Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blow Back

Last month, I wrote a column focusing on a group of gun owners in Virginia who held a raucous gathering and gun giveaway as a way of thumbing its nose at gun control advocates, specifically New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (Automatics for the People/5.18.07). The Virginia Citzens Defense League believes that Bloomberg has infringed on its Second Amendment rights by filing a series of lawsuits against gun dealers in Virginia; these lawsuits have been based on information obtained by undercover private investigators from New York, all of whom Bloomberg authorized to conduct investigations far outside his own city. Bloomberg's rationale is that certain weapons dealers in Virginia are illegally selling guns which eventually end up being used in violent crimes in New York City; these undercover stings apparently prove as much.

On the night of May 17th, the VCDL invited its members to strap on their dual-sidearms -- which they proudly did -- and head on down to a tiny government building in Annandale, Virginia for the "Bloomberg Gun Giveaway." The group raffled off a Para-ordnance handgun and a "Varmint Stalker" rifle (and no, I'm not making that up) and showed off a cake adorned with an unflattering picture of Bloomberg. They laughed and whooped it up. They ridiculed their alleged oppressors. They had a hell of a time.

Meanwhile, outside, a small group gathered to quietly protest all this he-man gun lust; among them were the parents of some of the kids shot down in the Virginia Tech massacre -- which had occurred almost a month to the day previously.

Responding to the protest, Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave took the road most traveled by gun advocates, saying that although he sympathized with the families of those lost, he firmly believed that more guns on campus would've prevented such a tragedy.

At the time, I said that to call the entire gruesome curiosity obscene would be an insult to obscenity. Also, in keeping with the mission statement printed in bold letters directly beneath the headline at the top of this page ("Making a Mockery of Mockery"), I took a few admittedly juvenile shots at the apparent preponderance of overweight rednecks in a group bearing such a muscular name -- my point being that these clowns didn't look like they could "defend" a Twinkie from themselves.

Well, as it turns out, Philip Van Cleave read what I wrote -- and decided to write me back:


Your description of VCDL and its members bears no resemblance to the group. We have lots of professionals, police officers, firemen, attorneys, military, etc. We have members of all races, too. So assuming that we are racist or stupid is really your own prejudice against gun owners showing through. If you go to our web site (, you can see video of us in action. It clearly won't be what you expect to see.


Philip Van Cleave

Short and sweet.

In fact, my immediate reaction upon reading it was to say, "That's all?"

The fact that Mr. Van Cleave chose to zero in on one offhand comment instead of confronting every other argument I made in that original column proves one of two things -- either I'm not making myself clear enough, or he doesn't have a leg to stand on. (There is a third possibility, which is that he's been forced to defend this ridiculous spectacle so many times over the past month that he's sick of bothering.)

As far as I can tell, I did make myself pretty damn clear:

"Anyone whose judgment is so lousy that he would throw a party and gleefully thumb his nose in the face of families recently devastated by gun violence can't be trusted with a deadly weapon. If the mere feelings of another human being are of no consequence to these dolts, I find it impossible to believe that the human life they have the potential to take will be of much more value.

These aren't gun enthusiasts -- these are gun worshippers. That's the problem, because as my father taught me so long ago -- there should be no such thing.

It's one thing to recognize a weapon as a necessity, a means to and end, even an instrument of sport -- of enjoyment; it's another thing entirely to believe it to be a large part of your identity -- your very manhood.

Anyone who thinks this way shouldn't be allowed to own a gun."

As for what gives me the credentials to make such an assertion, it goes back to the man mentioned in the above excerpt -- my father. I wrote at the time about his exploits as both a Navy SEAL commander and a cop -- and the man who taught me how to use and respect a weapon. If you'll pardon the pun, this shoots an awful lot of holes in Mr. Van Cleave's claim that I have a prejudice against gun owners. Far from it.

What I have a problem with is irresponsible gun owners -- and as far as I'm concerned, there's little that's more irresponsible than throwing a heavily armed frat-party. It shows zero respect for the awesome power you wield in exercising your Second Amendment rights -- and that makes you dangerous, and unfit to carry a gun. Period.

Still, in the interest of fairness, I took Mr. Van Cleave's advice and checked out the VCDL's website. I highly suggest taking a look for yourself; that's the only way to truly appreciate the surreal lunacy of it all.

The home page features an initial description of the group, touting in big, bold letters its belief that "the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental human right." For those keeping track -- you're entitled to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and a crap-load of heavy weaponry (which, one imagines, would fall under the "pursuit of happiness" clause for most in the VCDL anyway).

