Visitors to the Sedgwick County Courthouse in downtown Wichita can now store their firearms at the front entrance.
The county’s gun lockers opened for public use Monday at the courthouse, 525 N. Main. Twenty lockers are located in the northeast corner of the lobby behind a bulletproof protective enclosure.
The project’s total budget, including design and construction, was $73,644.56, said Kate Flavin, the county’s public information officer.
Visitors can notify a member of the courthouse police that they would like to store a gun while on courthouse business, Flavin said.
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The officer will give them a key for an individual locker. They can put the gun in a locker, take a numbered card from the locker, lock it and give the key back to the officer.
Guns are still not allowed past the courthouse’s metal detectors unless you’re an on-duty law enforcement officer.
Once a visitor is done at the courthouse, they’ll trade their card with a courthouse police officer for their locker’s key. They can then holster their weapon behind the enclosure and leave, Flavin said.
No one had checked a gun in by the end of the day Monday, the courthouse police told The Eagle.
Sedgwick County commissioners gave initial approval to the gun locker enclosure capital project in the fall. Commissioners voted in March to approve a contract with Specialty Contractors Inc. to place the bullet-resistant enclosure around the lockers, which the county already owned.
“People who walk here either from the (parking) garage or different law offices close by will be able to carry … all the way to the building,” Commissioner Richard Ranzau said. “They’ll feel safer to and from (the courthouse) basically.”
Earlier this month, the county also approved the addition of a courthouse police officer, which will cost about $79,400 over the next year and a half. That officer would primarily help with the needs of the district court but would also provide oversight for the new gun lockers.
“It is going to take another police officer, but we feel like that one police officer can wear many hats,” County Manager Michael Scholes said during a June 7 meeting. “We’ve got a lot of things going on; the gun lockers is just another additional duty.”
Commission Chairman Dave Unruh, who opposed the gun lockers, said he doubts they will be heavily used by the public.
“I still wrestle with the question of ‘did we really need to do that?’ ” Unruh said. “I don’t think it was a necessary expense.”
Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle