Wounded Warrior Project In Not So Many Words Admits It Is Anti Gun

Shooting Wire Editor's Note: Over the past week, we've followed the discussion and controversy surrounding the Wounded Warrior Project following their taking a pass to appear on Tom Gresham's Gun Talk. Today, Tom Gresham brings us his complete take on the WWP controversy.

Wounded Warrior Project Anti Gun
Wounded Warrior Project In So Many Words Admits it is Anti Gun
Gun Talk Radio
Gun Talk Radio

MANDEVILLE, LA –-(Ammoland.com)- Does the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) have a bias against guns and gun makers?

Two weeks ago that would have sounded crazy, but this week many shooters are convinced that it's true. Hundreds of hunts and shoots are held as fundraisers for the WWP, and gun companies donate to WWP for its projects. How could it be that this $185 million (2013 projected revenue) outfit could be anti-gun?

It started with a simple invitation — I wanted someone from the Wounded Warrior Project to join me for the Veteran's Day episode of my national radio show, Tom Gresham's Gun Talk. I had no idea it would turn into a national dustup which now has the gun rights community in a turmoil — so much so that people are burning their Wounded Warrior Project shirts.

We were disappointed when the Leslie Coleman, PR director for WWP, said they couldn't come on the show, but that happens. Schedules don't mesh, things happen, but that's not uncommon. No big deal. Except that Ms. Coleman said they were declining because we “are related to firearms.”

“While we appreciate the interest in having a WWP representative on your show on Veterans Day we are not able to participate in interviews or activities with media/organizations that are related to firearms,” said Ms. Coleman in her email.

That really rocked us because we knew of all the firearms-related activities used to raise money for WWP. I asked for clarification, and Coleman reconfirmed their position. That Sunday I talked about it on the air and sent out a tweet (@guntalk) with the information. Some doubted that I had reported it correctly, so we posted the entire email exchange on our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/notes/gun-talk/wounded-warrior-project-email-exchange/10151354082553313

That lit the fuse, and hundreds (if not thousands) of gun rights supporters contacted WWP for clarification. The response was . . . a bit bland. Mostly it was along the lines of “We support the Second Amendment . . .,” but the WWP web site specifically called out the firearms industry as one it would not “co-brand” with. That is, it would not allow the use of its logo on guns (and it turns out, on knives, either.)

The other industries it won't co-brand with? Alcohol and sex.

Coleman's explanation that guns are used in suicides, and suicide is a big issue for returning vets, set off a firestorm of response. WWP quietly started making changes to its web site, removing mention of firearms, or changing it to “weapons.” Online firearms boards documented the changes, posting the before and after. The pressure mounted on WWP.

By midweek, with the help of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, WWP offered to put its CEO, Steve Nardizzi, on Gun Talk Radio to explain what they now called a big misunderstanding that had been blown out of proportion. I welcomed the chance to clear up this mess, which no one wanted. I hoped that Nardizzi would announce a change in the policy.

He didn't. Once on the air, he said they support the Second Amendment (which really did remind me of when President Obama starts a sentence that way), and that they participate in hunts and shoots as fund raisers. Yes, we knew that. But what of the policy blocking the use of the WWP logo on guns? In fact, the policy prohibits the use of the logo at fundraisers where there is shooting, though that seems to be flexible.

No, he said, they would not “co-brand” with firearms or knives. The return on investment just wasn't there, he explained. I asked why they would turn down the money from such a program when it didn't interfere with their larger projects (ketchup, clothing, etc.), and he explained that co-branding requires much internal coordination with lawyers, PR people, and others to manage it, and that I wouldn't understand it. Hmmm.?

What if we offered to cover all their internal expenses, and then co-brand (use their logo on guns and knives) as a way to contribute to WWP, I asked. Would that be okay? I never got a straight answer to that.

There was much back and forth, with it quickly taking on the feeling of dealing with a politician who has to be there, but who doesn't really want to answer the questions. To get the full flavor of the interview, you can download it or listen online. http://tinyurl.com/cugy6ft

Nardizzi even went on the offensive, saying he can't believe we would withhold donations from wounded vets because we don't get anything out of it (use of the logo). This feigned indignation didn't fly. I explained that we have many avenues for donating to our veterans — WWP is only one of many — and that just because someone decides not to support a group which he thinks has taken an anti-gun stand doesn't mean that person isn't going to continue to contribute — just to other groups.

Having been in the gun rights fight since before the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, I've seen a lot of changes. For decades I've said this fight really is a struggle for public opinion. We have made great strides. Forty years ago a majority of the U.S. population thought that handguns should be severely restricted. That's not the case now. Through education and exposure the public recognize gun owners as “normal” people just like them. This is huge.

