Other candidates talk about guns

(A version of this column, filed for an early April deadline, appears in the June 10 issue of “Firearms News,” formerly “Shotgun News,” on newsstands now.)

A regular reader asked why — since I mentioned Donald Trump’s position on gun rights recently — I haven’t mentioned other presidential candidates who might honor the Second Amendment.




Democrat Bernie Sanders hails from Vermont, where concealed-carry is legal without a permit (as required by the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment, actually.) The Socialist Senator also previously supported the 2005 Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and has said each state should be allowed to set its own gun policies. So some had hoped he might be on the side of the angels when it comes to gun rights.

But he’s been running for the Democratic nomination, remember.

In late January, the New York Daily News reported “Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, under continuing pressure from Hillary Clinton on his gun control stance, is reversing his position on a controversial bill that would allow firearms manufacturers to be held liable in civil suits after mass shootings.

“The Vermont senator’s campaign said Thursday that Sanders would co-sponsor legislation allowing victims of gun violence to sue firearms manufacturers and dealers who sell the weapons to criminals,” The Daily News reported — though of course they really mean “sell guns to people who pass the required background checks, if those guns are later used by criminals.”

“Under a 2005 law that Sanders voted for, gun manufacturers and sellers are currently protected from liability lawsuits. Clinton has consistently hammered him on the issue, as support among Democratic lawmakers and President Obama for stricter gun control laws in the U.S. has grown.” one Adam Edelman reported for the New York daily.

In fact, the sensible “protection from liability lawsuits” is only if the firearms operate as intended. (You can sue Ford if one of your wheels falls off at high speed, but we don’t sue Ford if one of their products falls into the hands of a drunk driver, do we?) And a majority of Americans now actually oppose any “stricter gun control laws,” though of course the New York newspaper carefully said support has grown only among “Democratic lawmakers and President Obama.” As though anyone can recall a day when they didn’t want to restrict gun ownership to their own police forces and the Army that shelled Vicksburg.

In fact, one of Mr. Sanders’ campaign Web sites brags “Bernie has voted in favor of a nationwide ban on assault weapons, a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines of over ten rounds, and nationwide expanded background checks that address unsafe loopholes.”

I don’t have to go into the long list of one-shot-per-trigger pull hunting and target rifles that these characters would classify as “assault rifles,” do I? Nor deal with the notion that “No one needs 13 rounds” in their normal, standard, Browning Hi-Power magazine to deal with a home invasion?

It would have been interesting if Sen. Sanders had responded, “Yes, I’m in favor of enforcing the entire Bill of Rights, including the Second and Ninth Amendments, and the rest of my party should join me, if they want to represent anyone beyond New York, Washington, and Rachel Maddow.” But he didn’t.



As of this writing, that leaves the two major contenders for this year’s Libertarian presidential nomination — former Republican New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (who headed that ticket four years ago) and colorful character John McAfee, the now-70-year-old developer of the world’s first commercial anti-virus program, which bore his name until bought out by Intel for a reported $7 billion.

Gary Johnson was interviewed on the gun issue by David Sheff for Playboy magazine a few years back:

“Where do you stand on gun control?” Sheff asked Johnson.

“I’m one of those who believe the bumper sticker: If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns,” Gov. Johnson replied. “Criminals are going to be left with guns. I believe that concealed carry is a way of reducing gun violence.”

Q: Do you carry a gun?

“I don’t, and I don’t own a gun, but I’d still just as soon have the concealed carry law. If the guy who is going to hold up a car knows there is the possibility of a concealed weapon, he may think twice. We don’t have that law here.”

“But the statistics show that people don’t use guns to stop crime. They use them to hurt themselves or innocent people,” whined interviewer Sheff, who evidently needs to read not only John Lott’s book More Guns, Less Crime, but also the definitive report by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz in the Fall, 1995 issue of the Northwestern University Law School’s Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun.” Unless the editors of Playboy actually prefer to promulgate lying propaganda, of course.

“Yeah,” Gov. Johnson replied, “but there is deterrence in the legality of guns. It’s also part of the Constitution.”

“The NRA disagrees with any limits,” said Mr. Sheff, again getting it wrong (is it contagious, or what?), since the NRA generally favors continued enforcement of most current gun control laws, including those requiring background checks. “Do you?”

“I don’t believe the laws regarding guns are effective,” Mr. Johnson replied. “We’re allowed to bear arms. It’s part of a free society.”



