Mayor Jean Stothert packing heat — but not at City Hall - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 9:41 am
Mayor Jean Stothert packing heat — but not at City Hall

Mayor Jean Stothert is now the proud owner of a black, Austrian-made Glock 26 pistol.

But you might not be able to tell when she's packing. The mayor says she's awaiting delivery of a state concealed-carry handgun permit.

“It is not an issue of being afraid,” Stothert said Friday. “It's an issue of not being afraid to protect myself.”

“Because it is the law, I wanted to really understand what went on in that concealed-carry class,” she added. “I thought, as mayor, I needed to understand.”

Stothert's compact weapon — dubbed the “Baby Glock” by many aficionados — is cited by its manufacturer as the “most sought-after concealed carry option since its release in 1994.”

Stothert said she and her husband recently completed a basic handgun training and safety course, part of the requirements to legally carry a concealed handgun under state law. She said she purchased the firearm for the class, and learned to shoot it there.

Stothert has expressed concern once before about elected officials being targeted by gunmen. But in this instance, she said, “I really wanted to be able to be educated.”

The mayor also used an interview about her new gun to emphasize her staunch support for gun rights.

“I always say I like to lead by example, and I want to lead by example with this also — to say that it's your right to be able to be a responsible gun owner. And I do believe that responsible gun ownership is gun control.”

Stothert made a similar argument when her predecessor, former Mayor Jim Suttle, injected gun control into the mayoral campaign. Then-Councilwoman Stothert said Suttle's plans would erode Second Amendment gun rights.

Omaha's struggles with gun-related violence are still on regular display, though the mayor emphasized local shootings rarely involve responsible gun owners.

Her gun, she said, sends a strong message.

“People have a right. They have a right according to the Second Amendment,” Stothert said. “And I feel like I want to let people understand that I agree with that right, and I don't think that restricting gun ownership from responsible gun owners is the way that you address irresponsible (owners), and gun crimes and gun violence in a city.

“You're not going to be able to restrict guns with responsible people and reduce the gun violence; you're just not.”

Stothert's pistol wasn't available for viewing Friday. The mayor said she won't carry her handgun at City Hall.

“If there is the occasion that I feel like I want to carry it, now I will be able to,” she said. “But I don't have any intention of carrying it here while I'm at work.”

Members of Stothert's staff already do. Stothert's has a rotating security detail of retired Omaha police officers. Chief of Staff Marty Bilek — a retired Douglas County sheriff's deputy — recently won the right to carry his old service weapon at work.

Because the City-County Building doesn't allow weapons, Stothert had to seek permission from the Omaha Douglas Public Building Commission for Bilek's gun.

In her request, Stothert raised the prospect of gunmen targeting random citizens or elected officials in a mass shooting.

“Our request for him to carry a weapon inside city hall is simply another layer of caution,” Stothert said at the time.

Stothert said she's been threatened before, in phone calls and emails that she declined to elaborate on. The mayor said she hasn't been threatened since taking office.

“I feel very safe and secure at work. I feel very safe and secure in my home,” the mayor said. “But again, I feel like its a right, and I wanted to exercise my right.”

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