Monday, November 9, 2015

The Editor and Henderson Libraries (they get it)

Way back in August of 2014, yours truly, the editor (G. C.), went to the Paseo Verde Library (Henderson District). I happened to be openly carrying my pistol that day. I was approached by a volunteer who proceeded to tell me guns in the library were illegal. I politely informed him it was perfectly legal, and he turned around left in a huff, refusing to discuss the matter any further. So much for education and polite discourse libraries are supposed to be known for. He conferred with who I assume was the on-duty librarian. I made my selection and left without further incident.
Why was I openly carrying that day? I was out and about, running errands and going places as people are wont to do on their days off. I chose to carry openly because it was a lot more comfortable than stuffing a pistol in my waistband in the middle of summer. Since I have no legal obligation to (when openly carrying), I am not going to disarm simply because people at the library would feel more comfortable.
Normally, I try and visit the library after work, which means I would only have my concealed carry pistol with me. Since one of my main goals in life is to not become a criminal, that gun never gets to go in the library with me. I’m well versed on NRS 202.3673.
After the incident, I sent some emails to the library administration. They chose to ignore my emails, a rather childish tactic in light of what transpired next. While doing research for theon-going issues with the Las Vegas-Clark County District, I discovered that I was the subject of a discussion of a board of trustees’ discussion.

Recently a gentleman came in with an open carry weapon. It appeared his purpose was to challenge someone to confront him. The admin team will meet with the district’s attorney, Brin Gibson, and go through the applicable laws to decide what the district’s stance should be. This may result in a policy update brought back to the Board. There haven’t been any real problems; this was just something a little out of the ordinary. Jim Frey asked how the situation was resolved. Angela Thornton said staff asked him to leave. He said he didn’t have to, but did leave soon after. He wanted to prove a point. Angela Thornton said in Oklahoma libraries are considered government buildings where weapons are not allowed. If the Board has any questions they should direct them to Angela Thornton. The meeting is scheduled for October 1st. (9/18/2014)
I was never asked to leave. What was said to me was: “Sir, this is a public building and we have signs prohibiting weapons in the building.” When I explained and tried to give the volunteer a card for’s predecessor site, he refused it and walked away. I was left alone after that. I never said 'I didn’t have to leave, I just explained the law.
Was I there to prove a point? Nope, just going to the library that day as I explained above. Earlier I discussed with some colleagues that I was not going to the library unarmed if I happened to be openly carrying at the given time. I’m not some dude looking for attention; I’m actually surprisingly shy and reserved. I’m not into the open carry movement because I think it’s cool or because my dad is a Fudd and I’m rebelling against him.
Maybe the actual details were lost in translation, exaggerated, or deliberately misconstrued. I did send a detailed email to library administration requesting a reply and that they educate their staff and volunteers. They hit the mark halfway, but I would have loved to clear up and misconceptions about ‘the incident’. Additionally, it’s pretty darn disrespectful to citizens to simply ignore their emails and then whine in a board meeting.
And what the heck does Oklahoma have to do with anything? This is Nevada. It’s like saying “In Utah, gambling is illegal.” That’s nice. Nevada’s legislature has ensured that NRS 202.3673 allows Nevadans the right to bear arms in most government buildings. If they wanted to ban openly carried firearms, they would have written the law that way.
In the follow-up meeting, the district’s counsel explained that open carry is perfectly legal in the library. 
The admin team and branch managers met with the library district’s attorney Brin Gibson about the open carry issue. The law allows for a person to openly carry a firearm [holstered] in the library, but it is against the law to carry a concealed weapon [even with a permit] in the library. The library staff response will be to call the police to ask any person open carrying about their intentions to ensure they are someone who can carry legally, safely and responsibly in the library. If a person is carrying an unholstered weapon, staff will pull the fire alarm and call 911. Gayle Hornaday said the situation rarely occurs. On the rare occasion a person has open carried in the library, he did so to make a statement. (10/16/2015)
Mr. Gibson did the right thing by supporting the right to bear arms and correctly recognizing that NRS 202.3673 protects openly carried firearms in public buildings. This is in contrast to the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s counsel, who privately stated he had no intention of advising his client to comply with law and expected to be sued.

The library has no business calling the police to check and see if someone can legally carry a firearm. A, they’re not law enforcement, they’re librarians. B, the police would have no probable cause to detain anyone not otherwise engaged in illegal activity to check and see if they were carrying a firearm legally. It’s a total waste of police resources, harassment, and ought to be abuse of 911.

In a past instance (2012 if I recall correctly) involving someone else, police were called, the citizen carrier voluntarily stood by to talk to the very professional Henderson Police. Library staff was educated on the law by the officers. Only if someone is demonstrably unsafe (handling their weapon) or becoming violent should police be called.

As for their policy for someone carrying an unholstered weapon, that’s a perfectly reasonable response. The Nevada open carry community frowns on so-called Chipotle Ninjas who carry long-guns openly, especially un-slung at the ‘low-ready’ position. A reasonable person would well within their right to assume that to be threatening. If I saw someone walk into the library with an un-slung AR-15, I would probably draw down on them. In urban society such as we have in Nevada today, only handguns need to be carried for self-defense and long-guns can be left in the car or at home.

Since then, there have been no issues whatsoever (aside from the occasional glance or whisper by a fellow patron) at the Henderson libraries. No one has ever panicked at the sight of my gun. Most of the times I’ve gone to the library since last August, I haven’t carried at all, going in the evening after work. Obviously I’m not looking for attention and open carry in the library is actually pretty rare.

The good part is that Henderson (even its library district) is a lot more respectful towards the law and laid back than Las Vegas/Clark County is. The Henderson Library District took the “live and let live” route and didn’t decide to violate state law. The library staff and board may disagree, but they did so respectfully and obeyed the law. Bravo! 

The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District needs to take a page out of Henderson’s book and adopt the same tactic. Educate the staff, stop harassing those legally openly carrying firearms, and this ‘issue’ goes away. There won’t be an influx of open carriers or a sudden pandemic of violence. No one’s kickers will get in a knot and the district won’t wind up get sued by somebody. If they just let open carriers alone, they’d be surprised at what a total non-issue it would be.

Now everybody go visit the library and read a book. Or better yet buy one; writers’ like me need the money.
G. C. Gates, your humble editor, is a former law enforcement officer, a writer, a scholar, and a lover of hardboiled detective fiction. 

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