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Local government policies on guns vary

You can pack heat in some county government buildings, but not others.

A Harford County councilman who runs a store that sells guns has, at times, carried a firearm into council meetings.

Councilman Joe Woods, who says he holds a state permit to carry a gun, may pack heat in his county. But he wouldn't be allowed to do so in local government buildings elsewhere in the Baltimore region.

Baltimore County does not allow "dangerous weapons" in county buildings without permission, with exceptions made for county police officers. The county policy lists examples of dangerous weapons: "gun, sword, bow and arrow, knife, etc."

Visitors to the Historic Courthouse in Towson walk through magnetometers that are staffed by security guards.

Baltimore allows only city police officers to carry guns into City Hall. Other law enforcement officers or civilians who carry guns must turn them over to security when entering City Hall, according to Kevin Harris, chief of public affairs for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Howard County has no prohibition against carrying guns into public buildings, said county spokesman Andy Barth.

Carroll County also has no laws or policies governing firearms in county buildings, according to county spokeswoman Roberta Windham. The only rules for guns on county property in Carroll have to do with the Hap Baker Firearms Facility, a county-owned gun range in Westminster, and parks during hunting season.

Anne Arundel County employees — including elected officials — are banned from carrying weapons into county buildings, county spokesman Owen McEvoy said.

There are no laws to prevent citizens from carrying firearms into Anne Arundel offices, but police spokesman Lt. T.J. Smith said the county's practice is to not allow them in. Anyone with a permit would be instructed not to bring a gun into a county building, he said. Anyone carrying a gun without a permit would be arrested.

Woods, a Republican who helps run Maryland Quartermaster, a law-enforcement supply store that sells guns, said he's taken his gun with him into council chambers in Bel Air "a couple of times." When he was carrying his gun, he said, he alerted sheriff's deputies.

Harford County Council President Dick Slutzky cited safety concerns last year when he announced a policy prohibiting members of the public or reporters from approaching council members after meetings.

He rescinded the policy after it was roundly criticized.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Bryna Zumer contributed to this article.

pwood@baltsun.com

ywenger@baltsun.com

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