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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.


This pistol was presented by Samuel Colt to the Sultan of Turkey on a trip to Europe around the time of the outbreak of war. Ironically Colt had just given the other pistol in the pair to the Russian Czar Nicolas I. Russia and Turkey were at odds in the Crimean War at the time, and Colt was eager to sell to both sides. I wondered whether the documentary would demonstrate as much impartiality that night.

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.

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    • hey, you never know… maybe… maybe… er… just maybe it could’ve been a Hydra modular lower! tada! ha!


    • I just want to sneak in late at night with a pocket full of Sharpies, and make at least the general outline of that wall-sized AR impossible to erase. Is that so wrong? I’m just expressing my belief that no matter what happens politically, guns will never, truly, completely, go away…

  1. The “problem” with your review is that you are an intelligent logical person and looked at the strength of the arguments in the movie. What I would be more concerned with were the techniques used to try to convey an emotional appeal to like or dislike the speaker. For instance, in the trailer the anti-gun people are shown in a lovely comforting home setting and the pro-gun people are shown with a harsh desolate background interspersed with scary guns. I think if you got a stupid person to watch it you’d get a different opinion of what the overall message was…

    • People see what they want to see.
      You could show the same movie to a dozen people and get as many opinions on the meaning of the film.

  2. Yeah sure…maybe I’ll watch it some day on Streampics. 60% anti I can see elsewhere.(maybenot in Ferguson Missouri).

  3. Thanks for the astute review.

    That guy erasing the AR makes me want to go out and buy some more of those. That’s what irrational bans do.

  4. Brett said it, and I agree: in a world where a self-appointed expert class controls the bullhorn, any heard word from the pro-gun side is a win — because our position is rhetorically stronger. A large number of people will hear it and stay anti-gun because it’s their god. An even larger number will stay anti-gun for fear of disapproval from the expert class and the louder members of the first group. But there will be inroads from independent thinkers and those who have enough pro-gun friends and family to offset the shame they feel from John Stewart.

  5. “We know there will be another mass murder.” Yeah, and the school systems will not take any real action to prevent it, they will just play with gimmicks.

    • You wouldn’t know it from the mainstream news, but lots of schools in flyover country are quietly discarding the “gun-free” strategy with everything from armed school resource officers to teachers carrying concealed.

  6. Now compare this measured intelligent review vs the FIRST utterly emotional urge of the reviewer, as cited here:

    Part of what makes No Control so fascinating is how when Solce turns her attention towards Wilson, the camera seems to pick up on the same beauty he sees in firearms. They’re aesthetically pleasing, almost as beautiful as Bokor’s installation. Despite being named one of the most dangerous people in the world by Wired Magazine, Wilson is an entrepreneur who could very well represent a version of the “American Dream”. A crypto-anarchist, free market endorser and bitcoin advocate, Wilson gained prominence when his company published the plans for the Liberator, a printable single shot handgun that could be obtained for free.

    I confessed to Jessica that upon first hearing his plea I wanted to slap Wilson, only to then find his case to be strangely compelling and even more surprisingly, I found it to make sense in myriad ways. “It is possible that the film encourages one way or the other, that someone may connect to Greg or Cody…and that’s the story, being free to connect to whoever you wish,” she explained.

    The reviewer’s FIRST autonomic response, was wishing to slap/ASSAULT Cody Wilson, for what he’s done, wants to do, and represents. Like a kid, who literally cannot reconcile ideas that challenge his/her preconceived notions. Pretty f’ng telling.

    Now, that, is coming from an artsy fartsy, who actually, once logically… and emotionally helped eased into the topic, the reviewer’s own cognitive faculties eventually ‘compelled’ him/her (could be my Java script block, but the author’s name’s not popping up) to face an actual logical question of fundamentals, and became ‘less’ anti-human liberties, than before seeing the film.

    That, is what gunnies are up against, among hoplophobes: arrested development-ed emotive children, who cannot extend philosophical consistency to its logical end.

    Which is why, you don’t ‘debate’ hoplophobes. You stake out a principled position. Know philosophical basis of your arguments, and let the idiots come to you, and not be dragged down by emotive monkeys and their asinine ‘arguments.’

    • “Which is why, you don’t ‘debate’ hoplophobes. You stake out a principled position.”

      The only reason to debate a hoplophobe is if non-hysterical people are observing. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. Staking out a principled position is a good tactic — it is another way of saying “stop letting gun grabbers define the narrative”.

  7. Thanks Brett, excellent review, fair and balanced, which is more than I’d expected from the movie itself, just guessing, but now I’m more inclined to seek it out, when its released.

    Kudos to Ms Solce for having the good luck to catch Cody Wilson, and more important, the good sense to give him the space to speak, rather than be edited into a caricature, like RF pointed out is too common.

    Thanks for keeping it real ….’Just the facts, ma’am’, works, and you’ll automatically stand out from the moralizing self-stroking navelgazers in the progtard bubble chamber. “Edgy”, even…;)

  8. Doesn’t surprise me how its composed.
    These kinds of documentaries are usually fifteen minutes of one guy showing you the future followed by an hour and a half of people whining about how it scares them.

  9. Thanks for taking the time to see the film and compose the review. Great to see your thoughts on the film on this site.

  10. Who would put an A4 upper on a Nodak Spud XM16E1 lower with a Tapco mag and generic M4 furniture?

    Then the fire safety selector appears to be on “Auto” (kind of) but there is no third pin hole. Maybe they also installed a Tac-Con trigger? Those can let you switch to Auto, can’t they? Then again I guess they had NDS or someone also engrave the fire control settings on both sides of the receiver.

    They truly don’t understand us.

  11. Just a quickie I shouldn’t have to point out: Neither handguns nor “assault weapons” cause any deaths whatsoever.

  12. I don’t compare to the well practiced skills of entertaining writing that the TTAG crew demonstrates, but it was fun to play amateur writer when most of my writing is boring business stuff.

    At the end of the day this film won’t be popular and that is a good thing, and this is coming from me in CA an anti state… I might be in the minority here, but the recent poll by xxx (a professional polling company, not an organization with a political position in the 2A debate) objectively shows the American people by and large are not buying the civilian disarmament propaganda!

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