Commissioners packin’ heat

Are two Clark County commissioners violating the county’s concealed weapons policy?

At a board time discussion last week, Commissioner Steve Stuart dropped some knowledge. He leaned over to Commissioner Tom Mielke and, in an off-hand sort of way, said the two of them could be violating a county policy. That policy: Prohibiting concealed weapons.

Stuart said he didn’t know there was a policy against having concealed weapons, so he and Mielke directed staff to look at what it is. After all, members of the public may roam the Public Service Building with their weapons firmly holstered, so long as they have a conceal carry license. The question, Stuart said, was: if citizens have the ability to bring concealed weapons into the building, why aren’t employees afforded the same luxury?

But there’s another question: Does this mean Stuart and Mielke are packin’ heat?

“The comment is self explanatory,” Stuart said, when I called him about the matter last week.

Pressed further, Stuart said: “It’s no shock to anyone that I have a conceal carry permit, and Tom does as well.”

He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Commissioner David Madore had one too.

Well, that’s reassuring. If you’re at all familiar with the delicate relationship between commissioners, you’d know that having a majority of them armed could raise some concerns. It’s one thing when meetings explode into verbal fireworks — as they often do — it would be another thing if they ended up in a literal Mexican standoff.

At yesterday’s board meeting, a little bit of clarity was shed on the matter. Prohibiting employees from carrying firearms is outlined in the county human resource’s workplace violence clause.

Today, I received a note from Francine Reis, the county’s human resources director, which clarifies what the policy is:

There is a section of the county’s Workplace Violence Policy that addresses firearms in the workplace. Under the policy, most employees are prohibited from bringing weapons into the workplace. The workplace policy is different from the laws that pertain to citizens who are not at work. The County Administrator (not HR) followed up directly with the Board of County Commissioners.

In other words, commissioners should keep their guns at home, whatever those guns might be.

I didn’t ask what kind of gat Stuart carries because I prefer to imagine it’s a .357 Magnum, like the one Dirty Harry wields. Mielke, on the other hand, clearly holsters a pearl-handled revolver for those moments when he demands satisfaction.

So, what I’ve learned is even though commissioners conceal their weapons, it doesn’t prevent them from shooting off their mouths. (Zing!)

Tyler Graf

Tyler Graf

I started working for The Columbian in 2012 and currently cover Clark County. I'm a 2007 graduate of The University of Oregon. Contact me at

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