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Welcome to Pablo Torre finds out. I am Pablo Torre, and today we're going to find out what this sound is.


Barack Obama told you could run for president. I was like, yeah. And he says, so how often would you say you hear voices right after this ad?


You're listening to DraftKings Network. So this is not going to be a very special episode of Pablo Torre finds out. Like, you know, we're an old sitcom from the something where today we're going to learn an important lesson about drugs or AIDS or hitchhiking or whatever, which is a little tricky because last week the biggest story in american sports, the Super bowl, became this. Mass shooting at the Kansas City Super bowl victory parade has left one person dead and nearly two dozen people with gunshot wounds. The rapid gunfire sent thousands of panicked fans running for their lives. In an instant, the sound of joyous cheers and joyful chants were replaced with the sound of screams and sirens. The entire news cycle, you know, what happened to it? It became immediately revved up in this old argument about guns and politics. And all of it felt tired, right? It felt like everybody was exhausted in our pessimism and polarization and impotence most of all. But when I took a minute to just think about the overlap between Kansas City and guns and sports, what I realized is that I really wanted to hear from one specific person, a guy with a truly incomparable political trajectory and life story.


Because the first time I ever saw Jason Cander was back in 2016 when he was running for us Senate in Missouri and he was assembling an assault rifle blindfolded.


I'm Jason Candor, and Senator Blunt has been attacking me on guns. Well, in the army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle. In Afghanistan, I'd volunteer to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored suvs. And in the state legislature, I supported second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks so that terrorists can't get their hands on one of these. I approve this message because I'd like to see Senator blunt do this. In 2016, the NRA was relentlessly attacking me on the airwaves in Missouri because I had an f rating with the NRa, and I ended up cutting this ad. That is an argument for gun safety measures. So in the ad, while I'm making the argument, I'm blindfolded and I'm assembling a rifle at the same time.


So you're running against Senator Roy Blunt, the republican senator in Missouri. And it became, and this is certainly my view of it, but for the Washington Post as well as many other outlets. The best political ad of the year, and I'm curious as to why you remember it being so effective.


So the reason I think it was effective is two things. One, I just think it was a visual spectacle that people weren't expecting to see. Right. But the bigger reason, the reason I think it cut through is because it was sort of like a muscular argument for gun control. It was me saying, yeah, I'm for gun control, and I know what the heck I'm talking about, but that is not enough. I think really the reason that the ad cut through and why so many people who disagreed with me on guns voted for me is not that they went, oh, he changed my mind about guns. It's that the ads the NRA was running, and they still run all the time, are not really meant to convince people that somebody like me wants to take their guns. It's really aimed at persuadable pro gun voters to say, this person is not like you and they're foreign to you and they wouldn't like you. And I think what that ad did is it was me saying, you and I may not agree, but you and I would get along fine. Like, if there was a block party on your street and I rolled up, we would get along.


And that sentiment has stuck with me for years because it is the sentiment that feels like an endangered species in american political discourse, especially now. And so when I think back at that ad, I think about it in the context of this desert in which there is a lack of a notion that actually you and me might actually have more in common than we might think, despite all the ways in which we consume and vote differently.


What is really lacking is this sense that, yes, we may have arrived at things differently, but our values could be the same, which is a very politiciany thing for me to say. But so let me actually break it down, because if you just leave it there, it just sounds like something a politician would say when they don't want to answer a question. And what I mean is that I think Americans, at least persuadable Americans, are much more open to not agreeing with the people they vote for than we realize. And so breaking through is not so often about communicating that your policies break with your party. That's what politicians think it is. I think it's just showing that you care about the same stuff that you do, the same sort of stuff. It takes you all the way back to Obama's famous convention speech in four.


The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states, red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states, and yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.


We've got some gay friends in the red states, and we coach little league in the blue states. It's that sort of commonality that it's very, very hard to communicate in this day and age. Tomorrow, I'm going to start thinking about what we do to try and get back in the game. Not me, not me, but what we as a generation do. Because this is a generation that is capable of greatness and is a numerous generation, and it has a lot of work left to do. Thank you. Stay with it. Thank you.


The way that Senate race unfolded for you was deeply interesting, almost from a sports analogy perspective. You end up losing in 2016. But the way that the numbers broke down, Hillary got blown out. Hillary Clinton got blown out by Donald Trump in the presidential election, 2016 November by 19%. Jason, you lost by what percentage?




Which means mathematically that what, like 16 or so percent of Missourians voted for Trump. And Jason Candor, guy with the gun ad that was a Democrat, the liberal.


Jewish trial lawyer from the city.


This thing happened. That's fascinating that you don't see often, which is you won by losing.


Yeah. Which is something I really didn't expect. This is before. That was a thing that happened in american politics. I was sort of like patient zero or whatever for now. And there are people who are friends of mine who ran great races, and now we know them because of Beto. You know, people like that and they're making a big difference in american politics at this time. I thought it was like, I mean, to go way back. I thought it was like Howard Dean. I thought it was like, you lose a race and then people are like, we've had enough. Thank you. You may exit stage right.


