You know you’re doing something right when you call out someone’s unethical shenanigans or scams and they threaten legal action.
You really know you’ve hit a sore spot when they follow through by actually contacting a lawyer to do more of the same, sometimes subtly, sometimes not-so-subtly.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet legal missive number 9.
No, it’s not Client #9, but our ninth brush with wannabe intimidating legal correspondence.
This letter was received from Equip 2 Conceal owner Rob Shewmake’s attorney on or about October 4th. It languished in our spam folder for couple of days before we found it. We are oh-so-glad it didn’t get deleted.
It was, we believe, directed at our post calling out Equip 2 Conceal’s course description/advertisement for an Illinois-approved – or “certified” as E2C called it – class that was not at the time.
At best it was a premature effort to garner student interest for a class submitted to ISP for approval. Some saw it in a less favorable light – as a scam on the part of Equip 2 Conceal to defraud people of their money.
After speaking with E2C’s vice-president Chad Ward, we chalked it up to prematurely jumping the gun and were heartened by Mr. Ward’s willingness to add anticipatory language to the page in question.
Then a few hours later, E2C’s head cheese in charge writes on Illinois Carry that he would be exploring his legal options against GunsSaveLife.
Here is Shewmake’s intemperate, ill-considered post:
Molly we will be exploring our options against gunssavelife.com on Monday for their slanderous story. We will not tolerate this kind of abuse…
Well, here’s the extent of his legal options: A two-page letter from his attorney to me, and by extension, Guns Save Life admitting that it’s not a threat of legal action.
Here it is and below it, my/our reply, sent on letterhead:
And here is my response, as mailed last Monday.
October 7, 2013
VIA plain, old-fashioned First Class U.S. Mail
David Hurvitz, Esquire
Legal Counsel for Equip 2 Conceal
Law Office of Hurvitz & Feasley, P.A.
3708 West Bay to Bay Boulevard
Tampa, Florida 33629
Thank you for your correspondence, Mr. Hurvitz, and your patience with my reply. Your initial email landed in my spam folder.
You reference what you contend are false and defamatory postings on IllinoisCarry.com.
We’ll have to agree to disagree – at least when you’re on the clock – about Equip 2 Conceal’s (E2C) course description. Illinois’ new carry law specifically says it is unlawful to advertise a course as being approved when it is not. Just because E2C had no locations and dates listed on a follow-up page doesn’t create an exemption.
Furthermore, I do not have an account at IllinoisCarry.com. Perhaps you are referencing another post at IllinoisCarry and not my writing about Equip 2 Conceal’s shenanigans at GunsSaveLife.com?
Anyway, we’re past that for the time being. We both know if I’d done something actionable your letter would have had an entirely different tone.
I’m a veteran at receiving letters from legal firms over the years (you’re roughly #9) and your fairly tame demeanor is why your client Rob Shewmake’s company hasn’t found itself splashed across the headline of our blog once again for another 25-50,000 sets of eyeballs to read about his company.
I guffawed at your assertion that I wrote about Equip 2 Conceal’s malfeasance based upon personal financial gain. That sir, is as laughable as Mr. Shewmake’s rumored claim that he was going to come to Illinois and run local Illinois instructors out of business.
If my personal company were in this for financial gain, we wouldn’t teach affordably-priced courses that vastly exceed NRA-requirements with as many as sixteen top-tier instructors – nor would we offer instructor development classes which have led many folks to ask us why we are “training the competition”.
The answer of course, is that we’re all about training and education, not making a lot of money.
There are three things you might share with your client.
His poorly considered post at Illinois Carry is what gave me headline fodder, particularly after I discussed the matter with Equip 2 Conceal Vice-President Chad Ward. Mr. Ward and I had found common ground, and we agreed that adding some provisional language would eliminate any confusion and bring the course description into compliance with Illinois law. Mr. Ward’s willingness to do so gave me hope that E2C weren’t the bunch of con artist scoundrels I initially believed they might be and I subsequently greatly softened the language in that initial post.
