Pistol Packin' Politicos

It's a fair bet that your favorite Dade big shot is a sure shot, too

"I have very little patience for criminals," Kurzman sighs. "To me, if somebody commits an armed robbery or any other act of violence, they should be put in jail and the key should be thrown away. They shouldn't be allowed to get out on parole, and they should stay there the rest of their life. Then I'd be happy."

Miami City Commissioner J.L. Plummer is another advocate of publicly pumping one's iron when necessary. "Yes, sir, I have a gun," he states matter-of-factly. "It's for self-protection." Plummer says he decided to arm himself back in 1978, when ex-cop and former San Francisco city supervisor Dan White shot and killed the Golden Gate city's Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, after binging on Twinkies. "I was concerned," says Plummer, whose weapon of choice is a Glock 9mm. "Very concerned."

It's not clear whether Plummer was afraid one of his ex-peers on the commission might be on the verge of a homicidal rampage. "I'm just looking out for J.L.," he says.

Of course, Plummer isn't alone. Who can forget the picture of Alex Muxo, the city manager of Homestead, marching through his town's wind-ravaged streets with a tiny tin star pinned to his sweat-stained shirt and a revolver strapped to his hip?

It's unclear where Miami Beach Commissioner Abe Resnick straps his piece; he didn't return phone calls for this article. But North Bay Village Mayor Paul Vogel is known to keep a gun neatly tucked in an ankle holster, at least every now and then. And fellow mayors Tobie Wilson (Medley) and Pedro Reboredo (West Miami) also have concealed-weapons permits.

"I own a number of guns," Reboredo happily volunteers. "I took advantage of getting a permit in case I ever decided to go in a certain area where my security might be at risk." As mayor, he explains, he has ridden along on several undercover drug stings, "and that revived my awareness of the crime problem in our neighborhoods."

Cesar Odio, Miami city manager, was offended that he'd been lumped in with a bunch of elected officials. "I'm not a politician. Why am I on your list?" he asked. "I have a permit, but I don't usually carry a gun on me. Sometimes I do have a gun in my car. During an emergency like Hurricane Andrew, if I went out after curfew, I would carry the gun on me."

Odio says he purchased his gun a few years ago, after there was a threat on his life.

"Whenever you are in a campaign, you worry about your safety," affirms Republican State Sen. Roberto Casas (39th Dist.). "You want to be protected. I've got a few guns."

Frank Wolland, a councilman for the City of North Miami and an attorney, applied for and received a permit when the state first made them available in October of 1987. (Before the state consolidated and streamlined the process, concealed-weapons permits were issued by individual counties.) Wolland has since let his permit expire, although he still keeps a handgun or two around the house. "A little .38 caliber," he says.

And what made him apply for a permit in the first place?
"That way if any fuckin' bellhops give me a hard time, I'll just blow them away," the attorney guffaws.

"No, no," he continues, in an attempt to regain his composure. "I really do have a good reason to have a gun-carry permit. It is a violent society. As a lawyer I've had several cases where people have been shot. In my last case, a client got killed right out from under me."

A criminal case?
"No, this is all divorce stuff," he shrugs. "But if I was a judge or a prosecutor, I would absolutely still carry a gun." (According to the State Division of Licensing, 221 Florida judges have permits to carry a concealed weapon. As shown in the sidebar on page *TK, *TK of those judges sit on the bench in Dade.)

Once, Wolland says, a client of one of his partners got mad about the legal service he was receiving. It seemed he thought he wasn't getting his money's worth. "The guy came up here and beat the you-know-what out of that lawyer for a security deposit," Wolland recounts. "Now, while this was going on, another lawyer in this office -- I won't say who -- went in with a gun. And guess what? The guy that was doing the beating stopped. He understood that this is not acceptable behavior, because he didn't want to get a bad case of lead poisoning."

The round metal ball tore through Alexander Hamilton's right side, shattering several ribs before destroying the Revolutionary War hero's liver. He looked across the twenty paces that separated him from his adversary, Vice President Aaron Burr. A wisp of smoke rose from Burr's pistol and a slight smile crept across his face. Horror struck Hamilton as thoughts of his seven soon-to-be-fatherless children raced through the treasury secretary's mind. "I am a dead man," Hamilton declared, falling to the ground with a bad case of lead poisoning.

Actually, Hamilton didn't die until the next day, July 12, 1804. But the lesson is still clear: Bad things can happen when politicians play with guns. A further example is to be found in the life of Andrew "Stonewall" Jackson. Before he became this country's seventh president, Jackson was seriously wounded when he was ambushed by Thomas Hart Benton, an eventual U.S. senator from Missouri, and Benton's brother, in a bar.

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