We're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we're going to Washington, DC to take back the White House.


You're fist pumping into oblivion at that point. You were naming states fist pumping, and then you're gone forever was the impression you had.


That's how it know it wasn't like a baseball season. You don't just say, we'll get them next year, right? It was a big surprise to me when people seemed to want to hear more from me. The analogy that I generally use for it is that coming out from under 2016 and having people reach out and say, like, no, we think maybe you're the guy was, like, emerging from the bunker after nuclear annihilation, and you're obviously despondent about the nuclear annihilation. And then you take some solace in the fact that your fellow survivors look at you and say, we think maybe you're in charge.


It's not just some of the other survivors. As if they're just faceless people. In January of 2017, Barack Obama is giving his last interview as president. He's in the Oval Office. He's talking to the Podsave America guys, and he is asked about who gives him hope for the future and the very first name he mentions.


My guy in Missouri, Candor, who lost but seems extraordinarily talented, seems like a sharp guy, and I hope that he gets back on the horse. But then by the winter of 17, like, getting close to January of 18, his team reaches out and they're like, no, for real. He wants to sit down with you, so you need to get out here. So I came out to DC and met with him in his private office.


Yeah. And the thing that you took away from that meeting, and I encourage you here to be as blunt as your emotions maybe were at the time. Your takeaway was what?


My takeaway was that he thinks I could do it. It wasn't like you're my only guy. It wasn't like that. But it was like, hey, you're for real, and I think you're for real. And I want you to be in the mix for this.


And you're heading into. At this point, I'm just getting the political calendar in front of me. Correct? Yeah. It's taking us to April 2018. It's Nashville, New Hampshire. And your moment as a political speech maker, this thing that you had been distinguished by in training for, describe what that moment in New Hampshire was for people who aren't fluent in politics.


That was the zenith of my political career. Not let them roll back the progress that President Obama and so many people before him made. We won't let it happen because we're patriots and because we understand that patriotism is not about making everybody stand and salute the flag. Patriotism is about making this a country where everybody wants to, and we can.


Be that country again.


And in January of 2021, when we.


Get a new president, we will be.


Thank you.


Thank you, New Hampshire.


Thank you. So it was very clearly, this is the audition. It was on national television. If you count C SPAN Road to the White House as national television. It was one of those things. It was the speech where legally, you're not yet allowed to say, and that's why I'm running for president. But you say everything else, and it's your audition, and it went very well. And it was very clear that it went very well.


I want to get to what was unseen, which is that the next day, I presume, you're flying out somewhere else half a day or so later, and compare how you felt in that moment to the feeling that you had coming off of the stage.


For a little context, we've kind of been dancing around here, is that I served in Afghanistan, six, seven, as an army intelligence officer, and I came home with symptoms of post traumatic stress. But I didn't acknowledge them to myself. And had I had treated them when I initially started to detect them, I think it would have gone very differently. But I neglected them. I denied that they were there. And over the course of the ten years that followed, it just got worse and worse and worse, to the point where I really went about a decade without a good night's sleep. I had a lot of shame and a lot of guilt, and I did not think very highly of myself as a person, even though I thought extremely highly of myself as a politician and as a performer, so to speak.




And what I was doing, I don't really think I understood this at all at the time, is I was self medicating, using the substance that was most available to me, which was adrenaline and attention and my career. And so I was giving these speeches, like, pretty much every day, doing performances, media interviews, whatever, and that would bridge me to the next day, because as long as I wasn't in my own mind, then I could avoid the disruptive thoughts and the dark thoughts that I was having. And so the bigger the speech and the bigger the moment, the longer that endorphin ride would last and the better I would feel. And so when this happened, and it was like, hey, we are heading to the top of the mountain, it was to me, like, I should be good for a while, right? Because usually a really great performance might last me, like, a week. And instead, by the time my ass hit the seat on the plane at the Manchester airport in New Hampshire, I felt as empty as I had the day after the election in 2016. And that was really the first time that, internally, I started to acknowledge to myself, this might be a lot more serious than I have given it credit for.


So just to say it very clearly. So you had embarked on a presidential campaign while having an untreated mental injury.


Yeah. Which is your story of a psychological disorder that you keep secret while you're running for president, including secret from yourself.


The symptoms you were dealing with, Jason, what were the symptoms, as you were sort of sussing out in your own brain? What do I have here?


I'd been having these violent nightmares, which had become night terrors, which, if anybody's interested, you could look up the difference. They just suck a lot more. And then these feelings of shame and guilt and also feeling like my brain hadn't really processed the idea ever that I was home and know I couldn't really sit in a restaurant if I couldn't see the door. When I had been secretary of state, my staff, because they didn't know me before I went to Afghanistan, they just understood, well, the boss doesn't like it when people sit behind him. In a know, people just had gotten used to these things around me. And so I was having all these symptoms, hyper vigilance, meaning I felt like I was in danger all the time, and just stress. I mean, that's why they call it post traumatic stress.


