Caleb Giddings is the self-proclaimed “Boss Man” over at GunNuts.net. Aside from selling insurance, his claim to fame was being eliminated on Top Shot.

Apparently he likes to take cheap shots at people without getting his facts straight or reaching out to them for comment. Caleb recently posted two back-to-back editorial hit pieces on yours truly, on Dec 9th, and 10th .  He claims to take a critical look at my position on gun ownership but his post is anything but critical. “Anti-gun Navy SEAL…”. Caleb Giddings made no attempt to reach me for comment, and instead of reaching out to me for clarification on my position as many others have done since I announced my interest in running for an NRA board seat, he just had a go at it, name calling and all.

After reading his post I can’t help but wonder if there’s something pent up going on in his head. Probably better left to a clinical psychologist to figure out then me. I get it, it’s hard to write about guns everyday, and why not jump on the hate band wagon, get folks all riled up in an effort to grab some page views on the back of the Navy SEAL brand name. He also took a cheap shot at the readership of SOFREP, yes you. This is the main reason I decided to write a reply.

“Unfortunately, many of those readers are not aware of Mr. Webb’s stance on gun control. After the Newtown shootings, Webb issued the following statements” -Caleb Giddings

If you did your research Caleb, and truly took a “critical look” you would realize that you couldn’t be farther from the truth. You don’t know our readership or me very well, and you haven’t taken five minutes to make the effort to get to know me or the readers of SOFREP. If you did then you would have realized that we’re quite a diverse group over here, we don’t always agree with each other but the one thing we do share in common, is a commitment to an intelligent, and respectful dialog. We don’t name call, the writers and readers engage in healthy debate on a daily basis. It’s one of the few sites where we don’t tolerate trolling or bullshit.

“To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.” -Isaac Newton

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My comments are in bold below.

From GunNuts.net

By: Caleb Giddings, Insurance Agent & President of GunNuts.net

We’ll skip over the body of the post, because it’s essentially just Webb talking about how he really, really does like guns, and also did you know he was a Navy SEAL sniper? In all seriousness, it would be nice if he go five minutes without reminding us of that. (I’m proud of my service, and accomplishments Caleb.) However, at the end of the post Mr. Webb conveniently lists bullet points that summarize his thoughts on gun rights. We’ll take a look at each one of those point by point.

The 2nd Amendment is inherent in America’s cultural DNA

Okay. I’m not really sure what that means, but I’ll allow it. I’d prefer an opening statement like “The 2nd Amendment is a Constitutional right, equal to any other right in the Bill of Rights.” It has to do with the American Revolutionary War. We fought against the tyrannical rule of the British empire, and won, with firearms. In 1791 the Bill of Rights was introduced as a list of “natural rights” that was aligned with the same philosophy that justified the revolution. This is why the second amendment is inherent in our cultural DNA. 

Limiting magazine capacity is impractical

Sure, I agree with that. So far we’re 2-for-2 with soft, generic pro-gun talking points! Not generic if you live in a state like CA and suffer from limited magazine laws. 

Punishing law abiding gun owners is not the solution

I agree with this as well, and we’re now 3-for-3 on generic pro-gun talking points. Looking for a little substance here, Brandon. You should have reached out to me, but that would’ve taken work on your part, and a willingness to get to know me, and have an honest discussion. 

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I believe everyone who owns a gun should attend a basic firearms & range safety qualifications course and that these courses should be standardized

This is where Mr. Webb really begins to go off the rails. Mandatory training for gun ownership is absolutely unacceptable. Remember, we’re talking about a Constitutional right here. This is akin to forcing someone to pass a literacy test to exercise their freedom of speech, which is blatantly un-Constitutional. Mandatory training to exercise the right to keep and bear arms turns into a mess pretty rapidly, and becomes a great tool for the state to deny that right to law-abiding citizens.

It’s here that you are clearly blinded by your own agenda. I said nothing about mandatory training, you’re putting words in my mouth. If you did your research then you’d know I come from a background in military firearms instruction. A basic qual course is a good idea, and training comes in many acceptable forms (father/son, LEO, Military, NRA). I’m a fan of standardization because it gets everyone on the same sheet of music and it works. You talk about “exclusive” but don’t have anything to back it up except for empty generic rhetoric. Where I come from this is called Bullshitting. 

The NRA should be like PADI or NAUI and encourage gun ranges to only accept NRA basic qualified shooters on the range.

