(just because Arthur Magazine is closing up shop is no reason to start touting a rifle)

From the New York Times’ Joe LaPointe :

Security at sports arenas has been tightened in recent years, but it is still possible for an oddly dressed bearded man to walk into a major event at Madison Square Garden with a long rifle and not be questioned or searched.

That was what happened Wednesday night and last night at the Big East Conference men™s basketball tournament. The man was Mountaineer, the mascot for the University of West Virginia. He is also known as Brady Campbell, a senior majoring in wood science and technology.

He carries the rifle, which was not loaded, as part of a costume that includes a buckskin frontier suit, moccasins and a coonskin cap.

Did Campbell, who was not the mascot last season, expect to be more closely observed by security personnel in the heart of Midtown Manhattan?

œThey should have, he said.

Bobbi Mohrman, the spirit program coordinator for the university, said that previous mascots had been searched when entering the Garden. Last year, she said, the police thoroughly examined the Mountaineer and his rifle before allowing him in.

Madison Square Garden issued a statement last night that said: œThe Garden is in communication with the University of West Virginia with regard to the rifle prior to the tournament. It gets checked. We know it™s not loaded. We understand it is a part of his costume.

Campbell said that the rifle was a .45-caliber and œnot a musket. It is more than four feet long and made of curly maple and brass. Although the gun shoots only powder, there have been mishaps, Campbell said. In the early 1970s, he said, a mascot lost fingers in a firing accident.