Armed judges, budget plans

Judges, like any Ohioan, should be able to carry a concealed weapon, if they desire. But they should also have to abide by the same rules as anyone else to obtain a permit.
Surprisingly, the four judges who sit on the 4th District Court of Appeals, which covers 14 counties in southern Ohio, don’t believe the state’s gun requirements apply to them.
In what is apparently a first for an appeals court, the judges recently authorized themselves to carry concealed handguns both in and outside the county courthouses where they work.
The troubling part of the order is that they have exempted themselves from a firearms training course, a prerequisite for obtaining a concealed-carry permit.
State law already allows judges, prosecutors, bailiffs and police officers to be armed in courthouses. And the 4th District judges do have an armed bailiff, a police officer, who travels with them when they hear cases.
Even though there have been no reported problems, the judges may have good reason to be concerned about security and want to be able to protect themselves. Most of us have that right under the Second Amendment.
The 4th District hears cases from Adams, Athens, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington counties. Some courtrooms aren’t secured by metal detectors or armed guards.
But excusing themselves from the rules suggests they consider themselves above the law.
Obtaining a concealed-carry permit isn’t difficult and ensures those who want to carry a gun in public know how to safely operate one.
Certainly, all four judges would meet the age and residency requirements, and pass required background checks. And the 12-hour firearms training course, including several hours on a gun range, is far from rigorous.
Even if judges do have the legal authority to grant themselves special privileges, issuing them sends the wrong message. If a judge wants to carry a gun, good. They should just follow the rules.
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Knowing where you want to go and making a plan to get there is always better than setting off on a trip without GPS, or at least a road map.
That’s why we applaud the Mihalik administration’s decision to begin budgeting for two years instead of just one in Findlay.
A longer operating budget cycle isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s a good one.
Auditor Jim Staschiak has repeatedly urged city officials to think beyond 12 months when setting financial goals and priorities. Mayor Lydia Mihalik has suggested the unstable economy didn’t make it possible until now.
With a more than $20 million annual operating budget, Findlay’s government is bigger than many businesses. Our leaders should always look beyond tomorrow.
Although the state only allows a single-year budget to be adopted by the city, the second year will be mapped out to allow for more consideration of city priorities. But budgets aren’t set in stone. If we get to 2016 and our financial situation has changed, the budget could be revised.
The fact the city has decided to go to a two-year cycle was the right turn to take.
There will always be different philosophies among our elected officials about how best to handle city finances, but there must be a system in place to guide long-term budgeting.
We’re glad city officials are thinking more along the same lines these days.

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