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Posted: 5/19/2005 3:47:57 PM EDT
N.C. Judges would be able to take guns to work under bill
www.news-record.com/news/now/gunjudgesbill_051905.htm

5-19-05
By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press Writer
Posted 4:30 p.m.

RALEIGH (AP) — Trial court judges with concealed weapon permits would get official permission to bring their guns to work under a bill approved Thursday by the state Senate.

The measure seeks to protect judges after separate cases in Atlanta and Chicago, where judges or their family members were shot to death, the bill sponsor said.

"Our major concerns were the safety of our judges entering and leaving their courthouses and entering their courtrooms," Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, said before the Senate approved the bill by a vote of 40-7.

A judge and three others were killed March 11 at an Atlanta courthouse. The shooting came a day after the judge asked for extra security because the shooting suspect had been found with crude knives hidden in his shoes. In Chicago, a judge's husband and mother were killed Feb. 28 in her Chicago home by a disgruntled litigant.

Some North Carolina judges whom Apodaca did not identify asked for a change in the law. He said some judges already are taking a gun to court for safety, although courthouses bar concealed weapons.

Dick Ellis with the Administrative Office of the Courts confirmed that some judges in the past have been known to carry a pistol in a briefcase or under a robe.

Although law enforcement officers can carry a concealed weapon in a courthouse, state law is unclear about whether judges can do as well, Ellis said.

"It's kind of a gray area," he said.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, who voted against the bill, questioned whether sanctioning judges to carry weapons would do more harm than good.

For example, she said, it would be difficult for a judge to pull out a gun quickly from under a robe. The safety of judges would be better served by beefing up training of deputy sheriffs and bailiffs in the courtroom, she said.

The Atlanta-area sheriff's department responsible for security at the courthouse has been criticized for its handling of the suspect, who is charged with overpowering a female deputy.

"I characterize this as legislation by headline," Kinnaird said, adding that passing the bill would raise "the potential for the wild, wild West shootout in our courtrooms."

Apodaca said the bill would only apply to judges in District Court and Superior Court who hold a concealed weapon permit. Language was added directing judges to take precautions so that the weapons stay out of the hands of others.

The Administrative Office of the Courts has not taken a formal position on the bill. But in light of the Atlanta shootings, Ellis said, the agency approves efforts in which a "judge would have the opportunity to protect himself by any means necessary."

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

©News & Record
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 4:10:36 PM EDT
Some North Carolina judges whom Apodaca did not identify asked for a change in the law. He said some judges already are taking a gun to court for safety, although courthouses bar concealed weapons.

Link Posted: 5/19/2005 8:52:27 PM EDT
any anti gun judge should be banned from carrying concealed IMHO
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:41:58 AM EDT
what makes them so special????
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