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“I have a gun. I’m going to come and kill you.”

Friday, Jun 22, 2007

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.

Exactly.

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

89 Comments
  1. - Belle - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 9:19 am:

    I think these people who made the threats should be arrested, tried by a jury of their peers and convicted of capitol stupidity. As a gun owner I would hope that the NRA and ISRA would condemn these mouth breathing knuckle draggers for the crime they allegedly did commit instead of wrapping themselves around the First Amendment. I own a gun for protection against people who threaten me. Not to intimidate people into agreeing with me.


  2. - WTF! - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 9:38 am:

    I agree with Belle. I too own several guns but I do not belong to the ISRA or the NRA. Primarily because they are the right winged version of the ACLU -defenders of all gun nuts!

    By the way, I deer hunt (primarily with a bow) but I have yet to see a hunter use a semi-automatic rifle out in the woods to kill a deer. So don’t give me that crap that this is a slippery slope and soon the big bad government is going to take my gun away. And this argument that the Senator’s bill was drafted “in the blood” of the V-Tech tragedy is also a bunch of bs. Here’s an idea, how about we enforce laws to make gun shop owners accountable for selling weaponry to mentally unstable individuals. Oh, sorry I guess we would infringe on the individual’s constitutional rights. Give me a break.


  3. - NIEVA - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 9:45 am:

    Rich,How do you feel about the second adm. and my rights in gun ownership? Sometimes it’s really hard to tell where you stand.


  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 9:52 am:

    Nieva, what the heck does that have to do with death threats against a state legislator? If it’s hard to tell where I stand, then too bad for you. Instead of worrying about any biases I might have, why not comment on the threats and your beloved ISRA’s refusal to denounce them?


  5. - Belle - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:01 am:

    NIEVA - I think you just proved why dealing with ISRA and NRA is usually pointless. The issue today was a criminal act. You come back with where Rich stands. Here’s one for you NIEVA - Do you condone the use of threat, intimidation or force against people whose viewpoint happens to be the exact opposit of yours? Take a moment, unwrap yourself from the flag, swallow the apple pie and give me an answer please.


  6. - Values Matter - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:02 am:

    This is a very dark day for the NRA and the ISRA.
    Any responsible organization would have long ago condemned these vicious threats against a public official. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I am a strong supporter of expressing political views. I am a strong opponent of expressing your views through intimidation and threats.

    I would support a new kind of gun rights group, and I would strongly support having someone dissolve the NRA and the ISRA. It’s time gun owners have more responsible leadership. This is, frankly, completely embarrassing.


  7. - WTF! - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:02 am:

    How about the 6th commandment: “Thou shall not kill.” I think that one has been around a little longer.


  8. - NIEVA - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:13 am:

    If the senator was threatened the state police should be involved. But you must also understand that this senator is as anti gun as I am pro gun. Lets see where this goes before you blame a fine organization like the ISRA and the NRA. And if one of it’s members crossed the line and made these threats then prosecute them! But if these charges are baseless then you should make sure that you let people know that too.


  9. - Underdog - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    I think everyone has too little faith in the ISRA. I’m sure they are already on the phone to Cardinal George to make sure that he denounces these threats the way he denounced Father Pfleger.


  10. - Reality - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    I have said it all along. I have no problem with guns. I do have a problem with death threats, whether they come from Pfleger OR people who claim they are 2d Amendment supporters. If Kotowski is so bad, then beat him at the polls.


  11. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:28 am:

    There you go again blaming pro-gun people for making threatening calls. Did it ever occur to you that anti-gun people are making these calls pretending to be pro-gun. What happened to “presumed innocence?” You anti-gun bigots are too ready to believe anything negative about gun-owners. We have no reason to threaten anyone. We are the ones being threatened. (See www.isra.org for examples of how we are being threatened.)


  12. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:32 am:

    That Kool-Aid must taste awful good, PG.


  13. - NIEVA - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:40 am:

    Maybe if there is a con. con. we will be allowed to give Chicago to Wisconsin and the rest of the state can live the good life!


  14. - steve schnorf - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:46 am:

    AS I said yesterday, in our minds let’s put this little episode together with Con-Con and direct democracy.


  15. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:51 am:

    Rich: That’s the best you could do? Quote Bill O’Reilly from Fox TV?


  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:54 am:

    PG, all you have are completely unsubstantiated rumors that someone besides ISRA members are behind the death threats. Please remove the tinfoil hat. If you’re not willing to denounce a death threat, fine. But don’t try to hide behind ugly conspiracy theories. Thanks.


  17. - Rob_N - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:55 am:

    Nieva, The issue isn’t 2A. This matter could be about Dutch Elm Disease or dog licenses or tire disposal fees… The heart of the matter is that someone or some people made death threats — threats that the police believed serious enough to launch an investigation.

