Commissioner wants to examine policy on guns inside county facilities

The Platte County Commission may be looking to change the ordinances governing possession of weapons in county facilities, according to at least one official.

During unscheduled comments from the three county commissioners at the Monday, Nov. 6 administrative session, second district commissioner John Elliott noted the absence of law enforcement officials in the audience that day. Typically, at least one Platte County Sheriff’s Office official, often Maj. Erik Holland, is on hand to present items pertaining to his office.

John Elliott

John Elliott

Noting recent incidents of mass shootings in the United States, Elliott worried about the safety of those in attendance if a similar emergency happened at the Platte County Administration Center, which also houses the Platte County Sheriff’s Office.

“You’ll notice we don’t have any law enforcement in the room this morning, so if someone were here and they decided to go on a rampage there are no known guns that would stop them,” Elliott said. “We have meetings like this in county buildings every day, all week. People get together for whatever the purpose of the meeting is and most of the time there is not security in the room, and we’re very concerned about our employees.

“We’re very concerned about the guests and the county facilities and their safety.”

Elliott’s comments came in the wake of the mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, Nov. 5.

One heavily armed man fired reportedly as many as 450 shots into the First Baptist Church, killing 26 people and wounding 20 in a community of only about 500 people near San Antonio, Texas. A neighbor heard the shots and confronted the gunman, firing back and joining forces with another man passing by in a truck.

The two chased the gunman’s vehicle at high speeds for 11 miles until the gunman crashed and reportedly took his own life.

“We’ve found, including yesterday, that almost every mass shooting incident ended when the bad guy with a gun encountered a good guy with a gun — or person, or gal,” Elliot said. “So today we’re going to follow up on a past conversation we had with some officeholders a few months ago. We’re going to work with the sheriff and the prosecutor and all the officeholders on crafting a new ordinance that’s going to allow citizens to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves in county buildings.”

Currently, ordinances in Platte County prohibit open and concealed carry of firearms in county-controlled, leased or owned facilities by anyone other than licensed peace officers. Platte County ordinance 215.020 reads, “No person who has been issued a concealed carry endorsement by the Missouri Director of Revenue under Sections 571.101 to 571.121, RSMo., or who has been issued a valid permit or endorsement to carry concealed firearms issued by another state or political subdivision of another state, shall, by authority of that endorsement or permit, be allowed to carry a concealed firearm or to openly carry a firearm in any building or portion of a building owned, leased or controlled by the county.”

Sections in this code were updated in 2004 when Missouri first set up the training requirements to allow issuance of concealed carry permits in the state. Those updates specifically prohibited those with concealed firearms permits from bringing them into county facilities.

In 2016, Missouri legalized no-permit concealed carry of firearms, with the law taking effect in 2017.

“We’ll never stop someone from going in and starting that, no matter what laws are passed or no matter how many security guards there are,” Elliott said. “The key is ending it as quickly as possible, and we’re going to allow people to exercise that right.”

The meeting was adjourned with no other comments, and no timetable for the proposed ordinance change was presented.