Dem Introduces Bill Allowing Judges To Carry Weapons

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-Utica, is pictured during a POW/MIA Day commemoration in her district.

There appears to be some bipartisan agreement on the issue of allowing rural judges to carry weapons in their courtrooms.

Earlier this year, state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, introduced legislation (S.7633) that will allow judges who are licensed pistol permit holders to carry their weapons in their courtrooms.

Similar legislation (A.8084) has now been introduced by Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon. The Utica-area Democrat proposes allowing judges, justices and criminal prosecutors to carry a firearm in court where no metal detectors or security personnel is present as long as the judges, justices and prosecutors are legally allowed to do so.

Neither bill will be discussed before the next state legislative session begins in January. The Republican bill sponsored by Giglio and Borrello was unlikely to progress to the floor of either legislative chamber, but Buttenschon’s bill may face an easier time if enough Democrats representing rural areas join with Republican lawmakers to force the issue.

“Throughout New York, there are many town and municipal courts in which court is held in the evening,” Buttenschon wrote in her legislative justification. “In these courts, it is often the case that there are no magnetometers, and the security personnel has already gone home for the day. Judges, justices, and criminal prosecutors are in high-risk scenarios, and without the appropriate security measures in place, they are lacking the means to protect themselves. This legislation will allow for judges, justices, and criminal prosecutors, who are already licensed to conceal carry a firearm they legally possess, to carry at a court facility that lacks magnetometers and security personnel. This bill will ensure the safety of our court room actors.”

Judges had been allowed to carry weapons in court before the state Legislature passed the Conceal Carry Improvement Act in June 2022, while Borrello noted some judges have raised concerns about the amount of time it would take police to respond in some rural areas that don’t have court security officers or metal detectors.

Courts are considered a sensitive location under the state’s new gun laws written in 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the state’s old system for granting permits to carry handguns outside the home. The ruling said that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, invalidating the New York law, which required people to show a specific need to get a license to carry a gun outside the home.

“In many rural communities, there is no court security and the response time if law enforcement is called is significant,” Borrello wrote in his legislative justification. “This law would enable the presiding judge to defend themselves and others, preventing the potential violent disruption of court proceedings.”


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