To my fellow Gun Owners of Maine Brothers and Sisters in Arms;
I am not in a loss for words very often, but today is that day…. I wanted to let you know as soon as I could. I wanted you to hear, here at home, first hand.
This morning I received a message that I knew was coming, but hoped would never happen. I feel sick to my stomach as I write this, as I am also trying to process it along with you, this very second. We have all lost a friend and family member this morning, (1/16/2020) in the passing of Todd Tolhurst.
After not feeling very well for a while, Todd’s health took a fast turn for the worse a few weeks ago. We hoped it was a brief bout with some nasty bug, but it turned out to be a very aggressive cancer that took his life Thursday morning.
Todd and I met several years ago, introduced by a common friend, during the rise of what we now know today as Gun Owners of Maine. We have been friends since that first introduction and have shared many a political foxhole as we worked side by side to maintain and increase the recognition of our rights in Maine.
Todd Tolhurst is a familiar name within Gun Owners of Maine, having served as our President for the vast majority of our existence, but the work he did for us went well beyond a figurehead position in a small state club.
Todd’s diligent work, and his communication skills, helped build a real grassroots force for the first time in Maine. We had reached a time where 2 or 3 organizational leaders could no longer effectively express our interests in Augusta, and he knew that the REAL power of Grassroots couldn’t be ignored.
He was right; since its inception, and under his leadership, Maine has seen a huge number of new laws that relax the binds we’d previously been under and many had accepted as “normal”. Under his leadership, we passed bills that dropped the unreasonable restrictions on some common knives, exempted binary compounds for target shooters, added protections for existing shooting ranges and even cleared up some firearms hunting laws that crossed into the target shooting field.
Perhaps his crown jewel project was dropping the necessity for a carry permit, which was long referred to as impossible. He knew it was already perfectly legal to have and carry the firearm, and it was only the addition of the jacket or sweatshirt that was in play. He was told “No one will know what to do or get training anymore” and instead of accepting such a statement to stand, Todd got together with Portland Attorney John Chapman and produced a Free, Online Video, Maine Carry class that over a thousand people have participated in to date. Todd didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk.
Through his leadership we were able to fight back when a Billionaire had us on his radar and pumped in millions of dollars to usurp our rights. When I told Todd that we were polling at over 60% in favor of these new laws, he didn’t skip a beat and proclaimed, “Well, it looks like we have our work cut out for us than. It will be that much sweeter when we win.” And win we did.
Todd was leading the charge right through a month ago, never having the words “We can’t” as part of his vocabulary. It was always clear to him that “We ABSOLUTELY can”, we just have to have the right message to motivate everyone to get involved.
Todd was a level headed thinker, smart beyond his admission. He always thought everything out, several moves ahead. He was a master of communication, turning an available FaceBook space into a sounding board used to communicate in a flash with over 33-Thousand like-minded grassroots patriots. He was a logical, passionate speaker who never missed an opportunity to testify on a bill, participate in a work session or even an informal meeting where we could be effective. No matter what the tools needed to most effectively communicate, be it video cameras, stickers or flash cards, T-Shirts or posters, Todd had them available in their most effective means.
Even recently, as Todd’s health as declining, he wasn’t ready to give up. While others were offering to take over duties to relieve some of his time constraints, he said “Naw, I can still do some of that. I’ll still be involved.” He never gave up.
In closing, it’s important to understand that fighting for our right to self preservation has been a pretty lonely place at times. 25-30 years ago, there were not many familiar faces at hearings and around the capitol in general.
Thanks to the family that was built here at GOME, that’s not the case anymore. When duty calls, and it’s time to show up and be heard, it’s unusual to NOT be the majority, often by a huge margin. In Todd’s absence as we move forward, which we must do, it’s my feeling that we should honor his legacy by utilizing the organization that he helped to create, to its fullest extent. We need only peek at the national news to see the danger all around us, and thanks to Todd Tolhurst, we already have the perfect vehicle to leave this big blue rock a better, safer, freer place for the next several generations.
In deep sadness, I’ll not see my friend Todd again, but his memory will live on through the positive work we do in the future. RIP my friend, your hard work will be remembered and built upon for generations to come.
Jeff W. Zimba
GOME Ballistic Evangelist