AUGUSTA — A Republican candidate for governor in Maine was drawing national media attention Tuesday for telling a Maine radio show this week that public school staff could use fire extinguishers to disable a would-be school shooter.
Shawn Moody, of Gorham, the founder of Moody’s Collision Centers, made the comments to Bangor-based WVOM radio station host Ric Tyler on Monday.
“This is a common-sense thing I want everybody to hear,” Moody said. “When you think about little common-sense things, practical things, we could do right now, there are fire extinguishers, dry chemical fire extinguishers, in every commercial building, school, and almost within 100 feet of wherever you are, and a fire extinguisher can be a great deterrent if somebody gets out of control or if anything happens, a teacher, anybody could break that glass, set the alarm off, grab that dry chemical fire extinguisher and spray it towards somebody and I’ll tell you right now that could put them to their knees.”
The Washington, D.C.-based online magazine The Hill picked up on Moody’s comments on Tuesday followed by a tweet by Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Todd tweeted, with a link to The Hill report, “A good guy with a fire extinguisher?”
Moody and other candidates for the 2018 governor’s race in Maine had been asked a series of five questions by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Feb. 20 including:
1. Would you support an assault weapons ban – with assault weapon being defined as a semi-automatic weapon that has or can be altered to have a clip with 30 rounds or more?
2. Would you support a ban on clips exceeding 10 rounds in capacity?
3. Would you support a ban on so-called “bump-stock” devices?
4. Do or would you support L.D. 1761. This bill would lift the ban on firearms on public school property in Maine provided the weapon is unloaded and either locked in a vehicle gun rack or case. The law would also require the owner of the vehicle and firearm to remain in the vehicle during the visit to school grounds. Current Maine law prohibits firearms on public school grounds with exceptions for law enforcement.
5. Do you support requiring an NIC’s background check for all gun sales in Maine, including private sales between individuals?
The request for a response from Moody also invited him to discuss the matter directly with a reporter at the newspaper but Moody’s campaign declined.
Most candidates, in the Feb. 25 report, which appeared in the Maine Sunday Telegram, either answered the questions directly with yes-or-no answers or provided a brief explanation for each answer.
Moody instead had his campaign spokeswoman, Lauren LePage, issue a statement on his behalf noting his support for the 2nd Amendment and the need for additional school resources officers.
“As governor, Shawn will always support our constitutional 2nd Amendment rights. There are thousands and thousands of peaceful gun owners in Maine, and Maine has a long history of responsible firearms ownership and safety. Shawn advocates for a Community Resource Officer in all of our schools and encourages everyone if they see something, say something. That’s action we can take right now regarding the behavioral issues leading up to violence in our schools and communities,” LePage wrote in a message to the newspaper.
In followup questions, Moody and his campaign staff declined to answer the specific questions but continued to insist they had.
Moody’s fire extinguisher comments, however, had Republican lawmakers at the State House on Tuesday sharing different online memes, including one of a woman putting out a kitchen fire with a fire extinguisher that was entitled “Shawn Moody’s AR-15 defense system.” Another featured a photo of several different types of dry chemical fire extinguishers and was titled “Shawn Moody’s arsenal.”
Moody’s comment also drew a sharp rebuke from the Maine Democratic Party, which has made a point of countering Moody’s campaign on close to a daily basis.
“A fire extinguisher is an effective tool for stopping a small fire – not for stopping a hail of deadly bullets sprayed out of an assault weapon,” Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said in a prepared statement. “This is not at all the type of serious leadership that Mainers are looking for in their next governor. Moody’s comments demonstrate just how deeply out-of-touch he is with the problem of gun violence in schools and that he’s not at all prepared to think through the issue in a thoughtful way, let alone to offer serious policy proposals to protect Maine students.”
Brent Littlefield, a political consultant who works for Moody, pushed back on Twitter on Tuesday, noting that safety experts have, in fact, advised a fire extinguisher may be used to thwart an active shooter. He shared a link to a YouTube video produced by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office that depicts the use of a fire extinguisher in a dramatization of a workplace shooting.
“Instead of Democrat activists and their friends attacking @Moody4Gov, maybe they should do a bit of research first,” Littlefield tweeted with the link to the video.
Littlefield also serves as a consultant to Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who appointed Moody to serve on the board of trustees for both the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System. Moody previously ran for governor in 2010 as an independent and joined the Maine Republican Party last October, just six weeks before he announced he would run as a Republican for governor.
A message left for Moody on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
Shawn Moody, the businessman who made his name in politics as an independent candidate for governor in 2010, is now a Republican. (Portland Press Herald photo)