New Mexico’s tough reputation at risk

Ned Cantwell

New Mexico has such a difficult time defining herself. Tough law and order state grounded in the shoot-em-up traditions of the Old West? Or do we spend our afternoons drinking fancy tea from fine china, pinkie extended?
You just can’t tell from recent news events.
On the one hand, there is the encouraging story out of Santa Fe that would indicate New Mexico is muy macho. I refer to the state Supreme Court decision that struck down a challenge to the law that allows us, finally, to carry concealed weapons.
Last time I checked, less than 100 people had applied for a concealed gun permit. So you’re saying, 100 people, big deal. Don’t get cocky. Before you go smarting off to anyone, remember, you don’t know which 100 they are.
Concealed weapons are not for everyone. Here are some dos and don’ts.
> DO carry a hidden gun if you close your business at midnight and are transporting the day’s take to the bank’s night deposit vault.
> DON’T carry a concealed weapon to church because your preacher goes on and on and on.
> NEVER carry a weapon, concealed or not, when you have business at a Department of Motor Vehicles office. Instead, arm yourself with a copy of War and Peace.
Gov. Bill Richardson, who signed the law, was tickled with the court’s decision upholding concealed weapons. “It’s a great day for gun-owner rights,” the governor said. Betcha Bill wears a big belt buckle.
Former Albuquerque Mayor Jim Baca said the court decision stinks. “I think this will be a more dangerous place for children and other living beings,” Baca said. Some crumpets with that tea, Jim?
Those of us who take our coffee black and our salsa hot adopted a jaunty gait after the high court gun decision. Alas, it was a case of premature jubilation. Just when we thought New Mexico was getting tough, we were stopped dead in our tracks when the cowardly school officials in Rio Rancho reduced the sentence for that kid they had busted for taking Gas-X to school.
You probably read about 13-year-old Jerome. On doctor’s orders, he put some Gas-X in his backpack and not only failed to check it in with the front office, but shared it with friends.
Proving its drug policy is not only zero tolerant but brain dead, the school promptly kicked this little troublemaker out for five days, making life safe for eighth graders everywhere.
But did the school stick with this tough policy? Oh, no. Caving in to public pressure from fancy tea drinkers, they let the boy back in after three days, reducing the suspension to “time served.”
Being a 13-year-old boy is tough enough. For one thing, you have to dress for gym class in front of furtive eyes. Add to that making his digestive system a matter of public record and you’ve screwed the kid up pretty good.
Jerome’s photo was on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal. The picture caption did not say, “the kid with gas problems,” but it might as well have.
Thanks Rio Rancho. The floodgates are open. It’s Gas-X today, Ex-Lax tomorrow.

Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. Contact him at