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The Sacha Baron Cohen prank video that’s been embarrassing gun rights supporters for the last 24 hours (4.5 million views so far) didn’t snag everyone they tried to lure in. Here’s our post from February relaying trainer Rob Pincus’s experience with these frauds. It’s worth a read. He realized what was happening and raised the alarm to other potential marks in the firearms community.

Virginia Citizens Defense League president Philip Van Cleave, who is prominently featured in the video, apparently realized what he’d done after the fact and put out this message on the VCDL Facebook page in February:

URGENT! share this far and wide!

Last weekend, while doing what seemed to be a regular interview, I discovered that a movie is being made with the intent to discredit gun-rights leaders across the country.

No, this is not a joke, it is real and we need to get the word out to other gun-rights organizations, gun-rights leaders, and prominent firearms trainers across the country and we need to do this FAST.

Back in 2014, alleged Hollywood sexual predator Harvey Weinstein said he was going to make a movie “that would make the NRA wish they weren’t alive.” (All gun organizations are the NRA in his mind.) And he was dead serious. Michael Moore has been attempting to discredit gun owners and leaders for years by tricking people and using creative editing techniques to make them look foolish or idiotic.

Who’s behind this effort isn’t clear, but they are EXTREMELY WELL FUNDED PROFESSIONALS. For example, to reel me in and to try to make me feel beholden to them, they laid out the red carpet, by providing luxury accommodations, limousine service, and providing a generous monetary allowance to cover meals and other expenses for two days.

They use psychological manipulation, as well as lies and tricks to put their victim into comedic situations that subject them to public shame, embarrassment, and ridicule. I believe the intent is to destroy reputations and even lives.

I did some detective work in the days immediately following the “interview,” and I managed to find out they had targeted at least one nationally known firearms trainer and I know there are more. They appear to be setting up near gun shows. I also found out they covered their tracks carefully to avoid revealing their true identity.

It started when VCDL received an email last week from a company called “First Freedom Television” to do an interview with an “Israeli security expert” on the “shared security interests of like-minded countries, such as the U.S. and Israel.” It went on, “Unlike the misguided position of American liberals, who aim to eradicate guns altogether, Israel has proven that universal gun training and widespread gun ownership actually leads to a safer society.”

I do interviews all the time, and this one didn’t seem to be all that much out of the ordinary.

On Sunday, February 11, 2018, I did the interview in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. About 5 minutes into the interview, my radar turned on big time when the interviewer was making claims about Israeli schools training selected children to use firearms from age 17 down to age 4 (!) as a last ditch effort in stopping a terrorist attack on a school if the teachers and security staff had been killed. The children would have codes to unlock secured firearms in such a case.

When I balked at 4-year-olds being able to do that, he showed me an alleged newscast video on his iPad. The text was in Hebrew, but with an English-speaking narration, talking about how a 4-year-old boy had indeed stopped a terrorist attack at his school. The newscast said that he killed two terrorists using his dad’s gun, which he had brought to school in his backpack to show a friend, in violation of school rules. Israeli Premier Netanyahu was touting him as a hero in the video.

While I’ve never been to Israel, I do know they have some serious terrorism concerns, especially at schools and other public gatherings. The way they handle some of their security can be very different from what we have in the U.S. But that news story just didn’t look right, and 4-year-olds can hold a gun and fire it with supervision, but not take on terrorists, and especially manage to shoot and kill two of them.

Because of this and various other odd things I noticed during the interview, I was now convinced that something wasn’t right. This wasn’t real and probably some sort of a set up.

Read the whole thing here.

We’ve reached out to the Gun Owners of America regarding Larry Pratt’s involvement, but haven’t received a response yet.

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    • Deceit or not, you never agree to things you disagree with. Especially your core values. And especially especially if in front of a camera.

      Only conclusion I can draw is the dude wasn’t a true believer after all.

  1. I’m sorry but DUH…more Soros/and or Bloomie bucks. They aint billionaires because they’re stupid!

  2. Selective editing and gullibility at the idea of speaking in the company of friends has created many a “gotcha” situation. This is no different. SBC should have hung it up after Borat. His comedic downward spiral continues unabated.

    • “Always record your own video. Always. No exceptions.”

      Yup, and if they won’t let you…


  3. “Widespread gun ownership in Israel” should have been the first clue. This is patently false. It isn’t that easy to own or carry a firearm in Israel.

    • ” It isn’t that easy to own or carry a firearm in Israel.”

      It just got a lot easier a few weeks ago :

      “Thousands of Guns Could Flood Streets as Israel Seeks to Ease Restrictions

      Public Security Ministry’s proposal would allow any citizen with infantry firearms training to be eligible for a gun permit”

      • And yet it still isn’t that easy and he should have known that prior to the interview that was well before this change. It has been a myth for a long time about gun ownership and carry in Israel and any person representing a firearms owners organization should have been well aware of that.

      • “It just got a lot easier a few weeks ago :”

        You make the same mistake a lot of people make: describing a proposal as a done deal.
        If you had said, “It might just get a lot easier soon:”, you’d have been a lot more right.

        I sure do wish the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” button worked. Still.

  4. How could he be so stupid. Just retire you fossil, Larry Pratt too. If they had anyone under the age of 50 on their boards or committees they would recognize Cohen a mile away. The old leadership is throwing away any support they have with younger generations, and I bet Oliver North would had fallen for this just as easily. I will never donate to the NRA for the concessions they made over the past year. If they continue to villify video games or blame their own stupid decisions on “pschological manipulation” they’ll only have the current generation of donators until they die out.

    • Even if you didn’t recognize him, not like he was wearing a great mask, listen to his words. The words he said give it away, AND if you double down on stupid BECAUSE CAMERA and actually said you agreed with a moronic thing, then F/U, you’re too dumb to be listened to.

