Why the Personal Attacks? Why the Hate Mail?
Tom wonders why some opponents see fit to attack rather than talk.

I knew that it would be difficult when I took on the issue of gun control. But I accepted the fact that there would be those who strongly opposed my views. And I was willing to exchange views with them. Never once did I suggest that my views could not be challenged just because my son was murdered. I haven't asked for sympathy or pity.

But I never expected the response I've gotten from some people during this gun debate: unwelcome mail and phone calls; nasty, insulting and even hateful mail; and even a death threat. These extremists don't analyze issues, they simply attack me. A Denver Post story in 2000 described the kind of hate mail that I have received.

I have stayed quiet on this issue, but no longer. The Post writer tried to contact a few of the letter writers, but they either had unlisted numbers or denied writing to me.

But there were some brazen writers who provided names and even defiantly responded when I wrote back to them. Some said they didn't mind my publishing their names and words herein-they just see it as a 'badge of honor' in promoting their beliefs. Some of what they wrote is too profane or sick to include here, but here are some examples that can be printed:

· Terry Chelius of Chief's Rest Ranch and Hunting Lodge in Whitewater, Colo., wrote "Get a life.This is a great vehicle to get your 15 minutes of fame, but try to get on with your life.get a job and buy a good gun." ".combine your obviously questionable IQ with your other vague attributes and make minimum wage somewhere sweeping out a gun store." "Tommy boy, you and Linda have ridden the tragedy like a roller coaster, never missing an opportunity to get your face on TV or in the papers."

· Richard W. Pope of Des Moines, Iowa, sent two postcards, calling me a "weak, pitiful man.who is trading on the dead body of your son.to get your name in the paper."

· Dr. Gary Huff of Montrose, Colo., said "you are using the death of your son to desecrate the constitution and for that you should be ashamed and your dead son pitied...Quit using your son as a political tool and everyone will leave you alone."

· Ray Hickman, a local coordinator of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said I should "get a life and stop being the whore of SAFE Colorado."

· Some comments are said to me directly. As reported in a Fort Collins newspaper, Tyranny Response Team member Stephan Ziegenhagen chided me at a meeting for earning money (at SAFE Colorado) "on the corpse of your son." One of the leaders of the TRT, a gun shop owner named Bob Glass, told me he agrees with that characterization.

It's especially disturbing that some unwelcome or nasty messages have come via the guest book in this web site. My web site volunteers screen out many of these hateful messages, and have kept dozens from reaching me. But some have slipped by, and it was especially bothersome that many of the nastiest

Daniel and Christie.

were written around the time of the one- and two-year anniversaries of the Columbine tragedy.

Have these nasty letter writers no idea what a memorial web site is? Have they no compassion or common decency?!? I read the guest book messages to hear people reflect on Daniel, to express their sympathy, or to give my family words of encouragement, not to read hurtful messages.

Yes, the web site contains my beliefs on gun control. But they are
also Daniel's. My guess is that most of these cowards who leave unwelcome messages never even read the pages about Daniel. They just visited the web site to slam my beliefs. Some of them, like John Moloko of Pennsylvania and Ryan Kiehl of Colorado, don't even bother to express a single word of sympathy-they just attacked my beliefs.

Yes, these nasty letters are a bit bothersome to me. But there are two things that help me overcome it all: first is the fact that I have already endured something more terrible than anything that these cowards have collectively thrown at me-the death of my son.

Second, I recognize that in his 15 short years of life my son Daniel probably developed more knowledge of this world, more respect and compassion for others, and more common decency, than all these jerks and cowards have in however many years they've been on this earth. For that I have so much to be proud of, and it speaks much louder than hatred and cowardice.

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