Anti's argue guns lead to shoot outs


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Yohan
January 12, 2003, 11:52 PM
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/5869433p-6833735c.html

Guns at council meetings argued



January 12, 2003 Posted: 04:50:10 AM PST


By GARTH STAPLEY
BEE STAFF WRITER
The prospect of a shootout at a Modesto City Council meeting involving members of the council has sparked a spirited debate on the wisdom of arming city officials.

Councilman Will O'Bryant, a retired Alameda County sheriff's deputy, is at the center of the controversy.

Concealed firearms are allowed at Tenth Street Place, where council meetings are held, as long as the bearers have permits.

O'Bryant has refused to confirm or deny that he carried a concealed weapon during Tuesday's open meeting, saying it is his own business.

"I'm a retired law enforcement officer, I have a concealed weapons permit and I'm an expert in firearms training," O'Bryant said. "It's my own personal business how, when and where I carry a concealed weapon. I never comment on where I carry my weapon."

Police Chief Roy Wasden and Councilwoman Janice Keating fully agreed, and Councilman Denny Jackman partially agreed. Mayor Carmen Sabatino, and Councilmen Tim Fisher and Bruce Frohman see things differently.

A large crowd attended Tuesday's meeting that featured some hot-button topics, including a controversial road project in the La Loma neighborhood and people confronting Councilman Bill Conrad over remarks he made previously about Hispanics. At one point in the latter discussion, Sabatino banged his gavel and called a recess to restore order.

Said O'Bryant: "I don't want to tell you if I was carrying (a firearm) or not. But I will say that if I did, as a retired law enforcement officer I know from experience that when any racial issue is raised at public meetings, splinter radical groups show up who can be disruptive and violent. If I did, it was for an abundance of caution to protect myself, citizens and the council."

Keating, who sits next to O'Bryant on the dais, said: "Will is perfectly within his rights should he want to carry it. Having someone next to me with a weapon probably wouldn't be a bad thing. We're from the Central Valley. Guns are like a way of life."

Wasden, who carried a concealed firearm as usual to Tuesday's meeting, said many retired officers carry guns.

"It's a personal decision on (O'Bryant's) part," the chief said. "It doesn't concern me at all. He is trained and has experience."

But Sabatino, Fisher and Frohman noted that an armed, uniformed police officer, usually stationed at the back of the chamber, provides security at every council meeting.

"That should be enough," Sabatino said. "I'll be strong about this: I will not conduct a meeting if council members have concealed weapons. I just think it's inappropriate."

Sabatino, who has received death threats, has applied for a concealed weapons permit, recently finishing firearms training and a written exam. He has yet to buy a gun and complete the permitting process, he said.

"I wouldn't dream of bringing a concealed weapon in the chambers," the mayor said.

Frohman and Fisher said they are uncomfortable with the idea of any armed council member making important decisions.

"I don't believe there is any place for guns in the chambers," Frohman said, excepting the uniformed officer. "We know (that officer) has got (a firearm), we know he's there to protect us, is going to be predictable in his actions and is not subject to the type of anger we are up on the dais when we get into arguments about policy-making. It's not the duty of council members to provide security."

Constitutional right cited

Virgil McVicker, president of the local chapter of the Madison Society, which advocates Second Amendment rights, said the U.S. Constitution guarantees the absolute right to bear arms. A permitted, retired officer certainly has the right to carry a weapon wherever it is not prohibited, McVicker said.

"I have a permit; would I carry into a City Council meeting? Most likely not, unless somebody had threatened me," McVicker continued. "It's a matter of personal judgment at that point. If I felt my or my family's life was threatened, I'm going to carry a gun."

McVicker teaches gun safety courses for people seeking permits. Included are discussions about places that prohibit guns, even when bearers have valid permits. These places include public venues like some amusement parks and sports stadiums.

Last year, Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, D-Tracy, pushed unsuccessfully for a bill that would let off-duty and retired officers take concealed weapons anywhere, even where they are banned. She argued that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks increased the need for more armed officers in public, before the bill faltered.

Matt Bennett, Americans for Gun Safety spokesman in Washington, D.C., said his group does not have a problem with retired officers bearing arms.

"As long as he's following all the rules, that's legitimate, that's his choice," Bennett said. "Whether it's wise or not, we don't really make that judgment."

Jackman said the "lethal capacity" of a handgun gives him pause. However, "if someone is bearing down on us (from the audience), and if Will is over there with a weapon and can protect us, that's great. You can look at it as an additional measure of security."

Councilman Conrad, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, did not respond to a message inquiry regarding armed council members. He has not returned calls from The Bee since an article was published Dec. 12 on his comments about Hispanic families "with lots of kids" who might be attracted to affordable housing and create slums.

Of the other six council members, only O'Bryant said he has a concealed weapons permit, though Sabatino's application is in the works. The Modesto Police Department has issued 34 active permits.

