, Derry, New Hampshire


January 3, 2013

Column: Cap Gay affair may have had role in Statehouse gun ban


During the time of Vietnam war, he was a major supporter of our involvement in that conflict. He did not appreciate criticism of the war or its goals. Cap received the ire of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union when in 1969 he stood of the front steps of the Statehouse and told a group of anti-war demonstrators that “I’m on the draft board and I can get everyone of you God damn goons!” and “if you want to get to Fort Dix, I can get you a haircut.” In an interview with the Derry Star, he branded all the anti-war demonstrators to be “nuts” who should be arrested. Referring to one local young man by name, Gay said: “Rest assured that if he goes to jail, he will at least have a bath and a haircut after he is deloused.”

In 1970, Marshall Cobleigh was re-elected speaker of the house by an overwhelming majority. One of the few representatives who opposed him was Cap Gay. The two had never been friends. Once Gay had used such bitter words against Cobleigh that Cap had to be escorted out of Representative Hall by the sergeant-at-arms.

For years, Cap had prided himself on the location of his seat in Representative Hall. It was toward the front and on the aisle. In 1971, Cobleigh used his prerogative as speaker to reassign Cap to a seat in the very back of the hall. Cap Gay was more than a little upset.

A few days latter, during a morning legislative session, Minority Leader William Craig of Manchester approached Cobleigh and whispered to the speaker: “I don’t want to alarm you, Marshall, but Cap Gay’s in the back of the hall with a pistol. He says he’s going to shoot you.” Immediately, Marshall cleared all the material away from his podium in case he had to dive beneath it to escape being shot. The speaker knew that Cap was a “heavy drinker” with a fiery temperature and capable of most anything.

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