Imprisoned neo-Nazi radio host Hal Turner, one of the most vitriolic racists in America, who routinely suggested killing his enemies, may lose a bit of his venom if federal attorneys are successful in their proposition to destroy his guns.
Following his conviction in December, U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter ordered Turner’s small stock of firearms – three pistols and a shotgun – turned over to someone of Turner’s “designation who is licensed to have them.” Federal prosecutors on Monday, however, asked the judge to reconsider, given Turner’s history of threats. “The government requests permission to destroy the firearms, rather than turn them over to Turner’s mother,” the filing said.
Turner owned a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, a Sig Sauer Model P-229.40, a Star Firestar 9mm and a Walther PPK 380. They hardly comprise an arsenal, but federal prosecutors apparently see a threat in letting someone of Turner’s reputation keep weapons, even in family hands.
There’s some justification for that theory – Turner’s threats have followed a long virulent vein. In E-mails to family and friends, he has consistently voiced a wish for bloody vengeance against judges and law enforcement officials involved in his case. Just last month, Turner wrote, “When I get out, I’m gonna go after some ‘problems’ and take care of them in a manner that will be horrific,” according to court records. In another E-mail, Turner asked family members to send him the home addresses on “all the key members in my case,” including prosecutors and other law enforcement officials.
Turner has already gotten in trouble for such threats. In June 2006, Turner threatened a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that had upheld a ban on handguns in Chicago and Oak Park, Ill. He wrote in his blog, “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges must die. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.” The next day, Turner updated the post to include the names, work addresses, phone numbers and photographs of the judges, along with a map of their courthouse – a detail reminiscent of neo-Nazi William White, who was arrested in 2008 for issuing similar threats to a federal juror. Those threats landed Turner a 33-month federal sentence.
Indeed, like White, Turner built his reputation as one of the most scalding ultra-right-wing racists in America after starting his radio show nearly a decade ago. He ranted about such things as a “Portable Nigger Lyncher” machine and slimed those he hated as “savage Negro beasts,” “bull-dyke lesbians,” “faggots” and worse. His relish for issuing explicit calls for death was insatiable; he even set up a website called www.killtheenemy.com. At one point, he boasted that he could inspire “a whole slew of potential Timothy McVeighs.” “I don’t make bombs,” he said, “I make bombers.”
His reputation suffered in 2008 when unidentified hackers confronted Turner on his own forum with claims they successfully hacked into his E-mails and found correspondence with an FBI agent – apparently Turner’s handler. “Once again,” Turner wrote in the message to his handler, “my fierce rhetoric has served to flush out a possible crazy.” It turns out the FBI had used Turner to gain information about white supremacists from 2003 through 2007.
During trial, Turner argued that his rhetoric was merely political hyperbole of the sort that he claimed his FBI handlers had encouraged to entice potentially violent racists to respond to him and, in the process, identify themselves to the Bureau. Turner has maintained the FBI had given him virtual carte blanche to broadcast the things he did – something the agency has steadfastly denied.
A telephone message seeking comment was left Tuesday with his attorney, Ronald Russo, in New York.