Every city of Roswell employee, as of today, is allowed to carry concealed weapons in the workplace after the Roswell City Council overwhelmingly approved a resolution Thursday night.
The resolution approved by a 9-1 vote allows the city manager to make provisions in city policy to allow employees who possess a New Mexico concealed-carry permit to carry a concealed weapon on city property, subject to the conditions of the permit and subject to notice to the city manager and an employee’s department head-level supervisor.
Prior city policy prohibited city employees from carrying firearms on city property or their vehicles while on duty, except for police officers, firefighters, animal control officers and the air center manager or designee.
The City Council overwhelmingly supported the resolution introduced by City Councilor Jason Perry, with City Councilor Juan Oropesa casting the sole dissenting vote.
The resolution takes effect immediately, meaning all city employees, as of today, are permitted to carry concealed firearms on city property.
Proponents of gun rights and opponents of the resolution spoke before the City Council debated the topic in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
Perry said he introduced the resolution in part because of the shooting at the Clovis library in late August. He said having a no-gun policy in the workplace denies city employees their constitutional rights to carry a weapon.
“When you have a no-gun campus, all that means is good guys don’t have guns,” Perry said. “Gun-free just means good guys don’t get to protect themselves. I know that firsthand.”
Perry said prospective mass murderers intentionally target places where guns are prohibited, such as municipal buildings and churches.
“Bad guys choose places that are soft,” Perry said. “Bad guys are sissies. They don’t man up, they don’t go where there’s a fair fight. They go into churches and they shoot elderly ladies and they shoot children in churches. Bad guys go into City Council chambers and cause havoc.”
Perry said the state Constitution prevents municipalities from prohibiting firearms in the workplace.
“So I personally believe we are just bringing ourselves back underneath the authority of the Constitution with this,” Perry said.
City Councilor Steve Henderson said those who seek concealed-carry permits have to undergo extensive training and be able to demonstrate competence with a firearm.
“The bad guys always have the guns,” Henderson said. “It’s the good guys that go in with the guns that get rid of the bad guys.”
Oropesa said good people who carry guns sometimes are the perpetrators of violence, referencing the murder case of Tai Chan, an off-duty Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who authorities say fatally shot another deputy at a Las Cruces hotel in October 2014 after a night of drinking and arguing.
“Sometimes anger is a bad emotion, and when you mix anger with guns, things are going to happen,” Oropesa said. “Some individuals are able to control the anger, some of them are not.”
Oropesa said being armed does not increase one’s chances of surviving a gun attack.
“My philosophy is that everybody in this world is born to die, and we are predestined to die at some point in our life,” Oropesa said. “Regardless of whether you have a gun or you don’t have a gun, if God says it’s your time up, your time’s up. That gun is not going to keep you here on earth.
“I don’t believe that more guns in the community is a helpful thing. I think it leads to the opportunity to have more bad situations.”
City Councilor Barry Foster said those trained in firearms are more capable of defending themselves.
“I do believe that the only thing that stops a person with a gun is another gun, because I don’t think a sign is going to stop somebody,” Foster said. “I tend to believe that concealed carry stops crime.”
Perry said the concealed-carry resolution is not a mandate, just an option for city employees.
“I’m just wanting to give people an opportunity,” Perry said. “No one is making anyone do anything, we’re just giving people an opportunity to choose for themselves if they would like the ability to feel safe and protect themselves with a firearm.”
Chaves County allows its employees to carry concealed weapons in the workplace.
Editor Jeff Tucker can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.