Federal prosecutors and judges would get the ability to carry concealed firearms if a bill introduced by a trio of southern Republican senators is made law.
Sens. Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn and Kelly Loeffler introduced the Protect Our Prosecutors and Judges Act on Tuesday to allow federal prosecutors and judges to have a concealed carry license.
The bill would expand the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which allows current and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms, to include current and retired federal; judges, and state, local, and federal prosecutors.
“Prosecutors and judges make difficult decisions daily that have the potential to put them in harm’s way,” Loeffler, a Republican from Georgia, said in a statement. “In a day and age when personal information is so easily accessible online, these public servants should be able to protect themselves and their families at all times.”
The lawmakers noted that according to a U.S. Marshals Service report from this year, “threats and inappropriate comments” against protected persons increased by a magnitude of four since 2015.
“Right now, law enforcement officials are facing increased threats to their safety just for doing their jobs,” Blackburn, a Republican from Tennesse, said. “Cities across the country have seen a spike in crime in the wake of weeks-long protests, making the thin blue line appear even thinner than usual.”
WHO IS NEW JERSEY JUDGE ESTHER SALAS?
The legislation comes after the son and husband of New Jersey-based U.S. District Judge Esther Salas were shot in their home on July 19. Salas’ 20-year-old son, Daniel Mark, was killed in the attack. A gunman pretending to be a FedEx driver rang the doorbell of their home and opened fire when her son answered the door.
This week, Salas said she believes she was targeted because of her position on the bench.
“A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house,” she said in a video released Monday.
The gunman, self-described “anti-feminist” attorney Roy Den Hollander had a “complete dossier” on the judge and her family, including where they lived and where they went to church, she said.
“We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down,” Salas said.
She stressed that not everyone agrees with federal judges’ decisions, which “will be scrutinized.” She said the job requires that they make “tough calls,” including those that might upset people.
JUDGE SALAS RELEASES STATEMENT AFTER SON KILLED, HUSBAND SHOT IN ATTACK BY LAWYER
“Unfortunately for my family, the threat was real and the free flow of information from the Internet allowed this sick and depraved human being to find all our personal information and target us,” she said. “At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it and that is unacceptable. My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench. Now, more than ever, we need to identify a solution that keeps the lives of federal judges private.”
Den Hollander had a gender-equity lawsuit, filed in 2015, that was being heard by Salas. It involved a young woman who wanted to register for the military draft. He also mentioned the judge in writings posted online, deriding her as a ladder-climber who traded on her Hispanic heritage to get ahead.
The 72-year-old Hollander was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 20, the day after the ambush, in the town of Rockland in New York’s Sullivan County, law enforcement officials said.
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Among Den Hollander’s belongings was information about New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, including her photograph, her name, and the address for the Court of Appeals in Albany.
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.