In response to inquiries, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics issues advisory opinions on ethics-related matters of pertinence to New York judges.
An unidentified jurist recently asked the Committee whether it was improper to carry a gun while sitting on the bench. Surprisingly, the Committee concluded that there was no existing restriction to packing a pistol. In a published opinion, the Committee observed:
[F]rom an ethical standpoint, there is no prohibition in the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct barring you from carrying a firearm while performing your duties on the bench. A judge, however, must act "in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary" ... Judges must also "be patient, dignified and courteous" to those who appear before them ... For these reasons, this Committee believes that keeping your firearm concealed and safeguarded on your person while you are on the bench is advisable, should you choose to carry one and assuming that there are no legal or administrative barriers that would preclude such possession.While the Committee may be right "on the law," we respectfully wish to note our disagreement with the opinion's conclusion. There is more to this issue than keeping firearms "safeguarded" and "concealed." We do not believe the public perception of judges is furthered in a favorable or constructive way by allowing them to carry weapons while they perform their official duties on government property, particularly in view of the extensive security screenings and other precautions which are already in place.
Everyone--excluding court officers and law-enforcement personnel--should be required to check their weapons at the courthouse door.
For a copy of the Committee's Advisory Opinion, please click on the following link: