You can oppose the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League (VCDL), but be careful what you say about them. The group has no compunction using the civil justice system if defamed. First, it sued television personality Katie Couric for defamation, and now the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). A CSGV official called the VCDL a “domestic terror organization” and will have to answer for it in court, said VCDL’s President Philip Van Cleave who spoke exclusively to Liberty Nation about the litigation.
Terror on the Potomac
The VCDL filed its complaint in state court in Fairfax County, VA. The defamation alleged against the group came from a press release celebrating Terry McAuliffe’s win in the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary. The CSGV was delighted McAuliffe’s win put him closer to taking guns away from Virginians, mentioning that he had touted his “F” rating from the NRA in earlier races. Then there was a warning about voting for Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor, and an “outdated and harmful stance on gun violence.”
Had she stopped there, Lori Haas, Virginia State Director for the CSGV, would have been on firm ground, well, firm legal basis anyway. Instead, she said:
“[W]e’ve already seen him cozying up to those with deep ties to those at the forefront of the insurrectionist movement, like Senator Amanda Chase and the domestic terror organization, the Virginia Citizens Defense League.”
As the VCDL notes in its complaint, “domestic terror” involves acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state. Van Cleave categorically rejected the idea that VCDL and its membership engaged in anything of the sort. However, he said that the domestic terror charge coupled with allegations that they are “insurrectionist” poses real problems for current and would-be participants. He said many members have security clearance and that the statement “puts member jobs in jeopardy – damaging not just the organization, but damaging our members as well. It was vicious on their end.”
Punching Back Twice as Hard
I asked Van Cleave what made this statement different from many others critical of the organization he leads. “They’ve actually said that we are criminals – that’s a whole different creature than somebody pontificating about what we may or may not be doing.” The VCDL does not endorse candidates for political office and has not endorsed Youngkin.
In 2016, the VCDL sued Katie Couric for defamation. She invited several VCDL members to be recorded for a roundtable discussion for her film Under the Gun. Couric asked the question, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The video showed the gun advocates sitting in stunned silence – the exact opposite of what happened. Instead of stymied and surprised, they were quickly engaged, and even the legacy media called her out for the deception.
The gun-rights group lost an appeal over that case in federal court. Here, they allege actual malice, the highest standard of evidence required in a defamation case. If they can prove it, the anti-gunners will be punished for lying, a real rarity inside the Beltway. The CSGV has deleted the original post. It did not respond to multiple attempts to obtain a comment for this story. The gun-control group has until Sept. 18 to respond in court.
(Editor’s note: The author has been a member of the VCDL and contributed financially to the litigation against Couric.)
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.