Once again, a gun shop owner in Raymond is stirring emotions with a roadside sign, which local officials say skirts the fine line between angry opinion and open threat.

For more than a decade, Bill Darling, owner of Gulf of Maine Gunsmithing on Route 302, has been raising eyebrows with sarcastic barbs of political anger posted on a sign outside his shop. Darling’s newest message, erected last week in time for Raymond’s annual town meeting, took aim at town management and rising property taxes.

“Mainers suggest that for every person tax’d out of their home,” the sign read, “their town manager loses an appendage.”

Raymond Town Manager Don Willard feels the sign is more than just offensive; it advocates the outright harming of public officials, he said.

“It’s troubling,” Willard said. “I do see it as a threat.”

Willard is not seeking legal action against Darling or trying to regulate the sign. But he did inform the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department of the situation as he has in the past when he has believed Darling’s sign has alluded to acts of violence.


“In my view, it is not a good idea for a licensed gun dealer or anyone else for that matter to be advertising or promoting or perhaps even inciting violence against a particular class of people, in this case, municipal officials,” Willard said.

Darling explained that the sign is the result of a “survey” he conducted in Raymond and neighboring communities.

In the survey, he asked locals how rising property taxes were affecting their lives.

“You’d be surprised by how many people have been taxed out of their homes,” Darling said. “Most everybody agreed it was town management running amok with spending.”

Darling then offered participants three methods to handle this problem: “guillotine” town managers in the style of the French Revolution, “leave them be” to spend all they want, or remove one of their body parts for every person who loses a home because of high taxation.

This last method was the most popular choice, Darling said, and so he created his sign to voice its message.


In no way does he wish any town manager harm, Darling said, but he hoped the sign would provoke a reaction.

Raymond is no better or worse than most towns when it comes to spending, he said, but the recent revaluation of property in town has put pressure on taxpayers. And many can’t afford what Darling sees as “frivolous spending” on new schools, road projects and other expenses authorized by the town.

“It seems ridiculous to pay for all these things when people who have worked their whole lives to purchase their homes are now being taxed right out of town,” Darling said.

Willard admits he sometimes disagrees with budgetary decisions, but he does not have the final say on spending. Decisions on budget issues and spending is left to elected officials such as Raymond’s Board of Selectman, he said. And ultimately, Raymond voters have the final say at annual town meeting.

Willard’s never heard of anyone being “taxed out of their home” as a result of property taxes in Raymond. But if residents do have trouble paying their taxes, the town provides payment plans and abatements for those who can’t afford to pay.

“I take my job very seriously,” Willard said. “There are many mechanisms under the law so that the town can help taxpayers pay their taxes. I’ve always worked very hard to make sure that anyone in a struggling position gets the help they need.”


Windham Town Manager Anthony Plante believes Darling’s anger toward town managers is misplaced and disturbing. The real problem, he said, is the state’s reliance on property taxes as a measurement of a resident’s wealth.

Instead of threatening town employees, residents should put energy toward solving the problem of Maine’s property tax structure if they are upset with their taxes, and get involved in local government, Plante said.

“It’s unfortunate that people don’t understand how property taxes work and instead threaten people who are doing their jobs,” Plante said.

This is not the first time Darling’s sign has sparked controversy.

In the past, many people have complained about lewd statements on the sign, Willard said, such as remarks criticizing pro-choice women.

Last spring, Darling took aim at state Sen. Bill Diamond, D – Cumberland County, with a sign that read “Demorats, sex offenders, Bill Diamond.”

This sign was in response to an online article by Diamond titled “Guns and Sex Offenders.” Though Diamond tackled the issues separately in the article, Darling was angered by the loose association in the title and so used the same word association on his sign to make a point.

Darling said he likes to shock and “irritate liberals” with his sign to stir emotion on political issues. With limited space on the sign, Darling said he sometimes has to be blunt. And if he had more room, he said he’d have much more to say.

This shop sign, off Route 302 in Raymond, aims to stir debate over town expenses and taxation, but has been perceived by some public officials to be an open threat.

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