It was recently brought to our attention that a gun shop owner out of Lampasas, TX appeared publicly with the pro-gun control group, Texas Gun Sense, on December 1. The Press Conference featured five speakers, including Johnny Wade, owner of Nocked & Loaded, and, according to Facebook, sought "to call upon our leaders to adopt common sense gun policy changes." This certainly looks damning on its face, but there is far more to the story.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Johnny for nearly an hour and he was able to clear up quite a bit. The interview opened with Johnny saying:
"Some of the stuff that was on TV... some of the things I said were kind of taken out of context... and they put some of their words in."
That set the interview in a completely different direction than I was expecting. I asked Johnny how long he had been partnered with Texas Gun Sense, and he said:
"I haven't been partnered with them at all in that sense. In fact, I was invited to go there, and it was the first time I've ever been to anything like that at all... I wasn't sure of exactly what I was getting myself into... I've met Andrea [Brauer] and I know Frances [Schenkkan]... I've met Kevin [Lawrence] with the Police Association. Everybody kind of [has] their own opinions of what needs to happen. I don't necessarily adhere to [those], and I told Andrea that some of the things that they're doing... It's not going to happen. But I do believe that at some point... there needs to be a table set up in the room and everybody comes to the table because there does need to be some adjustments. And I'm not saying gun control. That's not what I'm about... I want to lift restrictions on law-abiding citizens. "
For clarification, I asked him, "Is it safe to say that you don't want to see any gun control?"
"I don't want to see any gun control at all whenever it comes to the citizens... I don't need any restrictions put on me. I don't need anymore burden put on me. If anything, I want to separate and segregate the crowd to have a license to do, basically, anything that I want to do... Put the restrictions on that, that cause me to walk a straighter line. And if I break those rules, then I fall back into general public, so to speak... I own suppressors. I don't own any fully automatic weapons or anything else, but I feel like that if I want to, I should be able to without any restrictions. Personally, it annoys me that I have to pay a $200 tax stamp for the suppressors. For me, I would say that there should be no restrictions, and I would like to see suppressors taken out of the NFA. Short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, you know, those kind of things don't really pose any threat, especially now that you have pistols with a pistol brace on it and 7 1/2" barrels on an AR that you can put a 100-round magazine on.... It doesn't make any sense to have those kind of restrictions out there. If I want to have something like that, I should be able to. If you want to have something like that, you should be able to as long as you abide by the requirements set forth. Now, that's the only thing that really needs to happen."
He went on to talk about the dealer side of things:
"As I look at it, probably 75% of the public, and I'm just kind of randomly drawing a number out, because I get, you know, 7 to 8 out of 10 people coming, I have no problem selling any gun to them whatsoever because I think they're responsible people. There are those that come in that scare the heck out of me, and I think that it's my responsibility to make sure that they don't have a gun put into their hands. Here's the problem, though. There's a gun shop just within rock throwing distance from me. They can go over there, and I don't know what their beliefs are. Most everybody that I've gone to and talked to, and we've hired from the big-box stores. The big-box stores [just say] 'Get the guns out there!' They don't care. You know, they're like 'Make the sale! Make the sale! Make the sale! Let's drop the bottom out and just get them out there. If they can pass a[n ATF Form] 4473, let's just get them out the door.' [There's] no real vigilance there... There's a standard that I'm going to live by. My association by being in the proximity of [Texas] Gun Sense was, and primarily the reason why I did it was that I wanted to get to some level to make some statement to somebody that something needs to be done... I want to protect the heritage that we have because I also believe that if we don't take some serious looks at this, then at some point, we are going to lose our gun rights. I don't want to see that happen... I don't know the answers at all. All I just saying is that we need to do something. And I feel like that because of the position that I have that I should be... maybe I'm not properly aligned at this point, but I need to make a statement. I need to be proactive in making some level of change. And again, I go back to that... If you take 75%, 80% of the population doesn't need to be regulated. It's that criminal element."
From this, I tried to articulate what I felt he was trying to say. I asked "Basically, you would like to see something that could possibly guarantee that the criminal element could not obtain firearms, be it legally or illegally, as long as it doesn't have any restriction whatsoever on the law-abiding populous?"
"Absolutely. I don't know that you could have said it any better... There are a lot of people that come into my gun store that are potential mass murderers. I don't want them to have a gun... I don't want a potential child molester being around my daughter... and I want to protect my daughter, my wife..."
At this point I interjected. "I guess the area where we would disagree is this. You see people, and they've done absolutely nothing wrong, but you just get a funny feeling about them. But there's nothing to prevent them from going to somebody else who doesn't really care to buy their guns there. The thing is, I don't know how it would even be possible to regulate something like that without giving the government too much power to dictate who can and can't own a firearm, and it could very well violate due process. It's like during the General Election, there was talk about if you're on the No-Fly List, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun. There are people on the No-Fly List that have no business being on the No-Fly List. They're there because they have a 2nd cousin who knows a guy who might have, at one time, shaken hands with someone who was a terrorist. Or they have the same name as a terrorist. That sort of problem takes a long time to correct even if you can prove it. Whenever you grant the government that little bit of power, it can be abused. That's why LSGR is weary about any little thing like that because it's like 'We're going to give the government this much power and let the camel stick his nose under the tent,' but what's to stop him from coming in the rest of the way? I really don't believe that it's possible to legislate what you're talking about. Whenever it comes to issues like this, it seems the only realistic way to achieve those ends is to loosen all restrictions, and that will help the end result. You're never going to stop all crime no matter what you do."
"Exactly. And just to your point. If you were to magically snap your fingers and all the guns in the United States disappear, it would open up the black market like nothing you could possibly imagine. You would have Mogadishu, you would have Sierra Leone, you would have that unbelievable chaotic situation. So I am not, in any way, shape, or form about it. I contradicted myself probably, and you probably noticed I have several times. It's one of those things like some people don't need them, but don't mess with mine."
Winding down the interview, Johnny told the story of a man who bought a .44 Magnum at a pawn shop and bought ammunition at his shop. After buying the ammo, the man went 200 yards outside of the shop and shot himself in the head. Things like this are certainly tragic for anyone to experience. I asked him point blank, "Do you think there could have been done legislatively that would have stopped something like that from happening?"
"No... Legislation is probably not the answer. I don't know what the answer is."