No laws were broken when a Chatham town employee left a BB gun in a desk at the town offices. Even so, the unbelievable lack of judgment and tone deafness that led the person to bring the realistic-looking pistol into a public building and workplace in the first place warrants their dismissal.
The owner told police the pistol was in a laptop bag and was put in the desk drawer before they went to a meeting in another building. There was no indication of how long the BB gun was in the drawer, but employees had not been working in the building since late April, when a power surge heavily damaged its electrical systems. Workers moving the desk to access equipment discovered the pistol May 25.
Even though they weren't in the building, town staff – and the public – should have been notified of the discovery immediately. Town Manager Jill Goldsmith sent an email about the incident to employees on June 3, the day after an administrative investigation by the town's human resources director concluded. That's the same day The Chronicle began making inquiries. By then, rumors about a “gun” discovered at the town offices were blowing up on social media.
Is dismissal of the employee, who has not been identified, too severe a punishment? We don't think so, given the recent spate of shootings and the national discussion about gun control and gun safety. Goldsmith declined to say what sort of disciplinary action will be taken; what's called for here is a message of zero tolerance, and that should entail firing the employee.