Police Chief Mark Kessler, who gained national notoriety for a series of YouTube videos in which he ranted against liberals while spraying gunfire, has been fired.
The town council of Gilberton, Pa., voted 6-to-1 Thursday to terminate Mr. Kessler’s contract, citing a series of inappropriate acts and behavior, including profaning local officials to the world.
Meant to draw attention to what Kessler sees as erosion of Second Amendment rights, the videos were intended to have shock value to bring attention to the issue, Kessler told Fox News. "Yeah, I made some videos with some choice language, but that's my right,” he said. “That's my freedom."
Aside from his successful, if job-ending, gambit to bring attention to his cause, Kessler’s videos, and now his termination, have also brought renewed focus to a movement within US law enforcement, especially among rural pollice chiefs and sheriffs, to resist federal attempts at gun control.
Hundreds of sheriffs have said they’ll refuse to carry out any new gun control laws, and some suggest that they’ll confront or arrest federal agents who attempt to carry out any new federal regulations designed to curtail Second Amendment rights.
While most states have expanded gun rights in recent years, Colorado, New York, and Connecticut have tightened regulations in the wake of several high-profile massacres, including the Newton, Conn., shootings in Decmeber that killed 20 schoolchildren. (A Senate committee struck down a proposed raft of gun controls in April, though President Obama earlier this month used executive power to ban military-grade weapons from being imported into the United States.)
Kessler has stepped up his activism in more concrete ways, as well, starting what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a “militia-like” group called the Constitution Protection Force, which reportedly has 40 chapters across the country.
While other law enforcement officials who know Kessler say the former coal miner has been a good police chief, many questioned his tactics. Richard Mack, founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association, told the Monitor recently that Kessler used “kind of shock-and-awe tactics” without providing “any real leadership or direction.”
As Kessler deliberated with the town council behind closed doors on Thursday, a small armed posse, including members of the Constitution Protection Force, were on hand to show support for him.
Many believed he was being punished for publicly supporting two distinct amendments: the First Amendment’s right to free speech and the Second Amendment, which the US Supreme Court has said gives citizens the right to own guns for purposes of self-defense.
Local borough officials had been previously open-minded to Kessler’s ideas. In January, they adopted a resolution drawn up by Kessler that called for local government to nullify any regulations that infringe on the Second Amendment.
But on Thursday, the same officials indicated they’d had enough of their hired law man’s antics, especially after he made a video in which he shot at likenesses of two of his nemeses on the council.
The hearing earlier reportedly focused on allegations that Kessler used taxpayer money to buy tires for his own car and didn’t properly submit required crime data to state officials.
Those were trumped-up charges, Joseph Nahas, Kessler’s lawyer, told reporters.