A Gun Nut’s Guide To Gun Control That Works

BY Herschel Smith
6 years ago

Jon Stokes writing at Politico:

I’m for Second Amendment rights. I am a Texan and an American patriot who hauls my family to church every Sunday in a diesel pickup truck, where I sit in the pew and listen to the Word with a 9mm pistol tucked inside the waistband of my fanciest jeans.

Isn’t this the part where the author inserts the inevitable “but”—as in, “I’m a firm Second Amendment advocate, but … ”? Well I’ve got no “buts” for you, because I don’t need them. I believe there is a way to increase both our individual gun rights and our collective safety, if we can only get gun controllers to quit bitterly clinging to outmoded feature bans and gun registries, and convince gun rights advocates that “liberty” isn’t just about “what’s in my gun safe” but also about being able to exercise one’s full spectrum of Second Amendment rights in every part of this great nation.

The idea is simple but powerful: a federally issued license for simple possession of all semi-automatic firearms. This license would allow us to carefully vet civilian access to semi-automatic weapons, while overriding state-specific weapon bans and eliminating some of the federal paperwork that ties specific firearms to specific owners.

I offer this idea not only because I actually want to live in a world where it, or something like it, is the law of the land, but also because I and my fellow gun nuts are worried that a storm is coming that will sweep away a substantial portion of our gun rights without really making the country safer in return. We’re not even five months into a midterm election year, and 2018 has seen a string of high-profile incidents that have darkened the public’s view of civilian gun ownership: February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, followed by this month’s shootings at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, and at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee. In the aftermath of these killings, we’re hearing proposals for anti-gun measures that we thought were widely considered out of bounds in the gun control debate, like a ban on all semi-automatic firearms, a repeal of the Second Amendment, or even an outright ban on the private ownership of guns. Some of us think this will all blow over, as it always does. And maybe it will. But this time definitely feels different.

Our side faces a potent new enemy in the form of private-sector companies like REI, Delta Airlines, Citibank, YouTube and Reddit, which are taking an increasingly anti-gun stance. My fellow gun owners and I are now concerned not just with the potential erosion of our gun rights at the hands of our government, but also with the erosion of our ability to communicate and to educate about this topic in the online spaces that make up so much of modern civic life.

There is fear, despair and anger on both sides, and neither side wants to give an inch. We seem doomed to fight endlessly over the same handful of half-measures that neither side is happy with. A new approach—a federal gun license for semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15s used in the Parkland shooting and at the Nashville Waffle House—has the potential to make us all safer while offering a net increase in liberty for the country’s law-abiding gun owners.

[ … ]

If you weren’t a license holder, then simple possession of any semi-auto weapon would be a felony.

[ … ]

An initial set of licensing requirements would undoubtedly include having one’s fingerprints on file with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and a thorough background check that screens for things like domestic violence convictions and inclusion in the government’s terrorist watch list (assuming that list has been fixed by adding a way for innocent people to get their names removed). Gun controllers have long desired a national firearm licensing scheme that includes safe storage requirements and a demonstration of basic weapon proficiency; these things would be part of the negotiations. If they didn’t make the first cut, there would be a place to implement them should they gain popular support. Maybe gun controllers could offer the pro-gun side something it badly wants, like relaxing the federal restrictions on suppressors, in exchange for them.

Here’s the best part.  “Jon Stokes is a founder of Ars Technica and a former editor for Wired. He writes about guns and technology for TechCrunch, AllOutdoor.com, TheFireArmBlog.com and other publications.”

So it remains to be seen if he will ever write again for AllOutdoor or TFB, but Stokes has seriously and passionately embraced the dark side.  It may be no accident that he’s done it in Politico.

Only a dolt and simpleton believes things like what he is advocating being an advantage for personal safety.  Only some in the gun community will actually do this, and certainly not criminals.

Second, he apparently doesn’t believe in the predilection of mankind towards evil and wickedness, witness his sophomoric belief in the idea that a national registry will be given up by the progressives, and that we should later (after already succumbing to the wishes of the progressives) be at the mercy of ideas that “gain popular support.”  The Armenian genocide had popular support too.

