Up until a few weeks ago, Gilberton, Pennsylvania was a quiet, peaceful borough of 800 people just northwest of Allentown. Recently, however, not so much. The borough's peaceful way of life has been shattered by a guy named Mark Kessler, who happens to be the town's one-man police force, when he decided to use his position as a small-town police "chief" to launch a new career as a self-declared gun rights advocate, militia leader, and "libtard" hater, whatever "libtards" are. His recent viral video rantings, complete with obscenities, threats against people with whom he apparently disagrees politically, and the firing of full automatic weapons has caused quite a stir of late on both sides of the gun debate. Kessler has even formed his own "militia," the so-called Constitution Security Force, and he actively attempts to recruit new members through his website and Facebook page that are complete with the obligatory weapons photos, incendiary language, and shameless hawking of T-shirts, pin-up calendars, body armor and ammunition magazines.
Gilberton's mayor, Republican Mary Lou Gannon, has defended Kessler's tirades as his right to free speech, at least up until Wednesday night. However, when there was national backlash to his behavior, and it was learned that the weapons that Kessler fired in the videos actually belonged to the borough, she, and the rest of the town council voted 5-1 that night to suspend him for 30 days. How the town's police department came into possession of these weapons has also come to light; Kessler apparently donated them to the town's police department himself, with council approval. Of course, we are not privy to the council's deliberations about allowing the weapons, but one simply has to ask the question, what need does a town of 800 people and a one-man police force have for weapons that have been modified to full auto? Is the crime rate so high (or risk of tyranny so great) that there is a legitimate need for this kind of firepower in a rural borough patrolled by one cop? I think not, and the recklessness of the town's leaders and lack of judgment they demonstrate in allowing this guy to possess these weapons in his official duties must surely be addressed, as well as the legality of their use in the town government in the first place.
Kessler has said all along that he fully expected to be fired after he posted the videos, and continues to be un-apologetic for his conduct. So, one who has been observing this whole soap opera might rightly assume that Kessler is simply another narcissistic weirdo emulating Ted Nugent, and that would likely be correct. However, if you look at his outrageous conduct in light of his other activities like his website, his Facebook page, and his marketing gimmicks, this guy is not just a weirdo; he's trying to make a name for himself at the expense of the residents of Gilberton. Think of him as the "Joe the Plumber" of the paranoid patriot movement. His Facebook page is now devoted full time to how he's now "scorned and hated" for "standing up" for the Constitution (by shouting obscenties and threatening other American's lives). He's already gaining notoriety in those circles, and even had members of his militia show up Wednesday night brandishing semi-automatic rifles to "provide security," only adding to the circus-like atmosphere at the borough hall. Gun rights groups are already hailing him as a Second Amendment hero, probably just what he's been shooting for, pardon the pun. I'll predict that he will get canned by the town council as the uproar roils their residents' lives; if not, he'll quit if they don't cooperate with his plan of getting fired. He'll then take on the mantle of persecuted martyr and start making appearances at Tea Party rallies, gun shows, and probably QVC, selling his signature collector kevlar. Call me cynical, but his intentions seem pretty obvious.
Maybe he is just a nut, which should scare the hell out of Gilberton's residents, especially those who vote Democratic, but I believe there is a method to his madness. Nothing else makes much sense... much like Ted Nugent's antics, which keep him in the forefront of the gun culture. Either way, the damage has been done to Gilberton, and that's the real shame.