As you further peruse the group's page, you find pictures of the massive success that was the Bloomberg Gun Giveaway Extravaganza, including a few photos of Philip Van Cleave himself (nice utility belt, Batman).

Also included in the slideshow by the way is a picture of one of the protesters of this little gathering. Suffice to say, the staff of caption writers for the VCDL, although not quite as unnecessarily florid as myself and some others, are damn sure as caustic when it comes to ridiculing those they don't particularly like.

All of this is just the amuse bouche for the truly tasty treat to be found in the links section however.

A glance to the right side of the homepage reveals two links, one called "Gun Friendly Lawyers" -- because apparently you never know when you're going to need one of those -- and the second, and infinitely more humorous, called "Gun Owner Unfriendly."

Yes, it's an enemies list.

Click it, and a world of jaw-dropping insanity comes alive.

Among the businesses the VCDL -- a group which promotes the notion that every citizen should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon -- has pegged as "unfriendly" to those carrying guns:

Wachovia Bank.

First Union Bank.

BB&T Bank.

Jared Jewelry.

Outback Steakhouse.

King's Dominion Theme Park.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shops (damn hippies).

7-11 Stores.

Red Lobster.

They call these businesses and many others like them "Criminal Safe Zones."

I couldn't, in my wildest Edgar Allen Poe-like delerium, conceive of a group of people sitting around angrily pondering why a fucking bank doesn't want concealed weapons getting through its front doors.

Yet there it is -- the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

I'd like to thank Mr. Van Cleave for writing, and for allowing me to see that he, in fact, was correct: His group isn't what I expected -- it's a whole hell of a lot worse. It's a group that's not only too irresponsible to be allowed to carry weapons -- it's too goddamned stupid.


Spencer said...

I love that the photobucket login for the event photographer is "nakedshoplifter"

Manny said...

Oh man, that was fucking great. Did you check out the "Accomplishments" link? Holy crap. They are actually proud of "Pressured Lowe's Stores to Allow Concealed Carry on Premises"


"Worked with Henrico Board of Supervisors to get ban on permit holders in Henrico parks removed".

These fucktards are one case of beer away from an armed standoff with the police.

Spencer said...

...Oh, and from his personal pics, he's got 800 rounds of .45 auto, 2300 rounds of 9mm, and 1100 rounds of .22 rifle ammo on his closet shelf. Granted, they're mostly lighter grained range rounds, but still. It looks like his carry weapon is a Sig P226 and he has picture of himself giving testimony at what looks to be some sort of public hearing with the gun proudly displayed in a hip holster. (I just threw up a little)

It looks like he also has a Heckler & Koch USP Tactical (why pay the extra money for the tactical unless you need it like a cop - or you're just a douche) and a Bushmaster AR15 with a loaded ammo box of what looks like 5.56mm rounds. He has to have at least one more gun also, because that AR15 won't fire those 1100 rounds of rimfire .22 on the closet shelf.

Granted this guy may actually be a LEO or a serviceman. I know absolutely nothing about him and I may be way off base. I just get a funny (bad) feeling looking through his pics.

Laser Rocket Arm said...

Yes, Virginia is rather an interesting state to live in. It's funny that they mention Kings Dominion as "unfriendly" to gun carriers, considering that there's at least one gang shooting a year there (if you ever go there you'll realize that the place doesn't have the nickname Crips' Dominion for nothing). Yeah, for every person who does manage to thwart a crime by having a gun there's a hundred other fucktards who shoot their buddies over card games or their wives when dinner doesn't get to the table fast enough.

Anonymous said...

You're flat-out WRONG Chez.
That was not an unflattering picture of Bloomberg on the cake. And further,Van Cleave is the roughest, toughest, he-man stuffiest hombre as ever crossed the Rio Grande and I ain’t no mamby pamby

Yosemite Sam

Al said...

Can't agree with your logic on carrying in a bank. I had a nice conversation with the manager of the UM credit union when they added a two-door metal detector thing due to the numerous robberies they'd "enjoyed". I pointed out that while that would certainly help reduce the risk to the employees (no problem there) it would certainly do little to protect the CUSTOMERS leaving the bank with a pocketful of cash on payday...which anyone with a clue around UM knows is Thursdays.

His response was that he was fine with legal owners / CCW holders (he is one, like myself) but their insurance carrier absolutely refused to cover them without the door., law-abiding customers were SOL while the thugs could simply wait outside to make personalized withdrawls. Hmm.

