When David Magerman confronted his now-former boss, the now-former co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, over Robert Mercer’s support for President Trump, he may have been putting himself at mortal as well as professional danger. That’s because, in spite of the fact that the encounter occurred in notoriously gun-owner-unfriendly Manhattan, Mercer may well have packing.
You see, in addition to his many other unusual enthusiasms, Mercer’s a bit of a gun nut. He likes showing his collection off, and even has a special underground vault in Manhattan to house it. And as any gun nut would, he’d really like to be able to pack heat. This is difficult in the greater New York area, where concealed carry permits are harder to obtain than underground armories or decent help. Luckily for Mercer, the National Rifle Association—in the guise of the United States Congress—crafted a handy loophole for him way back in 2004: All he needed to do, in addition to co-running one of the largest hedge funds in the world and violating whatever data-privacy he needed to undermine democracy around the world, was become a cop. Happily enough for Mercer and his fellows, a small town in New Mexico was looking for some part-time cops on the cheap. Plus, being a reservist for the Lake Arthur police sounds like fun, other than the part about getting to the town, which is about 20 miles southeast of the bustling metropolis of Roswell.
For most of the past six years, as Mercer became one of the country’s political kingmakers, he was also periodically policing Lake Arthur, according to the department. If he followed Norwood’s protocols—and Norwood insists no volunteers get special treatment—he would’ve patrolled at least six days a year. He would’ve paid for travel and room and board, and supplied his own body armor and weapon….
Over our own lunch at Piccolino, the Italian place, Chief Norwood passed me a copy of his department’s newsletter, the Blue Heeler. One picture shows reservists training in a two-man sniper-spotter team. The sniper is kitted out in a mesh veil for camouflage and appears to be firing from inside a kitchen. Another shows a door with a hole blasted through it, the result of an exercise in “explosive breaching.” The newsletter gave the impression that Norwood was running his department as a sort of high-octane club for guys who subscribe to Guns & Ammo. It was hard to imagine these skills being put to heavy use in Lake Arthur, where reservists’ official duties include finding lost pets….
It’s not clear exactly when or how Mercer became aware of Lake Arthur’s reserve corps. But he became an officer on Dec. 10, 2011, and since then, Mercer and his son-in-law have supported the town generously. Their foundation underwrote a grant for some Lake Arthur officers to get SWAT training in Las Vegas…. Mercer and Wells left the department last September….