American police intercepted a letter which was addressed to the White House and supposedly resembled those containing possible traces of ricin which were recently sent to the mayor of New York. It contained the message, “What's in this letter is nothing compared to what I've got planned for you."
The letter sent to President Barack Obama is veritable proof that the debate over the control of firearms in the U.S. is far from over. The missive, possibly containing ricin – a poison which was sent last month to the president in a different case – didn’t reach the White House, because letters addressed to the White House are sorted in a separate locale for security reasons. It was handed over to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for testing and investigation, confirmed Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman.
The threat has been taken seriously. The day before, New York police revealed that two letters containing probably the same deadly substance had been addressed the week before to the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. One was intercepted by the city government’s mail facility, the other by the director of the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” campaign against firearms that Bloomberg launched, which brings together about 700 mayors.
These two letters contained the same computer-written, anonymous threats. According to NBC New York, one read “You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns.” It went on to say, "Anyone wants to come to my house will be shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right 'til the day I die.”
Mailed from Louisiana on May 20, these letters contained a “pink, orange oily substance,” according to a New York police spokesperson cited by the New York Times. Several officers who handled one of the letters were hospitalized out of precaution after having felt some symptoms. They have since completely recovered.
“The Right to Bear Arms Is My Constitutional God-Given Right”
It’s no coincidence that Bloomberg was a target. At the head of an estimated fortune of $27 million, the New York mayor is one of the most fervent defenders of stricter laws on firearms. He notably spent $12 million on a national publicity campaign aimed to block the influence of the National Rifle Association pro-arms lobby. Questioned on these letters on Wednesday night, Bloomberg was not intimidated: “There’s 12,000 people that are going to get killed this year with guns and 19,000 that are going to commit suicide with guns, and we’re not going to walk away from those efforts. And I know I speak for all of the close to 1,000 mayors,” he declared to the members of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group.
Pro-Arms Lobbies Have Won the Battle, but the War Isn’t Over
In this debate that divides America, re-launched after the massacre of 20 students in a school in Newtown, Conn. last December, the NRA won a big battle. Last month, the senators in effect rejected a law which would have rendered judiciary and psychiatric history checks prior to buying weapons at trade shows and on the Internet mandatory. They also voted against a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines. It was a real backward step for Obama.
The war is not yet over. Bloomberg’s Mayors against Illegal Guns group continues to pressure members of Congress, as well as legislators on the state level, where the fight rages. Some states, such as Colorado, have since Newtown adopted restrictions on the carrying of weapons. The senators of New Jersey examined 10 measures going in this direction last Thursday. According to the British daily newspaper The Guardian, the families of the victims of Newtown and their allies have started fiercely lobbying Congress, hoping to get a second vote in the Senate.