In the last few months, I’ve been working with Omaha Outdoors to create review videos of some nifty guns. I’ve also written a number of brand descriptions for the website, which I’ve previously shared here and on the blog’s Facebook page. I’ve had the opportunity to meet everyone at Omaha Outdoors and am impressed with the drive and intensity shown by everyone there.
One of my concerns when writing reviews for a company that will use the review for sales purposes is whether or not I’ll be allowed to say everything I think about the product. If I didn’t think I could be totally straightforward with viewers about things, I would pass on the opportunity, and have done so in the past. With Omaha, though, I’m convinced that I can be myself and tell people what I think about things without having to censor negative opinions. When you watch these reviews, know that you are getting the same thoughts you’d otherwise see in a review video from me, even though I’m being paid to make these videos and write these articles.
So there I was at Williams-Sonoma, looking at copper serving trays marked with warnings not to actually use them for serving while my girlfriend shopped for magic sponges and $15/lb candy. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a fat man in a bright chartreuse shirt barged in between us to look at something on a shelf – not very politely, I might add. I immediately noticed that 1) the back of his shirt read “!WARNING! I SHOT THE LAST TAILGATER!” and 2) he was open carrying a Glock 19/23 in a Safariland duty holster. I took a photo, but he was moving, so the image didn’t capture his shirt and his gun at the same time.
I followed him over to the customer service island where he asked an employee for another employee that he had spoken to previously, describing her in oddly specific detail (as this was happening, I was moving behind a very impressive kitchen knife display to a point about three yards behind him, and not once did he notice that I was following him so closely). When informed that she wasn’t there and that any employee could assist him, he said in an agitated tone, “oh, I know. I have a message for her.”
As he said this rather mysterious phrase, his hand dropped to his Glock with his thumb ready to disengage the holster’s retention, right as I took a photo.
If he said anything else, I didn’t notice, because I was focused on his right thumb. But then his hand came off the gun, and I stopped thinking, “I’ll need to aim at his lower back so there’s less chance of hitting any of the Williams-Sonoma employees on the other side of the counter.” I did not draw or move to draw my pistol.
Thankfully, his bizarre behavior ended as soon as it started. He poured himself a cup of water from the complimentary Williams Sonoma water pitcher – sadly, they didn’t have any complimentary Williams-Sonoma candy out that day – and walked out of the store, having a conversation on what I hope was a wired headset, otherwise he was just talking to himself.
Was there a perfectly innocent meaning to all of this? Maybe. But he didn’t know the employee’s name, so it’s not like he was her adorably awkward uncle and just wanted to show her his new gun while he was at work. The other employees were left talking about how that guy was crazy, but they knew there were sane gun owners out there. Frankly, I was impressed with how nonchalant they were – but I don’t think they saw him put his hand on the pistol. They weren’t interested in calling mall security, but I later contacted local law enforcement.
This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why CCW reciprocity is a hard sell. This is why gun people get a bad reputation. And some people shouldn’t own guns.
Note: While some might question the timing of this article given the recent combat death of a SEAL in Yemen, I think this is exactly the time to publish such a piece. While members of the military, including SEALs, are fighting and dying, people in no danger whatsoever are capitalizing on their efforts – and their deaths – for financial gain.
A while back I was having a discussion with the owner of Faxon about why I didn’t like his ARAK upper. It took four minutes and thirty-two seconds for him to tell me that a Navy SEAL had shot it and really liked it, in a tone that said “If a SEAL likes it, your opinion is irrelevant.” That hasn’t been my only such experience in this industry. SEALs killed Bin Laden! How dare you question them on anything ever.
It’s important to draw a distinction between a former Navy SEAL using a product once and saying something inoffensive and ambiguous about it to the manufacturer and the United States Navy buying a product for Navy SEALs to use across all the teams and guys and stuff. I want to talk about both sides of that coin here. Still, even if something is used by every Navy SEAL or will make my rifle identical to the one that killed Bin Laden, I don’t really care.
I should also mention that I’m not just picking on frogmen here. Special Forces, Delta/CAG/however they’ve chosen to identify this year, Force Recon, SOCOM, Rangers, Raiders, Air Force Security Forces – all of these names (well, almost all) have been invoked to silence dissent and prompt the swiping of credit cards. Let’s face it, though, the marketing types know that to reach the most buyers, namedropping SEALs is a Tier 1 marketing plan. So while I focus on them here, the general theme applies across all such uses of “Appeal to SOF Authority.”
Why, you ask, do I not care if these total badasses use your product?
It’s not a jaded hipster reaction – what a Navy SEAL uses just has little relevance to my life and my needs. In keeping with that whole “relevance” theme, there are indeed some things used by Navy SEALs which I end up using. But in the Venn diagram of what Navy SEALs are doing and what I am doing, there is not a whole lot of crossover. Thus, there aren’t many products they use which I also spend money on.
