Gary Johnson

Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson Says Gun Restrictions Make Us Less Safe

Gun free zones and providing free recruiting services to ISIS by overly crediting Orlando shooting to foreign terror both condemned by Gary Johnson in interview this morning.


"I understand how so many people can believe that if you restrict this kind of weapon you can prevent this kind of incident," said Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson in reaction to the murders in Orlando and the political calls to further restrict access to certain guns that arose after the shooting.

"But there's just no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it makes us any safer, and in fact restricting guns makes things less safe, that's the camp that I'm in," he said in a phone interview this morning.

Gage Skidmore/Foter

Johnson went on to consider Switzerland, where most adult males are part of a trained militia and have weapons in their possession, and has a lower gun crime rate than America.

Johnson falls into the same camp as Donald Trump on the issue of more guns in citizens' hands being a potential solution to such incidents, though Johnson seems to be thinking through the issue out loud, with due consideration to contrary arguments, rather than sounding a kind of NRA-level certainty about it.

"If everybody in that nightclub had a weapon?" he wonders. "The contrary argument is, if everyone were required to have a weapon or if 50 people in the room had a weapon, you could hear arguments, well, people in a nightclub would be drinking and now all of a sudden they've got a gun in their pocket?"

But he ultimately concludes that "if it were that 10 people who could have had a weapon in that nightclub? That ultimately would have made the situation less horrific than it ended up being. I'm in that camp."

He notes how many of these incidents, like the Colorado theater shooting, "happen in gun free zones, all these places where horrific shootings happen are all gun free." Johnson praised a Libertarian Party press release calling for an end to gun-free zones. Johnson is fully aware of the cultural push against such thinking—"people hate to hear it, they just hate to hear it…antigun people they just feel, ooo, disgust when you start talking about, 'well this was a gun free zone, so that means the bad guys'" have free rein—but Johnson does think more legal restrictions on guns are not only not helpful, but often harmful

Johnson does not consider himself personally or culturally a "gun guy" but he did grow up hunting and "in the last six years I now own a couple of guns and it's for personal protection, the notion that, holy cow, what if there's a situation at my rural home in New Mexico and there is not a way to protect" himself, his property, or his loved ones.

When it comes to the terror and foreign policy implications of the Orlando shooting, Johnson says that "I think our initial statement on it is turning out to be pretty prophetic, which is don't jump to conclusions."

Johnson uses an extended analogy about streakers at sports games to discuss how he thinks American government and media should handle loons who claim to be furthering ISIS's goals without any proof of actual connection or communication with actual ISIS. "If we see it, that encourages others to do the same."

So just as he thinks turning TV cameras away from streakers discourages streaking, he thinks that overly harping on such crimes as acts of ISIS linked domestic terror is mistaken because as far as we now know, "they didn't recruit him, other than a blanket statement [calling on people] to pledge allegiance to ISIS and do dirty dirty deeds."

Thus Johnson fears it is "aiding recruitment to ISIS," to act as if Mateen was in any real sense their agent. He critiques the likes of "Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity" trying to connect the dots to make this domestic crime something that's really about overseas terror. Johnson thinks behaving as if this crime is in a real sense an ISIS blow to America only aids ISIS recruitment.

The reality, he thinks, is that ISIS is "very regionalized" and that they don't seem to actually currently "have the resources or ability to expand geographically. On their part, they say [to radicals around the world], look, we need you as member of our army, but don't come to us, just do your thing and acknowledge ISIS" as complicit in their crimes. He thinks every time America acts as if "they are the enemy and need to be destroyed" we might just be helping this regional problem recruit and cause more harm to America than they'd otherwise be able to.

Johnson's running mate William Weld told The Washington Post that he thinks better domestic law enforcement might be a solution. Weld drew on his experience as a prosecutor to hype more delving into finding informants in relevant communities where domestic terrorists might lurk. Such expedients helped bust organized crime in the northeast, Weld says. He also was critical of the FBI for letting a guy who they had interacted with at least twice walk free to eventually commit all these murders.

While Johnson told me that he and Weld are currently not coordinating their particular talking points or solutions, he says he too wonders if maybe there was some specific "breakdown" in law enforcement practice, "given that we interviewed the guy…there potentially is something missing in the equation." He stresses though that he only knows that "potentially" there could be a law enforcement way "to address this same kind of situation going forward" but that he will always be "a level head when it comes to the nuts and bolts of how to proceed." 

