In the waning days of the Trump administration, on the 18th of January, Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order 13977, Protecting Law Enforcement Officers, Judges, Prosecutors, and Their Families. EO 13977 would expand protections offered under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), extending additional privileges to federal judges and others. This executive order discusses a disturbing occurrence in New Jersey 2020 involving an assassination attempt against a judge. From the order:
… judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers are symbols within our communities of law and order and may be targeted for that reason alone. And at times, family members of public servants have become victims. Last year, a former litigant before a Federal judge in New Jersey tragically murdered the judge’s 20-year-old son and critically wounded her husband. Judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers’ resiliency in the face of the danger they regularly face is an inspiration for all of us in public service.
Further, the order explains some of the privilege expansion:
…enhanced protections for judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers. Federal law already allows Federal and State law enforcement officers to protect themselves by carrying a concealed firearm, but the Federal Government can do more to cut the red tape that Federal law enforcement officers must navigate to exercise their right. The current threat to Federal prosecutors also demands an expansion of their ability to carry a concealed firearm, as allowed under the Department of Justice’s existing authorities. Finally, the Congress should act expeditiously to adopt legislation extending the right to carry a concealed firearm to Federal judges and pass other measures that will expand our capacity to combat threats of violence against judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers.
While critics of such an order could cry foul, that this is just another standard “good for thee but not for me” situation when it comes to rights being enhanced, this EO does do several important things. The federal judge that was targeted was from New Jersey. For a second, let’s imagine this is not a situation where the politically connected get more rights granted to them than others. The judge would not have qualified to carry a firearm in the state of New Jersey. Yes, perhaps today, the judge would fit the definition of meeting the Justifiable Need (May issue) provision of New Jersey law, but only at the tragic price of the loss of a child and severe injury to her spouse.
This order would remove such non-sense from the lives of those in such a situation. Does this do anything for the normal peasants of New Jersey? No. But, it does point out a very large drift in how those in power get treated versus those who support the thrones via their tax contribution.
The big question is whether or not Biden will officially rescind this executive order, or if he’ll allow it to quietly remain on the books. If this were an executive order dealing with the average citizen’s right to carry, there’s no way that Biden would allow it to stay in effect. Targeted as it is to judges and prosecutors, however, Biden may decide it’s limited enough in its application to the “right people” that it doesn’t need to be rescinded.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, and NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on twitter at @johnpetrolino