09.11.2017 Here in Finland we like our veterans, and we thought what could we do to show appreciation to those that have served for your country as well. Well, we can't do a whole lot from over here, but we can offer you all (everyone in the US) free shipping via Posti. Offer valid from now until midnight on 11.11. Get!
We’ve sold you a gas mask whose filter contains asbestos.
We hope the above got your attention. The deal is, the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) tested 12 Russian GP-5 gas mask filters and all were found to contain chrysotile or white asbestos. Asbestos is a harmful substance that has been banned in Finland since 1994. Because our products have been sold after this, we have to organise a campaign to get back all the said filters in Finland. We’re not required to do this internationally, but we’re doing it anyway, as it is the right thing to do. You will reveice 5€ refund in cold cash or 7€ discount code to our webshop.
What to do
Our records show that you’ve purchased a russian gas mask from us. If you’ve resold it, please pass this e-mail forward to the person who has it now.
The filter is the key. Don’t use the mask with the filter on. The mask itself is harmless and you can keep it. It’s the fun part of the product anyway.
Please return the filter to us - reply to this e-mail and we’ll let you know the details on how. When replying, please give your name, street address and country, so we can arrange for transport - this is an automated message sent all over the world, so we don’t know who you are unless you tell us.
The other alternative is that if your country has a system to get rid of items that have asbestos, you can use that. In Finland it’s as simple as going to the nearest refuse dump / refuse processing station and giving them the filter. We don’t know about the rest of the world.
Asbestos is mostly legal in the United States, because corporate greed. We assume, that because of this, there isn’t a system to process asbestos refuse. If you return the filter to us, we’ll have it processed in Finland.
We didn’t know the mask contained asbestos. There was an internet rumour circulating that it would be so, and after we heard about it, we put some text on the product page indicating that the filter may contain asbestos and you shouldn’t use it. If you read the product description when you bought the mask, you’ve seen the text. In hindsight it was stupid to still sell the mask, but we didn’t take the rumour seriously at the time, and we didn’t really even know there was a way to have the filters tested. Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) found out about the rumour, ordered us to send 12 samples and tested them - and they all had asbestos in the particle filter. Anything containing asbestos is illegal in Finland, so here we are.
The mask has chrysotile or white asbestos in the textile part of the particle filter. The reason for asbestos here is that it works really well for filtering small particles. We have no official information about the health hazard this poses, as the only official test we have is that there is asbestos. Some unofficial tests have been run and it would appear that the asbestos stays where it is, it shouldn’t be able to get through the charcoal part of the filter and all in all the filter should see some serious damage before the asbestos would get moving (and get into your lungs.) This, however, is still unofficial and it’s best to assume the filter is a health hazard and you’d want to get rid of it.
Gas masks from other sources
It’s very likely that all Russian filters contain asbestos. There’s a reason asbestos was used so much - apart from the lung risk, it’s really good material for many kind of uses. It would be very likely that all gas mask filters, no matter what the origin, made before 1990s contain asbestos. It’s likely that gas mask filters made in the us even today contain asbestos. In short, you should treat all military surplus gas mask filters as health hazard. They wouldn’t be good for their original use anyway, as the activated charcoal is most likely saturated in all of them.
21.06.2017 We have the pleasure to host these two fine gentlemen and now you'll get to meet them as well! Ian and Karl from theInRange TV and Forgotten Weapons will be here at our store on 27th of June 5PM-20PM. Come here, it'll be great!
More info at the event page.
05.05.2017 The Finnish Postal service has informed us that international mail handling at New York's JFK is badly crippled. They are working on it and trying to find out what's the hold up, but in the mean time the packages from Finland to USA are delayed, again.
This is getting a bit frustrating for us as well. We are working on our own way around this issue, so hopefully we can manage to get more reliable service for you guys!
Humour can be dark too. Sometimes pitch black.
How do you make a plumber cry? Kill his family. Works every time.
People usually laugh at this. It’s even an internet meme. Because it’s funny. We’re capable of laughing at the joke even without any intentions of killing any families, with plumbers or without. The funny in this case comes from the amount of atrocity in the sentences, which provokes a reaction. It’s safer to laugh than cry.
An army shop sells stuff that has seen war
There are army shops and there are army shops. 14 years ago when Varusteleka was set up, the previous army shops in Finland used to sell used German army camouflage uniforms as “NATO camouflage uniform.” Curiously, Chinese copies of South African M83 combat vest were also “NATO combat vest.” Any kind of used black military boot would be “US Army boot, used”, even though all the boots sold in Finland were Finnish, German or Swedish stock, no one in their right mind would ship a batch of used cheap footwear across the Atlantic. When we entered the business, we found a vivid world of standardized items, all of which had stories to tell. The suppliers wouldn’t tell them, they didn’t care, but if you knew your staff, had the appropriate literature and knew where to look in the internet, you could find out all the stories behind every item, no matter how insignificant it would seem.
Some of the stories were harmless, like how US Army makes pregnancy trousers in camouflage, even though the mothers-to-be would never be in hostile territory and in need to make themselves invisible. Some were chilling, like how West German combat webbing was very well made from very high quality materials, but the design was not exactly combat effective. This was because it didn’t make much sense to develop personal combat equipment for troops who would face tactical nuclear weapons. Then you sometimes get stuff that very likely have seen really nasty things, like anything that’s been in Africa, or stuff from the Yugoslav wars.
Uniformed units committing atrocities usually behave like any other unformed units - when the conflict is over or when the contract is up, they give out their uniforms and other issued equipment, which ends up in the same circulation with stuff from units that have adhered international laws and done their killing and maiming in a perfectly justifiable and nice, acceptable way.
This means that when you get stuff from the former Yugoslavian army originating from any which one of the contemporary countries, and if the item shows signs of wear, it might have seen just plain conscript use before or after the hostilities, or it might have been used in the bloodiest European conflict since Second World War. A jacket or a bayonet or an ammo pouch or a beret might have been worn at Srebrenica. You get kind of cynical holding an item that might have been part of something really bad. Selling this stuff, sometimes you just simply wonder how fucked up the human race is.
So what can you do? Start crying and quit the business? Or maybe deal with it, with the one positive way to deal with horror - humor.
The joke’s on the evil people
Calling a jacket that might have been used in a genocide a “genocide parka” is dark, dark humor and an effort to deal with something horrible. The action here is dealing with it, not glorifying it. You’ll never find the genocide makers boasting about it - actually they’ll do anything to deny the word genocide and cover up their work. A military jacket is not only a jacket, it’s part of an uniform, it has significance in the sense of making the group operating under the uniform an unit. If the unit commits genocide or other war crimes, the uniform becomes tarnished and carries the bad deeds with it, even if any single jacket just sat on the warehouse shelf throughout the whole conflict.
Calling the jacket a genocide jacket is waking people up to the fact that this has happened and it was real. The humor is not at the expense of the victims - they would want people to remember the crime - but at the expense of the perpetrators, those people who’d want nothing more than the whole genocide to be forgotten.
Being quiet about it isn’t far from saying it never happened
Dark humor comes naturally to people - just watch any stand up comic. You can see things like alcoholism or domestic violence being acceptable topics for humor in movies or other fiction. Some victims do not like this humour, other victims make dark humor a part of their coping methods. Humor doesn’t glorify, nor does it dilute something or make it more acceptable. It’s a way of processing Because of this, there is no line to cross for something to be too bad to be processed with humor. Even genocide isn’t too much.
The worst thing would be not to mention the genocide. Would you want to be informed that the jacket you are buying is also the uniform of a military group who committed genocide and other war crimes?
ASA (The Advertising Standards Authority) also gave us a friendly reminder via email - we'll see how that plays out. A few years back we received a notification about this very same thing from the Finnish equivalent for ASA, and they pretty much got our point regarding this matter.
Here's the whole conversation in social media.