A junior state politician in Wyoming has walked into something of a controversy over a very blunt email he sent to a state resident concerned about a proposed bill that would have legalized concealed carry.
In an email sent earlier in February to Wyoming state Rep. Hans Hunt (R), state resident Rev. Audette Fulbright said that she was "seriously reconsidering" her decision to move her family to Wyoming in August. Her concerns, she said, stemmed from House Bill 105, which aimed to legalize the carrying of permitted concealed weapons in public schools and colleges.
Fulbright, who lives with her family in Cheyenne, emailed representatives across the state about the proposed legislation, as well as her concerns about fracking in the state, according to CBS local affiliate KGWN. The news station reprinted Fulbright's email, as well as Hunt's response.
"I am writing to express my grave concern about House Bill 105," Fulbright said. "Ample evidence has shown that schools and guns do not mix, and in particular, guns in the hands of amateurs/non-professionals is extremely dangerous, especially in any highly-charged situation. to expose our children to greater risk in their schools by encouraging more guns on campuses is something that we cannot allow."
Fulbright went on to write that, while it would be hard to move again, "the safety of our family must come first."
Mincing no words, Hunt responded thus:
I'll be blunt. If you don't like the political atmosphere of Wyoming, then by all means, leave. We, who have been here a very long time (I am proudly 4th generation) are quite proud of our independent heritage. I don't expect a "mass exodus" from our state just because we're standing up for our rights.
The representative, who was the youngest member of the legislature when he was elected in 2010, went on to criticize "liberal out-of-staters such as yourself" who move to the state and "pompously demand that Wyoming conform to their way of thinking."
Contacted by the Caspar Star-Tribune, Hunt refused to apologize for the email.
“Was it blunt? Yes. Would I apologize? No,” he remarked to the Star-Tribune, before adding that he might have phrased his words more carefully.
As the controversy picked up steam, the Star-Tribune weighed in with an editorial published on Feb. 24.
"Is 'Go Wyoming Or Go Home' the message we want to send those we hope to attract here? Of course not," the editorial stated. "And if not them, why would we want to say such a thing to anyone who wants to make their home in Wyoming, no matter their political persuasion?"
Hunt may be young, the editorial continued, but he is still a leader; therefore, the editorial concludes, what he says matters. "Hunt’s type of response and his obstinate defense of it make us wonder how brittle his ideas really are," the editorial also says.
According to the Associated Press, House Bill 105 ultimately died in a Senate committee soon after Hunt's email went public. While the measure passed the state House, no one from the Senate Education Committee made a motion to recommend, essentially killing the bill. The AP reported that "dozens of educators, administrators, police and others testified it would make schools and colleges less safe."
Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield of Tennessee found himself in the middle of a similar situation in early February, after a terse and insulting response to constituent Telisha Arguelles Cobb was released to the media. Campfield, a sponsor of his state's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill, wrote in an email that Cobb, who had criticized his bill, seemed "to have some serious, deep anger issues."
"Have you ever thought about therapy?" he wrote. "I hear they are doing some wonderful things with medications these days."