But Johnson said a solution, a la Weld, of a stronger domestic investigatory task force is preferable to "putting boots on the ground, dropping bombs, and flying drones" in response to terror threats.

Johnson even acknowledges that Weld, given his east coast and prosecutor's background, is more apt to see intelligent law enforcement as the best solution, "so Bill Weld may have reservations about me saying, 'Where are the 10 people who may have been armed?' but that's me, that's the west coast" mode of thought.

But Johnson grants that Orlando and San Bernardino represent a "new phenomenon, and maybe a new mechanism" of law enforcement might be needed for it, though he grants he doesn't know enough about the particulars to make a comprehensive statement of what that might be. "But that's why I'm running for president, something I really enjoyed about being governor of New Mexico: the ability to get in the middle of [such government process questions] and be a value added," one that starts from a perspective that less government can often be a better solution than more.

But Johnson does want the American people to understand that "you cannot categorically prevent anything like this from happening again" with any combination of immigration or law enforcement or sensible foreign policy.

NEXT: Speaker Paul Ryan Calls Orlando Shooting 'Another Act of War,' No Word on War Declaration

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  1. As a means of PR and income, Pink Pistols could provide armed security (after in depth training, of course) for LGBT night clubs and such.


    Just a thought….

    1. That’s a pretty good idea. I bet they will hold trainings or at least info meetings.

    2. Probably not a bad idea. I suspect centralized security is a model that’s got to eventually give way. The threats we face are increasingly decentralized. Figuring out how we can become a nation that, in crisis, is a pack, rather than a herd should be front and center on policymakers’ radar. Of course, that isn’t going to happen because it means less money and power for them. If the Pink Pistols tried what you’re suggesting, my guess is governments would do everything in their power to discourage them.

      1. Figuring out how we can become a nation that, in crisis, is a pack, rather than a herd should be front and center on policymakers’ radar.

        Fuck. That’s a pretty brilliant blurb.

        *scribbles this furiously into notebook full of talking points for when he runs for President*

        1. That is pretty good. But I don’t think it is something policy can address. It would require a larger cultural shift, and policy almost always follows culture (rather than the other way around).

          1. No, a policy wouldn’t address it, but if I were running for President it’s just another one of those little things that can be thrown out there to get people furiously nodding.

            1. I furiously approve of your adverb policy, Mr. President.

          2. The credit isn’t mine. I recall reading it from Glenn Reynolds. The thing is, though, I think there’s something they could do – stop discouraging it. If the government were ever really honest about their ability to provide absolute security, and were to ever stop tamping down people’s ability to protect themselves, I suspect it would flourish. We live in a culture where people are told they are and treated like helpless victims. It shouldn’t be surprising when that culture responds accordingly.

          3. Tax-breaks/deductables/whatever for gun safety classes, first-time purchase of hand-guns, gun safes and trigger locks.

            Publicize the hell out of it in urban areas and in minority communities.

            Then again, tax breaks and deductibles tend to favor people who have more up-front cash. So instead, how about vouchers for the same. If we’re worried about people taking a voucher and reselling the gun for profit, there’s some more bureaucracy we could invent to limit that option, just depends on what we object to more.

            And I’m serious about this. People keep talking about how we need “more guns”, but the only things they actually propose don’t really increase gun owners, just help current gun owners.

      2. If the Pink Pistols tried what you’re suggesting, my guess is governments would do everything in their power to discourage them.

        …”vigilantes”…”can’t take the law into their own hands”…

        1. Yeah, pretty much this. Tell the gheys they can make someone bake them a cake, but don’t bother protecting themselves if some bastard wants to kill them.

          1. Progs love gays as long as

            1) They don’t deviate from progressive orthodoxy on any other issue (guns/ self defense) and

            2) They can be used as a cudgel to beat up the religious right.

            1. You could have just left at #2. You can’t unite a group as diverse as the prog grievance-confederacy with love or tolerance, you need a common enemy. Social justice is just a euphemism for hate.

      3. The politicians already belong to a pack called the state. Why should they want the herd their pack preys on to become more capable of defending itself from predation?

    3. And I say this in response to the claims of “if someone in the night club was carrying.” I’ve yet to meet a gun owner who would admit to carrying to an establishment where they plan on drinking (all legalities aside). So you can check the boxes next to armed security, PR, insurance, and peace of mind for your customers. It doesn’t even have to be “MAGPUL, BRUH!” equipped Oath Keepers or anything. Just a .45 in a waistband holster.