So imagine my surprise when I found Mr. Shewmake’s threats posted hours later after he was called out on his misleading course description. I again contacted Mr. Ward, who was also frustrated with your client’s ill-considered post. I relayed to Mr. Ward that I take threats head on, but offered to hold off on a reply for 24 hours to afford Mr. Shewmake an opportunity to edit his intemperate post.
When Mr. Shewmake failed to respond by either a phone call or by editing his post at IllinoisCarry.com, I went forward with my second, and much more widely shared and read story of E2C lawyering up and the tactics his vice-president used to deflect criticism after we called them out.
I simply reported the facts and let our readers decide. As you know, the truth is an absolute defense in matters such as these.
Secondly, I’ve noticed Equip 2 Conceal is offering classes at hotels and frankly, E2C is on our radar again. I sincerely hope E2C’s instructors are not teaching a 16-hour course that requires four hours of range work at a hotel in two 9a-5p days. Nowhere in the Illinois FCCA law does it credit lunches or travel time in the course hours and the Illinois State Police are proving to be sticklers for detail.
While Mr. Shewmake has gotten himself into this position, I won’t discount the opportunity for reform. If Rob wants to present solid classes that exceed the legal minimums while operating in an honest, ethical and reputable fashion, we’ll be there to praise him and work cooperatively and supportively with him, as we do with all similar firearm trainers in Illinois.
If Mr. Shewmake is in fact as serious about his support for the Second Amendment as he claims, it is groups like ours that he and his company can partner with to defend and protect our right to defend our rights here in Illinois most effectively at the grassroots level.
In the spirit of reciprocating your moderate tone, I’ll deviate from my usual “motus operandi” of publishing legal missives as soon as I get them with our readers, foregoing the nice spike in readership that typically follows. I will have shared your correspondence with the board of directors, of course, via email.
Who knows, maybe we can work cooperatively on everything from gun rights activism to sharing training tips with Guns Save Life members and tens of thousands of additional gun owners across Illinois and beyond. Mr. Shewmake, if he were to become a regular at our meetings, wouldn’t be the first firearm instructor to address our audience with helpful or timely advice and/or training tips.
In fact, also in the spirit of putting the past behind us, I’d welcome Mr. Shewmake or Mr. Ward to one of our Guns Save Life meetings and give either of them an opportunity to address upwards of 200 or more gun owners. They could talk about their multi-state company and the work they do – and to enjoy the publicity of a written report about the presentation in our monthly journal, GunNews, circulation 20,000. Heck, he can even bring that fancy pickup truck – in fact, I’d kind of expect to see it. Have him call or email for details.
Again, Mr. Hurvitz, thank you for your correspondence. I welcome, and vastly prefer, cooperative work towards educating and motivating gun owners and non-gun owners alike about the proven benefits of firearm ownership. At the same time, we won’t hesitate to call out cheats, con artists or unethical trainers who would fleece less knowledgeable Illinois gun owners of their hard-earned money, doubly so when they threaten to “explore their options” against us.
I’d welcome a phone call from Rob or yourself if either of you would like to discuss things with me in an effort to work together to promote good training and gun rights.
Guns Save Life
I am interpreting Mr. Shewmake and his attorney’s non-response as a loud and clear message of Equip 2 Conceal’s disinterest in creating dialogue to further Second Amendment rights and good training in Illinois.
The offer for them to speak directly to our members still stands, of course.
More subtle threats, or perhaps “admonitions”, from E2C or its supporters. From our comments section no less.
You got a warning and the silence you experience now (while you call names like cheats and con artists and unethical) is like the lady just listening and documenting actions by the one she warned, in writing, while he makes his own bed. Your arrogance is gonna bite you. I try to warn you, I try to show you examples.
I suggest you think carefully about yer choices, homie.
Might not be a very good idea to go all control freak on em….