As an outspoken advocate of gun control, Phoenix attorney Vladimir Gagic knows that plenty of people will not agree with his positions.
He was not, however, expecting vulgar email threats after sharing his views on a local television station several months ago. One man wrote to Gagic:
"(expletive deleted) YOU you piece of (expletive deleted) "Vladimir" - you are a dumb (expletive deleted) ... I can't believe you spout such (expletive deleted) in AZ...It must suck to have to look over your shoulder every day."
Gagic says he and his fellow colleagues in the legal profession deal with threats routinely.
"It's very common. It is extremely common," said Gagic.
The State Bar of Arizona is taking notice of an increase in threats and violence directed at attorneys.
"There is a trend. An upwards trend in violence," said John Phelps, CEO of the State Bar of Arizona. "We had a lawyer shot and killed in Yuma last year. There have been attacks against judges."
In fact, just Thursday in a small town south of Dallas, TX, an assistant district attorney was gunned down while walking towards his courthouse office.
He was shot multiple times by masked assailants.
A survey done last year in Nevada revealed that 40 percent of lawyers had been threatened or assaulted at least once. Several other states have done similar studies. The State Bar of Arizona says they will follow suit and mail out a survey to its members at some point this year.
"It does happen. I don't know to what extent it happens here in Arizona," said Phelps.
Working as an attorney often involves conflict and emotions can run high on both sides of an issue.
"It's a sad commentary in our country for professionals who wear suits and ties and carry a briefcase. That's our weapon. Now, we might have to carry a Sig Sauer or a Glock in the other hand," said Gagic.
Statistics regarding threats against lawyers are not compiled on a state or national level.
However, the U.S. Marshals Service does track the number of threats received by federal judges. Numbers of such threats have doubled since 2001.
They have increased in number each year since 2008 with reports of more than 1,200 each year since then.
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