    Maybe the investigation will end up with charges being filed. Maybe it will reveal that the threats were hollow, if over-the-top, rhetoric.

    The point is the cops take such threats seriously, especially given the context

    Pro-gunner, How am I or anyone else a “bigot” for wanting to see reasonable oversight measures put in place to at least slow down the flood of deadly weapons in this country?

    I have no problem with the Second Amendment and with reasonable, law-abiding, decen gun owners in general. You want to own a gun? Go ahead.

    But it is my opinion as your fellow citizen that we need some sort of reasonable oversight. We have limits on our First Amendment and others (you can’t use “free speech” to libel or defame someone, nor can you use it to make threats or incite chaos or violence). When it comes to deadly weapons, it is unreasonable to not expect there to be some social parameters.

    As for your hypothesis, if it was anti-gun people pretending to be pro-gun, the cops will find out and us “bigots” will have egg on our face. It’s been known to happen but seeing as how the cops have been investigating this matter for some time now and talking with people who are indeed gun owners (as we know from the ISRA press release), it appears that occam’s razor is not on your side.

    And when folks on a variety of gun owners’ blogs are publishing similar threats, yeah, people prepare for the worst (Bill St. Clair is mentioned here, IllinoisCarry.com also has several threatening comments throughout its forums, as do others). Tim McVeigh was incited by G. Gordon Liddy’s exclamation to shoot ATF Agents in the head… We’ve seen this sort of thing play out before, and we know the ending. And when you know how it may end, you know what to do to try and prevent the worst from happening.

    PS: Who is threatening gun owners?

    If you own a 50 cal weapon, Kotowski’s bill grandfathers you in.

    Heck, if you have a legit professional reason — such as military or police training — to own and transport a 50 cal, there’s a clause allowing you to do that.

    Gun owners’ claims that Kotowski’s high capacity magazine ban would also outlaw cowboy-style shooting and other recreational activities is completely false. The proposal covered detachable magazines like the one Cho used at VT, not integral magazines.

    Others like the National Shooting Sports Foundation have lied that Sen. Kotowski’s proposals would somehow inhibit our military from purchasing or using such weapons. Again, this lie flies in the face of the legislation’s actual content which contains a clause specifically allowing the military to buy and use the weapons as they see fit.

    And as for the legislation itself, Kotowski isn’t the only one working on it and supporting the measures. The magazine bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Millner, a Republican gun owner and former cop himself.

    Reality, you state: “If Kotowski is so bad, then beat him at the polls.”

    Agreed. That’s why he was able to, in part, defeat the incumbent last November, in my opinion.

    But, with so much inflammatory malarkey being flung his way (quite a bit of it blatant lies as I wrote above), the gun lobbyists’ are trying to simultaneously soften him up and gin up their own single-issue support.

    Problem with that is Sen. Kotowski isn’t just about reasonable gun supervision. He’s also pursuing veterans’ issues, education, healthcare, ethics reform and a host of other mattters wholly separate from the interests of the ISRA, NSSF, NRA, etc.


  18. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:58 am:

    Where is your proof that gun-owners are making these threatening calls. Practice what you preach! Better yet, preach what you practice.


  19. - WTF! - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 10:59 am:

    Do the kids get one of these after they complete that course shown on the ISRA website? Just curious.

    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=73462048


  20. - "Assault Rifle" Owner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:04 am:

    The idiotic caller is wrong here, plain and simple.

    Senator Kotowski is different. In the case of the good Senator, he passes laws. In his case, laws banning or restricting firearms.

    An enacted law involves law enforcement such as the Illinois State Police and local police who are equipped with surplus military weapons like full automatic M16A1s. Law enforcement officers using these weapons will then threaten with deadly force any who disagree with newly passed gun control laws.

    Senator Kotowski merely advocates and votes for gun control legislation. He can wash his hands of personally threatening or using deadly force to enforce the laws he desires. He just unleashes police officers armed with fully automatic weapons upon the electorate to enforce his laws.

    The idiotic caller who personally threatened Senator Kotowski should learn from this, and pass laws that he (the caller) agrees with. Then the police, using fully automatic weapons, can enforce those laws against all who disagree with deadly force.

    And the idiotic caller can save on his phone bill.


  21. - anon - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:08 am:

    Rich, do you have any evidence that any ISRA member made the threats or are you just spreading completely unsubstantiated rumors that ISRA members are behind them.

    I’m more than willing to denounce a death threats, what I don’t care for is if someone threatens to kill Mr average Joe blow, the cops will tell you to call them when the attempt is actually made. Someone threatens a politician and we start a state or federal investigation.


