Website attack fails to stop Zimmerman fundraiser

In the early hours of Wednesday, July 24, 2013, a cyber attack took down our website.

This isn't the first time we've been the victim of an attack. In fact, it happens all the time. In most cases, though, these attacks are unsuccessful or so minor that they go largely unnoticed. The attack on Wednesday, however, not only took out our website, it effectively shut down our hosting company, disabling thousands of other sites.

We've been asked by local and federal authorities not to reveal specifics before they complete their investigation, however we can say that we quickly identified the culprit and his motive. The attacker wanted to stop our fundraiser for George Zimmerman.

He took our site offline, but he failed to stop the fundraiser.

Zimmerman is a resident of Sanford, FL who was arrested and prosecuted for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. After a jury found Zimmerman not guilty, the judge ordered all personal property to be returned, including Mr. Zimmerman's firearm.

Bowing to public pressure from civil rights groups who refused to accept the verdict, and obviously reacting to comments in the press about a "murderer" getting his gun back, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked Sanford police to hold Mr. Zimmerman's property, pending a federal civil rights investigation.

Throughout the trial, the leadership of Buckeye Firearms Association and Buckeye Firearms Foundation withheld judgement, allowing the facts to play out. We knew neither Mr. Zimmerman nor Mr. Martin and had no agenda regarding the case. However, when we saw the DOJ step in to prevent Mr. Zimmerman from retrieving his firearm, we considered it blatant political pandering and a clear violation of Second Amendment rights. Every credible legal expert in the country agreed that the evidence of justifiable self defense was overwhelming and the DOJ had no grounds for a federal civil rights charge.

So we decided to take action and right the wrong. If the DOJ wanted to empower mob justice and prevent a free man from exercising his Second Amendment rights, we would raise money to help him replace the firearm. We immediately announced the Zimmerman Second Amendment Fund and asked our supporters to donate. We expected to collect a couple thousand dollars to pay for a new handgun, holster, flashlight, and other accessories Mr. Zimmerman might need for his security. We assumed we would collect the money, send it to Florida, and that would be the end of it.

However, to our surprise, the story made national, even international, headlines. From The Drudge Report and U.S. News and World Report to The New Zealand Herald and Tehran's Press TV, the media went ballistic and the donations started poring in.

That's when a "denial of service" attack hit our website, a federal crime, in an attempt to stop us. But it failed in spectacular fashion.

Despite the attack and despite the venomous verbal assaults online and death threats to our leaders, in about three days, Buckeye Firearms Foundation collected 774 donations from 48 states, plus Australia, Lithuania, and Switzerland, totaling well over $12,000. Ken Hanson, legal counsel for the Foundation, spoke to Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, to make arrangements for him to receive the funds and give them to his client. O'Mara agreed to provide proof that Mr. Zimmerman personally received the check.

On Thursday, July 25, we cut a check for $12,150.37 and put it into a FedEx envelope for overnight delivery. According to FedEx Tracking, O'Mara's office received the check on Friday afternoon, July 26.

Yes, our website was down, but it had no effect whatsoever on the fundraiser or our other work. While our website is a valuable tool for connecting with supporters, we have always been a true grassroots organization. We maintain deep and longstanding personal relationships with supporters and lawmakers in Ohio and around America.

Our legislative work carried on. Our FASTER teacher training moved forward. Our many firearm classes continued. Our latest raffle raised thousands. The attack, while annoying, accomplished nothing ... except motivating us to keep our site offline for a few days to upgrade our security and start making plans to update our site in other ways.

In addition, the attack further boosted media interest and kept the fundraising story in the news even longer, leading to an invitation from CNN for Ken Hanson to appear on the Piers Morgan show. And if Morgan chooses to attack, as he so often does when ranting about firearms, this will likely lead to even more media attention.

When will people learn? When you attack us, whether digitally or verbally, it leads only to more support and makes us stronger. But what can you expect from those who have no rational argument and no respect for the truth? Actually, we feel sorry for them. As we continue to rack up victory after victory, all they can do is throw temper tantrums to vent their frustration.

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Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.