A Gun Nut’s Guide to Gun Control That Works

I am a gun industry insider, a lifelong gun owner and a vocal advocate 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.

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