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NRA contacts officials who signed pact


Cynthia A. Carter sits at her dining room table, sorting through the postcards and letters she's received in the last week.

A member of the Annapolis city council, Carter is used to receiving letters - but not 1,000 in a week.

From Boonsboro to Baltimore, Cumberland to Chestertown, Maryland residents have fired off nearly identical postcards criticizing her stance on gun control and urging her to reconsider her "decision to give favorable treatment to Smith & Wesson when making firearm purchases."

Carter - who does not own a gun - said she had no idea what the postcards were talking about.

She was there, in the back of the room, when Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced his "smart gun" plan.

And in May, she sponsored a toy-gun buyback in Annapolis, modeled after the handgun buyback she championed in the city in March.

She wondered, could there be a message for her in these cryptic notes?

The National Rifle Association said there was.

"She appears on the press release from the Department of Housing and Urban Development as having joined the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition," said Greg Costa, Maryland state liaison for the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. "So we targeted her."

The coalition, started by HUD in the spring, consists of local officials who signed a pledge saying they would give favorable consideration when making purchases to gun manufacturers who have adopted a set of gun safety and dealer responsibility standards. Gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson has drawn heavy criticism from the NRA after signing such an agreement.

Carter, a Ward 6 Democrat, said she had forgotten all about the coalition.

But to her relief, she was not alone. Eight other government officials in the state also landed in the NRA's sights when they joined the coalition: Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.and the mayors of six towns.

As of yesterday, O'Malley had received 1,245 postcards and letters from NRA members, a spokesman said.

Mayor Eugene Kennedy of Seat Pleasant in Prince George's County was also inundated with letters from NRA members.

"It has no relevance to us," said Thomas Renahan, city administrator. "It was just stupid, but these cards kept coming. It's just unusual for a mayor of a small city to get that kind of treatment."

When Carter found out why the NRA was targeting her she said: "Well, good for me!"

Though the letters worried her a bit - her family asked her not to walk alone after they started coming - they are not having any effect on her stance on guns.

"I would give favoritism to any gun manufacturer who would comply with the new [Maryland] law," she said, if the issue should arise before the city council. "I am pro-active. If there are things we can do to make our communities safer, that is what we do."

But she acknowledges, she got something out of the NRA lobbying ploy:

"I have something no one has but the NRA: all the names and addresses of NRA members in the state."

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