Third, a fundamental error he makes runs contrary to the intent of the founders.  He advocates centralization of power, which is exactly what the Bill of Rights was intended to prevent (albeit imperfectly).  He we are again at his naïve belief in the inherent goodness of man, whereas Paul advocated a different viewpoint (Romans 3:23).

Fourth, when he considers the effect on public safety, Stokes ignores the biggest effect, which is mass shootings in gun-free nations at the hands of government actors, which in the twentieth century was near 170 million souls.  Jon’s math is all screwed up.

Finally, he actually appears to believe that his gun creds are stamped and sealed because he is a so-called “gun nut.”  He writes for TFB and AllOutdoor.  I too love to talk guns, love to work them, love to clean them, assemble and disassemble them, study barrels and twist rate, study reticle holdover subtensions and scope design, love to build and reverse the process, love to study ballistics, and on the list goes.  Rather like boys working on cars when you could rebuild carburetors with float and gasket kits, change the plugs and ignition wires, and set timing on the points all without the involvement of onboard computers or professional mechanics.

But that doesn’t mean anything more than I’m a gearhead.  Jon’s “gun nut” creds means nothing whatsoever to me, and it shouldn’t to you either if he intends to compromise the observation of our liberties to progressives on a naïve promise of good will.  The second amendment, as I’ve pointed out, is a covenant.  It is an agreement, not the source of our rights to be armed.  Loving mechanics and being a gearhead obviously doesn’t translate to loving liberty or being devoted to doing what it takes to preserve it.

The fountain of our rights and liberties isn’t the state.  It is the almighty Himself who issues forth such edicts, and because He has done so, let no man feel the freedom to whisk them away in panicked compromise because he fears loss.  There are worse things than losing, and worse things than death.  Losses are only temporal, and death isn’t the end.

My hope is that Jon Stokes never again writes another word for TFB, AllOutdoor or any other gun related publication.  To the gun community, Jon’s name must be Ichabod.  He is anathema.


  1. On April 30, 2018 at 6:07 am, Inquiring Minds said:

    I’m a little confused about how the progs would give up “national registry” for the required federal gun license.
    Wouldn’t the federal license system be the de-facto registry?

  2. On April 30, 2018 at 7:45 am, Fred said:

    Is this guy brain damaged?

  3. On April 30, 2018 at 8:40 am, Michael said:

    “I’m for Second Amendment rights.”

    “Well I’ve got no “buts” for you, because I don’t need them…”

    And then, he offers the BUT that he claims not to have:

    “The idea is simple but powerful: a federally issued license for simple possession of all semi-automatic firearms. This license would allow us to carefully vet civilian access to semi-automatic weapons, while overriding state-specific weapon bans and eliminating some of the federal paperwork that ties specific firearms to specific owners.”

    What a horse’s back end… Reminds me of a talk show host locally here in Utah who pulls the same kind of stuff. “I’m all for the second amendment, but…” “I’m all for free speech, but…”

    Give us a break pal, you’re NOT a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Period.

  4. On April 30, 2018 at 9:02 am, Ned said:

    These Quislings just keep trotting out their prog surrender ideas. If i ever see this guy on TFB, I won’t read the article, just post hate in the comments.

  5. On April 30, 2018 at 9:35 am, Russian Troll-bot said:

    He’s not a dolt or a simpleton. This is just another deceiver.

  6. On April 30, 2018 at 9:44 am, Gryphon said:

    Another Useless prog shill advocating Federal “licensing” of My Rights.

  7. On April 30, 2018 at 9:55 am, DAN III said:

    Jon Stokes2 is simply a Judas.

  8. On April 30, 2018 at 9:57 am, DAN III said:


    Disregard the numeral 2 after Stokes, above. Fat fingers.

  9. On April 30, 2018 at 11:19 am, Hiram Taine said:

    You are more patient than I, I stopped reading after ” a federally issued license”. No way. No how.

  10. On April 30, 2018 at 12:21 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    “The idea is simple but powerful: a federally issued license for simple possession of all semi-automatic firearms.”