      So Virginia, GOA, you need to move on, your leaders have proven to be, at a minimum, gullible in the extreme, mentally incapacitated at maximum. Time to move on to the non-retard management and spokespeople.

      • That’s right. Van Cleave actually uttered those words. If the guy doesn’t realize what’s coming out of his mouth then he needs to shut up.

    • I think he’s just about ripe for a Nigerian IRS scammer. It’s a sorry fact, but people get less sharp as they age. Congrats on pulling the wool over the eyes of a sleepy pensioner, Cohen…

    • “If they had anyone under the age of 50 on their boards or committees they would recognize Cohen a mile away.”

      Wow, such ageism bigotry. Cohen is simply a fairly decent con-artist who is plying an age-old trade in a new and somewhat more legal, if still not moral, context. Good cons are not age-specific and experienced con-artists (and they are atrists) are as happy to gull naive and overconfident 20 somethings as they are geezers. Even in his 70’s, Ollie North can still kick you ass.

  5. Cowardly dick move. At least be honest about who you are. Sad.
    Worse than Michael Moore

  6. The only people who believe the NRA and/or Republicans actually want to arm 4 year olds with RPGs are already convinced that gun owners are evil and dangerous. This video is so over the top that no one’s gonna say “Hey Becky, did you see that Sasha Baron Cohen proved the NRA wants to give RPGs to children?” and have Becky reply “Wow Susan! I used to support the NRA, but now I’ve changed my mind!!”

  7. If Van Cleave and Pratt are so out of touch to realize they were being punked,they need to retire and not be allowed to speak on the behalf of anyone on any topic.

  8. They got played plain and simple. If they were too stupid, out of touch, or senile to realize that they were being interviewed to show their cause as foolish, then they shouldn’t be representing something as serious as second amendment rights.

  9. Hey Phil sounds like what lured you in was the $$!

    Who’s behind this effort isn’t clear, but they are EXTREMELY WELL FUNDED PROFESSIONALS. For example, to reel me in and to try to make me feel beholden to them, they laid out the red carpet, by providing luxury accommodations, limousine service, and providing a generous monetary allowance to cover meals and other expenses for two days.

    Good policy is NEVER EVER talk to the media. They have one agenda and no matter what you say, they will not accurately communicate it. They are the enemy.

    • I know Phil and he didn’t do this for money. As far as I know, he only got his expenses paid for. He did it because he thought it would help the gun rights cause. He has been a tireless and effective leader for gun rights in VA, he is a really good guy and I feel bad for him.

      Like others here, I don’t see how Phil could have possibly been fooled by this, but Senator Trent Lott, Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Joe Wilson, and former Congressman Joe Walsh were taken in also. Cohen has also punk’ed Ted Koppel, Judge Roy Moore, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Sarah Palin and Bernie Sanders on other topics. This is what he does. He is really good at it.

      If Phil steps down over this, he does so with the gratitude of Virginia gun owners.

      • I saw the video of him talking to Ted Koppel about Trump’s inauguration & while Koppel may not have recognized him he certainly didn’t make him look like a fool. Is there more he did with him?

  10. Record every communication with the media without their knowledge if possible. Then when they try to screw you over, you can flip the tables on them and expose them for what they are.

    • Phil Van Cleave did that with the Katie Couric interview and that is still tied up in the courts. That was supposed to be serious journalism. This SBC deal is billed as a comedy thing, so even if there were a full recording, it really wouldn’t make a difference.

  11. Two takeaways, here…

    1. Get bent. You can’t have my guns.

    2. These gun lobbyists are fucking retarded, and I don’t need them speaking for me.

  12. What’s that? Dumb old guys doing more harm than good because they don’t have anyone under 60 on staff?

    I’m shocked. Shocked! Old people always know what’s going on and never fall for scams!

    • The VCDL is not the NRA. It operates on a shoestring budget. People like Phil don’t get paid. He has a day job as a computer programmer and does firearms training on the side. Yet he has accomplished amazing things for gun rights in VA, which is why he is a target for the media. VCDL “staff” are also volunteers. If younger people would get off their backsides, volunteer, work as hard and be as effective as Phil, I am sure Phil would be happy to take a backseat. But with a few exceptions, younger people mostly just complain.

      Yeah, Phil screwed up this time and he admited it immediately. But on balance, he has done a great job.

  13. A: How the heck did they not know that was fake as all get out?!?!

    B: How dumb are these guy, “oh, they laid out the red carpet and threw money at us…..” uh… trap?

    C: Whaa…….I’m out…. I can’t

  14. Mass media movie magic at it’s finest. This was probably cut all to hell. They were probably talking about muslim child soldiers, as Cohen was acting like a Jew after all. But a little cut and snip, and the mass’s perceptions are permanently altered. This is more dangerous to our rights than any politician.

    • Phil put out an email on it. The setup was that he was being asked to help create a video on gun safety for kids and parents in Israel. Kind of like “Eddie the Eagle.” The guns they were talking about were plastic, toy guns. There were stuffed animals on set, etc. He had heard of Cohen, but he did not recognize him because he had never seen any of his stuff. That sort of thing is not anything Phil would be interested in. Phil was asked to answer the questions from a teleprompter, being assured that things would be cut in such a way the right message would get across.

      What came out was cuts that presented the opposite of what Phil intended. I am not excusing Phil. He got took and he should have seen what was happening, but he didn’t. But it is not as black and white as it seems.

  15. At the very least he should have walked out when it was claimed that children as young as 4 years old were being trained with weapons to fight terrorists. The guy seems pretty much of a gullible fool if you ask me.

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