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Crowd heckles father who lost daughter to gun violence

John Cantin came to Concord, N.H., Tuesday to advocate for gun control, an issue dear to him after his daughter’s fatal shooting four years ago. But as he stood before the crowd to read his statement, a man came forward, crowded him at the lectern, and harassed him while chants of support erupted.

The exchange was captured in a video that is widely circulating and sparking outrage in some quarters, highlighting the fevered emotions that surround the issue.

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The video shows the man — identified by police as Daniel Musso, 52, of Brentwood, N.H. — walking up to the podium outside the New Hampshire State House and demanding that Cantin take off his sunglasses. Cantin complies. As Cantin tries to resume his speech, the man interrupts.

“What kind of guns we talking here?” the man demands. Cantin waves away offers of help from fellow gun control supporters. “It’s all right,” he tells them.

As Cantin explains that he is there because his daughter was killed by a gun, the man can be seen peering at Cantin’s prepared remarks.

“Sir, have a little respect at this moment,” Cantin says.

“If you had your speech in your mind, you wouldn’t have to read all this propaganda,” the man says while the crowd grows louder and rowdier, chanting “Ayotte, Ayotte,” referring to Senator Kelly Ayotte, the first-term New Hampshire Republican who in April helped to scuttle a bill that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers.

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Musso was later charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and two charges of simple assault, said Concord Police.

The victim of the first alleged assault was an unspecified member of the rally; a Concord Police officer was the victim of the second alleged assault, police said.

The rally was sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and was one of dozens planned across the country to urge lawmakers to approve gun control measures.

Two others have been held, one in Connecticut and one in Maine, and both went off without incident, said Kelly Steele, a spokesman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The group was cofounded in 2006 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, and now includes more than 950 mayors from 45 states, the group says.

In an interview, Cantin said he voted for Ayotte but came to the rally hoping to urge her to change her position on gun legislation.

Cantin’s daughter, Melissa Charbonneau, was fatally shot in 2009 by her estranged husband, who also shot Cantin. Cantin had accompanied his daughter to her home so she could remove her belongings.

Cantin said that Musso did not scare him Tuesday.

“They work off intimidation, but I wasn’t intimidated at all,” he said. “My daughter was shot and killed in 2009, and I was shot trying to get her out of the house.

“By letting them do that, it just displays who they are and weakens their cause.”

Sarah Schweitzer can be reached at sschweitzer@
globe.com
.

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