Mayor of Fresno blasts plan to let more city employees carry guns

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- City Council Member Garry Bredefeld has gone from God to guns. He was behind the move to put "In God We Trust" on the wall at City Hall. He now wants to let city employees who have permits to carry concealed weapons, CCW's, to be allowed to carry guns at work.

"I just think it's very important for people to exercise their right if they have a CCW permit and they've gone through all their training. They should be able to exercise the rights of that permit. Because people who have CCW permits are lawful, responsible citizens."

The proposal goes on next week's City Council agenda-- under current rules the City Manager decides which city employees, outside of police officers, can carry weapons while working. Mayor Lee Brand believes it should stay that way.

"If there is a worker out there who has a CCW and has a specific problem or threat then there's a channel, but to simply blanket everybody can do it, creates huge liability problems for the city of Fresno."

Police Chief Jerry Dyer is against allowing anybody and everybody with a permit to carry guns on the job.

"I believe the decision should be made on a case by case basis depending on the employees, work assignment, work history, the level of training they are provided," Dyer said. "Not everyone should poses a firearm."

Any new rule allowing workers to carry guns would have to be negotiated with city unions.

Dee Barnes is president of the Fresno City Employees Association. She said members of her union are divided on the idea, but she personally sees problems.

"Although some people, I know Council Member Bredefeld believes we would be safer, not everybody shares that view. You hear a lot more about accidental shootings then you do about the hero that was able to save the day."

Mayor Brand is also concerned about workplace violence and said that he will veto the measure it if passes the council.

"I don't see this being approved by the council-- I would veto it."

But Bredefeld said he will press on.

"I'm a firm believer people should exercise their rights, and if you have a CCW permit you should be able to carry it whether you work for the city or not."

Mayor Brand notes he was behind changing the law to make it easier for law abiding citizens to get concealed carry permits, but also notes the training and qualifications for those permits are minimal. And adds, once a city employee is authorized by the city to carry a gun, the city could be liable if they shoot someone.

The measure is expected to be debated at next Thursday's City Council meeting.
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