Skip to comments.Gun 'bullies' spread fear in Augusta
Posted on 05/12/2005 6:59:57 AM PDT by Fido969
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
COLUMN: Bill Nemitz
Gun 'bullies' spread fear in Augusta
Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc. E-mail this story to a friend
She knows that simply asking the question is enough to set them off. But Cathie Whittenburg, executive director of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, can't help herself.
"What ever happened to civility?" Whittenburg asked Tuesday as her group's legislative agenda - or what's left of it - limped toward the end of the session. "There's a level of anger here that you don't see with other bills. And these people, you know, are armed!"
Responsible gun owners, step away from your computer keyboards. Whittenburg is the first to acknowledge that the nasty e-mails and telephone messages surrounding Maine's never-ending debate over firearms come not from mainstream hunters or target shooters or collectors. Rather, she blames them on "the bullies" who attack anything they consider a threat to their beloved Second Amendment.
But lately, those bullies have Whittenburg worried. Last week's story out of Augusta - that state Sen. Ethan Strimling, D-Portland, had forwarded three pieces of hate mail to the Attorney General's Office, including one from the "No Warning Headshot Photo Lab for Freedom" - is but one example of what Whittenburg calls a stepped-up offensive against anyone who dares submit a bill containing the word "firearm." (Strimling apparently put himself in the cross hairs by proposing that Maine adopt a statewide ban on assault weapons.)
"It's really unfortunate for people who are brave enough to sponsor these bills," Whittenburg said. "If your name is on a (firearms) bill, you get slammed."
"Absolutely," agreed Rep. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, during a break at the State House. It wasn't long after she submitted a bill last January calling for a 10-day waiting period on firearms sales to anyone younger than 22, Craven said, that she began getting cryptic calls and e-mails telling her, "You're going to be sorry you did this."
Granted, that could mean her bill, which by Tuesday had been watered down almost beyond recognition, could cost Craven re-election. Or it could mean something else.
"I grew up in Ireland, where you get very sensitive to threats and anything involving weapons," said Craven. When the first threats began showing up on her phone machine and computer last winter, she said, "I became very concerned. I remember thinking, 'Gee, I even have these legislative plates on my car . . .' "
Rep. Deborah Pelletier-Simpson, D-Auburn, knows the feeling. She sponsored a bill this session that would tax firearm sales and use the money to improve security in Maine's courthouses. As a victim of domestic violence six years ago, Pelletier-Simpson knew firsthand what it's like to sit in the courthouse lobby afraid that all hell might break loose.
Earlier in the session, Pelletier-Simpson's response to one nasty e-mail about her bill (the tax part has been stripped out, she said, while the rest of the proposal is "on life support") found its way to an ultra-conservative Web site. She came home from a weekend away to find her answering machine full of messages - all from men, all screaming, all saying "I had no right to represent people. I should resign my office . . . "
"They were all kind of veiled threats," said Pelletier-Simpson. "By the time I finished listening, I was in tears. It was frightening."
Then there's Rep. Carole Grose, D-Woolwich, who co-sponsored Strimling's assault-weapons bill - but isn't sure she'd do it again.
The bill died before a legislative committee on Friday - yet Grose's telephone rang every 15 minutes all weekend ("Sometimes I listened. Other times I just held the phone out and let them go.") and her e-mail inbox was still smoking as late as Monday night.
"One of them called me an 'enemy of the country,' " Grose said, adding that by the time she had waded through the page-and-a-half diatribe, "I felt like I had a target on my back."
"For what we get paid up here, it's not worth it to me," said Grose. "How do I know there isn't some radical person out there who's actually going to do something?"
It's not a rhetorical question. Whittenburg, of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, has a story in her news archives about 20-year-old Michael Breit of Illinois, who in November was convicted of illegally receiving explosive materials with intent to kill, injure or intimidate people.
It seems Breit accidentally discharged his AK-47 in his apartment a year ago, and police who responded found a hit list of public figures who were, he later told police, "marked to die" for their liberal or anti-gun views.
"I truly believe we're talking about a minority here," Whittenburg said. "But it can be a real threat."
That's exactly what Strimling thought when he forwarded his hate mail to the AG's office last week. The postcard from the "No Warning Headshot Photo Lab for Freedom" not only called him a "treasonous Jew," he said, but it also ended with the words, "Triangulation squad at hearing on Monday 10 a.m. In your face debate, traitor."
"I didn't get it until after the hearing," Strimling said. "Had I gotten it before, I probably wouldn't have gone."
Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:
Anyway, thing did not go as planned for the libs. There was a large turnout against the bill, and the main sponsor was unable to defend the bill against pointed questioning by the committee. In addition, he was unable to support his antigun rhetoric, and came off looking like a complete fool. By the time the day was done, some, if not all of his co-sponsors withdrew their support of the bill.
It was such a humiliating defeat that the lefties needed to do something to get their self-respect back.
For a liberal, self-respect is being able to call yourself a victim. So about a week ago they started peddling to the press this rabid-gun-nut threats business.
I am sure that there are a few morons out there that made jerks of themselves, but I consider that the general tone of politics has become less civil recently. (The more the left loses, the less civil the debate, BTW)
While the MSM loves to "expose" any flake on the right that pops up, they pretty much ignore the "Behead Bush" bumper stickers that I see on cars in Portland and have buried the acts of violence during the election (shooting into opponenets' headquarters, storming political offices and beating campaign workers) that were done almost exclusively by the anti-Bush crowd.
I think it is because they secretly agree with tactics of overt violence when performed by the left.
Conservatives are held to a much different standard.
----"I grew up in Ireland, where you get very sensitive to threats and anything involving weapons," said Craven.---
Then you should have stayed there if you want laws like ireland. Don't come to a country and try to change it into the one you left.
Liberals sure hate when the "people speak" - they would rather have good slaves and serf that don't complain...
Yes, we are. However, any real threat except that of being recalled or losing their job in the next election is unwarranted, anyway.
In these days of caller ID, it is doubtful that any such (real threats)existed or the law enforcement community would be involved, looking for felony suspects. The media conveniently skirt this little fact.
As for how someone feels, they can read anything into a statement they want, that does not make it a threat.
If we argue for civility and deliver anything less we not only play into their hands, but undermine the old saw that "An armed society is a polite society". Let's not forget that the sympathy vote exists out there among the libs and leave the whining and threatening to them.
"One of them called me an 'enemy of the country,' " Grose said
For a Second Amendment case, she makes a great argument from Second Grade doesn't she?
"Oh these big bullies are hurting me!" "It's just not fair!"
Their ideas continue to be dangerous to our freedom, but these are NOT serious people.
That great line jumped out at me.
You threw it aside by assaulting the rights of peaceful citizens who were simply minding their own business, Cathie.
It's great to see the Constitution at work, isn't it? If people in government are feeling threatened when they propose to take away the peoples' liberty, that's exactly what was intended by the founders.
"An armed society is a polite society." - Robert Heinlein.
It seems that this is the new liberal tactic to change the subject. More and more when a lib gets pinned down on an issue they start screaming about "death threats" they have been receiving for their stance. I don't believe it half the time and when it does happen it's no different than the "loony tune" threats conservatives get when they oppose abortion or any other liberal hot button issue.
Man, I want that shirt...
"All I did was try to take it's bone... and it GROWLED at me! Oh the horror!"
Our Founders used the image of a rattle snake. "Don't Tread On Me". Sounds like the anti-gun liberals in Maine did some treading.
Sounds like you finally understand the 2nd Amendment. Good for you.