What bugs me is the fringe whackos purposely inflaming public opinion at their own expense. Morons should have shown decorum vis a vis VT if for no other reason than to show themselves in a positive light. The fact remains - how many of the 32 would have lived if one of the victims could have eliminated the threat?

I'm no cowboy and no hero, but I sure as shit do no leave the safety of my family at the discretion of those that mean harm. Passivity is no better than extremism...right?

TK said...

Reminds me of Sam Elliot in Tombstone: "We're not saying you can't own a gun. We're not saying you can't carry a gun. We're saying you can't carry a gun in town.

Al... wow. I can't possibly disagree more. A crowded, panicked situation, and you think additional guns would have made it safer? Sure, there's a chance that in that crazy situation, armed students would have taken the gunmen out... but what are the chances that no innocents get caught in the crossfire? Not to mention- it's a classroom, not a DMZ. Allowing guns in a school is simply a greater recipe for disaster, in ANY scenario.

Dave in Canada said...

Amendment II:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

I wonder what all the gun nuts would do if the goverment (well, not Bush's government, but some government), said "Alright. All you citizen defence leaguers are going to be organized into militias and sent to Iraq to defend the security of our free state."?

As to the idea that "If all the students had guns, this never would have happened." If looking down the barrel of a gun and taking someones life is so easy, why do militaries the world over spend so much time teaching recruits how to kill? Not loading and firing the weapon. Not being brave in the face of the enemy. But how to kill.

Maybe Mr. Van Cleave would care to explain that.

Lily's Mommy said...

I'm stupefied. I used to work at Lexis Nexis in Charlottesville, Va. There were signs displayed on all the entrances, something to the effect of no guns allowed. I used to think what asshole would need to bring a gun to work. Well, now I know.

VOTAR said...

I wonder if the little cake guns were edible.

Kell said...

Al, laws allowing people to carry weapons into banks or any other place of business is not going to make people safer!
Please read-

Its a tired argument but still.
Chez, thanks again for the laughs.

girl with curious hair said...

Apparently Mr. Van Cleave didn't have a problem with you pointing out the absurdity of what they were doing (maybe he didn't even notice that part of your argument), he just had a problem with you calling them names. They are very sensitive people who never resort to name calling or mockery of people they disagree with.

I remember a few years ago when I lived in AZ, this guy was flipping out, insisting everyone boycott BofA, Chase Bank and a bunch of other businesses because they wouldn't support gun laws and the NRA. Shocking.

The good news is, people are reading your blog in Virginia!

slouchmonkey said...

"Kindred to being an American" --Glorified G

Al said...

The root issue is WHO is armed, ultimately. Would a campus of universally armed VT underclassmen be a good idea? No. But then again, I never said it would have been.

Having personally gone through the CCW process (this after making a transition from being VERY anti-gun to actually apprecaiting their place) I can only speak for myself in saying that it is a HUGE responsibility and legal obligation. I voluntarily subjected myself to background checks, fingerprinting and classes in order to responsibly assume the added liability of gun ownership. It was not a decision taken lightly nor one that I assumed in a Hollywood jerk-off fantasy fulfillment to become Bruce Willis. Understand that CCW holders are held to a higher legal standard - an unarmed CCW holder can be charged with felony assault merely for TALKING smak ("I'll kill you") even with no intend or ability to enact that threat. Just carrying a license for a weapon.

Those that assume the responsibility of carrying a weapon should (and the vast majority DO) have a deep respect for both the weapon and the circumstances under which it can be used. I practised shooting regularly and never, ever WANTED to need to draw in anger. I never did. Never want to. But there were more than a few times that my wife would ask "do you have it" - and I was glad I did.

32 people died at VT because all they could do was hope that a sociopathic killed would not target THEM. How is that preferable to having a properly trained, legally licensed and responsible gun owner defend innocent lives?

That approach worked here:

As for Australia...I applaud their efforts. Given the results of gun restrictions in DC, San Francisco and Chicago (and the increase in violent crime that followed) I'm sadly not at all in agreement that such measures would work here.

Criminals don't tend to follow laws - that's the rub.

John said...

This is so funny. The way you mock the ignorant liberal mindset. Oh, no,banks couldn't allow guns! As if hundreds of armed LEO don't visit a bank across America every day without a problem. I love how you fault the gun owners for insensivity as you insult their linage, intelligence,and worth.A great example of a Gorism, do as I say not as I do. Well done.

Chez said...

First of all, what the hell are you talking about? One clear thought as opposed to nine or ten fragmented ones would greatly help whatever argument it is that you're trying to make.