If you’re wondering, PADI and NAUI are diving organizations. Again, Webb displays a lack of understanding of the real American gun culture. There are approximatly 80 million gun owners in the country, of which 5 million are NRA members. Let’s say for the sake of argument that 10 million shooters have taken an NRA basic class of some sort. Using Webb’s logic, when the other 70 million gun owners turn up at the range to practice, he wants to turn them away. Brandon Webb’s NRA would turn from an organization that tries to grow the shooting sports into an exclusive club, limiting access to training for self-defense, hunting, and sport shooting. Again, you misinterpret my point. I was making a comparison , and you took it to the extreme. My point is that public shooting ranges would be safer for everyone if the NRA developed a national program with the cooperation of range operators (agreeing to accept the card) that included a firearms competency test and an issued a card. Present the card to the range operator, and he knows that you’ve passed the NRA standard, and are safe with a firearm.  This wouldn’t apply to private ranges or hunters. 

Few people outside of America understand how important firearms ownership is to Americans

Duh and/or hello. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? If you’ve traveled OCONUS then you’d realize that many countries in Europe are affected by what’s happened with mass shootings in America. They are seeing further restrictions in firearms use/ownership. If you don’t think foreign leadership can influence American politics at home then you are naive. Explaining the importance of firearms ownership in America to others abroad is a good idea, and shouldn’t be ignored. 

Background checks are a good idea but should take minutes, not days

We already have this. It’s called NICS, and it works pretty well. Someone running for the NRA board should probably know that. Fair enough, I’m aware of NICS but I’m talking more about the ability to purchase a firearm quickly as opposed to weeks or months that it takes in some states. 

Often gun laws are made by people who don’t use, own, or understand firearms

Also duh. We’re now back to generic pro-gun talking points. This is an important point, and not something to be glossed over. While you ignore this, more second amendment restrictions are being placed on gun owners at the state level. If gun owners don’t take an aggressive stance at the State level then we’ll continue to see laws that make no sense (e.g. limited magazine capacity) **FYI- your extensive use of the word “duh” doesn’t make you sound very intelligent.**

Mass shootings have to be dealt with head-on or America will face more gun restrictions and erosion of 2nd Amendment rights.

Also, I agree with this. But it’s easy to agree with vaguely generic pro-gun talking points that point out something everyone agrees on without suggesting a solution. Want more specific, talk to me. 

NRA training needs to be brought up to date.

If you’re still reading, you’ll probably have noticed a pattern here. Mr. Webb seems to make vague pro-gun statements that everyone can agree with, but whenever he gets closet to suggesting a solution, he goes completely off the rails. See above, and this is an example. NRA training needs to be brought up to date with what? What exactly is wrong with NRA training? Do you mean the NRA Basic courses? Or do you mean their LEO training? This is just a vague catch-all statement. I have attended the NRA Range Development Course, and am more familiar with the basic courses. They need improving. I can also guess that the LEO training could be brought up to speed as well, I make an educated guess because I’ve heard this complaint from patrol officers to tier one SWAT team members. 

Legislation on increasing the prevention of severely mentally ill folks (e.g. paranoid schizophrenia)from gaining access to firearms seems logical. Increase the early warning signs

Of course this seems logical. It’s phrased in a way that no one would disagree with it. Of course we don’t want crazy people to have guns. The problem is how do we limit crazy people’s access to guns without further infringing the rights of law-abiding citizens. Where are you ideas for that? This is an important topic that should be discussed and flushed out further. I don’t have all the answers but at the root of every mass shooting I’ve studied severe mental illness is associated (usually paranoid schizophrenia). Focus on the root cause, and stop punishing firearms owners. 

Dogs/handlers at schools and colleges are better than armed guards, in my opinion. Dogs are an incredible resource to use in these situations

So when a dude rolls into Franklin D. Roosevelt High with an AK and shoots the dog, then what? Same thing that happens when the armed guard is shot. I’ll take a well trained dog over an armed guard any day of the week. If you’ve worked with a trained dog then you’d know what I mean here. Clearly you haven’t been in a bite suit before or are aware of the amazing Military Working Dogs, some that have taken multiple gunshot wounds (around their bullet proof vests), and still taken down bad guys. 

Guns aren’t the problem, mental illness is the problem. It’s like punishing responsible automobile owners (which kill more people annually) because of drunk drivers killing innocent people on the road

Back to generic pro-gun statements. 

