"Welcome to the dark side of America's war over guns.
|Alex Jones threatens mass shooting victim's parents|
"As Longdon sat waiting for her flight, a screen in the concourse showed footage of the press conference. A tall, thin man standing nearby stared at Longdon, then back at the screen. Then he walked up to Longdon and spat in her face. No one else blinked.
"Longdon was shocked and embarrassed, she told me, but she didn't falter. 'Wow, aren't you a big man,' she said as he turned and walked away. Instead of calling for security, she wheeled herself to a restroom to clean herself off. She was tired—she lives with constant physical pain—and didn’t want to miss her flight.
'"Should I have done something more? Quite honestly, in the scheme of things it was a little man and a little moment,' she said. 'He felt to me like a coward and a bully.'
"What happened to Longdon in Indianapolis is part of a disturbing pattern. Ever since the Sandy Hook massacre, a small but vocal faction of the gun rights movement has been targeting women who speak up on the issue—whether to propose tighter regulations, educate about the dangers to children, or simply to sell guns with innovative security features. The vicious and often sexually degrading attacks have evolved far beyond online trolling, culminating in severe bullying, harassment, invasion of privacy, and physical aggression. Though vitriol flows from both sides in the gun debate, these menacing tactics have begun to alarm even some entrenched pro-gun conservatives.
|Jennifer Longdon Everytown for Gun Safety|
"Longdon is no stranger to such attacks. Last May in her hometown of Phoenix, she helped coordinate a gun buyback program with local police over three weekends. On the first Saturday, a group of men assembled across the street from the church parking lot where Longdon was set up. They shouted about constitutional rights and tyranny, and called people arriving to trade in their guns 'sellouts.' (The program netted nearly 2,000 firearms with more than $200,000 in reimbursements.)
"Some of them approached Longdon. 'You know what was wrong with your shooting?' one said. 'They didn't aim better.' Another man came up, looked Longdon up and down and said, 'I know who you are.' Then he recited her home address. The harassment continued, and the men showed up throughout the program, a Phoenix police official involved confirmed to me.
"After a fundraiser one night during the program, Longdon returned home around 10 p.m., parked her ramp-equipped van and began unloading herself. As she wheeled up to her house, a man stepped out of the shadows. He was dressed in black and had a rifle, 'like something out of a commando movie,' Longdon told me. He took aim at her and pulled the trigger. Longdon was hit with a stream of water. 'Don't you wish you had a gun now, bitch?' he scoffed before taking off.
"'It was like a mock execution,' Longdon says, recalling the intense surge of adrenaline and how the incident triggered her PTSD from the 2004 attack that nearly killed her and her fiancé. She called the police, but they were unable to track down the perpetrator. By the following Saturday, Longdon was back at her post helping run the buyback.
"'I've been about as broken as I can be by gun violence,' she says, 'so I'm just not going to be afraid of it again.'
"'The majority of gun owners in America are good people,' she adds. 'I wish that more responsible gun owners would step into this conversation and say, "Look, those guys don't speak for us."
"A Schoolteacher in the Crosshairs"
"A top target for gun extremists has been the women of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the grassroots group that began after Sandy Hook and has since merged with Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns under the Everytown banner. The battle has grown particularly ugly in Texas, where gun groups such as Open Carry Texas have conducted demonstrations showcasing their right under state law to openly carry rifles in public. The sight of groups of (mostly) men carrying semi-automatic rifles along a busy road or inside the local Jack in the Box has prompted bystanders to call police. In response, Open Carry Texas has begun making open-records requests, identifying callers and threatening to publicize their personal information.
"Callers told her she was a 'stupid bitch' and 'motherfucking whore.' One threatened to come after her with a gun."On April 10, Brett Sanders, a member of Open Carry Texas in Plano, a midsize city in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, posted a video on YouTube highlighting the name and cellphone number of a woman who'd called the police after seeing heavily armed men on her way to a shopping mall. The post drew condemnation not only for outing the woman but also because it was misleading: It claimed that the woman had called 911, though she'd called the nonemergency line of the Plano PD. And the footage it used came from friendly-looking demonstrations elsewhere—not from the one that the woman encountered. ('Feel free to contact me when you work for a real news organization,' Sanders replied to my request for comment.)
"The woman—a high school teacher who asked not to be identified—quickly got pummeled with text messages and voicemails, copies of which she provided to Mother Jones. Callers told her she was a 'stupid bitch' and 'motherfucking whore.'
"'They fought for their right to carry guns,' said another. 'You're a piece of shit.' One caller threatened to come after her with a gun.
"Over the next four days she received nearly two dozen such calls and text messages. Someone put her information into a phony profile on a large e-commerce site, and she got a barrage of calls about agricultural products and security systems.
"'I really felt strongly about not changing my cellphone number—I'm not going to be intimidated,' she told me. 'But it just got to the point where it's not worth it.'
"[Editor's note: The teacher since changed her number; Mother Jones has redacted her name.]
"A fifth-generation Texan from a small town, the teacher in Plano grew up hunting. She is not, as her antagonists claimed, a member of Moms Demand Action (though she now plans to join). But given the rapid rise of Moms, gun extremists tend to view any woman who lands in their crosshairs as part of what has become, as one state leader for Moms puts it, 'kind of the new black helicopters for these guys.'
"According to Plano police records, two other people called in with concerns about the demonstration that day—both men. No member of Open Carry Texas publicized their information.
"The attack left the teacher worried for the safety of her family: 'I" felt that if I walked out someone was going to be standing there.' But in hindsight, she says, 'I think they are very weak men. They use their guns because that's all they have. If you know what I mean.'
Open Carry Texas has insisted that it plans to continue exposing people who call police about its armed demonstrations. 'Gun control bullies are all up in arms over this video published by one of our members,' the group stated in a Facebook post on April 13, since deleted from its page. 'If you don't want your name publicized, simply don't make a false 911 call against law abiding gun owners.'
"Sanders 'didn't do anything wrong' by posting the video, nor is it relevant that he misidentified the type of call or used footage from a different demonstration, CJ Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas, told me. 'Our point in doing that is to expose the kinds of people that are complaining about our rallies.'
"'I would've personally done it differently,' Grisham added, 'even though the personal contact information is public information.' He said that his organization has collected records from three dozen calls but is 'judicious' about deciding which to release, and that going forward they 'will protect the identity of the caller.'
"Just three days before Open Carry Texas outed the teacher, a state Senate committee held a hearing to consider further loosening gun carrying laws, and Grisham was invited to give official testimony alongside NRA lobbyists. 'Open Carry Texas was given a seat at the table,' says Stephanie Lundy of the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action. 'It's serious. You can't write them off.'"
Next: The Female Mannequin Firing Squad
Once upon a time in Texas, even Texan Conservatives were proud that they were extremely protective of their women -- but not any more.
Instead of protecting women, Texas Conservative men now spit on them and intimidate them with their peni...er, guns. And now we know that Conservative men in Texas are even threatening female teachers.
"I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape
— but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept
what God has given to you… rape victims should make the best of a bad situation."