Skip to main content

Police chief courts controversy with profanity-laced gun rights video

From Brian Vitagliano, CNN
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Fri July 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler is an outspoken gun rights advocate
  • In a video posted to YouTube, he rails against liberals working to curb gun rights
  • The town's city council is taking up the issue at a meeting next week, the mayor says
  • Kessler tells a CNN affiliate that he wasn't in uniform and was exercising his rights

(CNN) -- A police chief's profanity-laced rant in an online video against those who disagree with him on gun laws has generated controversy online and in a small eastern Pennsylvania town, with at least one elected official calling the behavior "unacceptable."

Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler made the comments in videos posted to YouTube in mid-July that went viral, generating a heated online debate that appeared to gain renewed traction this week when he posted a backhanded apology.

Now the fallout has reached the halls of government in the small town of just more than 750 people.

The mayoral office was forced to close early Wednesday because of threatening calls, Mayor Mary Lou Hennon said on Thursday.

A meeting is scheduled for next week to discuss personnel and work policy.

"We may or may not take action against him," Hennon said.

Kessler did not respond to repeated requests by CNN for comment, but he told CNN affiliate WFMZ-TV that he was not in uniform in the videos and was exercising in his First and Second Amendment rights.

In the videos, Kessler rails against liberals for attempting to curb gun rights and Secretary of State John Kerry over his support of a recent U.N. arms treaty. At one point in the video, he dares Kerry to come and take his guns.

"It wasn't a threat. It was, 'if you want them come and take them,'" Kessler told the television station by telephone.

Kessler has been the town's police chief for 14 years "without a mark against him," Hennon said.

"Like a lot of other people, I found the video a little vulgar. It was like watching an R-rated movie," she said.

"We have no policies regarding people's personal use outside of work, and we allow freedom of speech. What people do on their personal time is their business."

Kessler, an outspoken gun rights advocate, has a history of making provocative statements. He has been featured in a number of online videos discussing his views, given numerous interviews and helped organize gun rights rallies.

The police chief also has claimed in a number of interviews to be the founder of the Constitutional Security Force, a gun rights advocacy group. In the video, Kessler wears a T-shirt with CSF emblazoned on it.

On the CSF Web page, Kessler is identified as the group's president and is featured in his Gilberton police uniform.

The latest videos have been picked up and copied on YouTube, with titles such as "America's scariest police chief" and "Patriot police chief."

In Gilberton, northeast of Harrisburg, resident Diane McCarthy told WFMZ that she found the videos disturbing.

"I think that kind of position needs to have respect of the community," she said.

"It's pretty difficult to have respect after seeing that."

Gilberton Borough Councilman Eric Boxter told the station the videos were "over the top" and "unacceptable" for a police chief.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT