The Monroe County Supervisors returned to an issue brought before them a few weeks ago concerning allowing firearms in the Monroe County Courthouse during their Feb. 16 meeting.
The board approved having county attorney John Pabst file a petition for declaratory judgment on the matter in Iowa District Court for Monroe County.
The board had previously received a letter prepared by the Iowa Firearms Coalition and submitted by Monroe County resident JD Thompson asking the board to allow people to carry firearms inside the courthouse. Currently firearms can be prohibited inside the building under a directive from the Iowa Supreme Court.
The Iowa Legislature has passed legislation contradicting that directive, but county attorney Pabst stated he could not advise the board of supervisors to ignore a lawful directive of the court.
The legislation passed by the Iowa legislature also states that if firearms are prohibited on the premises the county must provide armed and trained security at the building, but provides no funding for this. Pabst stated that he estimated providing security would cost several hundred thousand dollars a year but that unfunded mandates violate both the Iowa and United States Constitutions.
"I've been a gun owner my entire life," said Pabst. "This isn't a gun issue folks. This is merely a fiscal issue where the legislature is attempting to use an unfunded fiscal mandate to force the counties to spend approximately $300,000."
"Everyone who knows me knows I've been against unfunded mandates for years," said Pabst. "We're saying, judge tell us what we're supposed to do? Are we supposed to follow the Supreme Court order? Fine. Are we not supposed to follow the Supreme Court order? Fine."
Because of these competing directives the Monroe County Supervisors are asking the court to affirm if Monroe County is in compliance with the Supreme Court order and that the order supersedes HF2502, to determine if HF2502 is unconstitutional because it negates an Iowa Supreme Court order, to determine if Monroe County is subject to the Supreme Court order, to declare whether or not Sec. 7224.28(4) and Sec. 724.28(3) of Iowa law create unlawful unfunded mandates and to determine that Monroe County is not subject to any penalties for the unfunded mandate.
The plaintiff in the case will be Monroe County while the defendants will be the Iowa Firearms Coalition with Thompson named a nominal defendant because he is the Monroe County resident who initially made the request of the board. Pabst said all the county is seeking is a decision from the court on whether they have to follow the legislature or the Supreme Court in the matter. The board members agreed saying they just said they want a clear answer what to do either way.