Gun guru Rob Pincus writes: Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. has shared his experience with a production company [First Freedom Television] that has been found out to be running a scam on The Firearms Community. [Click here for Mr. Van Cleave’s post on how he got punked into demonstrating gun training four-year-olds.] Here are the highlights of my experience . . .
I was actually flown out to this taping that was going on in PA a couple of weeks ago.
The production team figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to go along with the shenanigans and then proceeded to come up with every version of excuse for why they “went ready for me” or “there were delays” when I repeatedly tried to make contact with the supposed “Trainers” that were involved.
At one point I actually got in a car and was heading over to the taping location in Harrisburg from the Great American Outdoors Show and they had the driver turn around and take me back to the hotel. The production staffer was in a panic on the phone, which she obviously didn’t know was on speaker. She insisted that I be taken to my hotel and that the car return for someone else that why were ready for.
One of the production staff members showed up there to cover my associated expenses and have me sign a receipt (I never signed a release of agreement to be part of the production). Throughout this time I had been in contact with two different women: Ashley Winthrop and Alexis Rothe. I was also forwarded an email from a “Julia” who arranged my flight.
I later heard from a gun rights activist, Jan, who was also invited to participate. I had met her the night before, as we both flew in on the same flight and had given her my contact information.
They actually put her in front of the camera that day and manipulated her into playing along with the some extraordinarily ridiculous things like a gun disguised as a stuffed animal so that young kids could keep at the ready in the classroom with them and killers wouldn’t immediately target the kids with the guns. One of the guns was actually named “Uzi-Corn”…. you get the idea.
Her story was very similar to Philip’s that is related above in the story at Ammoland Shooting Sports News. She was mortified at having been duped into participating and was very concerned about how she was going to look if the footage were ever released. She was concerned about the production embarrassing gun owners.
I’ll admit that when I first heard her story, I didn’t believe that it was actually a set-up. It was easier to believe that there were just some really well-intentioned but horribly misguided people who were being strung along by a LA Production company looking to make a few bucks. My assumption at that point was that they didn’t let me in to keep their production moving forward without disruption… but, I didn’t clearly see the reason behind their fear of that disruption.
I did counsel Jan in regard to the next steps she should take to prevent her participation from being part of any video that might eventually be released and I am still in contact with her as she is working with lawyers to try to protect her reputation.
While at the GAO show, I bumped into a friend who is sponsored shooter and learned that she was also invited to participate. I learned the next day that they ended up not sending a car at the agreed upon time and she did not participate either.
My last communication with the “Alexis” from the Production Company was on March 12th:
“So, I’ve heard a few others involved in your production. It sounds like you’ve got a real disaster on your hands… one full of reckless negligence in regard to kids and firearms. I’m inclined to put the word out to everyone in the industry. Possibly even coming by today to speak with the guys behind this to try to keep them from embarrassing themselves and the firearms community…. or maybe just to get pictures of the stuffed animals.”
I actually posted a warning to the CFS Instructor Team in our discussion group on March 13th that included:
“Beware of this outfit and media project. I don’t know if it is a well-funded scam to embarrass gun people or a well-funded shit show…. but, it should be avoided.”
Over the past few days, the truth behind the craziness has been revealed.
I have been (and remain) an advocate for “always saying yes” to media invitations so that we can present our views as responsible gun owners and Second Amendment Advocates. That said, we must not be so anxious to participate in front of the camera that we go along with whatever is being said… even if it means risking offending someone or insulting them by requesting to record the event ourselves or vet the claims of the other people involved.
I am standing by to assist anyone who might be impugned by this well-funded scam.
– Rob Pincus