SEALs have precision rifles that are really awesome and durable and weigh more than my ego. If you had to build one, you’d spend many thousands of dollars duplicating it. I’d rather put together a rifle that was lighter and didn’t kick as much or cost as much to shoot as .300 WinMag or .338 Lapua – and maybe something with longer barrel life, too, because I actually have to pay for all this stuff. The only time I’ve ever really *needed* a precision rifle was years ago when my friend Paul and I were competing in the Competition Dynamics 24 Hour “Sniper” Adventure Challenge. In that case, having a rifle was more of a check in the box than anything else. The Army Marksmanship Unit was there in 2012 and on the stages they made it to, they outshot everyone – but their gear weighed so much that they couldn’t make it over all the hills to complete the course. My rifle and gear was much lighter than anything you’d find issued to a military unit at any level, with corresponding reductions in accuracy and durability, but we placed higher because we actually managed to finish the course.
Is there stuff Navy SEALs use that I might have use for? Sure. Navy SEALs use the Arc’teryx Drypack 70. I have an Arc’teryx Drypack 70. They use it to haul gear while swimming a hundred feet underwater off the coast of Gabon or something. I use it to terrify Boy Scouts by putting their sleeping bags and notebooks in it before tossing the pack into a stream, lake, or ocean while we’re on a campout. Their gear comes back dry and their heart rate eventually returns to normal. The pack costs $1200 and if I’d actually had to pay for it, I would not have acquired it – it was given to me for free. It’s fantastic at what it does, but it is entirely impractical as a backpack for the majority of things I do. There are other, cheaper packs (most packs are cheaper than $1200, I’d wager) which would keep my stuff dry while I’m hiking up a stream. And there are other, significantly cheaper packs for day to day hiking and camping use.
I also have two examples of the Kelty MAP 3500, a pack reported to have been designed in conjunction with the SEALs. Thanks, SEALs! It’s a great pack, even if the zippers on my newer version totally suck. They don’t make ’em like they used to, I guess.
Are there things Navy SEALs need in a product that I also need? Yes. When the SEALs buy a handgun, they need something reliable. I, too, need a reliable handgun. But maybe they need something of a specific size and with the ability to attach a silencer, while I just need something that won’t print in my gym shorts. Our needs rapidly diverge.
So while there are things the SEALs as a whole use which I might conceivably use, the fact that they use it is not a driving factor in the purchase – in fact it’s the opposite. If the SEALs are using something, I stop myself and ask, “Do I really need something that they would use?” Because we really do have vastly different needs.
On most of the occasions which I have heard this particular appeal to authority, though, it hasn’t been what we just discussed. It hasn’t been that I’m hearing from HK about the new wunderpistolen they’ve sold to the SEALs. It’s been that I heard “Navy SEALs use this!” from a guy whose company definitely doesn’t have a CAGE code.
In other words, they met a guy who may or may not have been a SEAL and they took him to the range or gave him some free stuff at a trade show. Voila, a SEAL has your product! And since the definition of “use” is somewhat broad, the frogman in question might simply have worn the shoes or shot the gun once and then stuffed them in a closet or given them to a friend. Sure, he might also be carrying or wearing it at all times. But one man’s preference, no matter how tough a man, doesn’t sway me, and it shouldn’t sway you. Entirely leaving aside the question of whether or not he was compensated for his opinion or whether he even voiced it as strongly as is being presented, the number one qualification for becoming a SEAL is not “gun nerd” and many former special forces guys are hardly firearm aficionados or experts. They may have specialized in another field such as communications or medicine, and while they were certainly very proficient with firearms and may still be very proficient, their firearm expertise may not rise to the level required to properly beat down an opposing and reasoned opinion.
In closing, I don’t care if Navy SEALs use your product. I care about the details of your product and what makes it better than the other products on the market. I care why it’s relevant to my needs, not to the needs of other people. If you do manage to sell it to the SEALs, great. You deserve recognition for that – but you might not deserve my money.
Fireclean has subpoenaed me in their lawsuit against George Fennell. They are seeking every last sliver of information regarding this topic that I might have, including but certainly not limited to “all communications between you and anyone else that pertain or refer to Fireclean.”
I am represented in this matter by Dan Barr (the author of a book on reporter’s privilege) and Katherine May of PerkinsCoie.
I don’t know that I could possibly have better representation for this challenge, a statement I would also make about Jay Brown and Jeremy Kutner of LSKS, who successfully represented me in the lawsuit Fireclean filed in Virginia earlier this year.
The costs of my legal defense in that case exceeded $120,000. While they were largely borne by LSKS, this situation has been no small matter for me. Needless to say, all proceeds have been and will be applied to the direct costs of legal defense in the various legal maneuverings attempted by Fireclean.
In addition to the original colors, Union Blue and Rebel Grey:
Do you lament Sherman’s March to the Sea? If so, you’ll want a Rebel Gray shirt, even though there’s a terrible irony in the motto on the back of the shirt, “Burning Bridges Since 2009.” Actually, this color is more of a charcoal than simple gray, which makes sense since we are talking about burning bridges, after all. Or cotton fields. If you’re not a Southerner but are scared of colors, like my friend Brett, you’ll want this charcoal shirt.