  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:09 am:

    ARO, as far as I can tell, the cops can use their guns to enforce any law, no matter how trivial, if force is warranted. To say that a gun law would be any different is more than a bit hyper.


  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:12 am:

    anon, the point here is that ISRA is attempting to play down the threats and attack Kotowski. They are, therefore, culpable.


  24. - rachel - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:17 am:

    I work in a district office. Some of the most racist, ignorant and hateful calls we get are from “gun people”…and my rep is pro gun. I would hate to work in an office that votes against gun rights. I believe I would feel threatened.


  25. - "Assault Rifle" Owner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:17 am:

    Rich, I really appreciate what you do. Your observation is both true and important.

    I say important because it shows that people who advocate and pass laws to further their opinions cannot be anti-gun.

    (I inject here again that the caller at issue in this story is wrong and an idiot.)

    Senator Kotowski, Mayor Daley and Rob_N above do nothing to restrict the militarization of local law enforcement. M16A1s given to local police wind up back on the street, as happened in Miami and elsewhere. In fact, Senator Kotowski, Mayor Daley and Rob_N above do nothing to restrict any type of gun ownership by government officials. This is a big disconnect.

    Thus you have absurd situations where Chicago Aldermen wave handguns at public meetings.


  26. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:25 am:

    Let’s put the heat on gangbangers and drug dealers who kill people with illegally-owned firearms. Threatening anyone with firearm violence is wrong no matter whether the threat comes from a pro-gun or anti-gun advocate. Gun-owners are weary of taking the heat for these criminals.


  27. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:28 am:

    PG, then why won’t ISRA step up to the plate?


  28. - Jerry - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:30 am:

    How many people fax letters to their legislator anymore? I honestly don’t know, but I’m guessing not many. Seems to me that the State Police collected faxes, and would be visiting anyone who faxed the good Senator a letter, threatening or not. If someone sent a threat to the Senator, they probably would have used an anonymous machine, but that does not mean they haven’t sent unthreatening letters from their own machine.

    It was ISRA who freaked out. The State Police are simply doing their due diligence in trying to find out who is threatening the Senator. ISRA should condemn the threats, regardless of whether or not an ISRA member was responsible.

    ISRA should consider reminding its members that such behavior is unacceptable, and will result in expulsion from the Association. (I don’t know what their charter or by-laws say, but I would think that threatening the life of another person would result in expulsion as it makes the entire organization look bad).

    ISRA brought themselves into this, when they should have condemned the action and distanced themselves. If they believe in responsible gun ownership, they would do just that rather than through a hissyfit.


  29. - anon - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:33 am:

    The question was asked ‘Who is threatening gun owners?’

    A lot of us collect weapons wuth high capacity magazines or weapons that you call assault weapons. Even if you granfather us in to allow us to keep the waepons, you have destroyed the collector value of all banned weapons. By the language I can only give the weapon away to family members, they can never be sold.

    So the bill does threaten all gun owners! In the pocket book currently, and when that bill passes the next step will be to confiscate the same weapons that were just banned.

    There are plenty of laws on the books currently to remove criminals from the streets for a long time. Enforce the laws we have.


  30. - Another Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:34 am:

    Rich, to be completely fair, you need admit that all Kotowski has offered is a completely unsubstantiated rumor, or at least an unsubstantiated accusation. Perhaps a completed investigation will prove his case. But perhaps not. I am not going to claim he or his staff are lying to promote their anti-gun political agenda, but can you honestly say it is beyond the realm of possibility? Do politicians never lie? Has Kotowski misrepresented the truth in the past to push his agenda? As a lobbyist for an organization that promotes banning firearms, I’d say yes. When he held a press conference earlier this year to promote his .50 cal. ban, he held up a gun as an example of a military gun his bill would ban for the public. Unfortunately for him, the actual manufacturer was there to point out that the guns he makes are NOT sold to the military. Was Kotowski being intentionally misleading, or simply unaware of what his own bill actually affected? Either case casts the Senator in a bad light, in my opinion. Ultimately, however, why doesn’t everyone take a deep breath and relax, and let the investigation run its course. Perhaps it will turn out Kotowski and his staff are right. Perhaps it will turn out someone made it all up. Perhaps it will turn out someone from the anti-gun side saw an opportunity to make the pro-gun side look bad. Or perhaps it will turn out that the investigation cannot determine what really happened. Whatever the case, it’s all still being investigated. BTW, I’d call WTF!’s last link posting a bit inappropriate, excessively rabid, and a gratuitous insult. As for his never having seen anyone take a deer with a semi-automatic rifle, that’s not allowed in Illinois, but is in most other states, and happens on a regular basis. I’ve never seen anyone split the atom, but I’m pretty sure it’s been done.


  31. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:36 am:

    Rich: I have asked them the same question. They do need to step up to the plate.
    Jerry: Excellent blog!


