservatives and gun owners in Iowa will not be motivated to throw his ass out. He forgets who, in Nov 2010, canned three of his progtard buddies over the queers can marry issue. Cady however is not up for retention until 2024 so good bet he figures he is bulletproof.

  4. Good call! Few places see more animosity than courts. Just imagine the hate between divorcing couples or people suing each other… just a matter of time before someone is shot.

  5. Coward.
    That’s the right name for these officials who seek to limit our rights for their own “protection”. Not in my backyard you don’t.
    Rights are most important not when they are popular or easy. Rights are most important when they are hard. That is the true character of the land of the free and home of the brave.


  6. That’s fine. I am SURE he is also providing full security at all court houses with searches of all visitors and employees, metal detectors at every entrance and is waiving sovereign immunity while providing insurance in case the security system fails. (A sarcasm font is so needed)

  7. The problem with this order is that it goes against preemption of firearms laws in the state of Iowa and he doesn’t actually have the authority under the state constitution to legislate from the bench.

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