A top Senate Republican will unveil proposals Tuesday designed to bolster security for federal judges and prosecutors and could eventually introduce the plan as an amendment to a gun bill up for debate in the Senate, according to aides.
Responding to the shooting deaths of two Texas prosecutors, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the state's former attorney general, is seeking ways to ensure that prosecutors and judges at all level of government have proper protection, especially if people retaliate against them with violence.
The senator is introducing the legislation in response to the recent shooting deaths of Kaufman County, Tex., District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife. Not long before his killing, McLelland told reporters that he had started carrying a gun with him after one of his assistant prosecutors, Mark Hasse, was fatally shot in January.
Another law enforcement official, Colorado’s state prisons chief, was shot to death at his front door on March 19.
Cornyn plans to unveil legislation Tuesday that would permit state and local governments to use existing federal grant funding to provide more security for prosecutors and judges in dangerous cases. Concerned with current limits barring federal prosecutors from carrying personal firearms to their offices, Cornyn also plans to propose permitting prosecutors to carry weapons at all times for self-defense purposes.
It is a federal crime to kill, assault, intimidate or interfere with federal employees performing official duties, but Cornyn also hopes to stiffen penalties for anyone targeting federal prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officers for retaliation, aides said. Enhanced penalties would include a greater likelihood of facing the death penalty, aides said, and make it more difficult for people to collect damages in litigation involving a government official who may have wounded someone in self-defense.
Cornyn plans to introduce the bill as a standalone proposal, but aides didn't rule out the possibility that he might attempt to have the package amended to gun-control legislation set for consideration in the Senate. In hopes of staving off a threatened GOP filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) this week urged senators of both parties to introduce possible amendments to his legislation, which would expand the nation's gun background check system, make gun trafficking a federal crime and provide more federal funding for school security programs.
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