A POLICE chief who posted pro-gun videos of himself spraying machine-gun fire while ranting and swearing about “liberal” anti-gun campaigners has been placed under investigation.
But Mark Kessler, the top law inforcer in the American town of Gilberton, Pennsylvania, has refused to apologise for his online antics, in which he uses police-owned weapons.
Indeed, such has been their popularity, that Mr Kessler now has an internet radio show, has been invited to gun rallies across the US and has formed a Constitution Security Force, which he claims has chapters in 45 states.
A defiant Mr Kessler, 41, said his message – that the US federal government is too big, too powerful and wants to grab guns – is resonating with a segment of the public that shares his beliefs.
“The support has been overwhelming, both national and international,” he said. “I find it truly amazing how many people finally said, ‘You know what? This guy’s right.”’
Today is the last day of Mr Kessler’s 30-day suspension over what the Gilberton council said was unauthorised use of weapons. He could now be dismissed.
Mr Kessler, a former coal miner, seems untroubled, though. Speaking at a gun range near Gilberton, he said: “If that’s the price I got to pay for standing up for what I believe in, apparently for what a lot of Americans believe in, I’m willing to pay that price.”
If anything, his rhetoric has grown more menacing.
This week, he posted another foul-mouthed video in which he displayed paper targets with scary-looking clowns on them, dubbed “Eric” and “Danny.” Those happen to be the first names of local council president Daniel Malloy and vice-president Eric Boxer, whom he has attacked on his website. Patting an assault rifle, Mr Kessler said: “This is the friend Eric’s going to meet today.” After firing a volley at the target, he said: “Eric got a couple rounds to the head.”
In an earlier video, Mr Kessler attacked US secretary of state John Kerry as a “traitor” over a US-backed international arms treaty. “Come and take it!” he screamed, firing a machine gun.
Mr Kessler said he posted that video and others like it partly out of frustration, and partly in to get people to uphold the second amendment (the right to bear arms) and other rights.
“It was shock and awe,” he said. “I could have went out there and did a nice video and nobody would’ve gave it a second look.”
Now that he has achieved notoriety for his rants against government tyranny and people he calls “libtards”, he said he fears the federal government might try to silence him. He predicted chaos if that happens.
“God help them if something should happen to me,” he said. “I believe that could spark the next American revolution.”
Mr Kessler insisted he was “not calling for anybody to take up arms against our government”. But he also warned if officials ever tried to take his guns: “I would resist. I’d fight for freedom, and if it cost me my life, then so be it.”
The FBI said it was aware of the police chief and his videos.
Mr Kessler said he decided to speak out after president Barack Obama began a push for new gun laws in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Kessler, who is married with four children, accepted his online videos were alarming.
“I kind of look scary,” he said. “I’ve been labelled the scariest police chief in the country.”