MARTINSBURG, W.Va.—Police at the state capitol in Charleston, W.Va., are investigating possible threats against lawmakers over pending gun legislation.
Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson/Berkeley, said Senate offices have fielded hundreds of phone calls and emails from gun rights supporters.
Many of these supporters are urging Senate action on a bill passed Monday by the House that would repeal gun control ordinances for a handful of cities.
But Snyder said about 10 phone calls and three emails crossed a line and are considered threatening. Snyder said one warned him that he wouldn’t make it home from Charleston if the bill doesn’t pass.
Snyder said information about those calls and emails has been provided to Capitol Police. A spokesman for that department on Friday said it is investigating.
The possible threats surfaced two days after West Virginia Citizens Defense League leader Art Thomm announced plans to hold a “Snyder Protest and 2nd Amendment Rally” in Charles Town, W.Va., on March 23. Thomm said a simultaneous event in protest of Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawaha, also was to be announced.
Thomm’s event invitation posted on Facebook suggests Snyder will not take up legislation that proposes a repeal of gun control ordinances in effect in certain municipalities in West Virginia, including Martinsburg.
Thomm said Wednesday that House Bill 2760, which proposes a repeal of the gun control ordinances, deserves a vote on the Senate floor sooner rather than later, at least in part because it passed the House of Delegates by an overwhelming 94-4 margin.
Snyder said Wednesday that his committee and the other Senate committees currently are dealing with bills that originated in the Senate and their House counterparts are doing the same. March 31 is the deadline for Senate and House committees to act on bills that originated in their respective chambers.
“These people clearly do not know how the legislative process works and I cannot make excuses for ignorance,” Snyder said.
Snyder said he spoke to Thomm this week about the gun control ordinance repeal measure and told him he just received it and hadn’t read it yet. Snyder strongly disputed suggestions in Thomm’s protest and rally invitation that the senator wasn’t going to allow his committee to take up the bill in the foreseeable future.
“It’s absolutely absurd,” Snyder said. “I did not say I was not going to run that bill. These people are so quick to burn you at the stake.”
Snyder added that he has been a member of the National Rifle Association for years and has an “excellent” rating from the Second Amendment rights group.
Thomm said Wednesday that he stands by his statements in the event invitation, which states Snyder “doesn’t like your will ... doesn’t like our wishes (and) doesn’t want to listen to the will of the people he represents.”
The invitation also encourages people to bring signs to the rally “talking about Herb Snyder wanting us disarmed” and signs that state “Manchin = Snyder = Obama” and similar messages.