If you have an issue with the fact that I'm calling idiots idiots, then you should probably be reading something else.

Feisty said...

The article is much funnier if you're like me and you read it as the VIRGIN Citizens Defense. :D

John said...

"First of all, what the hell are you talking about? One clear thought as opposed to nine or ten fragmented ones would greatly help whatever argument it is that you're trying to make."

Talking about you being the polar of Cobert, mocking the left as he mocks the right.... unless you are being serious.
Nine or ten idea fragments in such a short post. You wouldn't be prone to exageration?

Chez said...

You misspelled exaggeration -- but now I'm just being a petty jerk and poking you with a stick.

Seriously man, go read something else; you'll be much happier bitching about those rotten elitists to people who don't think you're an idiot.

John said...

Sorry about my hamhanded attempts to bring you into a interchange.I am concerned about the next presidential election and the sad lacking of people trying to understand the other side of things. Would you be interested in an exchange with someone who is far different from you? My name is John, I have four kids, I live in the rural midwest, married 22 years, a Christian conservative who holds opinions that are opposed to yours.I have read your blog for some time, sometimes more for irritant effect than for enlightenment. Thanks for your time so far. Let me know what you think of a dialogue with your opposite.

Vermillion said...

Plus, he misspelled Colbert and insensitivity. Unless he was being sarcastic.

And forgive my ignorance, but what does he mean by LEO? Low Earth Orbit? The constellation? DiCaprio (since he talks about lefties)? Honestly, what?

Chez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chez said...


Law Enforcement Officer


Look man, I'm sure you're a fine person -- and contrary to what you may think, I'm not only open-minded but half of my family is made up of Christians from Kentucky, so it's not like I'm sitting in some kind of ivory tower here casting stones at the unwashed masses.

That said, this is essentially my forum and while I love debate -- particularly when it's civil (ironic I know, given my occasional willingness to deliver verbal beatdowns) -- this site was never intended to allow for a "dialogue" between myself and those who may or may not agree with me. I'm more than willing to listen to all sides of an argument, but please understand that this is, for all intents and purposes, my house -- and therefore you may never get what you'd consider to be a "fair fight."

Oh, and one more thing: I honestly don't mean to offend you -- but despite the collective belief of 50% of my family, I really don't like religion; I'm of the opinion that it's a ridiculous and antiquated notion -- akin to a child's fairy tale -- and that it poisons EVERYTHING it touches to the point of contributing to death and destruction around the world.

This is not something of which you'll ever convince me otherwise.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

All this fuss aside...Great article Chez! Once again, you've put into words what I haven't had the guts to say. I never really understood the point of your 2nd ammendment. (I'm from Quebec by the way). My dad owns a hunting rifle, but I don't even think it's legal to own a handgun around here. And I don't really see why he would need one.

Nevertheless, love reading you. Too bad my friends all speak french 'cuz I would refer this blog too anyone who wants to read the opinions of someone who knows what he's talking about.


Anonymous said...


Way off topic, and outside the scope but I would like to throw some firebombs your way. With all due respect, F.U!!!

When you say you're "christian conservative" that means, to me, quite obviously, that you want to pander your fairy-tale beliefs into public policy whether its gun-control, abortion, or on gay issues. I am, thankfully, everything you believe not. Because of who I am, and not what I believe, is how you and your's choose to persecute me with all your psycho-babble and religious proselytizing. It makes me sick. Not because of what you say or think of me as a gay man, but because of how you can't or won't think otherwise. How morpid are your thinking skills when you think people like Richard Simmons or Charles Nelson Reilly were born heterosexuals.

I am sorry to be so presumptous to accuse you, without knowing you, but when you throw out how your "christian soldier marching on" b.s. serves you well, presumably, that touches a nerve, and you damn well know, that I know, you're out there in the political world trying to influence your small-mindeness to other like-minded people to continue to haunt my gay brothers and sisters.

Thank you

Stu Nod said...

Wow. Found this blog whilst searching for Para Ordnance info.

Just like you folks can't imagine what gun owners & VCDL are thinking, I can't fathom were you are coming from. You are way too smart for me.

Yours in RKBA,


Anonymous said...

To Dave in Canada:

The question you posed, "How would the gun owners care for being called up to serve in Iraq", can be asked another way:

What would the 99% of Americans who aren't required to fight the war in Iraq, react if the draft was re-instated instead of calling up all the Reserve and National Guard units that have served, many times more than once?

Maybe the anti-war demonstrations would have been a little larger?

Like a lot larger.