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In Print: On News Stands Now

BANKER WITH A GUN

by Tumbleweed Smith

When I ventured into the bank in Chappell Hill, bank president Ed Smith gave me a little history. "You're in the oldest bank in the United States that has never been closed. We didn't close for Roosevelt's bank holiday in 1933. Our establishing date is April 1, 1907. There's a lot of banks that are older, but they closed. We didn't. So we were here before the Federal Reserve and I hope we'll be here after it's gone."

Edward Smith likes guns. A sign in gold letters on the bank's front door reads: In respect to the second amendment if you have a concealed carry license, feel free and we encourage you to bring your firearm into the bank.

Ed says his is the only bank in the country that allows guns to be brought onto the premises. "When we put the sign on the door, the first person to come in here to talk about the sign was a woman who has been a client of the bank for a long time. She told me she was so thankful I did that because she had been carrying a gun into the bank for fifteen years but never said anything about it. Another woman came in a couple of days later and thanked me, saying she was tired of taking her pistol out of her purse and leaving it on the car seat when she came into the bank."

The sign has been up two years and has brought comments from around the world. "I have heard from people I haven't seen in thirty years, one in Portugal who told me I was all over the internet over there. They talk about that crazy Texan allowing guns in the bank."

Edward believes strongly that people should have the right to own guns. "I can name a lot of people who don't want you to have guns. Their names are Stalin, Hitler and Communists who want to disarm us. During World War Two, Japanese leaders said their country would never attack the US because there was a gun behind every blade of grass."

Mr. Smith has been a gun advocate for a long time. "My father was a hunter and gave me my first gun when I was nine. Texas is gun country, you know. Recently they put a man in California under psychiatric observation because he had a hundred guns in his house and maybe a million rounds of ammunition. In Texas he'd just be called a good ol' deer hunter."

Once Ed was interviewed on national radio and mentioned he had heard from everywhere but the left coast. Within an hour he had a call from a man who said he wanted to put a ten thousand dollar CD in the bank. He wanted to make sure Smith knew the bank was getting some left coast money. The call was from Hollywood.

The Chappell Hill Bank has been robbed six times. "The first four were Yankees. Next a woman robbed the bank with a knife, then a guy who robbed the bank stabbed the driver of the car he was in and the car crashed. All the robbers were caught. I was told years ago you don't rob a bank with a firearm, you use a fountain pen. You make a loan and don't pay it back."

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