On the other hand, there is a major push to demonize and marginalize gun owners, gun makers, and the shooting sports. It is in this light that I see the WWP policy of prohibiting gun and knife makers from using the WWP logo. What are they telling the world?

Take the longer view. Ebay blocked firearms from being listed. Paypal blocks the use of its service for buying guns. Google blocks guns, dealers and makers from searches in its shopping service. We have reports of banks closing the accounts of gun makers simply on the basis that they won't do business with the firearms industry.

Each of these is a very public way of saying “We don't do business with ‘those people'.” Each is a way of saying that reasonable and responsible people should have nothing to do with the firearms business. We are being put into the same box as pornography.

Sure, the Wounded Warrior Project is only too happy to take our money. They “allow” shoots and hunts as fundraisers, but they don't want their logo associated with us. They are saying in a very public way that they refuse to be associated with us.

Some have suggested that there is pressure from the board, from big donors, or from elsewhere, to prevent the use of the WWP logo on “weapons.” Honestly, I don't know and don't care. I just know it to be a continuation of the demonization of firearms, the firearms industry, and those who use guns responsibly.

There is no doubt that the WWP does good work. That's why I'm left disgusted and sad at this whole affair. But I know that we never win when we shrug and put up with this kind of treatment.

Throughout last week we continued to hear from people and groups which have been rebuffed by WWP because the groups were involved in firearms. One significant donation from a company in our industry was returned because it came though a faith-based foundation.

One element of this rather sad tale has been gratifying. The firearms community responded instantly to this with questions and pressure — so much so that WWP recognized they had to go public to answer the charges. The connectivity of the gun rights movement through the internet made that possible. It has changed the game.

I had hoped that WWP would come to its senses. Once it became clear that the policy would not change, many identified and donated to other groups which help vets, and which are only too happy to be associated with guns, hunting and shooting. Last Sunday I had someone from marineparents.com on the radio show. Each week for the rest of the year, we'll have various groups which help wounded veterans on the radio to help them get additional exposure.

On Gun Talk Radio I created a “No Shrug” policy. We will always speak up. No longer will we just shrug when faced with a distorted media report about guns. No longer will we just go about our business when a politician makes outrageous claims about gun owners.

No longer will we continue to give money to, or do business with, any outfit which in any way labels us as “undesirables.” To shrug and just go on is to not just accept the demonetization  but it actually agrees with it and supports it.

No longer.

–Tom Gresham

About:In its 18th year of national syndication, Tom Gresham's Gun Talk Radio airs live on Sundays from 2PM-5PM Eastern, and runs on more than 135 stations, plus on XM (Ch. 165) Satellite Radio. All Gun Talk shows can be downloaded as podcasts at http://www.guntalk.libsyn.com and Apple iTunes, or through one of the available Apps: the Gun Talk iPhone App, the Blackberry Podcast App, and the Gun Talk App for Android on Amazon. The Gun Talk Minute on XM also airs on XM 165, 166, 168 and Fox Sports every day throughout the week. More information is available at www.guntalk.com.

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Allan Morrison
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Allan Morrison

The wounded were defending our way of life, our culture, our politics, our great bill of rights, our constitution. Along comes WWP with a smile on their face and a political anti bill of rights knife behind their back, and use the suffering to line their pockets and participate in subverting the constitution. To those who say this is a controversy involving gun rights, you’re wrong. There is no controversy. Defense to preserve oneself is a biological imperative whether from beast, or crook, or tyranny. The gun is the most effective personal tool to this end, and all you parlor… Read more »

junglejym
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junglejym

Sounds like they’re just working to build up a large enough pile of wounded vets… so they can set their soapbox on top to better promote their agenda. Remember the “Gun Guys” hoblophobe trojan horse website?

C Beyer
Guest
C Beyer

I was just going to buy from a fund raiser for WW but then my son in law told me that they are against our 2nd amendment, our right to bear arms (guns) Therefore I will support our Vets but through another organization and not Wounded Warriors. Also if it was not for many prayers many of our wounded warriors would not of made it home so they should not turn their back on religious organizations either.

Steve
Guest
Steve

This is just stupid!!!! WWP is not anti gun!!!! What does helping wounded soldiers have to do with guns? How do you make this connection? Are you people so stupid that you can’t see the risk they would assume being connected to fire arms and knives? I don’t think they will be putting that logo on chainsaws, scissors, hammers, matches, razor blades or anything else that would create a potential liability!!! What liability arises from partnering with a t-shirt manufacturer? What liability arises from partnering with a gun manufacturer? Think people!!! Why would they take any chances? You need to… Read more »

Matt Stagg
Guest
Matt Stagg

So, not only are you not going to send money to help soldiers who volunteered to fight and die for your freedom, but you going to actively campaign to stop other people sending money? You colossal prick.

fred
Guest
fred

they completely failed to protect us during 9/11 …

Mike
Guest
Mike

Has anyone ever looked at where the money goes? Does the majority go to the vets or the people that run the fund raising program. Kind of like the United Way was with the directors riding inn limos and private jets.

