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No dice to ‘No guns’

by Sheila Gardner

After hearing Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick on Thursday, Douglas County commissioners dropped a plan to post signs in county buildings where weapons are not permitted.

The board voted 5-0 against the proposal, requested by Sheriff Ron Pierini.

“I am against this for three reasons,” Hettrick said. “The law would only affect legal, concealed carry weapons permittee; a great deal of benefit of the concealed carry law is derived because a would-be assailant has no idea who might be armed and capable of defending themselves.

“Third, people who obtain a concealed carry permit do so because they are concerned with personal safety,” Hettrick said.

Commissioner Don Miner wanted to know why the issue was coming before the board at all.

“Are we afraid that we’re issuing illegal permits to the wrong people?” he asked. “What is the problem we are trying to cure?”

Pierini said he wanted to alert people that guns were not permitted in any building with a metal detector in use, such as the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center in Minden and the administration building in Stateline.

Pierini said 400 concealed weapon permits had been issued and the process had been smooth.

“It’s been very favorable,” he said. “All I want is a sign up that says metal detectors are in use in Minden and at Lake Tahoe.”

Commissioner Kelly Kite said he felt the policy “goes a long way to infringe on someone who went through the permit process.”

“I’ve got problems with this,” he said. “I’ve been shot at a couple of times and I have a bunch of guns at home because I believe in the right to keep and bear arms.

“I have a real strong moral issue with it both ways,” he said.

Hettrick argued that, statistically, people who carry permits for concealed weapons are not the problem.

“Anyone who is carrying a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit is already breaking the law and it is already illegal or them to carry into any building,” Hettrick said. “Do we really believe that someone who is carrying illegally is going to stop because of a sign?”

Hettrick said the sign might as well be a bullseye because it will indicate to a criminal where people are unarmed and defenseless.

“I urge you not to pass an ordinance that will not protect a single building and may actually make public buildings a more vulnerable setting and which can only make a criminal of those law-abiding citizens who feel some need for personal protection,” Hettrick said.

Hettrick introduced Assembly Bill 166, successfully passed by the 1999 Legislature, which changed the state’s concealed weapons law to say that permit holders can bring their weapons into public buildings unless there are signs or metal detectors saying otherwise.