Concord police stun, arrest gun rights protester after officer touched on shoulder
CONCORD — A man was arrested and two people, including a Concord police officer, were allegedly assaulted during a rally Tuesday in a clash between a gun control group and gun rights supporters.
The event had people supporting the Mayors Against Illegal Guns movement, founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reading the names of those "killed with guns" since the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary outside their "No More Names" bus.
Several witnesses said that a man approached and shouted at John Cantin of Manchester, whose daughter, Missy Charbonneau, was shot and killed in 2009 by her husband.
Witnesses said Daniel Musso, 52, of Brentwood was asked by police to move. He placed his hand on an officer, was tasered and arrested.
Police said Musso was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and two counts of simple assault.
Cantin shrugged off the altercation.
"They just weakened their cause and strengthened ours," he said.
Cantin said he was at the event mostly because of what happened to his daughter and partly because of a recent vote by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., on the Manchin-Toomey bill.
"Senator Ayotte voted for an amendment that would not increase gun safety," he said.
Jeff Grappone, Ayotte's spokesman, said well-heeled out-of-state groups have gone on the attack against the Republican.
"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's special interest group has spent millions on false attacks against Senator Ayotte," he said. "Senator Ayotte has voted for legislation that had bipartisan support to fix the current broken background check system, increase the prosecution of those who illegally seek to obtain firearms, and provide additional resources for school safety, while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."
The presence of the national gun control group in front of the state Capitol Tuesday night prompted numerous shouts from gun rights supporters. While there were about 40 No More Names supporters, there were at least 60 gun rights supporters at the rally.
"I think this is a joke," said Tony Mayfield of Hillsborough, who brought his AR-15 rifle and Sig Sauer T39 handgun to the rally. "We have, for all intents and purposes, a corporation from out of state doing this little publicity stunt here."
Rally organizers, whose bus had Texas license plates, refused to speak to a New Hampshire Union Leader reporter and referred him to the organization's national headquarters.
Some of the loudest shouts came when a reader spoke the name of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects who was killed by police during a gunfight.
"He's a terrorist," several protesters shouted.
Eileen Ehlers of Hooksett said she turned toward a man earlier in the evening who "was being loud and obnoxious" and showed him her "No More Names" sign. She said he grabbed the sign and threw it to the ground. When he did, she said, she pulled out a camera to take his photo.
"He told me he was going to smash my camera and me if I didn't back off," she said. "So I did. I'm shaken by how quickly a difference of opinion becomes violence."
Mayfield said he was disappointed that any altercations happened.
"I like to holler and I like to make my voice heard," he said. "But there's no reason for violence. That's not our idea here."
Not all the discourse involved shouting. For several minutes, Mitch Kopacz, president of the Gun Owners of New Hampshire group, debated gun control with state Rep. Sylvia Gale, D-N.H. Neither raised their voice and they shook hands after talking, with Gale calling Kopacz "respectful."