Maloney Calls for Investigation Into Threats From Pro-Gun Leader Larry Pratt

Maloney (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., wants Capitol Hill law enforcement officials to investigate a prominent gun rights advocate's praise for threats on her life, calling them evidence of "just how outrageous the extreme pro-gun movement has become."  

In a Rolling Stone article  published Monday, Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt is quoted saying that the Second Amendment is for "for restraining tyrannical tendencies in government ... especially those in the liberal, tyrannical end of the spectrum."  

The article also references an incident in April 2013, when Ronald Buchanan of Elmira, N.Y., contacted Maloney’s district office and made several death threats. Buchanan later plead guilty to making the threats and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year of probation and extensive anger management training.  

“As someone who has been on the receiving end of violent threats, I can tell you that it is no small matter," Maloney told CQ Roll Call in an interview Wednesday, expressing her concerns about Pratt's comments. "To hear Mr. Pratt say he was ‘glad’ about the threats made against me shows just how unhinged he is." Maloney's staff notified Capitol Police and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving of the recent article which declared Pratt the "Gun Lobby's Secret Weapon," the congresswoman said, but they were told there was "no specific danger and nothing to be done." Maloney's office expressed particular concern with this passage:

"The Second Amendment is not for hunting, it's not even for self-defense," Pratt explained in his Leadership Institute talk. Rather, it is "for restraining tyrannical tendencies in government ... Especially those in the liberal, tyrannical end of the spectrum. There is some restraint, and even if the voters of Brooklyn don't hold them back, it may be there are other ways that their impulses are somewhat restrained. That's the whole idea of the Second Amendment." He reiterated the point this March during an interview with conservative talk show host Bill Cunningham. Speaking of a New York Congresswoman who had expressed fear that one of Pratt's members wanted to shoot her, Pratt said, "You know, I'm kind of glad that's in the back of their minds. Hopefully they'll behave."

And if they don't? When speaking before smaller, conservative audiences, Pratt explains that it is necessary to both generate an undercurrent of fear and muster the organization and will to defeat the dictator prophesized in the Book of Samuel. When asked during a 2010 Q&A session, "Do we have the will to stand up to the government when they trample our rights?" Pratt replied, "That is an exceptionally important point to raise. We can have all the guns in the world, and if we don't have the will to use them [against the government], then they are useless."

The congresswoman says Pratt is actively encouraging his members to threaten violent action against members of Congress they disagree with, and that law enforcement should consider investigating "the extent to which Mr. Pratt’s organization is involved with making threats against other elected officials."  

“These comments are especially reprehensible in light of what happened to my good friend Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a gunshot wound received during a public event, a shooting that also cost the lives of six other people," Maloney said. "Pratt’s rhetoric essentially invites similar attacks on other members of Congress."  

"We are aware of the statements, and constantly monitor potential threats against Members of Congress; working with our counterparts in that regard as well, but do not discuss specifics about security related issues," Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus said in an email.