Posted on: January 22, 2024, 03:24h.
Last updated on: January 22, 2024, 03:24h.
The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission (NRGC) spent $30,351 on semi-automatic rifles for its 10 investigators, The Lincoln Journal Star reports.
The purchase has raised eyebrows in Lincoln, the state capital. Some lawmakers have questioned whether it’s strictly necessary for an agency primarily tasked with enforcing gaming regulations in the state’s new casino industry to be packing fully outfitted SIG Sauer MPX rifles with laser sights.
The additional revelation that the weapons were purchased before the agency had bought any new vehicles for its expanded team may have caused even more strain to the eyebrows of Lincoln politicos. The agency currently has just two cars, according to the Journal Star.
Before the advent of casinos in 2022, when the NRGC was focused solely on regulating horse racing, it had just one investigator. Now, its ranks have swelled tenfold.
‘Active Shooter Threat’
NRGC investigator Steve Eppens was forced to defend the purchase to the Journal Star this week. He said that in the event of an active shooter in a casino or racetrack, NRGC agents would have “a duty to intervene and eliminate the threat.”
“We’re in this profession to protect the public. That’s what we do,” he added.
A shoulder-fired rifle like the SIG MPX, is more accurate than a handgun in such an emergency, minimizing the risk to innocent bystanders.
Meanwhile, Eppens emphasized that all NRGC investigators are considered deputy state sheriffs under state law and have the power to make arrests.
Tried to Cancel
However, when questions started being raised in the state capitol building, records show that Eppens tried to cancel the order.
I just received a directive from my director that we need to suspend our order of the SIG MPX’s effective immediately,” he wrote to the supplier in November. “There has [sic] been some political issues that have surfaced regarding purchase of equipment and its deployment.
“Our hope is we can work through this and revisit the order of these rifles soon as they are a very important piece of equipment for the protection of the public as well as officer safety,” he wrote.
But it was too late. The supplier could not cancel the order because the guns were being custom-fitted and the work had already begun.