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Cowboys In The Cubicles

New city gun-totin’ policy shoots blanks


By Chuck Nowlen

Published January 25, 2001

Copyright 2001, Las Vegas Weekly/Radiant City Publications



Look out, citizens: More City Hall public servants could soon be packing heat on the job.


That’s assuming a new policy on carrying concealed weapons to work passes legal muster, and if so, granted: Maybe no one will notice in a state with such a tradition of – what shall we call it? – Second Amendment vigilance. (Yeah, that’s it.)


Then again, we keep imagining a City Hall metal-detector situation in which a small arsenal of fire power is blithely waved through every morning, while a subdivision’s worth of “ordinary” citizens gets the third degree.


YEEEE! HAAA! Cowboy time around the cubicles.


The new policy, prompted by the feud between Mayor Oscar Goodman and Councilman Michael McDonald, would bring Las Vegas into compliance with state law. Nevada statutes allow any public employee to carry a concealed firearm to work as long as he or she has a permit. Under an old city policy, that was only possible with permission from the City Manager’s Office.


The change, which Assistant City Manager Betsy Fretwell says has been OKd by a city attorney, came almost two months after Goodman proposed a ban on all guns at City Hall, insisting that firearms have a “chilling effect” on municipal workers.


McDonald, a retired Metro officer who became Goodman’s arch-enemy late last year after surreptitiously taping a conversation with the mayor, used to wear his service weapon to council meetings. But he stopped when he hung up his badge in 1999.


The whole issue, of course, is more about a power struggle than a public-policy outcry. McDonald, for example, notes that permit-sanctioned concealed weapons drew nary a peep until the feud broke out, about a year and a half after Goodman was elected.


McDonald also insisted in published reports last week that since he no longer carries a gun to council meetings, “I don’t have any feeling about (the new policy) either way.”


Meanwhile, council members Michael Mack and Gary Reese, who have concealed-weapon permits but also do not bring their guns to meetings, had not commented on the new policy as of early this week.


Our take?


This could well turn into one of those heat-of-the-battle political things that will fade into obscurity before too long. But we still don’t think City Hall is the kind of place where guns should be allowed, except among bona fide security people.


True, somewhere in our heart of hearts (the paranoid part), we know that, as Homer Simpson once said to his daughter Lisa, if we lose out right to bear arms, “the King of England could come in her and start pushing you around. How’d you like that, Lisa?  Huh? Huh?”


But even in wild-west Tombstone, the question was not whether people should have guns; it was simply about where they’re appropriate and where they’re not.


Besides, how different are the City Hall bureaucracy and the US Postal Service anyway?





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