Half-term ex-Governor Sarah Palin’s next public speaking engagement is Monday, January 24, in the theater of the Lubbock Texas Civic Center. It is a fundraiser for the Lubbock Christian School.

The event was scheduled months before the recent tragedy in Tuscon, but the rules for the Lubbock Civic Center regarding firearms on the premises remain the same. No firearms for law-abiding citizens are allowed. This includes people with conceal carry permits.

If a private security team wants to have firearms they must get permission and coordinate with the Lubbock police department.  I asked Julia Gonzalez, the Lubbock Civic Center Event Coordinator, where do the rules come from, and she said,  “It’s a city facility, so no firearms are allowed inside the building.”  To confirm that I contacted the Lubbock City secretary and got a nice official note back saying, “The city of Lubbock is adhering to the firearms laws of the State of Texas.”  (link)

I didn’t make these laws. I’m not in charge of enforcing them. People who have a problem with this should complain to the chief of police or the people in charge of private security for Palin. Don’t tell me more armed citizens in an audience make it safer for everyone, tell Dale Holton, Lubbock Chief of Police — here’s his phone number.

Do you believe that you are such a crack shot and so vital to the protection of former Gov. Palin from crazy people that you must be able to concealed weapon inside the theater? Don’t plead your case with me. Talk to the Lubbock SWAT team. I have a feeling the current members won’t look too highly upon your 10 hours of concealed carry training considering what happened with their highly trained officers back in 2001.

Also not helpful are the current gaps in the federal background check system, where many mental disability records are never entered into the federal NICS database by individual states (see Virginia Tech) and criminals can get a gun without worrying about a background check, thanks to the gun-show loophole (see Columbine).

Photo David Holthouse from 2011 SHOT Show http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101250012 used with permission

Photo David Holthouse from 2011 SHOT Show, used with permission http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101250012

Thankfully, today, Mayors Against Illegal Guns announced a comprehensive plan to address this problem, and included statements of support from everyone from Martin Luther King III to Kathleen Kennedy Townshend, former Bush Attorney General Mike Mukasey to NRA A-rated former Republican Representative Jim Kolbe — the previous Congressman from Arizona’s 8th District before Gabby Giffords was elected. Thirty-four victims of gun violence also weighed in, which I just found out is the exact number who are murdered everyday by guns in this country.  . . .

Conceal Carry and Open Carry Guns Banned at Palin Safari Hunt Club Speech In Reno

Although the Lubbock event tonight is the next big public speaking event for Palin, the media preferred to focus on her speaking for the Safari Hunt Club in Reno on January 29th. They wanted to tweak her with the irony. You could almost hear the glee in their prose, “Organizers made the announcement that Palin would be appearing at the gun-related gathering less than a week after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that badly injured her and left six dead.” the Politico wrote.

ABC’s The Note wrote: “Anyone who has watched “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” on TLC knows that Palin is an avid hunter who relishes delivering “organic sources of protein” to her family.  And the show pictured her shooting a variety of different guns.  This appearance makes clear that Palin will not back away from her passion from guns and hunting even in the wake of the shootings in Arizona last week.”

While people might expect that a Christian School would support a policy of no firearms at their venue, the unsaid implication is the hunt club audience will be filled with men and women conceal carrying Glocks and open carrying rifles and shotguns. No wimpy firearm banning from the Safari Hunt Club!

But people’s expectations would be wrong. I checked out the reality of the upcoming Safari Hunt Club speaking engagement verus the press-implied fantasy. I looked up the written policy at the Peppermill where Palin will be speaking.

Firearms are prohibited on Peppermill Resort Spa Casino premises. If your event requires armed security, you must make a written request to “Peppermill Resort Spa Casino.” You must receive approval in writing from the Director of Security before armed guards or firearms are allowed on the premises.  (Reno Peppermill meetings policies)

Then I checked with the Director of Security, Dean Hill, the guy actually responsible for security at the event in the Tuscany Ballroom at the Peppermill in Reno. He said he couldn’t discuss any security specifics for Palin’s event but that I could run with the printed policies and he would have someone else contact me.

My next call was from Mike Hendi, the security director for Safari Club International. He made it clear that you cannot bring your firearm to the Palin event unless you are authorized security, and the Peppermill venue policies will be followed. There will be metal detectors at all entrances and if you are caught with a firearm, and you are not authorized security, you will be arrested.