      1. In a Pink Pistols press release they made the analogy to drunk driving solutions. Someone in a group could be the designated non-drinker for the purpose of carrying a gun, similar to the designated-driver.

        1. I don’t generally admit to it, no. But it happens.

      2. I do prefer the .40 S&W over the .45. As my instructor taught me, it’s not the first shot, it’s the follow-up shots that count. For me the .40 S&W has a reasonable recoil where I can set my second shot effectively. I didn’t want a 9mm, that just doesn’t have the stopping power that a .4X caliber has.

        1. I’ve carried a .45 in the past (Officers ACP) and have been carrying a Sig 229 in .40 S&W since about 2001. But have come to believe that, for any centerfire pistol caliber that does not begin with ‘.2’ shot placement will trump bullet diameter.

          If you shoot better with a 9, go with a 9. If you can get better follow up shots with a 9 all the more reason to go 9 mm. But the most important thing about choosing a weapon is buy something you will actually be able to carry. In my experience that means one fairly small pistol and at least two good, but different holster.

    4. Unfortunately, this would be seen as the firearm version of flavored vaping or Four Loko.

      1. Four Loko is the Gary Busey of alcohol so I guess we’re on different trains of thought….

        1. I was thinking of the argument that “colored guns” will attract younger people to firearms. There were other arguments against Four Loko, but that was one of them.

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  2. Gary Johnson is still a ghost in the Google News headlines. They must see him as a threat to Hillary.

    1. Are you finding a lot of news site coverage of Johnson that Google News isn’t picking up?

    2. Not so much a threat to Hillary as a non-threat to Trump and the rest of the GOP.

  3. Good answer Gary!

    1. Pretty shitty answer, William.

      1. that VP pick will probably never sit right with me. on the off chance they win…. Gary better not die.

        1. No need to worry … Gary will come in 3rd. That may be enough to put him in the white house, but not enough for Weld to join him there as the senate selects the vice president from the 2 highest vote getters.

  4. This is far too thoughtful and nuanced a response for a presidential candidate.

      1. If he gets that to 15% he gets in some debates, and maybe that number goes up to 20 or 25%. Many people will go online to search out information on the philosophy of libertarianism. They will probably even visit, so you better be on your best behavior.

        1. But salty sarcasm is all I have!!!

        2. So long as they’re hot and put out.

        3. so you better be on your best behavior

          fuck that.

        4. They will probably even visit, so you better be on your best behavior

          Man, if they read the comments we are so screwed.

        5. I’m always on my best behavoir.

          1. That’s kinda sad, really.

            1. Just like Hannibal Lector

        6. They will probably even visit
          I can’t think of a better way to turn off people to libertarianism/Libertarianism.

          And I say this as a non-libertarian who’s voted for Gary Johnson in 2012 and plans to vote for him this year.

    1. “This is far too thoughtful and nuanced a response for a presidential candidate.”

      The electorate has no time or patience for nuance. Serve up red meat (or tofu) only, please.

  5. How can anyone vote for these clowns what with their discussion of tradeoffs and admitting they might not know everything? Vote Trumpillary for a More Certain Future!

  6. So, if he’s sincere in his beliefs, why the hell did he choose a gun grabber like Weld as his running mate?

    1. Probably because he isn’t a one-issue kind of guy. Though I full admit I don’t like Weld’s answer (more policing).

      1. Not great, but I don’t find it to be as nausea inducing as ban them all. More policing (the real kind) mixed with less gun free zones and better carry laws (none?) Is an argument that might sell well with the right.

        1. It certainly is worth looking into whether the FBI missed any red flags. But at the end of the day, if they didn’t commit a crime I’m not sure what more or better policing does. I worry that in reality more policing actually means more surveillance.

          1. I agree. I would think full warrants, and convict if needed. I think the FBI probably dropped the ball.
            There’s a constitutional way to put people away.
            I’ll still fight mass surveillance, and no buy lists.

      2. I wouldn’t call myself a one issue guy either, but a few issues are clearly more pressing than others, 1A and 2A being the most obvious examples.

        1. 1,2,4, and 5.
          God that’s depressing.

          1. Wait, so you’re pro quartering of soldiers? Statist much, DOOMco?

            1. “They’re onto me!”

