Keep your knife at home, sir

I was at the Chisago County Board of Commissioners’ annual truth-in-taxation hearing, this year held at Lindstrom City Hall because of construction on the government center, when a man in the audience asked the board if he could speak, as he didn’t realize the time for public comment had already passed.
The board would have been well within its right to deny the man’s request, but the commissioners are usually affable to listening to what the public has to say, so they told the man he could talk.
He then proceeded to reach into his pocket, grab a knife and unfold it in front of them.
Granted, it wasn’t like he had just produced a machete and waived it at everyone — the blade might have been about 3 inches long or so — but what he was showing them, in my opinion, could definitely be construed as a weapon.
His complaint: The last time he went into the county government center to pay his property taxes, he had to go through the secure entrance, empty his pockets and walk through a metal detector. He said the guards held onto his pocket knife while he attended to his business in the government center, an action which he found to be a violation of his rights and privacy.
He thought only people who were coming to the government center for court cases should have to empty their pockets and go through the metal detector.
I’m usually at the government center once a week, maybe once every other week. The guards there know me, and if I really pushed the envelope, maybe they’d let me in without me having to empty my pockets and go through the metal detector. But you know what? I’m not just going to ask them to simply let me in. I don’t find it much of an inconvenience to go through that security, as it only takes a couple of minutes, if that. And if there are other people waiting in line and I just bypassed the security, they’d probably wonder why I didn’t have to go through the metal detector, which might make them nervous.
County Commissioner Mike Robinson made a good point to the guy who wanted to keep his pocket knife on him while he was in the government center. He told him that the security procedures were for the safety of all government center employees, not just the people who work in the courts.
“Employees who work in every department of the government center have been threatened by people,” Robinson said to him.
Then, during his multiple-minute-long spiel, the man uttered a phrase as part of his argument that I thought to be really distasteful: “I know box cutters have brought down planes, but …”
That, right there, I thought refuted his own logic. People can be injured or even killed by small weapons, which was the case in airplanes on 9/11. I also thought it was distasteful that this man decided to address this topic, during a public meeting, on Dec. 2, the same day that two murderers gunned down 14 people and injured 21 others in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
It’s very unfortunate, sad really, that our schools, courthouses, government centers and various other buildings that the public should be able to move freely about in funnel people through one secure entry point and keep all other doors locked. But with nearly one mass shooting every day in the United States, that’s the reality in which we now live.
So, sir, if you want to pay your property taxes in person at the government center, keep your knife at home.

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