The reality of the event is that Palin will be speaking to an audience of unarmed hunters. Palin can encourage their passion for guns, but those guns will not be in the audience with her.

A rational policy is in place, that is reality. Of course not everyone agrees that gun free zones are safer for everyone involved. I went to the on-line open carry forum to see what their views were on armed citizens at events in Nevada where politicians speak. In the forum, titled Congresswoman shot in the head today I found this response from “Nevada Carrier”

My response to the Brady bunch is this… clearly there are not yet enough armed citizens to be an effective deterrent against mass public shootings. We need more armed citizens not less.  – “Nevada Carrier” on Open Carry Forum (Link)

I also talked to Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America who believes we desperately need to get rid of zero tolerance policies and gun free school laws.  Larry sounded very calm and rational and told me several stories about how concealed carry saved the day. I’m new to the back and forth of dueling anecdotes and statistics, so I had no counter to his story of a shooting at a Colorado church in 2007 where a conceal carrying woman took out a shooter.  I suppose I could have brought up the way that unarmed members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist quickly and effectively disarmed and captured James Adkisson within seconds after he opened fire at a church in Knoxville.

But my stories of the people who tackled Atkinson — although clearly heroic — didn’t contain an essential fantasy element that appeals to so many gun carrying men (and a few women). The fantasy that you will not only save the day, but that you will be able to administer lethal justice in the process.  If you die taking a bullet to protect someone, how can you get the admiration of your peers?

What About the Protection Professionals?

Whether Pratt or Nevada Carrier convinces me isn’t really important.  The people who would need to be convinced are the ones whose reputations and the lives of their protectees are on the line. What policies do they support?  Do they want an audience of people with conceal and open carry or an audience that is unarmed?   It turns out that they want the latter.

Why aren’t the NRA lobbyists calling Mr. Hendi from Safari Hunt club? Here’s his number. They should be trying to  convince him that more guns in the audience is safer.  Maybe they can call Mr. Hill, director of security at the Peppermill, and convince him how essential it is for people to carry a firearm into the audience. Maybe they can explain how  more people need to carry guns openly in states where it’s legal or that people need to show their support for the 2nd Amendment. The NRA, GOA members and gun manufacturer lobbyists will not do that kind of individual confrontation because they know these serious security people will tell them to go pound sand.

It turns out that the professionals at the Peppermill know the difference between theory and practice, between fantasies and reality.

I understand people want to live in a fantasy world where they see themselves as Jason Bourne, but when it’s life or death, professionals see you as Barney Fife and they don’t trust you with a loaded gun.

If someone in the open carry movement wants to demonstrate how you defend yourself at the Peppermill outside the Tuscany Ballroom or outside the Lubbock Civic center, please do. Alert the media! When the police and authorized security forces disarm you before the Palin event you can complain about their lack of support for the 2nd Amendment.

When someone is actually responsible for lives, and their insurance carrier is on the hook for two million dollars liability, they implement gun free zones. They put metal detectors in place. They don’t trust the word of someone who says they are experienced and whips out their concealed carry permit to prove it. The professionals might let you blather about the need for more armed citizens, but he’s not going to let you come to his event with your gun — because they know the reality.

I want Sarah Palin to live a long and death-threat free life. The people who watch her in an audience should be safe from the person next to them who has fantasies that involve administrating instant lethal justice.

I condemn any violent rhetoric or death threats directed at her like I condemn them directed at liberals and Democrats.

The reality is more guns around a political speaker is a recipe for greater tragedy. The Governor’s security staff will want to have a word with you if you disagree. I don’t have their phone number but if you show up at the events with a gun and no permission I think they will find you.

Remember, I’m not the one who has a problem with you carrying, they are. They know you can get a concealed carry permit with a grand total of 10 hours of training. They know even trained professionals can shoot an innocent bystander in a crisis. Instead of bowing to the pressure of extremists in the NRA or GOA the protection professionals are sending a clear message with their actions:  “We will do what rational, experienced people do and will not let others indulge their gun fantasies on our watch.”

You want to enjoy a gun shooting fantasy, go to a shooting range or watch the movie “Shoot ‘em Up” but in the real world keep your guns away from Gov. Palin and all the other politicians.