            2. He wants the soldiers drawn first though.

    2. Yeah, Weld sucks. His excuse was that he had to pander to his NE pussy retard constituency. Like that makes it better.

      1. He kinda had that down before Weld.

      2. What annoys me about Weld and the assault weapons ban is that he doesn’t say something like “it was a mistake, and I regret it; I was wrong.” Instead, he stumbles out a bunch of nonsense, which makes it seem worse.

    3. He chose Weld for credibility and money. Weld has ties to big $$ fundraisers and is a former governor. The fact that he once called himself libertarian made him palatable to GJ as a running mate. The arrangement is purely political and strategic but that’s the purpose VP picks typically serve in presidential campaigns. Ultimately, unless GJ gets elected and vacates his spot, it matters little what Weld’s views are (besides making some of us roll our eyes).

  7. Think back to before the Brady Bill was passed – how many mass shootings were there before they started passing national gun control laws? Charles Whitman? Since passing background check and waiting period and assault-rifle ban laws, how many mass shootings have we seen? Isn’t it obvious more gun control laws lead to more gun violence? Now try asking a gun grabber that question and see how fast they come up with a correlation-is-not-causation counter-argument and yet refuse to admit that any of their bullshit arguments are just as silly. However intuitive it may seem that more gun laws = fewer guns = less gun violence, it’s just as intuitive to look at the statistics and conclude more gun laws = more mass shootings, is it not? Just as intuitive and just as apt to be wrong, no?

    1. Well, you see, the rifles they had then weren’t black and scary, nor did they have the dreaded shoulder thing that goes up.

    2. Assault rifle regulation passed in 1934 and ban passed in 1986. You’re thinking the assault weapons ban.

      The problem with counting mass shootings is that they weren’t tracked until recently and so older mass shootings are hard to calculate.

      1. and, they have become inconsistent in how they define mass shooting. (used to be 4 or more dead… every-town groups started going with injured about 2 years ago)

        1. The FBI still uses the 4 or more dead criteria. The Everytown and Reddit GunsRCool sub use 4 or more dead or injured.

    3. Meh.

      I’ve been arguing for years that the problem with gun control in America is that we’re not willing to take it far enough to be effective.

      But that goes both ways. We’re not willing to go with “more guns” far enough either.

      Either dramatically more guns (or rather, more gun owners) or less guns (and gun owners) would solve our firearm homicide issue.

  8. A “libertarian comedian/talk-show host”, Dave Smith, appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast earlier this week, and he had the following to say about why he doesn’t like Gary Johnson as a salesman for libertarian ideas. I agree with him, particularly the “attitude” comment. A lot of interesting commentary in there.

    1. Well he did fine with these comments. We’ll see how it goes though. Needs to put a muzzle on Weld.

      1. Weld needs a libertarian gift bag filled with books. What should we send him?

        1. Road to Serfdom, Open Society and Its Enemies I and II, More Liberty Means Less Government.

          1. Of course there is Animal Farm and 1984. A World History book should do for most smart people

            1. A World History book should do for most smart people

              You have to be careful with your selection, though. Far too many textbooks have been hijacked by progtards.

  9. Wow I really like this guy’s response. Turned out the gunman was a repressed homo acting out a self-destructive revenge fantasy under the moral guidance of his own father. Yet the Trumpkins are quick to blame ‘ISIS!’ As for Weld, he is still far better than Trump or Hillary. So I am still very bullish on these guys.

    1. If he was a repressed homosexual, that may explain his ultimate target, but he apparently was also casing Disney World. His motivation would seem to be at least a mixture of simple craziness and religious fervor, possibly combined with some repressed-homo self loathing.

      1. True – which is why we must keep bombing ISIS, right? Then other crazy guys like him won’t have anyone to pledge allegiance to during their massacres and will just stay home. Good thinking there buddy. Where’s all your woodchipper buddies today?

    2. “Yet the Trumpkins are quick to blame ‘ISIS!’ ”

      That Omar Mateen was certainly a Trumpkin!

  10. Where’s Hype, Playa, and Heroic today?

    1. They died in the Orlando night club shooting… Too soon?

    2. Ignoring your stupid fucking ass and having a good day?

      Off wondering how many sockpuppets you’re going to use today?

      Your guess is as good as mine.

      1. Tulp? …when did this happen?

        1. Playa I believe caught him out one day

  11. I like this Gary Johnson fellow. He should run for president. I’d probably vote for him.

  12. I love the “streaker” comment. The press reaction to every event is almost as much to blame as the gun-free zone.

  13. they really should keep weld quiet, or at least on message. (his exact words: “Someone who’s come to the FBI’s attention twice ? his name should never disappear.”)

    WTF? if your name gets mentioned to authorities twice, and you lose freedoms? what if it had just been once? were they supposed to have him under 24hr surveillance? banned from buying a gun? it’s not like there was some evidence of exactly when this guy would decide to shoot up the club he was a regular at. they could not find evidence for reasonable suspicion that he was planning anything at all, during those two investigations.

  14. There is no evidence that gun restrictions work …here! Why? Because we have inconsistent laws, inconsistent application of those laws, no serious attempt to develop any gun laws, and no consistent information feed between various police forces, the FBI, et al. Why would that work? If your car was designed like that it wouldn’t run either. However, there Johnson is actually wrong, or he chooses to ignore the success of Australia which developed a gun buy back program after it’s horrific mas shooting. Here’s the chart:…..s-data.jpg

    Oh..And BTW, yes, Australia still does have gangs and criminals too, yet gun deaths are down radically. Nor was it an out and out ban. In fact, there is no country in the world, including No Korea that has an absolute ban. Nobody wants to take away your toys, simply develop a sensible approach…. Just like the NRA suggested over 20 year ago. That is the adult approach.

    1. How do you take something without taking it?

    2. Australia also has a different legal process and a different scope of what laws can or cannot do. So good luck on passing a constitutional amendment that overrules number two, five, and six here.

    3. Gun deaths are down ‘radically’ here as well. No punishing of the innocent required.

      1. Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed this is a libertarian comment section, if not an actual libertarian publication. So take your utilitarian arguments and shove them up your digeridoo.

    4. john B. egan
      You are advocating a North Korean model for the U.S.
      Go live there.
      You will be happier.
      We will be happier.
      Everybody wins.

    5. Should also look at a chart on Australian gun violence that goes back to more than three years before buyback to see a rough trendline down that began LONG before the buyback and didn’t get appreciably more pronounced.

      1. And then look at violent crime in Oz after the gun restrictions.

  15. A muslim terrorist walks into a bar…

    Said muslim mows down 100+ gay people…

    Hillary’s reaction?

    Disarm the gay people, of course.

    Who’s side does the media claim Hillary is on?

  16. “But Johnson said a solution, a la Weld, of a stronger domestic investigatory task force is preferable to “putting boots on the ground, dropping bombs, and flying drones” in response to terror threats.”

    So Johnson would “prefer” directing U.S. firepower onto America’s citizens and away from foreign targets.

    Nice guy.

    Which party does he represent?

    1. So if a domestic criminal started gunning down people next to you, you would like the President to respond by sending US troops into another country and shoot the foreigners. I assume you would not want to stop the American citizen who is actually doing the killing, because that would mean your not a nice guy.

      Did I get that right?

      1. To be fair, we do now have a precedent of invading the wrong country after a terrorist attack.

  17. Funny thing. The man is 100% correct.

  18. Funny thing. The man is 100% correct.

  19. “Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson Says Gun Restrictions Make Us Less Safe”

    But he’ll pitch Austin Peterson’s flintlock in the trash, just to be safe.

  20. It might be useful to remember that in the week prior to this shooting the oh so progressive California legislature voted in favor of exempting themselves from California gun laws.

  21. Johnson is right on target here! I have created an online petition to end government mandated “Gun Free Zones.” I hope I have found a receptive audience that will sign and share it. This tragedy happened over a period of hours, just imagine if one well-positioned person had a concealed weapon:

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  23. If plenty of guns meant a lower crime rate then Amerika would be the safest country on earth. However, it seems the more guns around means the more murders there are. Isn’t that strange?

    1. Eh. Even if you think the NRA is right, that increasing guns would increase safety, the truth is that it’s not really guns per capita that you should be counting, it’s gun owners. And that’s been pretty flat in the US for decades even as guns per capita has grown.

      Personally, I think the problem is that America is unwilling to fully commit to either more guns or less guns. We keep sitting in the middle fiddling with policies and laws but not really taking the drastic action to either become an armed society or a disarmed society.

      It’s that middle-ground that’s (literally) killing us.

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