  32. - NIEVA - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:40 am:

    Rich, So far the ISRA has only said that it had members who were visited by the state police. These members felt that they were being intimadated by the state and the senator into a position of being unable to disagree with his antigun stance. I see no down play other than an attempt to silence!


  33. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:41 am:

    APG: Great blog!
    Rich: I love this blog site!


  34. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:50 am:

    If the issue is a legitimate threat to an individual, then the police need to investigate it.

    However I have seen that the police in Illinois, local as well as state level seem to get drawn into political morasses by being either pressured to inverstigate, or ‘trying to help’ percieved allies.

    Without a review of the actual documents it is difficult to see whether the complaints of either side have merit.


  35. - Little Egypt - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 11:51 am:

    If I use any means to communicate with a politician on ANY subject and do so in a threatening manner, I can surely expect to see the Illinois State Police at my doorstep someday. Faxes are not all that anonymous and e-mails certainly are not either. I don’t care if the subject is guns or dogs, if I shoot my mouth off in a threatening manner I am proving that I am an uneducated idiot who doesn’t have a clue how to communicate my position in an intelligent manner.


  36. - Kevin Highland - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 12:44 pm:

    Anyone who makes threatening calls to another person should be prosecuted!
    Anyone using a firearm illegally should also be prosecuted!

    I have seen no legislation introduced or passed in the past decade that will make our streets safer. The criminals will have their weapons of choice.

    I can’t profess to understand how the state legislature works but I am curious how the final action deadline on SB1007 (Sen Kowtowski’s Magazine Ban) was extended for another week on a day when the legislature was not in session. Shouldn’t it have died?


  37. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 12:47 pm:

    rachel: Why would “gun people” be rude to a pro-gun rep? Think about it.


  38. - Downtown - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 12:53 pm:

    Ricj,

    Thanks for your continued balance in covering both sides of the issue. It is unfortunate that some continue to pontifcate about their pro and anti gun positions when the issue is simply whether the ISRA/NRA should denounce death threats made by their members. The staff person, Rachel who works in the district office spoke for herself, but could have been speaking for many others who work in district or s-field offices. The fact is that the ISRA/NRA can’t control all of their members and never will, but they still should denounce the threats.


  39. - Ken in Aurora - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 12:55 pm:

    What Belle said at the top at 9:19 - there’s no place for intimidation in this issue (assuming it actually happened, which I really don’t doubt).

    To be honest, I do not associate with many other fellow gun owners because of the intolerance I see - being mostly liberal and pro-gun makes me a bit of an odd duck.


  40. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:04 pm:

    Downtown: All Rachel has to do is ask for the rude caller’s name, address, and phone number. True NRA/ISRA members will glady give her that information.


  41. - Steve Howerter-Cuba, IL - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:17 pm:

    I’m an NRA and ISRA member. Whomever threatened Senator Kotowski (if they did) deserves whatever they get. While I completely disagree with his proposed mag ban, I’m content to fight his ideology with my pen and my keyboard, and not make juvenile threats of bodily harm. However, I expect the state police to investigate statements made by Fr. Pfleger (”snuff him out like a rat”???) towards the owner of Chuck’s Gun Shop in an equally diligent manner. I will concede there are blabbermouth idiots on the pro-gun side who make the rest of us look bad, but there are plenty of blabbermouth idiots on the other side, also. Is it merely a coincidence the only idiots who ever get media attention are on the pro-gun side?


  42. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:27 pm:

    ISRA has always advocated to its members to be polite and non-threatening. And unlike some around here, I have proof for what I claim, that is available on their website. Meanwhile we are still waiting for Kotowski’s proof. I bet we wait a long time.

    Here is a cut-paste from isra.org as an example:

    May 16, 2007 - The Report from Springfield

    Today SB1007 (Kotowski/Millner Magazine Ban) was not heard in the House Executive Committee. I do expect it to be reported out of committee next week. That means we have almost a week to call, write, and email your representative. I urge everyone to do that.

    Remember the Legislative Assistants who answer the phone when you call your legislators have a job to do. They are there to tabulate the number of pro and con calls. Be sure you are pleasant and mannerly. You are not only representing yourself, but me and all other Illinois gun owners, so do it well.

    Your calls are working. Keep it up and thank you.

    Please post this alert to the bulletin boards that you visit.

    If you are not a member of the ISRA, please join. Please get a friend to join.

    Richard A. Pearson

    Webmaster’s note:
    Need the phone numbers for your Representative and the address of the district office? Here’s a listing. Need to find out who your Legislators are? Check the Illinois Election Board.

    Download the ISRA Legislative Fact Sheet for this bill.