    A Federal-level permit for firearms is nothing more than a de facto national registry of firearm owners.

    Mr. Stokes has chosen his side – and it isn’t ours.

  11. On April 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm, Bill Robbins said:

    Perhaps Mr. Stokes wrote an excellent piece of satire. Alas, probably not.

  12. On April 30, 2018 at 2:03 pm, Tommy said:

    There already is a federally issued license for the possession of firearms. It is called the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. QED

  13. On April 30, 2018 at 3:43 pm, moe mensale said:

    Mr. Stokes,

    Why didn’t you write this article for TFB and/or AllOutdoors? It’s a rhetorical question, btw. We already know why.

  14. On April 30, 2018 at 3:53 pm, NOG said:

    Why do these people refuse to believe in a Second Amendment? It is written in plain English after all. Does Mr. Stokes believe he is smarter than our founding Fathers? He seems kinda dumb to me. Well, a LOT dumber than the framers that placed this Amendment as number two. I don’t believe he is really a writer for gun blogs. Perhaps a bloomturd shill?

  15. On April 30, 2018 at 3:55 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    I believe he’s just arrogant enough to believe he’s come up with something that no one else has in order to “save the day.”

  16. On April 30, 2018 at 7:39 pm, Dave said:

    He left out the most important part: How to get the criminals to get a federal gun license.

  17. On May 1, 2018 at 12:29 am, MEO said:

    The last thing I want is for the feds to know who owns firearms. It makes confiscation simple.

    I think this guy’s IQ must be smaller than the caliber

  18. On May 1, 2018 at 12:29 am, MEO said:

    should have concluded “I shoot.”

  19. On May 1, 2018 at 5:46 am, Frank Clarke said:

    That was wild. After reading the headline, I thought the Cap’n was endorsing the idea, but after a few paragraphs I started shaking my head. I was almost all the way through before I realized this was being presented as a “bad example” — even though I had already started to ask “Is this guy serious??”

  20. On May 1, 2018 at 8:42 am, Coldsteel1983 said:

    Let me just say…


    What an an idiot… a Federally issued License.

    As if that isn’t lining right up for any number of abuses.

  21. On May 1, 2018 at 9:14 am, June J said:

    “gun nut”….more like wolf in sheep’s clothing, or appeaser. There are certainly a lot of gun owning appeasers willing to go along with more infringements.

    I suspect most of the people who think like Jon Stokes will be the ones who willingly stand in line to hand over their firearms to the government when asked.

  22. On May 1, 2018 at 9:31 am, mtnforge said:

    National who is armed registry. Its a cunning grift. It is the same old totalitarian scheme, use fear to control the vast majority and those not afraid stick out like a sore thumb and you can then not outlaw their arms, but the people themselves, via a national registry of who has guns. A marxian wet dream if there ever was one.
    My natural God given primal birth right to property, because this is the first thing, you rifle is your property, has nothing to do with manmade laws. They are truly inalienable.
    It is a farce of biblical proportions: Government restricts my primal right to arms, then gives them back in piecemeal fashion, aren’t we nice to do so, but hidden within is the ages old dictators strategy of there’s a catch, we have direct knowledge of YOU, who has guns.
    Its a faustian trade, a faustian downgrade dressed up to look like 2nd Amendment freedom.

    To top things off, you can bet your sweet bippy if you do not register you will be an outlawed person.

    This national carry license embodies multiple goals of the hoplophobes. They will have a list, another layer of control over guns, multiple possibilities to create almost any diktat to limit even further our primal right. Taking our guns, outlawing our property, emasculating the patriarchal legacy, heritage and culture of having weapons, aka being a Man of The West: these are crucial goals of the cultural marxists, aka the long march. They absolutely must control the gun, and, never the party be controlled by the gun, as the most evil genocidal maniac Mao stated.

