About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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August 13, 2008

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Spy Tales

     We rarely have occasion to talk about moles and secret operatives, so what do you make of the case of Mary McFate, also known as Mary Lou Sapone, who allegedly infiltrated anti-gun groups as a spy for the pro-gun lobby?
    There's been so much coverage of the story recently, it's hard to know which source article to reference. So I'm going with the investigative piece that broke the news in Mother Jones magazine on July 30 called, "There's Something About Mary: Unmasking a Gun Lobby Mole." 
     According to that report, Mary McFate began working with various gun control groups starting in the mid 1990's. She was involved with the Million Mom March, worked for the coalition group States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and collaborated with organizations such at the Brady Campaign, among many other initiatives. Such involvement gave her access to everything from legislative strategies and event planning to insider gossip.
     While some gun control colleagues noticed that McFate would occasionally drop out of contact and frequently declined media appearances, she was widely regarded as a committed and passionate anti-gun activist.
     However, according to the investigative report, during the time that McFate was increasing her involvement with the anti-gun movement, she was also Mary Lou Sapone, a "research consultant" hired by the pro-gun lobby. (Interestingly, in the 1980s, Sapone had "infiltrated the animal rights community" as an "operative" for a security firm.) Now gun control advocates are wondering who she reported to, and if she's the only "mole" among them.
     As for McFate, she has been unreachable by the press, and ABC News reported last week that her Florida neighbors said she was on vacation in Belize.
      How much attention have you paid to the case, and how much of the alleged spy activity do you believe? I find the whole affair as interesting as it is unnerving, and I'm very curious to see how it develops. -K.H.


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I am a "spy" for a major retailer gathering prices, promotional info, etc. for another major retailer. We are an "excepted part of the industry"... my position exists in all of the major retail companies. (Including the retailer I spend my days gathering info from.) So when I first heard about this, it grabbed my attention momentarily, but not enough to research what had been written about it thus far. Until I read the article from Mother Jones magazine, that is.
It IS a little unnerving! And I have to wonder if Mary didn't go too far in 1988 when she "advocated violence and encouraged the would-be bomber to follow thru with the remote controlled pipe bombing." That's bizarre!

Laura Bell

I seen this in the paper the other day and I did read the article. I found it kind of amusing, especially the part where the anti's were searching the offices for bugs. I'm unsure on it all, but I will continue to keep tabs on it. Most likely though, you won't find out the full truth on it.


What ... ? Now the anti gun people want to get their shorts in a bunch about someone misrepresenting the truth? Pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? Of course, Brady et all have NEEEVVER done anything like this ...

Kimberly Hiss

Jan, I'm with you on that pipe bombing incident -- that did seem to put her activities on a different level. And Laura, I agree, I don't think we'll get the full story. But I'm still curious to hear the response from certain involved parties. - K.H.