I hope this story saves some lives.
For the sin of wearing a hat at the Nevada Legislature, I was 86’d from the Assembly chamber last week. What should have been a comical occasion, worthy of United Airlines passenger jokes, instead served up serious warnings.
As Congressman Ruben Kihuen began addressing a joint session in the Assembly chamber, a uniformed officer behind me said “Sir, would you please remove your hat.”
I told him I’d rather leave.
“Do you require the same of women?”
“That’s fair,” I said and shook his hand.
Lobbyists later guffawed, noting that longtime Nevada Taxpayers Association Director Carole Vilardo was famous for wearing her trademark hats throughout the building. I could find only one published rule, turning off cellphones. The assembly secretary has not responded to my messages.
Covering female heads is an ancient symbol of subjugation: “A man ought not to cover his head since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man,” according to male chauvinist St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. I always object to objectification.
I meandered to the press office only to be followed by another security guard who demanded to know my business.
I said I was a Nevada citizen in a public building. He asked if I was done with my business. I was being interrogated.
Two more guards soon filled the doorway about five feet from me. Big Sarge demanded my press credential. I informed him that it was my first day there and the credential office was closed. He ordered me out of the room.
I was chilled by the faces of the armed officers, buck fever arousal like hunters ready to pounce. I was glad I was not a Sikh wearing a turban.
Responding to my subsequent inquiry, Legislative Counsel Rick Combs e-mailed that any public building employee, elected or otherwise, who has a valid concealed gun permit can bring firearms inside.
The building has no metal detectors. Combined with unspecified persons in the building carrying guns, I understand uptightness. Somebody’s gonna get hurt in that toxic environment.
NRA supporter Lt. John Weinstein of Virginia’s NOVA college described the dangers of civilian concealed carriers in a tense situation: “At around 150 to 175 heartbeats per minute, you start to lose your peripheral vision, lose your auditory acuity and your body goes into survival mode…My hands are shaking…I don’t know who’s on either side of me, I have audio exclusion and now I’m going to take a shot? That chances are greater that you’re hitting another evacuee,” he told Rolling Stone. (6 April 2017)
Under such glaringly insecure working conditions, legislative guards are understandably on a razor’s edge. It’s time for metal detectors, better training and safety standards before something horrendous happens.
As I left the building, a Republican lawmaker complimented my hat.
No hard feelings guys. For the record, the business for which I came to Carson City was placing flowers on the graves of my wife and step-daughter.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 48-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org> Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.