    Taking our arms Men, is Genocide. It is part & parcel of pogrom which leads to genocide.
    The incredible thing here, is even not using our rifles, just the knowledge we ARE armed to the teeth, WE are a vast plurality which is becoming a grand zeitgeist, is all that stands in the globalists way. Just the fact we exist keeps them from obtaining totalitarian raw naked power. This, is why we are not only up against governmental and cultural elimination of our weapons to defend and protect ourselves, our loved ones, and yes our property, it is we ourselves, our culture as Men of The West, every vestige of our Grecco/Roman heritage, must be liquidated.
    This is it, right here, right now, the showdown. All other components of the agenda of the long march have been accomplished, it is we, us dirt people, us Deplorable’s who refuse to comply whom are all that stands in their way, and an insurmountable obstacal. We have guns. Lots of guns. We are the largest armed entity on Earth. Our numbers leave all other armed peoples for dust. We possess the finest small unit infantry combat weapons ever devised. We also, are born with Liberty running thru our veins. They can not risk going for us and our property out right. The only way is to bushwhack us, con us into very bad choices, and outlaw us, thus our arms/property are outlawed.

    I got one thing to say to them: BFYTW

  23. On May 1, 2018 at 9:32 am, CB said:

    Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King’s Men; Patriots called them “persons inimical to the liberties of America”. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution. History always…….

  24. On May 1, 2018 at 9:34 am, mtnforge said:

    Oh Yeah, PS:
    National registry is a huge step in outlawing States Rights over federal centralized power.
    States nullification of federal “laws”, read diktat, is another globalist’s wet dream.

  25. On May 1, 2018 at 9:43 am, Ward Dorrity said:

    I don’t need a license to exercise a fundamental, first principles right, namely the right to my own life. And its corollary, the right to self defense.

    Why? BFYTW.

  26. On May 1, 2018 at 9:46 am, ensitue said:

    Isn’t this the part where the author inserts the inevitable “but”—as in, “I’m a firm Second Amendment advocate, but … ”?

    And he immediately uses the word “But” two more times

  27. On May 1, 2018 at 9:51 am, DWEEZIL THE WEASEL said:

    This is just another straw in the winds of war. In Chittum’s seminal work, he described it as the eye of the hurricane is still offshore, but we are feeling the growing winds on the beach. This treasonous rat bastard is just as much a poster child of the left as Hogg and his hideous shaved-headed mutant girlfriend.
    Who is this guy? Where does his money trail lead to? The storm is almost upon us. I hope everyone here has all or almost all of their plans in place. Bleib ubrig.

  28. On May 1, 2018 at 9:52 am, John Galt said:

    Right…….stopped reading after “fed lic”. Spare me.

    How about F**k NO…..you’re move.

    “If there is to be a war, let it be now that my children will live in peace”

  29. On May 1, 2018 at 11:37 am, Herman Gothe said:

    Let’s trust the Gubbermint! That’ll work!

  30. On May 1, 2018 at 12:08 pm, Garry F. Owen, Trooper said:

    The Second Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, were not written based on a naive promise of good will, but a sober assessment of the inclinations of every human heart. As another has said, “No. Your move.”

  31. On May 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm, Unknownsailor said:

    Arstechnica is the place that used to allow gun control , but then after emotions got high after Sandy Hook they banned even discussing it at all on the forums.

    The place is standard issue leftwing agiprop, now, kicking out a pro gun control article every now and then as click bait.

  32. On May 1, 2018 at 3:12 pm, Unknownsailor said:

    Used to allow gun control DEBATE that is.

  33. On May 1, 2018 at 3:15 pm, Oryguncon said:

    “…there would be a place to implement them should they gain popular support.”

    And there it is. Say, how did that popular support thing work for gay marriage? How many cases were decided by judges? Oh yeah, all of them. Will of the people in states who actually voted to define marriage as one man/one woman? Sorry, 14th amendment overrides the will of the people, direct democracy is sometimes bad apparently. Equality under the law for self-defense? No, the various governments reserve the right to control arms despite marriage never being mentioned in the constitution/bill of rights and yet arms/firearms are amendment #2.

  34. On May 1, 2018 at 3:35 pm, Fred Seymour, Jr. said:

    Shove that “federally issued license” up your ass!

