Despite increased security at courthouses after last year’s shootings involving judges in Chicago and Atlanta, many judges are bringing their own guns into courtrooms for protection, reports the National Law Journal. This month, a Florida judge was ordered to accept mentoring after warning a defense attorney he was “locked and loaded.” In May, a judicial ethics committee of the New York State court system called it ethical for a judge to carry a pistol into his courtroom. In Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas, incidences of violence in the past year have prompted new laws or solidified rules allowing judges to bring guns into courtrooms.
“Judges in our courthouse have been carrying guns almost all the time,” said Cynthia Stevens Kent, a judge in Texas’s 114th District Court, where a man in a family law case killed his ex-wife and son last year on the steps of a Tyler courthouse. In June, a man shot the Reno, Nv., judge overseeing his divorce case. Judge Chuck Weller, who survived, said judges in Nevada are allowed to carry weapons into court if they obtain permission from the chief judge. He declined to say whether he keeps a gun in his courtroom, but noted, “I’m not opposed to it at all. The culture in the community I live accepts firearms.”