I believe we should be able to concealed-carry and open-carry where practical (e.g., not on an elementary school campus or an airplane)

Awesome! I agree. Who decides what’s practical? Gun owners if we’re smart. 

Guns are guns and people should be able to own and obtain a permit to own everything, short of an anti-tank weapon or WMD, if they’re properly trained/certified

We can do that already, and we don’t have to pass literacy tests to vote arbitrary training standards to do it. We can’t do this, have you visited California lately?

The NRA should take a strong leadership position when it comes to legislation affecting ownership pro and con, not just a “supporter” of legislation. The perception from the left is that the NRA is an uncompromising organization

…it does that. You do realize that’s basically what the entire NRA-ILA does? Seriously, if you’re running for the NRA board, you should probably know what the NRA does. I’m aware of what the NRA does, and know several people on the current Board who support my run should I decide to make it for 2015. 

The NRA should take a strong leadership position when it comes to legislation affecting ownership pro and con, not just a “supporter” of legislation. The perception from the left is that the NRA is an uncompromising organization

You say that the left perceives the NRA as uncompromising like it’s a bad thing. It’s really not. Also, I’d like to note that from when I read Webb’s post yesterday and today, he edited this line item. It was previously “I wouldn’t let Wayne LaPierre lead my kids on a camping trip”, and was a paragraph that did nothing but disparage Mr. LaPierre’s leadership of NRA. Interesting that Webb softened his tone overnight.

I should have been more specific here, and pointed out that the NRA is isolating the majority of firearms owners (not just the left) in America with their unwillingness to compromise. Do the math, the NRA membership should be double or triple what it is now. Re: LaPierre. I took a cheap shot at Wayne, and it was a mistake, and I fixed it. This isn’t “soft”, it’s what men do when they make a mistake, they admit it and do their best to fix it. To be honest, I don’t think he’s doing a good job, and when I’ve seen him speak in the media it’s been a train wreck in my opinion.

If elected to the board I would be one of 76, but I would do my best to make sure we hold the elected leaders accountable, and work on ways to promote and engage the responsible youth in this country. They are the future, and you cannot ignore the decline in youth firearms participation and membership.

Caleb-top-shot-insurance-sales-sofrep
Caleb Giddings. Photo: courtesy of History Channel’s Top Shot

I swear, if he makes one more generically vague statement with no substance…Swear what? You have my attention. I’ll be at the SHOT show this year if you’d like to clarify your dot, dot, dot…

I believe the 2nd Amendment is a right we should keep and hold dear

And there it is.

So what are we to make of all of this? Webb’s pro-gun statements are so generic and soft that they’re essentially meaningless. His statements on mental illness are equally pointless because they’re worded in such a way that no one would disagree with them. Of course we don’t want crazy people getting guns.

The far more troublesome areas of Webb’s position on the gun rights issue are his ideas about training. The NRA’s training arm exists to grow the shooting sports, not limit access. Suggesting that we should have mandatory training (Show me where I said mandatory. Again putting words in my mouth.) for gun ownership is unacceptable; and when compounded with his desire to have ranges limit access to only shooters who have passed a training course Mr. Webb becomes a closer ally to the Brady Campaign than the 2nd Amendment. The final nail in his coffin is his staggering ignorance of the current role of the NRA in American politics and the influence it has over legislation at the state and federal level.

Brandon Webb served his country with distinction as a Navy SEAL, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for that service. That debt should not give us blinders about his political positions, and his clearly stated desire to place limits and compromises on the right to keep and bear arms. His statements read less like someone trying to get on the NRA board, and more like a person who’s trying to set himself up to get talking head gigs on CNN as “The Navy SEAL who is a moderate voice on gun rights.” We wish him all the best luck with that, and will continue to oppose his election to the NRA’s board. If you’ve followed my career outside of the military then you’d know that I don’t need an NRA board seat to get a spot on CNN or Fox news. I get asked about once a week as it is. If you’re an expert on NRA board qualifications then back at you. What makes someone qualified? Waiting….

Your critical look, and editorial on my position is more TMZ-like then an actual attempt to have an intelligent discourse on the NRA and firearms ownership in America. For someone that runs a squared away blog like GunNets.net you can do better man. And if you ever want to have the conversation you know where to find me. As for now, you’ve earned yourself the distinguished honor of receiving the SOFREP “Throat Punch of the Week”. 

See you in the media room at SHOT Show 2014. 

(Main Photo Courtesy: CheaperThanDirt.com)