Saturday RF wrote about the premier of the documentary ‘No Control’, featuring Defense Distributed’s Cody Wilson. As luck would have it, TTAG reader Brett was visiting the city that never sleeps and attended the premier Saturday night at the IFC Center for us. He files this report:
I’m from coastal southern California. Not exactly a bastion of firearms freedom – although thanks to Sir Edward Peruta I finally get to exercise my natural, civil, and Constitutional right to bear arms (yes, I’ve unilaterally declared him a knight of the TTAG Armed Intelligentsia). I found myself staying in New York City over the weekend – one of the few places with even less regard for the Bill of Rights than the Golden State. As any TTAG reader would, I worked firearms into the trip. Luck had it that the world premiere of Jessica Solce’s ‘No Control‘ – a documentary on gun politics – had its world premiere Saturday night . . .
My day started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unsurprisingly, their Arms and Armor exhibit is one of their most popular. The description explained that Sam Colt didn’t just invent his firearms, he was also a marketing and PR innovator, one of the first to shrewdly give away fine samples of his product to prominent people.
At the IFC Center later that evening, I noted the size and composition of the audience. The theater was fairly small, approximately 125 seats, and was only about two thirds full for this world premiere in Manhattan. I interpreted this as a good sign; the debate over gun control has gone from a rolling boil to a gentle simmer, with most legislative attempts at gun control at a standstill and the judiciary slowly restoring the rights we should have had all along.
The audience trended younger in age — 25-40. This was probably due to the nature of the New York neighborhood more than anything else. It appeared that many there weren’t interested in the topic of gun control – they were just there to see an ‘indie flick.’
The filmmaker Jessica Solce, along with Cody Wilson and others from the film, were on hand. Jessica introduced the documentary for about 20 seconds, clearly nervous and unused to being in the limelight.
The opening line of the movie was, “We know there will be another mass murder.” Not a great start. While true, that would be the case with or without guns. It’s just ain’t that hard to make a box of molitov cocktails or drive your car through a crowd. The first 10 minutes of the movie slanted about 2/3rds “anti” and 1/3rd “pro.”
Fifteen minutes in, and we’re covering the Colorado state senate recalls with Victor Head, a plumber who helped spearhead the effort. He points out the absurdity of how one chunk of metal (e.g., a completed lower) is a firearm and another chunk of metal (e.g., an 80% lower) is not.
A little further into the movie, a pro-gun guy says a gun is “a cool thing to have” which elicited the first major reaction from the audience – a bout of laughter. Clearly not a lot of gun rights supporters in the audience. But again, this is an artsy neighborhood of New York City so…what did you expect? The Q&A from the audience after the movie, also clearly slanted anti.
Cody Wilson does get significant airtime in the film and he looked to be the smartest person in the room, which he probably was. His arguments, philosophy, and facts came off as strong and rational, and while I’d be interested to hear his own opinion on how he was portrayed after the movie was edited, I think the movie reasonably reflected his genius.
Overall, I thought this movie was “spaghetti philosophication” – kind of a jumble. There was no arc to the story, and the film didn’t focus on “facts” (although Cody rightfully pointed out the irony of antis’ focus on ‘assault weapons’ when handguns cause far more deaths. The antis never actually address the public safety issue they claim to be concerned with. This movie is mostly about presenting competing philosophies.
Cody was the pro and the realist, explaining that you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. His gun design will be on the internet forever. Human nature will always result in some number of evil people killing other people. And regulating machinery will never be effective. Wilson represents indelible information.
Greg Bokor (the artist who drew the AR-15 to be symbolically and physically erased in the film) was the anti and idealist – explaining that we have to try to reduce gun deaths. We must try, and ‘trying’ of course means limiting the rights of million so the one in a million insane persons’ ability to kill is reduced by 1%. Since he doesn’t care about owning a gun, and wouldn’t be affected, he obviously doesn’t mind infringing on others’ civil rights. Like most gun laws, his position came from a place of idealist symbolism, not effective governance. Bokor represents the erasure of information.
Overall, I’d say the movie was reasonably objective, at least more objective than other gun control documentaries I’ve seen. In terms of airtime, I’d estimate that the pro-gun side gets 40% of the time and anti-gun side about 60%. But even with less time devoted, the strength of the pro-gun arguments (based on observation of the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be), thanks to Cody Wilson’s philosophical genius, came off much stronger. Wilson gets more minutes of airtime than any other single individual, while more anti-gun individuals are presented.
Then again, I’m a California boy, a libertarian moderate, and you might think the movie is more slanted than I do. Thankfully, Wilson gets the last word in the movie. I’ll leave that quote and the rest of the movie for you to judge for yourself.