    Posted Thu May 17 00:05:24 CDT 2007


  43. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:34 pm:

    None of that excuses the group’s silence on the ever-increasing public rhetoric and the private threats. None of it.


  44. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:36 pm:

    Blabbermouth idiots rarely join pro-gun or anti-gun groups. They cannot be bothered with dues and/or the social responsibilities of membership. I agree that they make both groups look bad. They start fights that pro-gun and anti-gun groups have to finish. Chuck’s Gun Shop protest is a good example. I was there and saw them in action .


  45. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:40 pm:

    Rich: You have made your point adnauseum. Move on.


  46. - Steve Howerter-Cuba, IL - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:45 pm:

    Pro-Gunner, you’re right, few join, but when they open their mouths, we all pay the price.


  47. - Another Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:45 pm:

    Alleged private threats. Perhaps ISRA was a little quick taking Kotowski/ISP to task for the investigation. Nonetheless, demanding the organization condemn a threat that has yet to be proven, in either existence or origin, is a bit premature. Perhaps the ISP are questioning everyone who is on record as having contacted Kotowski’s office, both for and against his gun-ban crusade. If so, then that would seem more fair, since there is still the possibility that a smart anti-gun activist took a shot (no pun intended) at trying to cast a bad light on pro-gun folks by misrepresenting himself/herself. To think that is outside the realm of possibility is to be naive. If, however, ISP is merely targeting pro-gun people who sent non-threatening faxes (if they sent a threatening fax, then one would presume a person would be charged) becasue they determined they MAY have also made a threatening phone call sounds a bit like profiling.


  48. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 1:57 pm:

    “None of that excuses the group’s silence on the ever-increasing public rhetoric and the private threats. None of it.”

    In a world where nobody seems to be taking responsibilit for their own actions, I’m not surprised that you would require the ISRA to take responsibility for people’s actions.

    They have done all they need to do. They regularily instruct their membership in the proper way to correspond with their legislators.

    After that, they are not responsible for their members action much less the actions of some nameless and possibly fictional individual.

    The fact is, some people get a kick out of phoning this kind of crud in and no one else but those people are responsible.


  49. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:01 pm:

    If they’re gonna speak out about Pfleger, then they need to speak out about all this crapola.


  50. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:05 pm:

    The Riverdale Police did an exempary job of keeping the protestors and the anti-protestors physically apart by putting the latter inside Chuck’s Gun Shop and preventing the former from entering the gun shop. The protest was over in an hour without incident. The protestors will be back on Saturday.


  51. - Another Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:06 pm:

    Pfleger’s are proven, documented comments. There is absolutely no question who said what. The same cannot be said about the claims by Kotowski and his staff.


  52. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:07 pm:

    “If they’re gonna speak out about Pfleger, then they need to speak out about all this crapola.”

    Ok, we have proof on Pfleger…audio recording. I have not yet seen any proof from Kotowski.


  53. - steve schnorf - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:09 pm:

    Pro-Gunner; I would like your name, address, and phone number.


  54. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:15 pm:

    “The Riverdale Police did an exempary job of keeping the protestors and the anti-protestors physically apart by putting the latter inside Chuck’s Gun Shop and preventing the former from entering the gun shop. The protest was over in an hour without incident. The protestors will be back on Saturday.”

    I’m not sure why they chose to do that. I was at both and from the results of the first, not sure why it was necessary to violate the 1st amendment rights of the counter-protesters by detaining them inside the shop.

    I guess they figure since we seem to be tossing out the 2nd amendment why not toss out the 1st while we are at it?

    At the first rally there were probably 200 of the sheeple bussed in and about 30 individuals that drove down in support of Chuck. There was no evidence of any violence or rancor at any time, unless you count incitement to commit murder.

    At the second there were tops 50 bussed in and maybe 20 counter. My wife and I were lucky to arrive late as we were able to exercise our rights to free assembly and speech and I was even interviewed by WGN.

    Maybe the Riverdale PD was protecting the counter folks from Rev. Mad Dog Snuffy Pfleger. Other than that, I see no safety concern given the results of the previous rally.


  55. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:15 pm:

    Steve: Excellent humor! You make this blog fun and entertaining. The sound you hear is me laughing. Great blog!


  56. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:28 pm:

    dwlawson: Jessie Jackson did not respect the police perimeter and kept moving forward in an attempt to enter the gun shop. When the police asked him if he wanted to be arrested he replied, “I wouldn’t mind.” At that point I was standing eye to eye with him. The police moved me and the rest of the pro-gun people into the gun shop to avoid a physical confrontation which I feel was appropriate because Jessie wanted a physical confrontation. With no one to confront the protestors went home. I believe the pro-gun people held the moral high ground in this confrontation. Sometimes it is wiser to allow others to exercise their First Amendment rights without comment especially we you feel you are in the right.


