If an everyday citizen dropped a gun in a courthouse, it’s pretty clear what would happen.

Without a doubt, he or she would face significant consequences, and rightly so. There’s no telling what would happen in a busy courthouse if a dropped gun accidentally discharged, or, worse yet, was grabbed by an angry victim or accused criminal.


The rules — only on-duty law enforcement officers are allowed to carry weapons into a courthouse — are there for a reason, with no exceptions, even for people who have a concealed carry permit or a FOID (firearms owner identification) card.

But is there another rule for veteran judges?

We ask, because Cook County Judge Joseph Claps was acquitted of misdemeanor charges of bringing a gun into the Leighton Criminal Court Building, even though surveillance video showed Claps dropping a gun from his jacket, then picking it up, as he walked through the lobby. Sheriff’s deputies didn’t stop Claps, though they did report the incident to their supervisor.

In making his ruling, the Will County judge who presided over the case took note of the deputies’ lack of immediate action — they apparently weren’t sure the rule applied to judges — and noted that the deputies never took any weapon into evidence. Without that evidence, the judge indicated he had no choice but to let Claps off the hook.

“I can’t believe they would simply walk away from a firearm laying on the floor in the courthouse,” Judge Edward Burmila said of the sheriff’s deputies.

Apparently, the gun was just an illusion.

Is the notion that the law applies to everyone just an illusion, too?

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