In browsing the February 2003 issue of GunNews for “Back through the years” in today’s GunNews, I found an amusing article that I just didn’t have room to reprint.
But we’ve got space on the website!
In short, we’ve been threatened with lawsuits more times than we remember here at GSL. I have to admit, a nasty letter from an attorney always causes a minor elevation in blood pressure. It’s usually short lived, however.
Our corporate counsel, Paul Vallandigham, wasn’t even notified in some of the obvious cases of bloviating from lawyers.
In this case he was. Oh, and the piece of evidence we were withholding from the article? Telephone records proving that yours truly called the bank for comment on the story. They declined, and that’s all I needed to write whatever I wanted without rebuttal.
Here it is, from the February 2003 issue of GunNews:
Threat of lawsuit number seven ends with a whimper
Big-city California bank threatens [Guns Save Life] with lawsuit
Champaign, IL (GSL) – In a letter dated December 10, 2002, California attorney Daniel Galvin III demanded Guns Save Life remove the six-month-old article about local gun dealer and manufacturer Jim Gravitt’s experiences with the bank when applying for a merchant account to process credit cards.
Recall from the July 2002 issue of GunNews that Gravitt had applied with a company in Bloomington to provide credit card processing for his business, Protech Engineering.
Here is the reprinted highlight of Gravitt’s experience with his application and the National Bank of the Redwoods in Santa Rosa, California:
Things went smoothly, that is, until a couple of weeks later. Sandy Milliken (direct tel. 707 569-9784 / Main bank tel. 707 573-4800) from the National Bank of the Redwoods from Santa Rosa, California called him. She is an account representative for the bank’s credit card processing division that was to handle the card transactions for Pro-Tech.
She asked for clarification on what kind of business Pro-Tech did. After Gravitt explained the services his company provided, Sandy was skeptical. She demanded a copy of his Federal Firearms License (FFL) to prove that his business was legal. She made it clear that she didn’t approve of people owning, manufacturing or using firearms, saying that she hated guns and that people shouldn’t have guns. “Guns are evil!” she said.
Gravitt informed her that per BATF instructions, he could not mail her a copy of his license. BATF sent out a memo last year warning dealers about people taking copies of FFL’s, changing pertinent information then using those altered licenses to secure firearms illegally, directly from the manufacturers and wholesalers.
Gravitt’s explanation was not acceptable to Sandy Milliken. . .
The National Bank of the Redwoods attorney demanded that the copy of the article appearing on www.gunssavelife.com be removed and that he expected a response from GSL no later that 5p.m. on December 20th, 2002.
Fortunately for Mr. Galvin, the attorney, we were not in court and he was not on television. Galvin was unaware that the article on the website was published in a newspaper and accordingly, afforded all of the protections of the many Supreme Court decisions relating to proving defamation in print media. Furthermore, he was unaware of some additional information equally embarrassing to his case that we are keeping to ourselves in the event we do need to make a brief appearance in court to have any suit thrown out.
In an electronic communication in early January with the webmaster / editor or GunNews, John Boch, Galvin repeated his assertions only with toned-down demands and without deadlines.
Our corporate counsel, Mr. Paul Vallandigham, looked over Galvin’s correspondence and the original article and indicated that our organization has little to worry about from this saber-rattling attorney in a state with little jurisdiction over an Illinois not-for-profit corporation publishing a Constitutionally-protected newspaper.
In his final correspondence, Boch did concede that the article was stale and needed to be removed from the home page. However, Boch informed Galvin that the article and the subsequent correspondence back and forth would be posted for all to read and form their own opinions based upon the facts as reported and undisputed at the time.
As of press time for this issue of GunNews, the web page has not been updated and no further correspondence postmarked California has been received.
And so, the seventh threatened legal action against Mr. Boch and Guns Save Life / Champaign County Rifle Association in three years or so has faded into history. As Paul Vallandigham said, “It just means we’re being effective when people threaten you with a baseless suit.”