  57. - Belle - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:32 pm:

    If nothing else this thread shows the differences between you pro-gunners and you pro-gun-control groups are extreme. What a news flash that is. I ask again - and it is just a yes or no question,
    Do YOU think that it is ok to intimidate someone because they have a different opinion?
    That’s the question.
    I’ve heard all the pro-gun, anti-gun rhetoric before. I would like to hear from both sides now. And before anyone tells me it isn’t that simple - I assure you it is. Re-read the question.


  58. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:41 pm:

    Belle: Attempting to intimidate another person during a difference of opinion only proves that your argument is weak. The same goes for character assassinations. I hope this answers your question.


  59. - Another Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 2:48 pm:

    Actually, Belle, you phrased the question better in your first post. I will be happy to answer that. No, it is not OK to use force, nor is it OK to threaten. Intimidate? Depends on what you mean. Many special interst groups try to “intimidate” lawmakers into voting a certain way by getting supporters to flood them with communication. One could also perceive that as a “threat,” I guess. The “threat/intimidation” being, vote for our viewpoint or we will vote you out of office, even if you may personally disagree with that viewpoint. But actually using physical force or threatening someone’s physical safety is wrong. The key question on this thread at this point, though, is whether or not an actual threat was made, who made it, and should everyone associated with that individual (or multiple people, if there were multiple threats) be cast in the same light. Again, let the investigation run its course.


  60. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:01 pm:

    I think true intimidation is wrong.

    However, people these days seem especially fragile.

    To call someone and say “I have a gun. I’m going to come and kill you.” would be not only wrong, but criminal.

    It is true however, that someone might say something else and the other person might HEAR “I have a gun. I’m going to come and kill you.”

    Without a recording or a transcript, I doubt we will ever know for sure what really happened.


  61. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:01 pm:

    There’s a disconnect here. Folks say - don’t jump to a conclusion until it’s proved that the threats come from pro-gun people. But what the ISRA is criticizing is the investigation itself. How will we ever know who is making the threats unless there is an investigation? And yes, it is true that it is possible that anti-gun people made the threats, but like the med school metaphor goes - when you hear footsteps, think horse, not zebra. It certainly makes sense for the police to investigate gun proponents who have contacted the Senator’s office first. If they rule those folks out, then look for zebras.


  62. - mike - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:06 pm:

    “Some of those faxes were sent by a guy who didn’t actually threaten Kotowski.”

    And this citizen was accosted by the police. looks like a violation to me.


  63. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:06 pm:

    dwlawson, are you a slick trial lawyer, cuz you sure sound like one. please stop insulting our intelligence.


  64. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:08 pm:

    “It certainly makes sense for the police to investigate gun proponents who have contacted the Senator’s office first. If they rule those folks out, then look for zebras.”

    I disagree. You are equating gun owner with criminal. Legal gun owners in this state have an FOID and have therefore undergone a background check. I would tend to think they are less likely to commit crimes.

    Statistical evidence from states that allow conceal carry has shown that those that have taken the trouble to acquire the license (training, expense, background checks) are less likely to commit crimes than those that have not.


  65. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:13 pm:

    “dwlawson, are you a slick trial lawyer, cuz you sure sound like one. please stop insulting our intelligence.”

    Wow, that hurts. No, I’m just an ordinary average guy.

    It seems you can’t argue against my statements so you have to insult them. It would be a snap to find dozens if not more studies that show that people mis-hear nearly everything they think they hear. Ever play “Phone?”

    If you feel your intelligence is being insulted, it may be an indicator that you are out of your depth. I recommend doing more research.


  66. - NIEVA - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:18 pm:

    The question that disturbs me most that was ask by the state police was about mental prolbems that these folks may or may not have. If you answer yes to mental prolbems then you will no longer be a gun owner!! Maybe that is what they were hoping for,a chance to remove any precieved threat real or not by taking the guns of the people involved.


  67. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:18 pm:

    Dwlawson, I’d recommend you leave, but I’m getting too much fun out of watching you make a fool out of yourself.


  68. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:26 pm:

    dwlawson - so as to not attack you personally, I’ll just say your IDEAS are idiotic. Of course you interview the opponents first. Imagine this were any other subject. If the subject were a proposed ban on rutabagas and the Senator got faxes for and against, followed up by a death threat from an anonymous opponent, wouldn’t you expect the police to investigate the known opponents first, regardless of how “law-abiding” vegetarians may be thought to be?


  69. - NIEVA - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:28 pm:

    Please try and get along with Rich or he is going to take his ball and go home.


