Rifle named ‘Cherry Frost’ ignites firestorm

CONCORD – Shortly after he posted a photo of a .22 caliber rifle he called “The Cherry Frost” in an alleged reference to liberal state Rep. Sherry Frost of Dover, the Facebook page of Hudson resident Bob Clegg, a former Republican state Senate majority leader, lit up with comments.

Clegg, a conservative lobbyist and fervent Second Amendment supporter, had posted the photo, which shows the rifle, painted white, and a sign reading “The Cherry Frost … One of a Kind Collectors’ Item,” to drum up sales of tickets for a raffle at last week’s pro-gun rally in front of the State House.

Clegg, the president of ProGun NH, spoke at the rally. It was organized by the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire.

In the meantime, several members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives were among the dozens of people who posted comments on Clegg’s Facebook page. Democrats who responded criticized Clegg for posting a photo of the gun with the reference to “Cherry Frost,” in some cases calling the act “terrorism” that has “terrified” Frost.

Clegg, however, downplayed what he calls an overreaction by “the anti-gun crowd,” noting the photo was on his Facebook page for several days before anyone commented on it.

The comments began gaining steam Wednesday, Clegg said, noting that it was the same day the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to retain, in committee, the so-called “red-flag bill.” This legislation would allow family members or police to seek a court order restricting gun access for people who pose an immediate threat to themselves or others.

“The committee couldn’t pass the bill … so they retained it,” Clegg said. “Now it won’t hit the (House) floor until next January.”

The purpose of the annual gun raffle, Clegg said, is to raise money for scholarships that are awarded to high school students who write the best essays on the topic of the Bill of Rights, and what would happen if one of those rights was removed,” he said.

At some point on Wednesday, Clegg said, one or more Democratic House members “went in and spoke to the Speaker, who went to the security office,” he said, referring to House Speaker Steve Shurtleff.

State House security personnel “went to the Attorney General’s office, because they have to” when receiving such a report, Clegg added.

Later, Clegg said he was notified that Facebook removed the photo, deeming it “inappropriate content” because it involved a gun.

“They asked me if I wanted to appeal it. I told them no,” Clegg said of the Facebook representative who notified him.

That the gun with the “Cherry Frost” reference was seen as a threat to Frost or any other lawmakers is perplexing, Clegg said.

“There’s no threat here, none at all,” he said. “I think what happened is, they went to look, and they all blew up my Facebook page saying, ‘you’re threatening people.'”

He said comments came from users as far away as California and Washington state.

“What they do is, fill up your Facebook account” with comments, Clegg added.

As for “naming” the rifle “Cherry Frost,” Clegg said it “doesn’t necessarily” mean he was referring to Rep. Sherry Frost when he wrote it.

“You’ve heard of Icee Slush Cherry Frost?” he asked a reporter rhetorically, referring to one of the flavors of the novelty drink.

A photo of a bottle of this cherry frost Slush is posted on Clegg’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the statement, “this content isn’t available right now,” appears in the space where the photo of the gun and controversial poster had been until Facebook removed it.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_DeanS.