A school board member and failed state house candidate in Pennsylvania found herself in hot water earlier this week after she vowed in a Facebook post to shoot anyone who approached her without wearing a mask.
She also called non-mask-wearers “bioterrorists” and compared them to someone pointing a gun at her.
Dr. Jennifer Rager-Kay is a Selinsgrove Area School Board member and a former Democratic candidate for a state house seat in Pennsylvania. In a now-deleted Facebook post, she commented under an image of an anti-lockdown protest in Pennsylvania’s capital:
“I find it interesting that the largest group of the participants in the anti-lockdown protest and refusing to wear masks in public as they see it as a violation of their constitutional rights are among those against a form of gun regulations,” she said.
“As a concerned carry-permitted gun owner, if you refuse to wear a mask and try to come within 6 feet of me or my family, I will exercise the same constitutional rights to shoot you.”
The post was shared privately but was soon captured and shared online, according to PennLive.
“We dodged a bullet here in the 85 district when [Republican David Rowe] trounced her in the special election. Pun intended,” Boyd Martin told GunsAmerica. Martin has three daughters who have attended school in Rager-Kay’s district.
Rager-Kay ran for election in 2018 and 2019 for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 2018, she was defeated by Rep. Fred Keller 32% to 68%. When Keller was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Rager-Kay ran for the seat again in a special election, but lost to Republican David Rowe 37% to 62%.
Rager-Kay issued an apology after receiving blowback online, but she justified her “overly dramatic and exaggerated post” by claiming that those who do not wear masks are a “threat against my life”:
I would like to publicly apologize to anyone offended by my recent post regarding the hypocrisy of those who refuse to wear face masks yet walk around openly carrying guns.
I am in a profession where the threat of someone approaching me not wearing a mask while in the midst of a pandemic is equivalent to the threat against my life. Just as it would be if they approached me with their gun drawn and pointed at me.
As a wife, mother and physician, it is my job and responsibility to ‘do no harm’ and the constant barrage of protests and defiance to public health reached a boiling point for me, thus the reason for my overly dramatic and exaggerated post. My words demonstrated how constitutional rights can be misinterpreted, and were meant to serve as an example of extremism.
Bioterrorism is, however, a real threat and refusal to prevent and/or the intentional release or dissemination of biological agents by not wearing a mask during a global pandemic is a clear example. I am sorry if my words were offensive or derogatory in any way. My concern and compassion for human life got the best of me.”
Rager-Kay told PennLive she has no plans to resign from the school board over her comments.
Her fellow school board members have not called for her resignation, but board member Amy Stauffer told PennLive, “as public servants our words are significant and have an impact on others. Threatening words should have consequences.”
School board president Dennis Wolfe said Rager-Kay “should have been more careful with how she expressed her opinion” but believes “her followup explanation reflects that understanding.”
Earlier this week, Rager-Kay posted a follow-up message on her Facebook page, according to PennLive. She described her original post as demonstrating “profound concern of those who refuse to wear a mask” and characterized those who do not wear a mask as have a “lack of love.”
During her failed state house run, Rager-Kay told a local news station that she would work to keep guns out of “improper hands,” including those who “suffer from mental health and addiction.”