Are you a proud Yankee/American, even though all those icky Northern states seem to not like guns any more? Well, Union Blue is definitely more your style. Even if you’re from the South and want a non-tactically colored shirt to tell your friends you like an obscure gun blog, you’ll probably want to break from tradition and go with blue.
As before, the shirts are Next Level Apparel poly/cotton (65/35). I have received lots of positive feedback about how comfortable they are. I wanted quality shirts that felt nice to wear and looked good, and that’s what I ended up with.
I have them in men’s sizes small through XXL in Union Blue and Rebel Grey and limited numbers of men’s medium through XL in Don’t Shoot Me Red and Prophet Muhammad’s Favorite Shade of Green. I also have a few remaining women’s sizes small and medium from the first run – these are most appropriately sized for toddlers, I think. I can’t actually imagine an adult fitting in one of them, but if that’s what you wear, let me know.
Blue XL are gone.
Cost is again $17 per shirt.
A recent advancement in technology known as the steam engine has allowed me to reduce shipping costs for the envelopes by eighty cents(!) and pass these savings on to you. Shipping options are Priority Mail small flat rate box for $6.80 or USPS First Class in a Tyvek envelope for $3.50 (the Tyvek envelopes apparently worked very well in terms of protecting the garments last time, as no one told me otherwise). I would prefer payment by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please don’t use the gift option.
“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day, if Hillary gets to put her judges in, right now we’re tied.” – Donald Trump, August 9, 2016
This is bad.
Yes, it was a joke.
That’s why it’s bad. Not just because it was a bad joke (it was), but because Donald Trump sees nothing as sacred. This was a calculated comment made like so many others he has made since announcing his campaign – something to manufacture controversy and keep himself in the headlines.
At what cost, though? It’s not like gun owners really need more heat from the left or implications that we’re crazy people who will react with violence at the slightest provocation.
In making this comment, Donald Trump chose to advance his personal brand at the expense of “Second Amendment people.” Does he really care about the individual rights of gun owners? I’m not convinced he does. He doesn’t care about individual property rights and he doesn’t care about free speech. In the recent past he hasn’t cared about gun ownership, going so far as to oppose hunting safety classes in schools (Marines: He also thinks the tattoo ban was a good idea).
Now that he’s running for President as a Republican, he’s all about “saving the Second Amendment.” Call me a cynic, but I could easily see a President Trump “making a deal” that would involve restrictions on gun ownership.
“If at the end of 90 days I fall in short because I’m somewhat politically correct even though I’m supposed to be the smart one and even though I’m supposed to have a lot of good ideas, it’s okay. I go back to a very good way of life. It’s not what I’m looking to do. I think we’re going to have a victory, but we’ll see.”
This morning, United States District Court Judge James C. Cacheris issued an order dismissing Fireclean v. Tuohy on jurisdictional grounds. This means that Fireclean could appeal this ruling or attempt to refile the case in Arizona (and, presumably, a separate filing against Everett Baker in New Hampshire) before the statute of limitations expires.
However, this is the third loss in a row for Fireclean relating to this case – denial of their motion for jurisdictional discovery, denial of their appeal of that denial, and the dismissal of the case – with no victories to show on their side over the last four months.
“Plaintiff’s theory is that Baker and Tuohy conspired to publish a test that would show FIREClean is the same as Crisco or canola oil, even though they knew the test was inadequate to reach that conclusion, so as to attract more viewers to their blogs. Although such a conspiracy is logically possible, it is not plausible based on the facts in this record. The foundation of Plaintiff’s theory is that a critical review of FIREClean would attract more readers to the blogs. Criticisms of FIREClean being Crisco, however, were already commonplace online due to earlier published statements in the Vuurwapen blog, the Firearm blog, and George Fennell’s publications, among others. The Court finds no reason to conclude that an article affirming the prior tests would attract more readers than results disputing the prior test results.
Furthermore, the record is replete with facts providing non-conspiratorial explanations for why Baker chose the Infrared Spectroscopy and NMR Spectroscopy to analyze FIREClean, including the advice of his professors, his personal research on the best testing methods, his available equipment, and the methods that two individuals with doctorates in chemistry used to test FIREClean. In sum, it does not plausibly or fairly follow from the facts alleged that Baker and Tuohy had a preconceived plan to conduct a fraudulent test so as attract more readers to their blogs by declaring FIREclean to be Crisco.”
Without the support of those who donated to the legal fund – large and small – and the truly excellent work of the legal team at LSKS, this victory would not have been possible. Thank you.
The next major event in the case is scheduled for July 14, 2016, when a hearing will be held on our motion to dismiss the case. Here is our brief in support of said motion. This link, and the one immediately prior, are the two most recent filings on our side of the case. You also might wish to brush up on our initial motion to dismiss.
It’s my understanding that in the lawsuit filed by Fireclean against their competitor, George Fennell of Steel Shield, Mr. Fennell’s motions to dismiss or transfer venue were denied by the judge in that case. These cases are completely separate and the denial of Mr. Fennell’s motion to dismiss does not concern me, legally or emotionally.