Wyo Rep would prefer that we leave rather than listen to our concerns

hanshuntwtfSo, last Thursday, my wife wrote to all of the Wyoming State Legislators to express her concerns regarding pending gun legislation, specifically one that would expand carry laws to allow guns in public schools. (She also expressed concerns about fracking in the state.) She noted that if this legislation passed, it may affect the decisions of young families to either move or stay here.

Well, within 10 minutes, Rep. Hans Hunt (and here) wrote back saying that if she didn’t like what the legislature was doing then she should, “by all means, leave.” (The full text of her letter and his response appear at the end of this post.)

My wife was so taken aback by the backhanded response that she decided to post it on Facebook to get other folks’ take on it. Well, her friends were so shocked as well, that they began writing letters to Rep. Hunt and sharing it with their friends. Local news media got wind of it and asked to interview her (Ch5 | CST | BG | CE). It has also been blogged by a few folks (here | here | here). And just recently it was posted on The Maddow Blog.

I wrote my own thoughtful letter to Rep. Hunt, to which I have not received a response. I kind of doubt he will be responding to email for a while…I think it hurts too much to sit right now. Anyway, as part of my personal outrage, I created the meme above. Since posting it on Facebook on Saturday, it has had over 600 share. The irony of his arrogance (“proudly 4th Generation”) is that roughly 60% of Wyoming’s population are transplants…born elsewhere. He is blindly pro-gun, willfully ignorant of the evidence of the dangers of fracking, and holds Liberals (especially out-of-staters) in contempt. The sad thing is that many of our state legislatures hold the same opinions, though they hold them silently. Rep. Hunt’s behavior makes him unfit to hold public office, in my opinion.

Thankfully, the expanded carry bill, although it passed the House, died in the Education committee in the Senate.

My wife’s letter:

Dear Representative,

I hope you are taking care of yourself during this busy session. I know it is a challenging, compressed time.

I am writing to express my grave concern about House Bill 105. Ample evidence has shown that schools and guns do not mix, and in particular, guns in the hands of amateurs/non-professionals is extremely dangerous, especially in any highly-charged situation. to expose our children to greater risk in their schools by encouraging more guns on campuses is something that we cannot allow.

My husband and I moved to Wyoming not too long ago. We believed it was a good place to raise children. With the recent and reactive expansion of gun laws and the profoundly serious dangers of fracking, we find we are seriously reconsidering our decision, which is wrenching to all of us. However, the safety of our family must come first. We are waiting to see what the legislature does this session. I know of other new-to-Wyoming families in similar contemplation. Your choices matter. It would be sad to see an exodus of educated, childrearing age adults from Wyoming as a result of poor lawmaking.

Rep. Hunt’s response:

I’ll be blunt. If you don’t like the political atmosphere of Wyoming, then by all means, leave. We, who have been here a very long time (I am proudly 4th generation) are quite proud of our independent heritage. I don’t expect a “mass exodus” from our state just because we’re standing up for our rights. As to your comments on fracking, I would point out that you’re basing your statement on “dangers” that have not been scientifically founded or proved as of yet.

It offends me to no end when liberal out-of-staters such as yourself move into Wyoming, trying to get away from where they came from, and then pompously demand that Wyoming conform to their way of thinking. We are, and will continue to be, a state which stands a head above the rest in terms of economic security. Our ability to do that is, in large part, to our “live and let live” mentality when it comes to allowing economic development, and limiting government oversight. So, to conclude, if you’re so worried about what our legislature is working on, then go back home.

My response:

Dear Mr. Hunt,

I hope you are still reading these messages…I know you are getting a lot of them, and it must be hard to hear from so many people who think differently than you.

I am writing in regards to the response you sent to the email from my wife, Rev. Audette Fulbright. I wanted to make sure not to respond rashly and to give a thoughtful response to you.

It is true that we have some misgivings about the “political atmosphere” here in Wyoming. Many of the bills that have been introduced recently do not serve all the people with compassion and forethought, and that concerns us greatly. But this is our home and we are not leaving.

It is very nice that you are a fourth generation Wyomingite. You should be proud of your heritage. However, as a native, you surely are aware that the majority of the Wyoming population were not born here. Therefore, it surprises me that a legislator would have such contempt for out-of-staters, even if they do think differently and hold different values than you.

I wonder if you respond the same way to other native-born Liberal Wyomingites who disagree with you…or is it just those from out-of-state?

We, like many others, chose Wyoming as our home. And like others, we bring with us our beliefs and considered opinions. And as engaged citizens of a democracy, we refuse to keep keep our mouths shut when we disagree with the majority.

I understand the concept of “live and let live” and agree with it in most cases. But when that mentality becomes self-serving, ignoring the best interests of the people and the environment, then it is time to speak out.

Allowing unregulated practices such as fracking only serves to increase the profits of big energy companies without regard for how it affects current or future generations. And even if you choose to ignore the evidence of the dangers of fracking, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Please do more research now and don’t wait for it to be “proved” to your satisfaction.

The people’s right to bear arms does not translate into the right to own or carry any type of weapon they want. Please learn the difference. The answer to gun violence is not to add more guns to the mix. The solution is much more complex than whether people are or are not allowed to carry guns in certain places. Expanding carry laws is simply a reactionary move and will only add to the danger and will not address the root problems.

In conclusion, I must say that I was very disappointed in your letter to my wife. I found it disrespectful and not befitting a representative of the people. Thankfully though, and to Wyoming’s credit, your reaction is not representative of the welcome and support we have enjoyed since we moved here.

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