Congressional Death Threats Up 300%: FBI

Most suspects are men with guns, many mentally disturbed
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2010 10:19 AM CDT
Congressional Death Threats Up 300%: FBI
Heath Shuler, U.S. congressman from North Carolina, looks on during a media briefing, May 29, 2009. Shulet got a death threat last year.   (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Death threats against members of Congress are up 300% this year, the FBI tells Politico, and almost everyone doing the threatening owns guns. Capitol Police say they've had to dramatically step up security efforts, which were also boosted in 2009. “We have about 12 open cases at any given time,” says the Senate's sergeant-at-arms, “but most of them are relatively low threat.” Mental illness is common among suspects, and most have recently lost jobs, become seriously ill, or undergone other life upheaval.

In one typical incident, Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler got a call from a constituent who told him, “If you vote for that stimulus package, I'm gonna kill you. Simple as that.” The caller turned out to be a 70-year-old abusive husband with a history of mental illness. “I was trying to work the political scene,” he told police. Another man left messages for Sen. Debbie Stabenow, saying he was going to get her "like we did RFK; like we did MLK." He turned out to be a 54-year-old gun lover who said he was "really, really drunk" and afraid the government would cancel Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. (More death threats stories.)

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