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Anti-Proposition B Phone Line Disconnected

March 31, 1999
By: Chris Pelikan
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Eastern Missouri U.S. Attorney's office has canceled a controversial 800 toll-free phone number that had been used in the office's efforts against the state's concealed weapon's ballot issue.

Cancellation of the phone number came after the phone number was disclosed by the Columbia Missourian that prompted numerous complaints by proposal supporters.

The phone line, financed by U.S. Justice Department funds, was being used to aid opposition against the right to carry amendment, Proposition B. In response to the report, representatives of several groups including the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms flooded the line with calls of complaint.

"For every call against Proposition B, it is my guess that they got 100 to support it," said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Gottlieb, whose organization is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., said last week's article was part of a mass e-mail sent to over 26,000 members of the Citizens Committee urging them to voice their displeasure.

"This is a victory for the taxpayer," Gottlieb said.

The office of U.S. Attorney Edward Dowd, who handled calls from the now defunct 800 number, claim this issue was misunderstood.

Jan Diltz, spokesperson for Dowd, said the original mailing, which was intended for law enforcement officials, was blown out of proportion.

The phone number was listed in a letter sent to police chiefs across the state voicing opposition to Proposition B that had been signed by both Dowd and the Western Missouri U.S. Attorney.

Recipients were urged to call the number for materials or information in opposition to concealed weapons.

"The mailing spells out Mr. Dowd's concerns," Diltz said. She said Dowd felt compelled to express his concerns regarding Proposition B because he felt it was his responsibility.

Diltz said the 800 number was not established for the purpose of handling anti-Proposition B phone calls.

"The 800 number existed for the general practices of this office," Diltz said.

"We chose to turn off the 800 number because it wasn't being utilized by its intended audience," Diltz said.