John McAfee, who in the late 1980s started a small business out of his home that stumbled on the next must-have software “app,” is predictably more entertaining. When computer viruses first originated, you understand, there were no anti-virus programs to protect uses. McAfee and his handful of home-based employees developed a program to block viruses for their own computers. By 1990, he was licensing it to corporations around the world, billing $5 million per year. By 1994, McAfee and his anti-virus software company were valued at $500 million. Intel eventually bought all rights.

Mr. McAfee lived for a number of years in Belize, where he had several encounters with authorities, who refused to believe he was developing all-natural antibiotics, assuming his laboratory was instead for producing methamphetamine. (It wasn’t. None were found and he was released without being charged after a 2012 raid, though police did kill his dog.) He returned to the United States in 2013, when (he reports) authorities there continued to threaten him with various legal actions unless he agreed to pay them huge bribes.

On his web site, McAfee comments on the Second Amendment:

“An armed society is a polite society. The impetus for most proclamations surrounding gun control are generally mass murders, some involving guns. A little research will uncover the little-known fact that mass murders were virtually unknown prior to 1980.

“This fact disturbs me, and it should you, since guns have been prominently owned in this society since the founding of our country, and . . . no sweeping legislation in 1980 or after that radically changed gun ownership laws or rates of gun ownership,” the software pioneer continues. “This, to a thinking person, without qualification, removes guns as the source of our problem — unless of course guns suddenly achieved the ability to subconsciously tempt their owners to use them in heretofore-unknown ways. If not, then the problem appears to be an increase in violent urgings, stemming from some unknown source deep within the fabric of our society.

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 23: A bottle of anti-depressant pills named Paxil are shown March 23, 2004. The Food and Drug Administration asked makers of popular anti-depressants to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels.  (Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI, FL – MARCH 23: A bottle of anti-depressant pills named Paxil are shown March 23, 2004. The Food and Drug Administration asked makers of popular anti-depressants to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels. (Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“There are many possibilities for this source,” McAfee continues. “In the 1980s we saw the first wide-scale use of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (anti-depressants) such as Prozac, Paxil, and others. Hundreds of studies have shown that these anti-depressants have side effects that include violent thoughts. A few minutes of research will tell us that 8 percent of the U.S. is taking anti-depressants, yet more than 30 percent of all mass murderers since 1980 were known to have been taking them. It’s highly suspected that the real number approaches 90 percent. . . . I would begin here if I were looking for a source. . . .

“In any case, I do not believe that guns are the problem. On the other hand, Gun Free Zones appear to be a serious problem. Every mass shooting for the past 20 years has occurred in a gun free zone. Where else would someone with a gun who wants to create havoc go? We need armed guards at schools, churches, courthouses and every other place that we now deem ‘gun- free.’”

So sayeth candidate McAfee. The first four things Mr. McAfee says he’d do after taking office, by the way, are 1) pardon all non-violent marijuana offenders; 2) pardon Edward Snowden and Ross Ulbricht; 3) disband the TSA in its entirety (saving at least $6 billion), and 4) place armed marshals on every commercial flight.

Vin Suprynowicz, author of “Send in the Waco Killers,” was for 20 years an award-winning editorial writer at the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal, back when that newspaper espoused a smaller-government, libertarian philosophy. His latest novels about the War on Drugs are “The Testament of James” and “The Miskatonic Manuscript,” available online. He blogs at www.vinsuprynowicz.com .

2 Comments to “Other candidates talk about guns”

  1. Vince Says:

    Regrettably, McAfee’s common sense (and what was it Mark Twain said about that?) are exactly why he’ll never get fair reporting from the round heeled press, the likes of which have seen Katie Couric’s recent apology for her crew of “film makers” and the lack of scruples they showed in their documentary cuts.

    I like McAfee. I used his anti-virus software for years and never had a bug. I don’t know what possesses him to involve himself in politics when he could take a position in, as Albert Nock commented in his memoirs, something more honorable like brothel keeping or white slavery :))

  2. Vin's Brunette Says:

    It’s almost certain McAfee will be back in the news (and soon, I’d guess) — not sure what he and his team are up to at present, but I bet it’ll be interesting! 😀

    The last time we used McAfee software, it was horrible! That was well after McAfee had sold the company though, so not his fault — no doubt we’re all better off for the industry he started. 😉

    As for politics — the run for president was certainly attention getting, and obviously he wants to draw attention to issues. Now that he’s got the eyeballs, I can’t imagine he’ll let the opportunity go to waste . . . stock up on popcorn. 🙂