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Posted: June 3, 2014 10:00 p.m.

County mulls costs to keep guns out

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 walk-through 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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