Warsaw Mayor Ernie Wiggins wants to clear his name.

Wednesday he said he is not a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.

Wiggins contacted the Times-Union Wednesday morning stating he received inquiries from local residents about whether or not he was a member of the coalition.
He requested his secretary, Michelle Bormet, on his behalf Wednesday morning, to fill out information on the coalition's Web site to remove his name from the coalition membership and no longer send him e-mails or information. Wiggins' photo and name was on the site Wednesday, but was not on the site this morning.

Bormet said she received a confirmation e-mail Wednesday afternoon from coalition officials stating Wiggins' name had been removed from the coalition membership list.

"First of all, I respect anyone's right to own a gun, and I think it is within every citizen's right to do that, and I would never support anything that restricts that ability," Wiggins said.

He said on the surface, who can argue against illegal guns, but that is not the issue.

"I do respect local people who are members of the National Rifle Association who have asked me to remove my name from the membership, and I have done so," Wiggins said.

Wiggins said he does not support taking away a person's right to bear arms.

He said maybe a lack of his insight into what the organization was initially about on the surface sounded innocent at first.

"I'll be honest when I say I don't recall signing up for the coalition's membership and obviously I didn't realize what it was all about," Wiggins said.

He said he originally signed up to be on the coalition's e-mail list to follow its information, but did not agree to become a coalition member.

Wiggins said he owns a shotgun and has hunted in the past, but does not own a handgun and doesn't have a permit to carry one.

When Wiggins Wednesday was asked how his name and photo got on the coalition's Web site, he said he had been receiving e-mails from the group for some time.

"Frankly, I don't recall if I responded to the e-mails when they e-mailed to ask me if I wanted to continue to receive the e-mails," Wiggins said. "All of a sudden I am a member of this organization, and frankly on the surface the organization sounds innocent, who's not against illegal guns?"

Wiggins said he didn't think too much about the e-mails until he received a phone call from a former classmate last week informing him that his name is being associated with the organization.

According to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition Web site, there are more than 450 mayors from more than 40 states who have joined the coalition. The Web site is mayorsagainstillegalguns.org

Information on the site states the coalition's goal is to make the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets.

The site shows a photo of mayors and their names who are part of the coalition.

Besides Wiggins, other Indiana mayors named as coalition members are from Angola, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Goshen, Linton, Portland, South Bend and Tell City.

As of this morning, the only remaining mayor's names and photos on the site were from Angola, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Goshen, Linton, and South Bend.

Wiggins said the most recent e-mail he received from the coalition dated Tuesday was a fact sheet regarding inaccuracies about Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

William Frush, Warsaw, received a legislative alert post card from the National Rifle Association dated Sept. 4 that states Wiggins joined the coalition. The organization was founded and is funded by activist and anti-gun billionaire and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The post card also encouraged Frush to e-mail or write Wiggins and ask him to support law-abiding gun owners by publicly disassociating himself with the coalition.

Since May 27, Wiggins said he has received approximately 14 newsletter e-mails from the coalition, but has not responded to the e-mails.

"I don't need to be embroiled in that hassle, and don't want to make a big deal out of this, but have it out there that I have requested to have my name removed from the coalition's membership and contact list," he said.