Even with the help of 9 co-sponsors, Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson’s bill to allow guns on Arizona college campuses was unable to get out of committee. Consequently, it missed getting a full chamber vote yesterday. And so it’s wait until next year for the those who think it’s a good idea for professors, administrators and even college students to pack a little heat. See Campus–gun bill dies in Senate.
But the news about the campus-gun bill is in keeping with moves to increase the places where gun enthusiasts can open carry their firearms. On March 8th, for example, The New York Times ran a story about open-carry gun enthusiasts at Starbucks, Locked Loaded and Ready to Caffeinate.
Living here in what passes for the Wild West of Arizona, open carry is no big deal. A few months ago, first instance, while waiting for a signal light at the intersection, I saw a guy walking his dog, a holstered weapon on the belt of his walking shorts. And its been several years now that I got over my surprise at standing in line behind a guy with a Dirty Harry-sized 44 Magnum on his hip at a Phoenix Circle K convenience store.
Even so, there’s still something about bringing guns to unexpected places and how that can sometimes have unintended if not entirely unforeseeable consequences. I thought of this again on reading about a Utah Municipal Court Judge who got himself into trouble last year but was disciplined only recently for it. The Hon. Garry R. Sampson “jokingly” pulled a gun on his bailiff in March 2009. Why? Well Bailiff Darci Budgen apparently forgot her own sense of decorum when she “playfully” threatened to throw her water bottle at the judge.
Judge Sampson, who hears mostly traffic cases, escalated Budgen’s horseplay by pulling out his pistol and pointing it at her. Thankfully, he was only joshing. The judge has also promised not to bring his gun to court anymore after receiving a public Reprimand by Utah’s Supreme Court.
Happily for his bailiff, Judge Sampson was only kidding around. But by coincidence, I received almost contemporaneously, an item about Peruvian Judge Raúl Rosales Mora of the Fifth Constitutional Court, who decided to take out a gun and point to Caretas magazine photographer
Carlos Saavedra in a much less playful manner. The judge later claimed that he thought the photo-journalist was a thief.
Now I’m a 2nd Amendment guy and I learned a long time ago that one of the fundamental tenets of Firearm Safety
is to never point at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
Good reason for concern.
Notwithstanding the previous egregious lapses of judicial decorum, there’s sadly been good reason for jurists to seek additional layers of personal protection of late. According to the U.S. Marshall’s Service, for example, threats against court personnel have more than doubled during the past 6 years. See Guarding the Halls of Justice Against an Escalating Threat
. And in January of this year, an attack at a Nevada federal courthouse left Two dead in Las Vegas court shoot-out.
But as threats against them increase, one hopes so should safety-conscious good judgment.