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A judge in Cook County, Illinois is in hot water after he was caught carrying a handgun inside the courthouse. A video shows the firearm falling out of his coat pocket, which clued authorities in on the judge’s activities.
Here’s the video:
While some courthouses exempt judges from rules against carrying a gun in the courthouse, it seems that Cook County isn’t one of them. Which is a shame considering judges do make enemies, and those enemies know where to find the judges.
That said, rules are rules and if I’d be punished for carrying a gun into the courthouse, Judge Joseph Claps should as well.
And, he’s facing punishment.
Claps was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited area, a Class B misdemeanor, after two deputies noticed a handgun fall out of the jurist’s jacket while it was draped over his arm.
A Class B misdemeanor in the Land of Lincoln can carry a maximum penalty of up to six months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,500. Claps is on administrative duty until the court’s executive committee meets.
Claps has a valid FOID and concealed carry permit, but they don’t give him a pass for carrying in the courthouse.
You see, people should be able to carry in their place of work, and that includes judges and other courthouse staff members. The police can’t protect people. As noted in the above news story, the courthouse has already seen a shooting. While security was tightened following that attack, let’s be honest here. There’s no security tight enough that can completely keep out guns.
Don’t judges and others in the courthouse have a right to self-defense?
Of course, they do.
Now, I’m not saying Claps was right to carry somewhere he was prohibited to carry. I’m saying I understand it and disagree with the law. As a judge, it’s safe to say he knew he was breaking the law, so he can’t plead ignorance. But what he could have done is work to change the law.
He didn’t do that.
Now, he’s facing possible jail time–something I would imagine is rather unpleasant for a judge–and a hefty fine. He’s also facing the loss of his career, which may be more devastating than either. Claps is 70, which means he’s not yet old enough to retire, but too old to try and start another career. I’m not sure, but something like this might be enough to disbar him. Maybe the lawyers reading this can enlighten me on that in the comments.
If it is, though, that means he wouldn’t even be able to practice law. Let’s hope it’s not that serious, though, which it shouldn’t be. It’s a misdemeanor, after all.
Maybe Judge Claps will start working to change the laws that turn citizens into subjects by disarming them at every opportunity rather than pretending those laws don’t apply to him. It might have kept him out of hot water if he started there.