Mea culpa: Steve and Alex reply to your comments on our Machine Gun Lawsuit post (Update: With response from Stephen Stamboulieh)

    Dear Readers,

    Last week I published an editorial written by Alex on the subject of the lawsuit. It attracted 200+ comments and caused many emails to be sent to Alex and myself. It is safe to say that the post was not well received by the TFB community or the internet community in general.

    Being the Editor-in-Chief I take full responsibility for everything published. I get the final say and I can, and do, either delete articles or send them back to writers to improve if I don’t find them acceptable. In hindsight, I should have asked Alex to clarify his comments. I let him down, and more importantly I let you, our readers down, by not doing this.

    I know Alex well, and I know where he stands on gun rights and gun ownership (he is a passionate gun owner and 2nd amendment advocate), so I read his post in a different light than many other folks who don’t know him perceived it. I read it as “a machine gun enthusiast is concerned that more harm than good will come of this lawsuit”. It turns out many people read the post as “I already have many machine guns and I don’t think its worth fighting for you to also own them”.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. I know Alex, like myself, would like nothing more than for machine guns to be de-regulated and once again be manufactured for sale to consumers. I sincerely hope that one day when I have children, they will grow up being able to choose what guns and accessories to own based on technical merit and choice, not based on arbitrary and poorly thought out regulations and laws.

    The editorial also came across as political, something neither Alex nor I intended it to be. It was supposed to be strictly about the legalities. We are still “guns, not politics”. Sometimes the lines can be blurred when discussing legal topics.

    We all make mistakes. I apologize.

    Some people were concerned that comments were closed. I closed them because we could not keep up with the volume on Saturday evening. This is standard practice when we get overwhelmed. It was my call and Alex was not consulted. Likewise, comments on this post will eventually be closed, so we can put the matter to rest.

    Alex asked me if he could create a video explaining his reasoning behind the post, and his subsequent discussions with Mr. Stamboulieh. The video is embedded below …

    -Steve Johnson, Editor-in-Chief



    Dear readers,

    I have taken it upon myself to record a response to your grievances with my editorial regarding the machinegun ban. I chose to do this in video format because to me it seemed like a more personal way of doing things. Please be wary of the fact that my rebuttal does contain a few political elements due to the nature of the accusations against me; they were quite simply necessary to illustrate my points and make things right. I do not know how a simple editorial led to me being accused of being anti-Second Amendment, but it did and I thought it might be good to try and set things right:


    Full Text:

    “On The 12th of December an editorial was published that I wrote regarding a series of lawsuits pertaining to the United States machine gun ban of 1986. I based my opinions upon patterns I have observed over the years pertaining to firearm legislation, the historical evolution of the inner workings of the Unites States legal system, and series of personal experiences with our judicial system.

    When we say no politics here on TFB we mean that rather than be bombarded with political opinions or propaganda, you will see little but firearm related information and the best media coverage we can provide. However, what we will do is follow interesting developments in litigation and legal questions that are pertinent to our great pastime.

    The editorial I wrote was entitled “Why The Machinegun Ban Will Not Go Away”. I argued that despite new and interesting developments regarding challenges to the Hughes Amendment (or what some may colloquially refer to as the machine gun ban), there is little chance of it going away. This ban is shrouded in controversy due to questionable legality and the way it was passed, but it is unfortunately the law of the land.

    Many of you believe that I was taking an elitist approach towards this issue, implying that I believe there should be a financial requirement to practicing the second amendment, when in fact I have published that I would like to see this ban lifted on at least five separate occasions. Some said I was taking a defeatist attitude; This is valid. My lack of optimism for this ban being overturned and my lack of faith in the judicial system overturning it resulted directly in me explaining why in my article. I believe firmly that restrictions should be eased on these firearms, and those implying I am simply trying to maintain my investments and praying for the ban to stay are incorrect.

    As for my statement regarding the lawyer handling and filing the lawsuits: I deal with litigation constantly and am generally suspicious of lawyers, especially when it involves a class action lawsuit or asking for public donations. I apologize to Mr. Stamboulieh if he is sincere in his efforts to repeal the ban, which I believe he is. Shortly after the article went live, he contacted me via email to assure me that his goal is in fact this simple – to repeal the ban.  Of course the courts will decide on this in the future and I do wish him and his camp luck in their endeavor. Having opened a dialogue with Mr. Stamboulieh, he has proven to be both passionate and sincere.

    As for the closing of the comments of the article: That was not my call to make. This now is my most commented upon article I have ever written, and the task of moderation was simply too much for the staff to bear, so they made the call. With any luck, this video will have answered some of your questions or at least addressed some of your grievances.

    Firearm ownership is a right in the United States, and I have always believed this. If my editorial offended you in a way that I did not intend then I do apologize, and I hope that we can maintain your readership. We do this because we love this, and I would like to thank those who have continued to follow our humble blog over the years. At the very least I can assure everyone watching this video that our intentions will always be noble and that our duty to the truth is unwavering.


    Thank you for watching, and happy holidays.”

    UPDATE: Mr Stephen Stamboulieh, a scholar and a gentleman, wrote in the comments (his identity is confirmed):

    Apology accepted. Everybody needs to relax. The real work begins shortly.

    My offer to answer your questions stands. Feel free to contact me when it is convenient.


    Thank you Sir. I will be in touch.

    He also wrote in answer to your questions …

    The progress of the lawsuit[s] are that they are filed, served, and we are waiting on the government to respond. When they respond, then we respond, then they respond… etc. Everything is on pacer and is publicly available on my website (which if TFB wanted to copy a file and post it here that is fine by me since all the filings are public anyways).

    When we have something to report, we will report it. As of now, the first response is due January 5, 2015 in Hollis v. Holder and February 5, 2015 in Watson v. Holder. Most likely, the government will ask for an extension to answer, which we grant as a matter of course, and then they will file their pleadings after the court sets the new due date.

    Alan Beck (California/Hawaii attorney), which I would suggest people look at, is joining our team to fight with us. He is a great asset to the gun community and you will be hearing much about him (and his 2A practice) soon.

    The document can be downloaded here.

    UPDATE: Its after midnight and we are all very tired. I am closing the comments now. I think everyone’s viewpoints have been thoroughly expressed, including those who don’t agree with us, so I think its time to put this behind us. Again I want to thanks Mr Stamboulieh for kindly and publicly accepting our apology. We wish him the best of luck. Good night y’all.

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.