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Stockman Still Has Support Back Home

May 16, 1995

ANAHUAC, Texas (AP) _ The magazine racks give you an indication of what’s in vogue here.

Vogue magazine is not. Neither is Vanity Fair, nor The New Yorker _ but there are plenty of magazines at the convenience store about hunting and fishing and guns.

That helps explain why many people in Chambers County appear ambivalent about the attention being paid to their freshman congressman, Republican Steve Stockman, whose incendiary anti-gun control arguments have prompted sharp outcry.

``I don’t hear anything positive or negative,″ Lercy Owen, who runs Lercy’s Diner in Winnie, 15 miles east of Anahuac, said Monday.

An article Stockman wrote for the June issue of Guns & Ammo magazine claims federal law enforcement went after the Branch Davidians in April 1993 to whip up support for a ban on assault-style weapons.

Stockman wrote that the federal government ``executed″ the more than 80 cult members who died during the final fire, which started when the FBI rushed the Waco compound with armored vehicles following a 51-day standoff. He suggested that Attorney General Janet Reno should have faced premeditated murder charges for her role in the raid.

The Clinton administration denounced Stockman’s claims as ``outrageous and reckless accusations.″

People in Chambers County are more forgiving of Stockman, who won by a nearly 3-2 margin in November to oust 21-term Democrat Jack Brooks, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

``I think it’s a little too soon to say he’s a villain,″ says Keith Kathan, editor of The Progress, a weekly newspaper that bills the county 50 miles east of Houston as the place ``where dreams about hunting and fishing come true.″

``Let him do his job. If he’s as bad as some people think he is, then let’s vote him out,″ added Kathan, who said he was delighted by Stockman’s election.

``The media often comes on the side of more gun control. But here we raise cattle. And if there’s a cottonmouth fixing to attack your leg, you shoot it. This is a good rock-hard, I-like-guns kind of place.″

Stockman wrote the Guns & Ammo article in February, before the April 19 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, which authorities believe was deliberately carried out on the second anniversary of the Waco debacle.

Shortly after the bombing, Stockman’s Washington office received a cryptic fax mentioning a bomb and Oklahoma. The time stamp on the fax indicated it was sent an hour before the Oklahoma City bombing, although staffers believed the time was inaccurate.

The fax originally was thrown away. After staffers learned of the bombing, they retrieved it and shared it with the FBI and National Rifle Association.

Some people in Stockman’s 9th Congressional District think Stockman is being treated unfairly by the media.

``I read some of the articles,″ said Emil Serda, who runs a bait and tackle shop in Winnie.

``They’re taking a lot of it out of context,″ he said. ``He’s a good guy and we like him.

``I don’t think Stockman wanted kids blown up, dad-gummit. In Waco, (the federal agents) did mess up, but that doesn’t justify somebody blowing up a federal building. And that’s what he’s saying.″

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