Carrying in the courtroom
“I’ve pulled my gun twice.” Bobby Putorti, a cousin of this reporter, age 46, carries a gun on him at all times. “The first time, I was retrieving a stolen vehicle [with my grandfather], and someone tried to attack [him] to get it back. I pulled out my gun and said ‘You don’t want to lose your life over a car you didn’t pay for.’ The second time was when I was on duty as a judge and someone came running up the bench. I didn’t know what they were going to do, so I pulled it out and said ‘woah, woah, woah, slow down…’”
Putorti became a judge in Whitehall, NY in 2013. It is a tiny town of about 5,000 people, on the border of Vermont. The courthouse is located at 57 Skenesborough Drive, and February 2015 was when he was approached at the bench. He explained that there is generally only an officer in the courtroom if there are inmates coming from jail. He could ask for an officer to be with him at all times if he felt he needed it, but he usually could take care of himself. The courtroom has about 15 chairs in it so it was usually pretty calm . There are emergency safety measures in place should a situation arise. In this particular incident, there was just a misunderstanding and nothing came of it; the individual was confused about the situation.
“I carry a gun now because I’m a judge; I send people to jail and you never know how someone will respond to the calls I make. I carry all the time, especially today, because you never know when someone is going to pull out a gun and start shooting people; if I have a gun at home, that’s not doing anybody any good; if it’s on my hip, I can respond immediately,” said Putorti.
Putorti got his NY state pistol permit in 1995 for simple recreational shooting. He owned six guns and was a member of a local range. In 2005 he got his carry/conceal permit and bought ten more guns. Soon after he got a New Hampshire permit because “it was easy and not a lot of work”.
Since then he’s gotten permits in Connecticut, Florida, Utah, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maine, so now he’s on a quest to get the whole country. With the reciprocity from state to state, he currently has only 11 states where he cannot carry/conceal. Illinois opened up permits to out of staters so he’s filing the paperwork for that one now, which will also give him Nevada and Minnesota reciprocity. While his dream would be to travel the country and never have to worry, there are a few states he knows he’ll never get. California only offers permits to residents, and he said he wouldn’t consider moving there just to get it. Maryland isn’t possible either; no one in Maryland can carry because of the safety of Washington D.C. New Jersey is difficult to get and it’s only possible “if you have a lot of money or if you know someone.” Oregon is also out of the question.
In April 2015, Putorti and his family took a vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. On their way home they stopped at a convenience store in Virginia at 3:00 a.m. Putorti and his wife, Pam, walked into the store to get some snacks. As they walked around the store, a state trooper came in and approached him saying “How ya doin’ tonight, sir?” “Doin’ alright” Putorti replied. His wife left and another trooper followed her out. He watched her get into their car with a New York license plate. The trooper went back in and said to the other “They’re from New York, it’s okay.” Going about his business, Putorti paid and left.
When he got into the car his wife said, “You know he was following you around. Do you still have your gun on you?” They both looked at his hip. “You idiot”, Pam replied. But it all made sense now. The troopers knew that if he was legal in New York, the reciprocity was legal for Virginia too, so the troopers didn’t do anything.
Putorti has been a gun advocate for a long time now. He knows the laws and abides by them. While he may not be in full support of every requirement, he does what he needs to do in order to be safe and legal.