  35. On May 1, 2018 at 4:09 pm, Watauga said:

    What an evil, deceitful little bitch.

  36. On May 1, 2018 at 4:14 pm, Watauga said:

    By the way, I concur with the use of the term “Progs” for these people, but I encourage the full term: Prog-Fasci. These people are Progressive-Fascists, just any other (Hitler being the most prominent among them). Because they pretend to be “Anti-Fascist” (the silly lie called “Antifa”), they get away with way too much. We need to call them what they are–both Progressive AND Fascist. I like “Prog-Fasci” for short.

  37. On May 1, 2018 at 4:22 pm, Torcer said:

    Right, well then let’s detail how WRONG this with in as few words as possible:

    1. The purpose of the founding documents is to restrain government power and insure the Liberty of the people. Firearms and free-speech are specific restraints on the Feral Government.

    2. A “License” would place the government in CONTROL over it’s own Constraints. This would be akin to handing the Keys to the inmates of a penitentiary.


    [My apologies at yelling, but insanity at this level has to be stopped dead in it’s tracks]

  38. On May 1, 2018 at 4:57 pm, Jaque said:

    Eventually the gun grabbers expose themselves. Same as the Fuds who say they stand for the 2nd Amendment in the first breath and then agree with the Marxists that no one needs a 30 rnd magazine and an AR-15 to bring home meat or perhaps defend the homestead.

    I would bet that half the NRA members would be ok with a ban on all semiautomatic rifles and handguns. All they need for their annual trek to the woods is a Remington 700 and a Wheel gun on their hip.
    These are the gun owners the Marxists are working hard to recruit, the “common sense gun owners.” Like “common sense” gun owner Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

    My attraction to arms began as a collector of Military design firearms with an interest in the mechanics and physics of weapons and ordnance. And I shoot what I collect. Its rare that I will shoot any animal, with the exception of feral hogs. And I don’t believe that common sense and the 2nd Amendment have anything in common.

    Until both Congress and the American people fully understand the reason and purpose of the 2nd, and that it is not a right or regulation granted by the government then I think we are going to lose the gun right war. Its surprising how many people one may work with, or even our family members do not really understand the 2nd. Some NRA members too.

  39. On May 1, 2018 at 7:01 pm, GenEarly said:

    Jon you can trust “your” government, but I don’t trust mine.

  40. On May 1, 2018 at 7:48 pm, Bill Cthulhu said:

    I know of this guy. I’m a long-term IT professional, and Wired Magazine used to be a required resource for what’s going on. Great writers, fantastic, sometimes head scratching articles. This was the 1990s, pre and during the Dot Com Boom. Wired was not gospel, but was a key missive of the computer/internet revolution. We were watching the new industrial revolution, and Wired was both Atlantic Monthly and Mad Magazine, all the while almost being Newsweek. But that was the ’90s, a lifetime ago, and per Moore’s Law more than a dozen generations ago.

    Wired started losing its way after 9/11, but really began turning to feces during the Obama campaign. When I stopped subscribing, having read every issue since 001 in 1992, it was 2015, and Wired’s concerns were: minorities in IT, women in IT, why are there so few women/black engineers, how to avert masculinity at work, and “what’s wrong with tech?” meaning with all the new non-white non-male hires, why is tech not booming like the pets.com era, when Cisco Systems was the most valued company on the planet.

    Stokes by himself is not the lone failure of Wired, but a key indicator, and why the ongoing”toxic masculinity” of tech, almost mirroring the military, is now long gone, and we have ceded much of our greatness to China, because DIVERSITY.

    Thanks for outing this puke. I wonder if similar prog-tard vermin also destroyed Fast Company, another physical mag where I gained much before it devolved into worthlessness?

    BTW, for those of you that do not know, the vast majority of the IT men of my era are solidly 2A in the Founders’ definition. But, over half of us are military vets.

