Judges could carry firearms under proposed law

Judges could soon be allowed to carry firearms into the courtroom under a Senate bill.

Senate Bill 3, authored by Brent Steele, R-Bedford, would allow judges to carry firearms when they “engage in the execution of the law enforcement officer’s official duties.” Indiana law currently allows prosecutors and other law enforcement officers the ability to bring firearms to court, but, to Steele’s surprise, did not give the same power to judges.

“Understand that these men and women have, because of the work that they do and the things that they do, put themselves at greater risks,” Steele said. “We’ve given this protection to our police officers and our prosecutors, but didn’t give it to our judges. I quite frankly thought we had.”

Steele said the judges are working even outside of the courtroom and deserve protection as they do court-related jobs.

“They’re on the job all the time. They are asked to go talked to a school for example, a class for political science or a government class,” Steele said. “That judge cannot even go to a basketball game or school carrying a firearm the same as a police officer could.”

The bill passed 47-1 in the Senate, with the only opposition coming from Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington. Stoops said he voted against the bill because it does not require gun training.

“I really wish they would have considered some type of provision that anybody that carried a firearm in a court was trained – trained in safety, trained in the actual handling of the gun, taking it apart and cleaning it – but none of that exists in Indiana as far as a requirement for a permit,” Stoops said.

Steele said judges are entitled to be able to walk around and feel protected in public.

“They’re out and about, they’re in our communities,” Steele said. “That’s where we want them. We want our judges to mingle amongst the citizens. We don’t want them to become recluses.”

The bill moves to the full House for consideration.

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