Anti-Semitic flier takes aim at Md. lawmakers for their gun bill

March 13, 2010|By Michael Dresser | michael.dresser@baltsun.com

A Maryland senator and delegate are the targets of a flier that attacks them as "bagel brain Jews" for their support of pending firearms legislation in the General Assembly and accuses them of pursuing "racist policies to destroy your gun rights."

Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, said the flier - with the headline "Bagel Brain Jews Want Your Bullets and Your Guns" - was mailed to his home and to those of others in his precinct.

Underneath the headline are pictures of Frosh and Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg, the Senate and House sponsors of a bill that would tighten requirements for ownership and sales of firearms. It refers readers to a Web site where they can view a video entitled "No Guns For Negroes," which portrays gun control as a racist policy.

Frosh said the flier was mailed from Southern Maryland and opened by his wife and several neighbors who were "outraged."

"It's ugly, and I suppose it's intended to be threatening, but it doesn't change my view," said Frosh, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

The flier was produced by group called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, whose executive director is Aaron Zelman of Hartford, Wis.

Zelman said his group produced the handbill and makes it available on its Web site but denied distributing it. "That's what the Internet is for. Let someone else go do it."

The bill sponsored by Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, and Frosh would set more stringent requirements for gun ownership and for licensing of gun dealers, and would increase penalties for violations of firearms laws. It would, among other things, include gun trafficking violations on the list of suspected crimes for which law enforcement officials can seek a judge's permission to use wiretaps. It would also bar people with two or more drunken-driving convictions from owning firearms.

Zelman, who said he is Jewish, said the group has about 6,500 members around the country. The group's Web site includes reproductions of handbills attacking Jewish and black politicians who support various measures opposed by gun rights advocates.

They include a flier aimed at Maryland state Sen. Michael G. Lennett, a Montgomery Democrat, under the headline "A Jew Should Not Support Racism" and a portrayal of four Jewish U.S. senators in Nazi uniforms.

Zelman said the organization will "go after" any official who supports gun control but acknowledged that the group pays extra attention to Jews who take that position. "I think it's important for Jews to wake up, to learn from history and stop being dangerously stupid."

Rosenberg said he had not received the flier in the mail, but had not been home all week. He said he had seen the flier on the Internet and considered it "foul."

"People can disagree on a public policy question without engaging in religious or anti-Semitic epithets," he said. "Whether they're Jews or non-Jews, this is not how we should debate public policy."

Like Frosh, Rosenberg said he would not be influenced by the flier.

"I'm not going to allow them to deter me from what I believe we should be doing, nor is it going to prompt me to fall into the gutter with them," he said.

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