Evidently there’s an “international” firearms organization headquartered right here in Sarasota and I missed it.
That name sure touches all the bases, but it must be hell to fit on a business card.
According to its website, FISST supports the Second Amendment and mixed martial arts.
They have their own t-shirts, only $29.40. They also have FISST magazine and FISST TV, although there’s only one video on their TV site.
There are photos of FISST founder Ian Howard posing with several MMA stars on the website, and stories from “contributors.”
I first learned about FISST Monday from a reader, who told me they saw my Gun Writer stories on the site and wanted to know more about the organization since I was evidently a contributor.
Until they called, I had never heard of FISST, nor had I ever knowingly contributed any content.
FISST cut and pasted some of my work onto their website, and by the look of it, they have done it to other writers too.
It took me about an hour to track down Howard.
He said he founded FISST about six months ago, although his Facebook site indicates he launched it in 2010.
Howard said he created FISST as a nonprofit. I asked for a copy of his IRS form 990, which every nonprofit must provide whenever anyone requests a copy.
“We don’t have 990s. We’re not technically signed up as a nonprofit. We don’t sell anything,” Howard said. “We don’t get any tax benefits. We have t-shirts, but nobody’s bought any.”
According to Howard, FISST is a free networking site – free to join and free to people to “pen their own articles.”
His website say FISST offers “business networking opportunities” and “social networking and support.”
Signing up for FISST requires submitting a lot of personal information. It has the feel of a direct mail or email marketing operation.
“Everything’s pretty much free, for enthusiasts who enjoy shooting and mixed martial arts,” he said. “I’m not a firearms expert. I enjoy MMA and enjoy going and learning how to shoot. We just blog and exchange information.”
Howard said the “young lady” responsible for populating his site with content – evidently cut and pasted from other sites – was fired Monday.
Despite the name of his organization, Howard said he has no background in self defense, special ops, tactical firearms or Second Amendment advocacy. He produced trade shows for 20 years at shopping malls and convention centers.
His Linked-In page shows he is also president of the Golf Federation of America. Its website is now offline. The Florida Secretary of State has him associated with several inactive corporations.
While it’s hard to overlook the copyright issues, they’re becoming endemic in my business. However – to be clear – there is no way I endorse this organization or its owner, and I am certainly not a contributor. Howard removed my content Monday night at my insistence.
Given all the shenanigans going on in Washington, I would support any group that advocates on behalf of responsible gun ownership. I’m just not sure that’s the case with this group.
If you’re looking for a firearms or Second Amendment organization to join, there’s a pretty active one headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia. It was founded about 141 years ago. It produces its own content. It has its own t-shirts too.