by William Skink
Missoula’s City Council claimed an emergency need to ban guns—both openly carried and concealed—in public places, like all voting stations and public “developed” parks. Why the emergency? Because elections are upon us, and Missoula is doing its part to turn out conservatives in Montana, ensuring the blue wave will make as impotent a splash as possible.
I know, Missoula’s political leadership are not intentionally trying to inspire conservatives to get out and vote–that will be just one of the unintended consequences of this stupid ordinance. Will there be others?
I can hear supporters now, explaining how this ordinance merely “clarifies” what was already in place. To help supporters make this case, the Missoula Current has framed the issue with this misleading headline: City Council clarifies ban on firearms in Missoula parks, polling places, public buildings.
Here is more from the article:
The push for clarification came from the Missoula County Attorney’s Office after election officials had to move several polling places out of school buildings for the Nov. 6 general election because of construction at the schools.
Election administrators were worried that voters might think they could bring weapons to the non-school polling places, and the county attorney wanted clarity for law enforcement officers.
The same was true for Missoula’s Parks and Recreation Department, which for 30 years has prohibited guns in developed city parks as a matter of policy.
Now the policy is law, giving police officers clear authority, said Councilwoman Julie Merritt, who sponsored the amendments. Three members of Moms Demand Action agreed, and thanked council members for taking action to protect Missoula children from gun violence, be it intentional or accidental.
Clarification was the request, not the City Council response. The response by City Council was to codify pre-existing rules into law.
And now our burned-out police force will be expected to respond and ticket any violator of this ordinance. At a time when law enforcement is already stretched thin, and our safety net is shredded by budget cuts and an inundation of illegal drugs, saddling law enforcement with this ordinance will just waste more of their time, which would be better spent dealing with more serious problems.
What actual benefit will this ordinance provide beyond clarification? Will people unnerved by guns feel safer with this ordinance in place? Does anyone seriously think laws like this will stop psychotic individuals from committing acts of violence?
The men and WOMEN who spoke against this move by City Council described not feeling safe in parts of Missoula, including parks. Those in nicer parts of Missoula should pause before mocking their fear and choice of how to approach what they perceive as a potentially hostile environment.
I don’t begrudge those who have different expectations of what law enforcement can do to respond to some unforeseen threat. In the Reserve Street area by the Clark Fork, an area that has seen many incidents of violence over the years, including a homicide, the clean up effort no longer inconveniences campers by removing their semi-permanent dwellings.
I guess it’s ok to trespass under and around the Reserve Street bridge. It’s cool, though, because they are a community with things like bike repair shops, or so say the Current:
Just southwest of the Reserve Street Bridge, a homeless community resides in makeshift shacks and small tents on the floodplain of the Clark Fork River.
During summer, as many as 20 people live in the encampment.
But with winter moving in, some campsites have been abandoned. Others still show signs of life, along with clotheslines, campfires and bike repair shops.
That is a very charitable way of describing a situation that this story from earlier this summer calls into question:
Three men have been arrested in connection with what the Missoula County Attorney’s Office is calling bicycle theft ring.
Jason Edgar, Jason Silva and Kory Mckessick were arrested by the Missoula Police Department after a bicycle theft operation was discovered running from under the Reserve Street Bridge.
The emergency occurring in our community is not the threat of armed citizens in public spaces, it’s a combination of dire need and not enough support to get people the services that could help them.