I’ve been keeping this in the subscriber-only section and in the Capitol Fax, but I think it’s time to bring it out in the open here.
As I’ve told you before, Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) has been taking a public beating from the Illinois State Rifle Association since before he was elected last year. Kotowski was a gun control activist for years, and it rankles ISRA to no end that he was elected. Many of the group’s attacks have been way over the top (see here), and the breathless posturing may be bringing out the kooks.
The latest bit of drama came when Kotowski’s life was threatened. According to a spokesman, Kotowski turned over information, including copies of faxes, to the Illinois State Police, that his staff believed contained threatening material. Most of the calls and faxes were received by Kotowski’s staff (and volunteers, including his mother), so he left it up to them to decide which material to forward to the coppers, the spokesman said.
Some of those faxes were sent by a guy who didn’t actually threaten Kotowski. That person was visited by the police and ISRA tried to get out in front of the story earlier this week by claiming that Kotowski was infringing on its members’ First Amendment free speech rights. From an ISRA press release…
The ISRA is expressing great concern over reports that Illinois State Police (ISP) detectives have been visiting the homes of people who phoned or faxed Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) to express opposition to gun control legislation sponsored by the senator. The ISRA has recently conducted a thorough investigation into one complaint, and is gathering additional information on as many as several dozen other reported incidents of police questioning citizens who have spoken out against gun control legislation.
In the case investigated thus far, the respondent reports that ISP detectives arrived at his home, unannounced, and informed him that their visit was in response to faxes he sent to Sen. Kotowski. The detectives then went on to ask the citizen questions about his mental health and other personal matters. Although the citizen was not arrested, he reports that he feels that the detectives were there to deliver the message that it’s not a good idea to criticize Dan Kotowski or the gun control measures Kotowski supports.
Trouble is, that person wasn’t the only one calling or faxing Kotowski’s office. Kotowski himself sent out a release the other day that provided more details [emphasis added]…
llinois State Senator Dan Kotowski (D- Park Ridge) says threatening phone calls, faxes, and letters his office received during the past few months were handed over to local law enforcement including the Illinois State Police.
Kotowski says, “When someone calls my office saying, ‘I have a gun. I am going to come and kill you’, I have to worry about my safety, and the safety of our staff.” Kotowski added, “That is why I followed proper procedure and forwarded any correspondence with threatening material to the Illinois State Police.”
Kotowski also took a swipe at the Rifle Association…
Kotowski and his office staff received threats during the first few months of the Spring Legislative Session, most of which specifically referred to his sponsorship of gun safety legislation. “If Illinois State Rifle Association members were as law abiding and anti crime as they claim, then they would be the first to condemn these threats and help to champion the cause for measures designed to get guns away from those with criminal intent.”
The Rifle Association’s attack was picked up by several pro-gun blogs. Illinois Reason, a Democratic blog, has been following their activities and pointed readers to this particular quote from someone calling himself Bill St. Clair over at Claire Files….
Sounds to me like Sen. Kotowski deserves to be threatened. Why, if he were to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head three times, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
You can see more of this type of vitriol here (Kotowski treating the state police as “his personal goon squad), here (”Commissar” Kotowski), and here (numerous references to Nazis)
I’ll give Illinois Reason contributor Rob Nesvacil the last word…
It’s clear from this that the ISRA press release earlier in the week (and the follow-up release ostensibly condemning Father Michael Pfleger, but also throwing a false low-blow Sen. Kotowski’s way) were simplistic attempts to distract attention from the real heart of the police investigation — death threats against the Senator.
Here’s a reminder from junior high civics — the First Amendment doesn’t cover death threats. And the police take such threats damn seriously, especially in the wake of 9/11, etc.
Sen. Kotowski, despite the ongoing police investigation, has answered the ISRA’s petty demand for details as to why ISRA members received police visits.
It’s time for Richard Pearson and the ISRA to make good on their word and condemn the ne’er-do-wells who have allegedly threatened the Senator’s life. After months of heated vitriol, petty smears and outright lies from gun lobbyists attacking Sen. Kotowski’s work representing his constituents in our state capitol it would be a respectable change of pace for the ISRA and others to come out strongly against those making such death threats.
By the way, as far as I can tell, the mainstream media has completely ignored this story. Shame on them.
Also, just so there’s no misunderstanding if some lazy extremists decide that I’m an anti-gun partisan, I was one of the first to write about Father Pfleger’s over the top remarks about “snuffing out” pro-gun legislators and a gun shop owner. I backed up the Rifle Association on that debate, but turnabout is fair play. ISRA needs to denounce these threats against Kotowski, and it needs to do it now. Period.