Vol. 10, No. 32

August 8-14, 2002

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Pistol-Packing Papa, Lay That Pistol Down

Of the three people applying to be Anne Arundel County’s next executive, one carries a secret weapon. Make that a concealed weapon. And put it in the arsenal of Republican Phillip Bissett, who revealed his preference for self-protection while unveiling his views on public safety last week.

Bissett told the Annapolis Capital he has held a permit for a concealed weapon since threats were made against his family in 1992, after he was appointed to the Maryland House of Delegates. He won his District 30 seat a second time in 1994 but was unseated by Dick D’Amato in 1998.

Bissett was reported as saying he still sometimes carries the gun to which the permit entitles him, particularly when he’s with his children.

Fortunately for Executive Janet Owens, Bissett’s gun was not the weapon he used to attack her for what he called wasting taxpayers’ money by hiring a two-officer personal security detail. In that assault he slung words, not lead.

Should he be elected, he said he’d disdain the kind of police protection provided Owens, at her request, by the Anne Arundel County Police Department since she took office in December of 1998. Owens does not have an officer with her every minute of every day, but two officers are assigned full time to her protection.

Speaking in hypotheticals, Bissett allowed that he might carry his weapon should he become county executive.

“Under the law as it exists today, I can carry it. I am allowed to do that,” he was quoted as saying in the Capital.

An armed county executive remains a long way in the future. Before Bissett could carry both title and gun, he’d have to defeat his Republican opponent, Tom Angelis — an unarmed former Washington, D.C. police sergeant — in the September 10 primary. Then he’d have to overcome Democrat Owens in the November 5 general election.

Still, the possibilities invite speculation.

Should County Executive Bissett turn Anne Arundel County to the ways of the Wild Wild West, he’d be cutting back government spending in ways Dodge or Tombstone never dreamed of in their bad old days when only the sheriff packed a gun. An armed executive would not only save the salary the county pays for Owens’ security staff — an amount Bissett estimated at near one million dollars. Savings would soar from his combining law enforcement with his executive duties.

Nor would a pistol-packing executive have to waste much time on the prying press. After he shot back his answer to one wrong question, we might never ask a second one.

Pure speculation, such possibilities.

What’s certain now is that Candidate Bissett has made himself a target. And we’re not the only ones shooting.

“I was incredulous,” said primary opponent Angelis of Bissett’s armory. “We hopefully have gone past OK Corral philosophy.”

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly