Franken looks to boost courthouse safety

Franken cited shootings last fall in courthouses in Arkansas and Indiana, and a December shooting in a courthouse in Franken's home state.

"After the shooting, a Minnesota judge wrote to his colleagues expressing concerns about courthouse security," Franken said. "He put the issue very well. He said: 'I'm no longer willing to risk my life, the life of court staff, the life of the public who have no choice about going to court.' He said he was worried about being 'carried out in a body bag.' "

Under his bill, S. 2076, local courts would have access to security equipment that federal agencies are no longer using. Franken said the bill is modeled after a current program that gives local police access to excess Defense Department equipment.

"The Local Courthouse Safety Act would do the same thing for local courts," he said. "It would give them direct access to the federal government's excess metal detectors, wands and baggage screening machines."

The bill also makes it easier for states to use federal grants to install screeners and other safety equipment at courthouses.

Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are co-sponsors of Franken's bill.