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May 7, 2013

Setting the Record Straight

Steve Gottlieb

Ever since the Urbana Town Hall meeting on April 27, I have been disturbed by the amount of misinformation and partial facts being put forth in the press and Letters to The Editor here at the So, it is time to set the record straight.


The first issue is the claim that Sens. Ron Young and Brian Frosh were only scheduled to be at the meeting for one hour. This is what may be claimed by the organizers; I don’t know what was published in The Frederick News-Post as I no longer subscribe to or read it. What is known is Senator Young’s webpage advertised the meeting as lasting from 10 A.M. to 12 P.M. We know this because there are people who continually monitored the senator’s webpage.


It is true the sponsors of the program announced at the beginning of the event that both senators had another engagement to attend and would leave at 11. With that said, the first 35 minutes, maybe a few more, were taken up with comments from one of the organizers and three panelists, including Senators Young and Frosh. Regardless of claims made after the event, all those attending anticipated a chance to express their views to their elected representative, i.e. a chance to speak. The announcement was made at the beginning of the program that questions would be taken.


When questions were asked, it appeared as though instead of quick, honest, and fact-based answers, the senators tried to filibuster the crowd so fewer questions could be asked. Remember, after all the speeches, we were down to 25 minutes or less to ask questions or make statements.


The next issue is the attendance was overwhelmingly made up of pro Second Amendment supporters. A rough estimate would be a three to one margin of pro-Second Amendment supporters to anti-Second Amendment advocates.


One person claimed this was due to Sheriff Chuck Jenkins calling for “a thousand pro-gun people” to attend the meeting. I was not able to find anything to support that claim. I will say a number of community leaders who believe in the Constitution and the need to protect our Second Amendment rights encouraged people to attend and let the senators know their support for Maryland’s anti-Second Amendment law was wrong and not appreciated.


It is after all our First Amendment right to gather and express our views. It appeared as though the organizers and both senators were surprised by the pro-Second Amendment presence at their meeting.


The meeting was emotional at times and – unfortunately – some people were disrespectful in their demeanor and words. That said, at no time did the crowd become unruly or threatening. There was never any reason for the police to be called, yet they were; and three deputies did show up at the venue, although they remained outside the meeting room. Of course, they were not called until after the senators left the meeting. The deputies found nothing unruly and eventually cleared the scene without any incident or intervention on their part.


As announced, the senators left around 11 A.M. to attend their other event. Interestingly, people outside the meeting saw both senators in the parking lot talking to supporters or being interviewed as late at 11:25 A.M., so they were not in much of a hurry to get to their next event. They were in a hurry to get away from people demanding answers and using facts to dispel the myths and misrepresentations being propagated by the anti-gun organizers and panel.


The bottom line – from the perspective of someone who not only attended but addressed the panel and audience – is that the organizers were caught off guard, the senators did not feel talking to constituents who opposed their views was important, and we in Maryland have every reason to be concerned about losing our Second Amendment rights in this state. We already have most of them restricted.


The police were there, the senators looked like cowards and the only way the organizers could save face was to claim success, which of course does not make it so.


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