TOPEKA — The Kansas man who recommended Rep. Stephanie Clayton “swing from a tree” for introducing a bill to prohibit carrying concealed handguns on college and university campuses serves as a lieutenant colonel in the state’s Civil Air Patrol.
Jonathan Holder, commander of a squadron based at a Kansas National Guard Armory in Emporia, said he was offended that the Overland Park Republican proposed legislation that would undermine his constitutional rights. Kansas law requires the state’s higher education institutions to allow concealed carry on campus starting July 1, but Clayton’s bill would make the existing ban on concealed guns permanent.
The Civil Air Patrol is a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force created by Congress. The Kansas Adjutant General’s Department has provided administrative support and budget oversight for the CAP for the past 20 years.
Holder leads the 77th Composite Squadron and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in June 2016. He is among the adult mentors responsible for promoting integrity and self-discipline among cadets as young as 12. Adults in the CAP are expected to encourage cadets to embark on careers in aviation or the military.
Catherine Horner, spokeswoman for Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli, said Tuesday the statements by Holder would be viewed by department leadership as inappropriate.
“The adjutant general’s department does not condone the statements posted by Mr. Holder,” Horner said. “The adjutant general’s department provides oversight of the Civil Air Patrol’s budget, but does not have operational control. I have ensured the state, regional and national CAP leadership are aware of this situation.”
In one of the Facebook posts on the subject of concealed carry, Holder reacted to Clayton’s post made in support of her bill. Holder replied that she ought to be hanged for her misguided proposal on concealed weapons. In that post, he said: “This bitch needs to swing from a tree for violating her oath.”
Holder followed with a post asserting public officials seeking to impose unconstitutional mandates ought to be severely sanctioned and that capital punishment should be considered a viable option. Holder declined Monday to be interviewed at length about his perspective on Clayton’s attempt to amend the concealed carry law. In a Facebook post, however, Holder was unapologetic about his choice of words.
“I stand by what I said and frankly don’t care who doesn’t like it,” Holder said. “So, go ahead and report me, deport me, unfriend me, block me or demand that the Grand Poobah of the Exalted Order of the Mysterious Rite of the Care Bears remove me from my position as Exalted Honcho of Lodge No. BR-549.”
Clayton said she contacted the Overland Park Police Department and the Capitol Police about Holder’s commentary on social media. She interpreted his statements as a potential threat.
“He made a couple of angry posts,”said Clayton, a centrist Republican who has been a target of aggressive social media messages since elected to the House in 2012.
Holder said sharing his personal “opinion with spleen” could only be viewed as a threat by “intolerant social justice warriors who believe free speech only applies to their way of thinking.”
“We have laws in the country that protect our civil rights from individuals who choose to oppress others under the color of the law, authority of their office or through violence,” Holder said. “These crimes are punished up to and including the death penalty. I firmly believe that any elected official who brings legislation clearly intending to violate my civil rights is guilty of these crimes and should suffer those sanctions.”
House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said anyone advocating execution of an elected public official in Kansas had lost their moral footing.
“It is very representative of why you have to be careful what you say,” Ward said.
“I think it very unfortunate that our laws allow these kinds of things to go unchecked,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka.
Clayton’s bill faces an uncertain future given enthusiasm among many legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback for legislation that affirms the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Brownback signed the concealed-carry law that Clayton seeks to modify. Rep. John Whitmer, R-Wichita, an opponent of Clayton’s bill, said the measure was “dead on arrival.”
This wasn’t the first time Holder shared harsh commentary on Facebook. In March 2012, Holder criticized Kansas State University’s athletics director for contributing to basketball coach Frank Martin’s decision to take the head coaching job at the University of South Carolina.
In a post, he asserted: “If Martin ends up at South Carolina they need to drag John Currie and his family through the streets of Aggieville behind a tractor and hang their dead asses in front of Rusty’s Last Chance for the Wildcat Nation to spit and urinate on.”