The dumbest thing I have ever seen

To be clear, I do not support arming 3-year-olds. Nor do I support raising a school security force of armed 5-year-olds called “Kinderguardians.”

These were some of the horrible ideas espoused by Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America, and Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, during the now infamous video created by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for Showtime’s “Who is America?” series.

Cohen, who’s covered in thick makeup and a wig, purports to be “Col. Erran Morad,” an Israeli anti-terror expert and tactical trainer.

Neither Pratt nor Van Cleave caught on. They evidently assumed they were talking to a pro-gunner — a friendly face — and he walks the two dupes right down the primrose path toward career suicide.

The result is incredibly painful to watch.

How bad is it?


At one point Van Cleave aims firearms at the camera that have been fitted with stuffed animals. In another spot, Van Cleave and Cohen sing a nursery rhyme about shooting people in the head.

Armed with a belt-fed machine gun, coupled with his grey hair and white mustache, Van Cleave looks like some kind of demonic Captain Kangaroo.

Pratt comes across equally as bad, but at least he doesn’t sing or dance.

I don’t blame Cohen for this debacle. He merely held up the mirror to two senior members of the gun community. The poor reflection was their fault. This is their responsibility.

Besides, Cohen hasn’t had a hit movie since forever. If he was still bankable at the box office he wouldn’t be producing short films for a cable network. He’s just trying to make a splash, which he did.

Neither do I think it’s time to call for anyone’s resignation. That will be up to the VCDL and GOA members.

I’m more concerned about how this could happen — how two senior leaders of the gun community could be so easily duped.

In my humble opinion, I think their desire for fame overcame their common sense, but a lot of the problem has to do with the lure of television.

I have seen grown men — myself included — turn into drooling, monosyllabic imbeciles the first time a
TV camera is pointed at them.

There’s an overpowering urge to say anything or agree to anything just to expedite the interview so the red light on the camera shuts off.

It takes practice before you’re able to tune out the camera, the hot lights, the makeup and the crew, in order to focus on the host’s questions and then formulate a coherent response.

It’s not easy.

My best advice: Don’t play with fire if you’re not ready. After all, you don’t have to talk to anyone. You can always say no.

Also, make sure you know who you’re talking to. A thorough investigation of Cohen’s fictitious production company would have raised red flags. It did for several other members of the gun community.

They smelled a rat and refused to participate.

I’m guessing Pratt and Van Cleave wish they’d done a little more due diligence too.



About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


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  2. Peter Harriman on

    Kinderguardians, brilliant. But I know a family that has video of their kids shooting at targets with a handgun (closely supervised, of course) at about that age, and I wasn’t much older when my grandfather let me try to steady a .22 and crank off rounds at a target fixed to the sidewall of an old trailer. I missed.
    In their case, it took away the tempting allure of firearms for their kids, they tell me. In my case it gave me a healthy respect for guns. In any event, knowing what they are, what they can do and how they work are valuable lessons to learn early in life that may keep you out of trouble later. At least you will have acquired a good frame of reference. Decisions you make about guns as an adult won’t be motivated by fear of the unknown.

  3. … “turn first graders into first “grenaders”, wow… “Punk’d” is putting it mildly, these buffoons set pro-2A supporters back into the stone age… What’s even worse it that it was either GOA executive director Pratt or one-term Rep. Joe Walsh that actually stated the following in support of arming toddlers:

    “The science behind this program is proven. At age 4, a child processes images 80 percent faster than an adult, meaning that essentially, like owls, they can see in slow motion. Children under five also have elevated levels of the pheromone ‘Blink-182,’ produced by the part of the liver known as the Rita Ora. This allows nerve reflexes to travel along the Cardi B neural pathway to the Wiz Khalifa 30 percent faster, saving time and saving lives.”

    How/why could someone that so fervently supports gun rights would babble such nonsense in today’s hostile climate – all fabricated medical terms based upon the names of various artists in the music industry – but still haven’t submitted their resignation(s) from whatever pro 2A support groups in which they control or actively participate is beyond comprehension. How can gun owners succeed in the daily fight against confiscation when their leaders are irrefutably depicted as blithering idiots? STEP DOWN OR REMOVE THEM, but the damage has already been done. Won’t be renewing my GOA membership until that happens. A sad day for 2A supporters indeed, regrettably compounded by the fact that Cohen isn’t even the one to blame..

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