G.I. Joe
Guest
G.I. Joe

I fully support wounded warrior project, because my best friends uncle was blown up in a humvee when his column was hit by an i.e.d, so what ever you people wanna believe that’s fine, but for God’s sake, support your troops, cause they are laying down their lives for your sorry asses.

Allan
Guest
Allan

It has come to my attention and understanding based on my own research that Public Law 90-618 (82STAT1213) aka the Gun Control Act of 1968 is not valid and enforceable within any State of the Union [not including States of the United States] since “person” by definition excludes explicitly man and woman standing on a State of the Union. Person by definition has been limited to different types of franchisees and artificial persons only. Also by definition “the United States and State have been limited to possession, territories and the like directly subject to the jurisdiction of congress outside of… Read more »

Bodilyfluids
Guest
Bodilyfluids

It seems this whole situation could have been avoided if you would have kept your big XXXXX shut. The wwp does world of good for people who deserve more than any of us can give and if they felt hesitation in making an appearance on your show about guns when suicide among vets is sky high, so be it. It’s not an unreasonable standpoint. Before anyone’s panties wad id like to state that I’m pro-gun and for gun rights, but I’m against XXXX attention mongers who will attempt to sabotage an organization doing a little bit of good for the… Read more »

Ed B
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Ed B

I disagree. I’ve been a monthly contributor for about 2 years and will stop that immediately. My contributions will still go to vets but via a different organization. They make their decisions – and we can make ours.

G.I. Joe
Guest
G.I. Joe

I agree with you 1000% xxxx all of you southern redneck hillbillies.

J.C. McDonald
Guest
J.C. McDonald

I will no longer donate money to WWP. I have never been so disappointed in an organization.

Dave
Guest
Dave

@Chris Reynolds
So you think WWP project is great huh? Do you also think it is great that they refuse to help Vietnam vets? Pull your head out of your a$$ and come up from some oxygen and clear your head! If you want to help veterans, donate to a charity that helps ALL vets

dave
Guest
dave

@Chris Reynolds
So you think WWP project is great huh? So you must think it is also great that they refuse to help Vietnam vets. Pull your head out of your ass and come up from some oxygen and clear your head! I support ALL veterans. If you want to help veterans, donate to a charity that helps ALL vets.

Chris Reynolds
Guest
Chris Reynolds

Well b-a Obama who ya’ll voted in is trying to have gun control or take guns completely away from us anyway (which is against the 2nd Amendment) but I’m a Wounded Warrior myself so I WILL support the project & will always encourage support from anyone & everyone & don’t appreciate people (like you who have probably never served a day 1 in the military) trying to discourage people from suppporting this GREAT organization

joey hunter
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joey hunter

you know what i don’t support communists and that’s what y’all are being is a bunch of overbearing selfish communist these men these soldiers are doing their best to protect this country and all you people are being so rude no wonder why some many people are anti social its because of people like YOU and you don’t even know it

Seanoamericano
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Seanoamericano

It may have started out good but was soon over run by professional fundraising liberals who line their own pockets with money. Proof once again that to ruin anything just allow liberals in the door.

Fact check
Guest
Fact check

Wounded warrior project does not support team river runner anymore, nor do they make donations to MANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, I saw a comment above about being flown into Germany and I was in the same boat, at that moment Wwp gave me something that felt a little more homely as I went through various surgeries. However there money is not all where it should be. And every year it’s less and less with smaller or even large non profits and more just anywhere they can put there name that gets there message out. And truly this is America so in… Read more »

Candy
Guest
Candy

I am a disabled Desert Storm Veteran and am terminal. I contacted WWP many years ago and asked for help and was denied because I am not a newer wounded warrior. One organization that I always support is: http://www.avetproject.org Kim and Garren Cone have done retreats for both male and females. They have enlisted the help of Sanctuary Island who does fund raising so we can ride horses. They are so involved in not only Veterans issues, but those that are still on active duty. From sending care packages to welcoming them home. Garren runs a radio program in the… Read more »

Jimmy don\'t play that
Guest
Jimmy don\'t play that

Steven Nardizzi, Executive Director WWP, drew a salary of $319,692 in FY2011 according to Charity Navigator. One wonders what he will pull down in salary and benefits in FY2014?