House Republicans are proposing a change to the law that would make it easier for federal judges to arm themselves as they enter and exit the courthouse, a change they say is needed because judges are seeing more threats to their safety.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., introduced the Firearm Lockbox Protection Act, which would allow judges who are licensed to carry a firearm in their state to securely store that firearm in the courthouse. It would set up a system that lets judges check these weapons into a secure facility as they arrive and check them out as they leave, which Cole said would help them defend themselves from threats.
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“As federal judges have faced an increasing number of threats to their personal safety, the Firearm Lockbox Protection Act will make certain they can protect themselves if a physical threat or dangerous altercation were to occur,” Cole told Fox News Digital. “In fact, I first introduced this legislation at the request of a federal judge from my state, and I am proud to reintroduce it again at such a critical time.”
Cole’s bill was co-sponsored by a handful of other Republicans, and he is seeking wider support within the House.
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“Often, federal judges are left in a vulnerable position while walking from their vehicles to the building,” Cole told his House colleagues. “Physical threats and altercations have cultivated a dangerous environment for judges commuting to the federal workplace.”
Cole chairs the House Rules Committee, which sets the terms of debate and voting on legislation — a position that could give him some leverage as he tries to advance the bill.
Cole’s bill was introduced in the context of growing calls to find better ways to protect judges from danger. In 2020, a gunman shot and killed the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas and wounded her husband in an attack that took place at their home.
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In early 2022, the U.S. Marshals Service reported there were 4,500 threats and potentially dangerous interactions with federal judges, which led to calls for ways to protect the personal information of those judges.
Later in the year, a man was charged with the attempted murder of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, after he appeared at Kavanaugh’s home with a pistol, knife and other paraphernalia.