  70. - Downtown - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:37 pm:

    DW,

    The fact that the ISRA has to tell their members to be polite and mannerly speaks volumes. Why would any self-respecting group have to tell their membership to be polite an mannerly when calling a legislator. That should be a given. Unfortunately the ISRA knows that some of it’s members care are on the lunatic fringe and thus they have to make these statements so when some of the loonier gun rights folks call offices that have at least covered their ass. And why is it guys like you always have a way to bring it back to the lack of conceal carry and how that is the root of all problems in our state. I’m proud we are one of two states in the country that haven’t bowed to the gun lobby and the garbage about conceal carry that is spewed by people like John Lott aka Mary Rosh. Conceal Carry ain’t coming here anytime soon hoss, so why don’t you make like John Birch and leave our state.


  71. - Gene Parmesan - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:46 pm:

    Downtown, how is any discussion of concealed carry relevant to this discussion?

    ISRA made a big mistake with that mailer Rich featured on the blog a few weeks ago, and they made a big mistake here too. If they think the threat didn’t actually occur, or that some anti-gun person is setting this up, then all they have to do is say that if the threat occurred then they condemn it. Which they should.

    Politically speaking, not condemning it is suicide and makes them look like gun nuts. An image we need to shed as citizens who support the 2nd amendment.


  72. - Gene Parmesan - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:50 pm:

    And Downtown, don’t think every group doesn’t have members on the fringe saying crazy things. Every issue has some folks that are passionate/crazy and need reminders to keep it civil. I think Rich can probably attest to seeing that on a variety of issues on this very blog.


  73. - fed up - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 3:53 pm:

    Threating to kill someone you disagree with is wrong it does not matter if it is the ISRA or father pflegar. It shows how bad things have gotten when people who disagree on politics can no longer be civil. Unless we are talking about gov elvis then all bets are off.


  74. - Pro-Gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 4:08 pm:

    Belle: Father Pfleger has used both intimidation and character assassination in his efforts to convince others to accept his point of view. What do you think about that?


  75. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 4:16 pm:

    Downtown: ISRA members are reminded to be polite and courteous when calling legislators in order to distinquish ourselves from gun nuts and anti-gun phobes.


  76. - amy - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 4:20 pm:

    Downtown, virtually every group I have ever seen
    put out a lobbying request for members has
    instructions on how to be polite when calling. as
    much as it pains me to say that this is nothing
    new, I have to defend the ISRA on this bit. perhaps
    they could be more strong in their comments against the phone threats to the State Senator, but telling members to play nice when lobbying
    is a good thing. and the other side should
    try to keep the priest off the bad metaphors,
    which are incendiary.


  77. - Another Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 4:29 pm:

    I think everyone here seems to agree that threatening to kill someone over a policy disagreement is wrong. To quote Downtown, “That should be a given.” The idea that ISRA should be required to state something so obvious makes for great political debate. One wonders where was the great call of condemnation from the anti-gun side when the good Father made his outrageous, and thoroughly documented comments. I’m sure if it can be proven a threat was actually made to Kotowski or his staff, ISRA will be happy to condemn it. At this point, however, neither a threat nor its origin has been proven, so let the investigation continue. Just don’t let it turn into ( or continue as) some sort of witch hunt targeting all gun owners who have contacted lawmakers expressing a viewpoint. The faxes currently in evidence don’t seem to be threatening in any manner, so it is a little understandable why that individual who was questioned, and claims to have felt intimidated by the ISP, would contact ISRA to alert them to the situation. And it is also understandable that ISRA would use the situation to advance its agenda. They didn’t advocate threats, nor did they defend threats. They pointed out that it looked like all gun owners were being targeted for contacting Kotowski because he and/or his staff claim a threat was made. ISP should certainly investigate the claim, but should not consider this an opportunity to harass gun owners, if that is what they are doing. Horses and zebras aside, ISP likely has ways to narrow the scope of its investigation so that it investigates only the most likely suspects, if a threat was even made, rather than simply targeting all gun owners who contacted legislators.


  78. - Ken in Aurora - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 4:49 pm:

    From Kotowski’s release at the top:

    “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.”

    Does he really think that not supporting his legislation equates to being OK with making death threats? Gawd, I’m sick of people that can’t see grey and/or won’t lay off the rhetoric.


  79. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 4:53 pm:

    Dear Tinfoil Hats -

    These are not unsubstantiated allegations. Sen. Kotowski has filed a police report, which is a sworn affidavit. Granted, whomever made the calls is entitled to their day in court, where the charges will have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but that’s not even close to the same thing as being unsubstantiated.

    If you don’t think that there are atleast a few wingnuts in the ISRA who would call up an elected official’s office and threaten them, think again.

    But whether or not they are the ISRA’s wingnuts, or just some unaffiliated gun-toting wingnut, the ISRA has taken the lead in attacking Kotowski, and with that leadership role comes responsibility. Condemning these threats, whether or not their coming from ISRA members, isn’t just the right thing to do. From a public relations standpoint, its the smart thing to do.