Guns in chamber concern Brady group

The image of a councilman on the dais, a uniformed police officer in the back, the police chief on the side -- all with guns -- and 200 people in between did not sit well with Luis Tolley. He is director of California legislation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"I just don't think it's a good idea to have anyone walking around with a loaded gun in public," Tolley said. "Taking it into a place with tension and anger is just looking for trouble. A room full of angry people is probably the last place you should bring a gun. That's what the police are for.

"It's kind of a sad commentary that a councilman doesn't believe his own police force can provide him adequate protection at a meeting. Late at night in a dark alley is one thing. To carry into a meeting seems to be a bit of a strange choice."

John Cowan of Americans for Gun Safety, speaking on whether elected officials should carry guns to public meetings, said, "It's a policy debate and people can shoot their mouths off. In this instance, let's hope that's all they shoot off."

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Bob Locke
January 13, 2003, 12:30 AM
"I just don't think it's a good idea to have anyone walking around with a loaded gun in public," Tolley said. "Taking it into a place with tension and anger is just looking for trouble. A room full of angry people is probably the last place you should bring a gun. That's what the police are for.

"It's kind of a sad commentary that a councilman doesn't believe his own police force can provide him adequate protection at a meeting. Late at night in a dark alley is one thing. To carry into a meeting seems to be a bit of a strange choice."
If I read this correctly, then the director of California legislation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence thinks it IS a good idea to carry "late at night in a dark alley".

And a room full of angry people is a PERFECT place to carry a weapon for your own protection.

G-Raptor
January 13, 2003, 12:36 AM
It's the same old argument; i.e. "you don't need a gun, the POLICE will protect you" .

:rolleyes:

Hkmp5sd
January 13, 2003, 02:22 AM
"I'm a retired law enforcement officer, I have a concealed weapons permit and I'm an expert in firearms training,"

Dang good thing he's a retired LEO, CCW holder and firearm expert! A civilian CCW holder and firearm expert may have lost it and wiped out everyone at the meeting! :banghead:

Jim March
January 13, 2003, 02:47 AM
Sigh. This is yet ANOTHER thread on the subject. The biggest is at:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3605

sixgun_symphony
January 13, 2003, 03:43 AM
The councilman is a retired cop,

They know that he will have made enemies among the criminal element by having performed his duties. That they would take away his gun shows that the anti's do not think.

El Tejon
January 13, 2003, 08:26 AM
So, the fact that he's a retired LEO makes it O.K.? Ahhh, I see, a retired knight is still better than us lowly serfs.

gwalchmai
January 13, 2003, 09:12 AM
(sigh) This is just another example of the fact that there are two kinds of people in the world - Those who think ordinary citizens are capable of good judgement and emotional control vs. those who think not. For some reason, "those who think not" tend to be drawn to the political arena.

Resp.
g ;)

XLMiguel
January 13, 2003, 09:45 AM
Yup, at least two kinds. It always amazes me how quick the non-thinkers are to expose that fact.

Do the idjits really think that words on papoer are going to make a difference if someone is really intent on getting them?

Furhter, if that someone has a thing for the city council, wouldn't a council meeting be a 'target-rich environment'?

Would they not also have 'sense' enough to take out the cop at the door first? (IF they had any sense at all?)

Conversely, might the possiblity of armed citizens in the crowd have a deterent effect?

Baliff had me the #7 cluebat (the big one) - Once again sheople, a criminal is one who does NOT OBEY THE LAW!

sixgun_symphony
January 13, 2003, 09:10 PM
So, the fact that he's a retired LEO makes it O.K.? Ahhh, I see, a retired knight is still better than us lowly serfs.

You missed my point.

A retired cop is going to have enemies from having arrested people and taking them to jail.

J Miller
January 13, 2003, 09:32 PM
Hmmmmm,
I have seen footage of government meatings in various countries where the representatives will jump right into a brawl with out much provocation.

Well, considering the lack of quality and common sence that our legislators have, maybe a good old fashioned shootout would get rid of some of the liberal idiots in the government.

This might be a bit insensitive, but it would cleanse the gene pool.

And they would have no body to blame but themselfs.:neener:

Hkmp5sd
January 14, 2003, 02:21 AM
A retired cop is going to have enemies from having arrested people and taking them to jail.

That may be true, but a revenge attack at a crowded meeting is unlikely. He is using his former LEO status as more justification, in addition to his CCW and "firearm expert" statements, to show it should be perfectly acceptible for him to be armed anytime he pleases.

You notice they even mention the proposed legislation allowing retired and off-duty LEO's carry concealed anywhere? The reason isn't because the LEO fears confronting an angry enemy seeking revenge. It is so THEY can provide more protection for US (the unarmed and untrained masses).

Personally, I think it's great he has a CCW and can carry at their meetings, but his former LEO status should not provide him with more CCW rights than the average citizen.

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