Could this org advocate for a "middle ground" on gun control?


Mark Bauer asks:

I take a slightly different view of both what’s needed and what’s possible. But first, the latter.

As I’ve pointed out in other writings, there is no demand amongst pro-gun types for a “moderate” org that’s interested in giving ground to gun control folks. So any org that understands itself that way is DOA.

I personally am not also interested in compromise for the sake of compromise. Rather, as I mentioned in the welcome post, I’m interested in making things better. So under the rubric of “making things better,” there is already a wide variety of views just among the handful of us that have come together to get this forum off the ground.

I proposed a federal licensing scheme in Politico:

And also, yes, I am down with the GVRO idea.

@kareems has a really great proposal that tends to be more popular with gun guys than mine is:

@Docrader, at least in my experience (but he can speak for himself here) is more along the lines of, “what part of ‘shall not be infringed’ is unclear to you.”

And other folks who’ve been involved in the discussions leading up to this forum rollout can drop in and make themselves known, because I’m sure there are even more takes on this.

But we all have a few things in common, the first and foremost being that we believe civilian gun ownership is a critical part of the bigger picture of “safety” and even “gun safety.” From there, individuals will diverge and probably even evolve on the specifics of what that looks like.

So, speaking for myself, I am always up for considering “measures that save lives,” and actually I imagine that’s true of most folks who’d be interested in something like Open Source Defense. So if you can show me a measure that will save lives, then to the extent that you can convince people here that it really will save lives while leaving our RKBA intact, I’m sure you could get takers.


As @jonstokes mentioned, I wrote It’s specifically designed not to be a “middle ground” though, because most of the time in politics, a compromise solution is actually worse for everybody. So rather than splitting the baby, I proposed a true give-and-take. A deal that actually advances gun rights while also offering some gun-rights-neutral ideas that will actually be really interesting to the Everytowns of the world. IMO the possible outcomes of the “gun debate” are either a deal like the one I proposed, or that eventually, in a few decades, one side wins by force. I think the latter would produce some very ugly, uncontrollable ripple effects, so I’d prefer the former.

GVROs/ERPOs are an interesting idea. Some states have versions of them which are very broad and prone to abuse, which risks poisoning the well on that entire discussion. If the well doesn’t get poisoned, and discussion about them thereby remains possible, a well-written, narrowly-tailored version of such a law could work well. David French wrote a good outline of what a good ERPO law looks like:


On this issue, there are a thousand constitutional questions, and a thousand moral questions, but I see only one political question:

“What would you give to the opposing side in order to get what you want?”

That’s `bottom-lining’ it, sure, but it is necessary, because on this issue, neither side is being forthright about its bottom line.


This is what it always comes down to again and again in these discussions, at least in my experience. I talk to people on both sides and hear the exact same line from both: “Why should we give them anything? All we ever do is concede, and all they ever do is take.”

I think both sides are making a legit claim here, but for different definitions of “concede” and over different time periods (as gun rights wane and wax over the decades).

Post-Parkland, though, there was a greatly increased reluctance on the gun control side to even consider concessions (e.g. removing suppressors from the NFA in exchange for universal background checks) because they were counting on the “blue wave” in November.

And from the pro-gun side, one of the main objections to my proposal in Politico was framed most prominently by Cooke at NR, who basically said (and I paraphrase): “we’re not under any real political pressure here, nothing will come of this gun controller tantrum, so why even entertain this?”

In other words, the discussion always comes down to “what is each side willing to give up,” and then that discussion comes down to “how secure does each side think it is and how much political leverage does it think it has over the other side.”

In this respect, the American gun control debate is a classic example of “politics as war by other means.” We’re literally fighting over who in our society gets to have the guns and who doesn’t, which is so uncomfortably close to “war by normal means” that it makes coming up with a political solution that much more imperative.


I read your Politico article last night and I think you made some great points. This morning a story by Townhall from last week has been making the rounds among conservatives and the pro-gun crowd on Reddit that, unfortunately, might make the idea of federal licensing suffer from some guilt by association.


Yeah, that’s because as @cicero418 pointed out on Twitter the other day, when the Dems talk about “gun licensing,” they mean “license + registration of all guns to each licensee,” whereas I’m talking about licensing as abrogating the need for registration entirely.

But yeah, my stomach turned a little when I saw that article the other day, because that’s not something I’d want to be associated with.


Among its other issues, I’d recognize that as-written, both bills would prohibit quite a large majority of training programs, including nearly any and every program to train minors, all the way down the Boy Scout rifle merit badges.

I doubt that’s an accident.

This may be another useful resource, by including why many gun owners are fairly cautious about a supposedly popular proposal being prone to abuse (either for later confiscation, or News Journal-style harassment) and also ideas for how to reduce those risks.

But while the uncompromising outsider is a politically useful framework, I don’t think it’s a good model of the populace or even many supporters. The deep problem is that neither side believes the other’s recommendations relate very much to actually saving lives. Ie, the gun control movement’s emphasis on the gun show loophole is dependent on incredibly dubious numbers contradicted by heavy bodies of crimonological research, while gunnie emphasize on improving NICS lacks credibility to people who think no one uses it. This isn’t helped by the tendency of the internet to highlight the worst arguments of our opponents, like the above-linked bills and assault weapons bans, or arguments against violent video games after shootings, for example.


For California residents, I’m wondering if the rejection of registration is moot, because this is already happening? In California, I understand all handgun and lon gun purchases are effectively registered during the purchase process from a FFL. Best case, this particular regulation stays isolated to just California, but we have seen other states eager to adopt CA gun regulations such as standard capacity magazine bans and my personal favorite, the handgun roster requiring microstamping.

From the CA DOJ website: If you purchased a handgun from a properly licensed California firearms dealer and underwent a background check via the state’s Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process, a record of your handgun purchase is already on file with the Department. Therefore, it should not be necessary for you to submit a FOR application for handguns previously purchased in California. Unfortunately, this is not the case with regards to rifles or shotguns. Prior to January 1, 2014, the Department was prohibited by law from retaining DROS long gun information. (i.e. starting Jan 1, 2014, all long gun purchases have been registered)


This is correct.

The only way at this point to come into possession of an unregistered firearm would be via the 80% lower milling route (“ghost guns”), and starting on July 1 of this year, upon completion of the lower, you would have to serialize it with a serial assigned by the CA DOJ.

Prior to 7/1/2018, if you mill an 80% lower and put your own serial number according to CA DOJ requirements, it stays off the books.