Man Who Wrote Viral Facebook Post on Gun Control Harassed, Daughter Threatened With Rape

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A Florida man has been harassed after posting a viral screed against the NRA on Facebook. Hemmert/Facebook

An Army veteran who wrote about surrendering his firearms in an impassioned plea for gun control has been targeted and harassed online by self-proclaimed defenders of the Second Amendment.

Steve Hemmert, who lives in Miami, told Newsweek that he has been flooded with threats to his family since writing the now-viral Facebook post on Saturday. He called them "deeply disturbing."

"I hope someone breaks into your house and rapes your daughter," wrote one Facebook user, according to screenshots provided to Newsweek by Hemmert. "While she is being raped I hope she looks up and says, daddy where's the gun we built? Where!!!!"

In other messages, people threatened to shoot the family's dog. Someone has also been calling Hemmert's girlfriend on her personal phone and leaving harassing messages, he said, adding that he has contacted local authorities.

"There has been a substantial negative and very ugly response," he said. "The thing that I have learned over the past three days is that there are a lot of unhinged people who own AR-15s, and I am convinced now more than ever that those people really should not be trusted with anything more dangerous than a butter knife."

The harassment comes after Hemmert posted a picture with Miami police officers at a gun buyback event, where he sold his assault-style weapons. Instead of a caption, he attached a lengthy screed against the NRA and gun industry.

"They're pushing a dangerous product that has no benefit to society," he wrote. "It took a long time for us to stand up to the cigarette industry and call out their lies and their political influence. But now it is a dying industry. We can do the same thing with the gun industry."

He also called for a ban on semi-automatic weapons, conceding that the firearms are "fun to shoot" but "make terrible self defense weapons" because of their size.

"But my desire -- and the desire of all the other AR owners out there -- to have fun toys no longer outweighs the value of the 17 lives that were taken down the street last month," he said. "Or the lives of countless other people whose lives have been taken by these toys, these weapons of war."

Hemmert said he used to love assembling guns with his 14-year-old daughter and once considered himself a staunch advocate for gun rights. But the Parkland, Florida, shooting changed that. His daughter lives nearby and knows students who had guns fired at them. Now, she'll only wear tennis shoes to school in case she has to flee from a gunman.

"You can't imagine something like that until it happens in your community," Hemmert said. "You know, my daughter told me that she went into her all her classes to find the safest spot to hide in case there was a shooting. It shouldn't be that way."

Despite the deluge of harassment and threats, Hemmert said there's been an "overwhelming" amount of support for his post. So far, it has amassed more than 90,000 shares.

"I'm really, really surprised," he said. "If anything, this entire experience has just confirmed that I did the right thing."