  41. On May 1, 2018 at 9:01 pm, Jim said:

    I also attend church every Sunday, I even lead praise and worship service; with a g19 in a bugbite holster inside my boot. That is my God given right to self defense and while I am praising our Lord and Savior for saving my sorry hide, I am also thanking him for the rights I have as a free American, eroded as they may be. I also pray that he will sustain myself and my freedom minded brothers against the wiles of devilish wolves like this guy who want me to bend my knees to the state and ask “please, may I defend myself and my family?” No, no and no! Not any more!

  42. On May 1, 2018 at 9:05 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @Bill Cthulhu,

    Thanks and interesting perspective. I a professional engineer, employed full time in STEM. I cannot say more than that. The stories I could tell you concerning the things you’re talking about would make you sad.

  43. On May 2, 2018 at 10:31 am, MacHam said:

    Look at the compliance rate of new gun laws in California , Washington , Connecticut and Massachusetts ,,,, less than 1% . Bumpstock laws 1/10 of 1% ..

  44. On May 2, 2018 at 11:29 am, Backwoods Engineer said:

    “a federally issued license for simple possession of all semi-automatic firearms.”

    HELL NO.

    Does this guy not read history?

  45. On May 2, 2018 at 12:27 pm, Gryphon said:

    MacHam has a Point – Compliance is the Monster under the Bed that the bolsheviks Don’t want to Talk about, likely even among themselves. If CT and NY are any Example, it’s going on a few Years now with absolutely No Effort being made to “Enforce” Compliance with Non-Constitutional ‘laws’.

    What form of ‘incrementalism’ are the gun-banners planning? Turn in your Guns or your Drivers’ Licence and Car Registration are Cancelled? Anything they Do that Impacts a significant Number of People as ‘enforcement’ just means a Large Number of People are Instantly Mobilized to Resist…

    The politicians (and their thugpig ‘enforcers’) Know Full Well that Large-Scale, Kick-In-the-Door-and-Shoot-the-Dog Raids generate a Violent Resistance on an even bigger Scale. This leaves them stuck with More Laws that cannot be Enforced, leading to Wider Disrespect of All ‘laws’ regardless of their nature.
    Have they Thought About where That goes?

  46. On May 2, 2018 at 1:32 pm, Owen said:

    One thing I don’t like about TFB is their whole “Firearms, not politics” thing.

    Really it irks me when any gun site tries that. Firearms are inherently political in 21st century America. There is no taking the middle ground or the high road, not when one side is so hostile to gun rights.

    Anyone nominally on the pro-2nd side who fails to be explicitly political on this issue is only helping to maintain the falsehood that the Democratic Party is anything but utter anathema to the 2nd Amendment.

    Anytime I see a sizable publication or personality in the gun community that tries to strike this “we’re not about politics here” balance, it just makes me think their position on firearms is that they’re cool and fun, but if they get outlawed then oh well, we’ll just talk about motorcycles and bass boats instead.

  47. On May 2, 2018 at 1:43 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    TFB is selective about that policy. Another thing. Steve retired from the blog, and it’s sort of turned into a “cut-and-past” operation from firearms manufacturer press releases.

    The quality has gone down. Analysis is effectively absent.

    That’s okay. TFB readers are welcome here. We do analysis, even if readers disagree with mine. They can do their own in comments.

  48. On May 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm, Sanders said:

    A real Quisling, a Zumbo, etc.

    How many folks got riled by his idea, but support a nationwide CCW license? I can’t believe how many people think it is a great idea. They don’t seem to comprehend that any kind of licensing/registration is the first step to genocide.

    When bans are passed and there is almost no compliance, do the folks in those states, who refuse to comply, still go out and practice shooting with their banned firearms and/or accessories, or do they hide them away and hope they don’t get a bang on the door in the early a.m. hours one day?

  49. On May 3, 2018 at 3:16 pm, Scott said:

    Mr Stokes is an idiot. This goes so much deeper than the guns. It’s about the RIGHTS. He’s a “2nd Amendment guy”? The 1st and 2nd amendments go hand in hand: freedom to speak and freedom to resist tyranny (with arms if necessary). Mr Stokes will sell out those rights just so he can keep shooting his guns, which is stupidity on a scale that needs no explanation. It just doesn’t work that way with the left.

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