Gun-Rights Leader Discusses How He Got Duped Into Supporting Arming Toddlers by Borat Creator

Gun-rights activist Philip Van Cleave in Sasha Baron Cohen’s new comedic series “Who is America?” (Photo: Showtime)

Philip Van Cleave is speaking out about how he was duped into supporting arming toddlers in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedic series on Showtime, “Who is America?” (see video below).

Van Cleave, who serves as the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), released a statement via the organization’s Facebook page on Tuesday.

“So far I have seen just the early part of the ‘First Look’ at Cohen’s series. He had some very crafty and unethical editing done to take a comment I made about one subject and seamlessly splicing it into a different conversation, completely changing the context of what I was talking about,” said Van Cleave.

“For example, NOT seen in the video is a disguised Cohen discussing educating children about gun safety in Israel. He claimed in Israel they start gun safety very young. My response, which is shown, is ‘we’re trying to get that here for 7th and 8th graders, but can’t do it.’ Instead, the video shows Cohen talking about arming kids against terrorists, and then he splices in my response about firearms safety training, so it looks like I’m saying we’re trying to arm CHILDREN in schools, instead of teachers and other adults,” said Van Cleave.

Van Cleave cites another example where the prankster presumably edits the film to mislead the viewer.

“Another example NOT seen on the video is Cohen asking about a bill that VCDL defeated that would have made it illegal for 4 to 6 year-olds to be able to shoot a gun, including an airgun, WITH or without parental supervision and consent,” said Van Cleave.

SEE ALSO: Gun Training Good. Forced Training Bad.

“The video shows my response that it was a bad bill and that we killed it. (Not shown was an additional comment that parents should decide such things for their own children.) However, my comment is spliced into a different conversation that makes it sound like I’m condoning 4-year-olds having UNSUPERVISED access to guns and VCDL killed a bill that would have made such a thing illegal!” Continued the gun-rights advocate.

While those conversations were unsettling, probably the most striking part of the segment was the firearms training video geared toward toddlers. Van Cleave is shown holding several “Gunimals,” firearms decorated to resemble stuffed animals. In one part, he explains how to load one called “Puppy Pistol.”

“To feed him, take his lunch box and push it into his tummy like this,” explains Van Cleave, while loading the magazine. “Just remember to point Puppy Pistol’s mouth right at the middle of the bad man. If he has a big fat tummy, point at that.”

With respect to this ruse, Van Cleave said, “My hesitation when Cohen asks me if I’ll help him make a safety training video for children is where I was deciding to play along or not in order to figure out who was behind this film, what they were actually doing and how they were doing it, and then getting the word out to head this off at the pass and keep it from being completed.”

Van Cleave added that the “guns” in the video were all “silly plastic guns which were glued to toys or stuffed animals” and that the content was “read from a teleprompter.”  Back in February, the VCDL learned that it was all a joke and sent out a warning to its members.  Unfortunately, by that time, it was too late for Van Cleave.  Cohen had got the footage he needed.

Cohen also targeted Larry Pratt, the executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America, former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-MS), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (D-CA) and conservative radio host Joe Walsh.

Whether this game of “gotcha” has any political ramifications for Wilson and Rohrabacker remains to be seen.  Certainly, the anti-gun lobby is taking note.

“Americans can laugh at the absurdity of this stunt program, but when they cast their ballots in November, voters would do well to consider how candidates such as Rohrabacher and Wilson will vote on the issue of gun safety,” said Moms Demand Action in a press release.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • Robbie July 20, 2018, 11:04 am

    I buy that “creative editing” will give the impression that the targets said things they did not, but no creative editing will result in you bearing a weapon with a stuffed animal attached to it. At what point would that seem to be a bad idea to me? At what point would I consider that a sign that someone was playing me for a fool? Immediately.

  • Leighton Cavendish July 20, 2018, 10:33 am

    Guy looks old…senile…maybe a mental lapse.
    People are too eager to do interviews and be filmed…even forgetting or taking into account that Cohen lied about his identity to get the interview.
    Nobody should take the show seriously…especially given who the host is.

  • Hubcap July 20, 2018, 9:37 am

    Trent Lott again disgracing Mississippi.

  • Billy Long July 20, 2018, 9:06 am

    Best part of this article is the confirmation that CA-48 is doing well w/ Dana Rohrabacher. In this sea of soy boys known as CA, good men like him are few and far between.

    • Dan July 20, 2018, 2:18 pm

      You mean the Russian-loving traitor?

  • Tessa Pegram July 20, 2018, 7:56 am

    I’m sorry but how did that not raise red flags all over the place? I guess by the time it clicked in his head, it was too late.

  • ron July 20, 2018, 7:56 am

    Don’t you know better than to do ridiculous things, especially in front of a camera crew, when someone you don’t know is there exhorting you to do them?!?!

    Maybe now you do…

  • Patrick July 20, 2018, 7:30 am

    When are people going to learn that if they decide to talk to anyone in the media, they need to record the entire interaction themselves. Time and time again the media does this and have been caught red handed doing so countless times and yet to me and time again we keep falling for the same line of BS and this is the end result. If you can’t record the interaction entirely uncut for yourself, then do not speak to this asshats.

    • ron July 20, 2018, 7:57 am

      Very good point. And any interviewer who refuses a request to do this is someone to be called out as a warning to all.

    • Dr Motown July 23, 2018, 8:47 am

      Exactly. Don’t do any interviews without (a)getting your own tape of the whole interview, and (b) having a contract that states you have the right to be part of the editing process. If it’s not to your liking, you can sue their arses for breach. Otherwise, van Cleave was a total idiot for not recognizing the scam as soon as he picked up a “puppy gun”

  • Raul Allegre July 18, 2018, 3:20 pm

    Some of what this guy does is creative and funny, so I’ll give him some slack to try to fool people. But when you start splicing together different parts of a recording to mislead like this, then you’re getting into Michael Moore territory and that’s wrong.

  • LHTwist July 17, 2018, 4:13 pm

    I had to look him up and apparently this Sacha Noam Baron Cohen is the moron who did that Borat character. There are some actors that are just so annoying that they kill the mood for EVERYTHING, just like Jim Cary. Well, this guy is the same for me, I can’t stand to watch more than thirty seconds of his schtick. Now it all makes sense!

    And he has a comedic series on Showtime???

    My guess is the editing he did was essentially immoral (like that’s an issue these days) and illegal. I would threaten to sue for misrepresentation, slander, something to get the airing stopped but not until they’ve wasted a wad getting there.

    That’s a wrap Borap!

  • Mike V July 17, 2018, 1:31 pm

    puppy pistols,
    take his lunch box and push it into his

     “Just remember to point Puppy Pistol’s mouth right at the middle of the bad man. If he has a big fat tummy, point at that.”


    • ron July 20, 2018, 7:58 am

      No wonder michael moore is upset!

  • Mike V July 17, 2018, 1:22 pm

    Have got to be smarter than this!
    Must expect unfair treatment!
    Do not allow a single source to own your words, must be duplicates available to immediately compare what was said to what was shown to be said!
    It can’t be this easy for them to do this!

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