Twenty thousand motorcycles were coming, but despite that vroom-vroom until two in the morning and beyond, our hip but sleepy village inspired wanderlust for brighter lights.
Just my luck. Baking under the Phoenix sun, we get word Ruidoso is suddenly the news hotspot of New Mexico. TV trucks running around, reporters hustling here and there with serious faces and live microphones.
(Albuquerque TV was soon to forsake us, enamored by the firing of New Mexico Lobo football coach Mike Locksley. Listen to this. One news station sent up a helicopter to peek over the Locksley block wall to see which cars were in the driveway. I’m serious. It is perhaps the worst moment in New Mexico journalism ever. Ever! He’s a coach, not a terrorist. Get over it!)
We knew before leaving Ruidoso Mayor Ray Alborn had issued an executive order banning guns from village buildings. Made sense to us. Yawn. When’s the next bus to the big city? It turned out, however, the issue was explosive.
The uproar all began when area resident Tony Seno, gun in holster, approached the podium to speak at a city council meeting. The mayor said no go. Alborn, himself a former head football coach at Rice University, called the wrong defense.
He stopped Seno dead at the line of scrimmage, but the gun-totin’ libertarian dropped back and threw a perfect spiral to the National Rifle Association. Those folks don’t take lightly any kind of weapon ban.
Were you writing a novel about Ruidoso, you would probably sketch a character like Tony Seno. The outspoken Mr. Seno is an occasional headline on the news and opinion pages. He brought us widespread notoriety a few years ago when he sued the county commission because it would not let him address the meeting without removing his cowboy hat.
Tony cited violation of his First Amendment rights, the premise apparently resting on the assumption you can’t talk with a bare head. Now banned by Alborn, Tony wrote an impassioned letter to the Ruidoso News proclaiming some nonsense along the lines that down the road, when all hell breaks loose, he would not fire the first shot but he just might fire the second.
It made me want to rush out to my local Red Box and rent a whole bunch of John Wayne movies.
Mayor Alborn’s executive order got the gun people up in arms and lots of them from various New Mexico cities showed up packing heat at a subsequent city council meeting. The protest to the council was long and loud, proclaiming the city is violating constitutional rights.
This last Tuesday the city council took up the issue. From their comments it was evident they would rather invite a bear to the city cookout than stare at guns during council meetings. However, they reversed the mayor’s ban on guns from certain city buildings. They found it shaky on legal grounds, potentially expensive to defend, and unenforceable.
Alborn can be gruff and often shoots from the hip. But he is not the total despot the gun crowd would make him out to be. The mayor sought to accomplish the right objective, but perhaps went about it in the wrong way.
I will never understand, even if legally permissible, why anyone other than a police officer needs to carry a loaded gun into a city council meeting.
And this. Am I to interpret the law to mean guns are permissible on public golf courses? That’s scary. The guys I play with are notoriously ill-mannered and volatile. A duffer who will slam his three wood into a tree trunk is not to be trusted with a Luger.
Too, there is the matter of athletic proficiency. I don’t know if Ray Alborn personally owns guns, but I will tell you this. I’ve played golf with the mayor and the man’s aim is just horrible.
Finally, a note from gun loving, Annie Get Your AK-47 Phoenix. A city spokesman told me you can’t carry guns in city hall and certainly not into council meetings.
Have a nice day.
Ned Cantwell welcomes response at firstname.lastname@example.org