Deputies intercept guns and knives near court


BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WOLF) -- The Columbia County sheriff says dozens of guns and knives are being brought into the courthouse each month.

We have more on what the metal detectors are picking up.

Sheriff Tim Chamberlain says the courthouse in Bloomsburg has had security at the entrance for about 14 years now.

"There are many weapons taken at the door that we don't want in our buildings for obvious safety reasons," says Chamberlain.

A September report shows with more than 7,000 people entering the courthouse, deputies found 125 weapons.

That includes 64 knives, 28 guns, nine scissors, five utility knifes, and eight people with mace.

"We get a lot of people come to the door and just forget that they're carrying a knife or forget that they have their gun with them, and that's the reason we have the metal detector and X-ray machine," says Chamberlain.

Chamberlain says his office handles the gun registrations, with more than 7,000 concealed carry licenses active in a county of about 67,000.

"We're in a rural area, so if someone works on a farm or in a factory job where they need a pocketknife for whatever reason, a lot of times they'll come here to do business, and they'll have those in their pockets," says Chamberlain.

If they find a weapon like a gun or a knife on people, they will confiscate it while they're in the courthouse, and then return it to them when they leave.

They do have gun lockers near the doors. They also have security in the annex next door, where 58 knives, six mace, and one gun were found last month.

"Domestic Relations and Children and Youth are the most volatile situations that we can encounter, and that's the reason we have security in the annex," says Chamberlain. "We want to make it as safe as possible for our employees here with the county and also the public that comes here to do business."

Chamberlain says it's perfectly legal in Pennsylvania to carry a concealed firearm on the streets if you have a license, and right up to the door, but not inside a courthouse.

"People should be more aware of what they're trying to take in," says Bill Baker from Bear Gap. "Normally, I have a Gerber tool on my belt, and I know when I'm coming to the courthouse to take that off."

"It's like having a cell phone on you maybe for those guys, maybe it totally slipped their mind," says college student Reginald McEaddy.

Chamberlain says they normally handle about 75 to 100 new gun permits each month, but that increased to about 500 following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. However, he hasn't seen much of an increase yet following the Las Vegas shooting.

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