    If mainstream anti-choice groups can condemn wingnuts that take matters into their own hands by bombing abortion clinics and threatening doctors, why can’t ISRA find the common sense to do the same?


  80. - Ken in Aurora - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 5:21 pm:

    “Dear Tinfoil Hats”,”wingnuts”? Sweet, thanks for that. I love the feel of a broad brush.

    Yes, as a gun owner I agree ISRA should be condemning any threats or intimidation - but can the attitude, will ‘ya?


  81. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 5:33 pm:

    So what is the point of visiting folks that sent non-threatening faxes? Did they expect one of them to break down and confess?

    Clearly intimidation is the point.


  82. - Pro-gunner - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 5:43 pm:

    YDD: You watch too much Fox TV


  83. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 5:44 pm:

    “Dwlawson, I’d recommend you leave, but I’m getting too much fun out of watching you make a fool out of yourself.”

    Again with the ad hominen attacks when a logical response fails you.

    But, I’m happy to amuse you any way.


  84. - dwlawson - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 5:45 pm:

    I’m afraid I can’t wear a tinfoil hat as that would no doubt be considered body armor, which I believe is illegal for civilians to wear.


  85. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 6:32 pm:

    Lawson — Yeah, ’cause civilians need body armor. And body armor piercing bullets.

    Ken — My entire family are hunters. I prefer fishing, but my dad used to take us target shooting when we were kids. I’ve got nothing against sportsmen and hunters, but nobody in my family would argue that you need to be able to buy more than 12 guns a year. Guns are like cats that way: nobody minds a neighbor that owns one or two, even five or six, but starting hoarding dozens of them and any sensible person gets a little unnerved.

    And yes, anyone who would call up a legislator and threaten to shoot them, or host a blog recommending that somebody pop a few caps in their head, is by my definition a wingnut. Ditto anyone who defends it. And anybody who would concoct the conspiracy theories I’ve seen here — Kotowski’s allies are threatening him, he’s inventing it, his office staff doesn’t have the common sense to know a threat when they hear one — is a tinfoil hat in my book. Sounds like that doesn’t apply to you, so please disregard.


  86. - Huh? - Friday, Jun 22, 07 @ 7:33 pm:

    As a late comer to the discussion, dwlawson does make a bit of sense with the zebra line. Check for the obvious, when that doesn’t work, look for something else.

    “Some of those faxes were sent by a guy who didn’t actually threaten Kotowski. That person was visited by the police …”

    I have a problem with the above quote - A person sent letters to a senator and did not seemingly threaten the senator was visited by the police.

    I am not defending who did what, when to whom.

    Did ISRA over react? Maybe.
    Did the Senator over react? Maybe.
    Is this a volatile issue - definitely.

    Another thought that I had as I read through the various posting was a few months ago there was a politician who received via cell phone a bomb threat by a supporter.

    Zebra?


  87. Pingback “I have a gun. I’m going to come and kill you.” Part 2 « Illinois Reason - Saturday, Jun 23, 07 @ 3:09 am:

    […] Sen. Kotowski introduced his legislation during the spring and gun lobbyists (and the activists linked into those lobbyists) went to work right away using their First Amendment rights. That’s democracy in action and even if I don’t agree with a person’s position, God bless ‘em for speaking up! Based on political journalist Rich Miller’s earlier post, it seems there were also several people who took the opportunity to go several steps further and sent in thinly veiled threats. Were they threats of bodily harm or simply electoral strife? That’s up to the justice system to decide; but Sen. Kotowski’s staffers culled through the hundred and hundreds of contacts received and transferred those that gave them the heebie-jeebies. […]


  88. Pingback “El Tigre” Wins Another Honor « Illinois Reason - Friday, Oct 19, 07 @ 7:01 pm:

    […] And hyper 2A literalists went berzerk defending ISRA’s Year of the Vitriolic Snake Venom tirades against Sen. Kotowski? This “Enemy of Freedom” rhetoric and all the other, earlier bullpuckey from the ISRA and its allies is precisely why nutjobs get all lathered up into a frenzy and run around calling in death threats. […]


  89. Pingback Rick Pearson, Kotowski hating paranoia or kooky pariah? « Illinois Reason - Monday, Nov 19, 07 @ 1:49 pm:

    […] Third, as has been explained by rational people time and again, it makes perfect sense that the police would talk with people involved in a given matter even if they are not the people under investigation. Certainly this is happening now in Bolingbrook as the police talk with families and friends of the missing and dead wives of Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson just as it has happened in every other police investigation in the history of police investigations. Detectives try to gather as much information as they can til they get to the bottom of the matter. […]


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