OUR VIEW: Council policy disarms city employees (poll)

By: ed
February 6, 2013
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A disturbing and dangerous message went out to Colorado Springs city employees last month in a memo from “City Human Resources Staff.” It prompted The Gazette to call Mayor Steve Bach, who has asked ranking members of his staff Monday to examine the city’s security policies and get back to him in two weeks with recommendations for improvements. Bach plans to propose new security measures to City Council after he meets with senior staff members.

The human resources memo, stating existing policies, reminds employees of “recent national events involving workplace violence.” Obviously, and with good reason, the mayor and senior employees share concern about a gunman showing up and killing or endangering city workers or others in one of the city’s 139 buildings.

The second paragraph states: “An important early step in this effort is to educate employees regarding City policy that, among other things, prohibits employees from possessing or using weapons at the workplace or during work hours.”

It then instructs employees to complete a “mandatory Employee Acknowledgment of the City’s Weapon Prohibition.”

Further review of the “Weapon Prohibition” reveals a policy, last altered by City Council in 2005, in which non-elected employees (law enforcement exempted) may not possess or use weapons at the workplace or during work hours. This includes employees who have approached government to obtain concealed carry permits, which involves doing the following: 1. Paying for a permit; 2. Documenting for government a history of military service or accredited training in the safe use of firearms; 3. Authorizing government to scrutinize them with personal background checks; and 4. Asking government to document them as individuals authorized by law enforcement to carry concealed weapons.

Law enforcement throughout the country tell of no, or almost no, incidents of unlawful gun violence involving concealed-carry permit holders. People who go to government, pay government, ask government to check them out and seek government’s permission to use guns are not criminals. People who commit gun crimes try to avoid law enforcement.

Just as the city’s policy prohibits city employees from carrying concealed guns on city property, or almost anywhere during work hours, Bach said it allows the public and elected officials to carry concealed weapons on city property at all times.

“I was told that, as elected officials, this policy does not apply to us,” wrote Councilman Bernie Herpin, a gun-rights advocate, on Facebook.

A more elitist policy would be difficult to imagine. This ranks right up there with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s maneuver to exempt the president of the United States, the presdient’s cabinet and elite congressional staffers from Obamacare. It is, in fact, an act of elected city officials imposing a gun ban on their employees but not on themselves.

The city’s gun policy is dangerous and should be amended by City Council immediately. Any former disgruntled city worker, who may be hellbent on harming former supervisors or co-workers, knows that employees of city government have no guns. Predators know that city employees who walk through dark parking lots after work are not armed. The policy respects self-defense needs of ranking officials — namely council members and the mayor — and negates self-defense needs of their workers.

Sometimes gun bans work. Coliseums, court houses and airports make constructive use of gun bans by using metal detectors and security personnel to screen all who enter. Banning and screening for guns means all in the building have reasonable expectations that no one else, aside from law enforcement, has a gun.

City buildings, including the administration building, don’t screen for guns. Policy tells employees — known professionals who obey policies if they want to keep their jobs — they cannot have guns. Yet it welcomes all others with concealed carry permits to go ahead and bring their guns.

We see no logic in singling out city employees as greater threats than politicians or members of the general public.

City Council, fix this policy right away. Either pay to screen out all guns or allow employees, with permits, to adequately protect themselves on and off the job.

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