And so the acknowledgment to yourself that this is PTSD, that post traumatic stress disorder is going to be your story, too. How does that finally sink in with you?


The first thing I realized was I didn't think that I had it in me to make it the distance in a presidential campaign. And I just mean, like, physically, I was exhausted. I mean, because of nightmares that I had PTSD nightmares. I just had gone ten years without sleeping, and it was getting worse, and I was getting depressed, which, if you have PTSD and then you have really bad nightmares for ten years and you don't sleep, you're going to get depressed. And that's what was happening. And so when I kind of simmy came to the conclusion that I maybe couldn't do it, I raised that to my campaign manager and one of my best friends, Abe Reykove. And he was sort of ready with a idea he just sort of threw out there, not expecting me to jump at, which was, well, you could just quit running all over the country, and you could run for mayor of Kansas City, which I'm a fifth generation Kansas City, and I love my hometown. And that immediately felt like somebody had thrown me like a life preserver. And I was like, that's what I need to do.


And so the campaign for mayor was 99 days long, and it was of all the campaigns I'd ever been in, it was the only one I'd ever entered as the front runner. It should have been so much fun. Pablo. I was running for mayor of Kansas City, and within a week of announcing, I was on Seth Meyers. I'm seeing a lady in a few days who has a possum problem. I'm going to go walk around. We're going to look at that. That's important.


You're going to look at the possum problem? Absolutely.


We got to try and fix it.


Government is about trying to solve people boring lives. That sounds kick ass.


Come with me.


I'm down.


While this was going on, I was getting worse and worse, and now I was getting worse faster, to the point where I was starting to have more frequent suicidal ideation. And that finally scared me a lot. And in early October, I guess, when I called the veterans cris line, it was like, October 1 or the end of September, and I just called, and it was the first time that I ever had ever admitted to somebody other than my wife that I was having suicidal ideation. And when I spoke to the woman on the other end of the phone, it was her tone of voice that just got through to me and made me realize I don't sound any different to her than any other vet she's talked to. And that's when I finally had to admit, like, I wasn't different than any other vet she had talked to. And that's when I decided to go get help, which is what I did on October 2 of 2018 and to drop out of the race.


I want to put this in the context of guns again, because your ad, the thing that propelled you to national fame was this ad in which you were assembling your rifle blindfolded. And in your mind, how are you seeing that all now, through the lens, the private lens, of your experience in Afghanistan?


It felt fraudulent to me. Know, my job in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer was I now can look back and realize it was very dangerous, and it was very traumatic. And my job was to go out into develop relationships, as my commander put it, develop relationships with thugs so that I could bring back information about other thugs, which, when you are going out frequently, just you and your translator in an unarmored vehicle in Afghanistan, that's a very dangerous thing to do, and you're very vulnerable for hours at a time. But I never had to fire my weapon because my job was different. My job was to go out and, thankfully, successfully do everything I could to avoid being kidnapped. Well, and only later, when I finally went to the VA, did somebody listen to what I had to say and say to me like, you're a combat veteran. What would make you think that that is anything other than a combat experience? Well, because to me, again, I had grown up on Blackhawk down and all this stuff, and to me, that's combat. And anything short of that didn't count. And the other reason is because one of the things the army does that allows us to be successful in wars is from the moment you get off the bus at basic to the moment you render or return your final salute, a very steady message is communicated to you through the culture of the military, which is what you're doing is no big deal.


And I actually don't fault the military for that because if it weren't for me believing that while I'm doing the job, I couldn't keep walking into meetings with people who might want to kill me and bringing back valuable information.




So you have to believe that what you're doing is no big deal compared to somebody else. But then when you leave, nobody flips that switch off. And so we are constantly wondering why so many Veterans don't go get help. And we chalk it up to thinking, well, they're trying to be too quote unquote manly. No, I think it's usually that we just feel like we have it on good authority what we did was no big deal, so why would we need help?


You're checking yourself into the VA, and what do you bring with you, Jason? What do you take with you into the Veterans Administration hospital?


Yeah. At the time, I was reading an advanced copy of a book that a friend in the publishing industry had sent me because I'm a huge baseball guy. The phenomenon, the book by Rick Ankiel, the irony was not lost on me at the time that I was heading into the VA to check myself out of public life and into suicide watch. And the only possession that they allowed me to keep in the little holding cell was a paperback copy of a book about, written by a guy who had been the next thing, the guy who everybody thought was going to be the man in baseball and who know got the yips and had to leave because of a psychological thing. And then chipper Jones up, wild pitch. Galaraga up with runners at second and third and a save of a would be wild pitch. And then on a walk to Galaraga, wild pitch. And now another wild pitch. We'll go into the wildness hall of Fame, I think.


So when you show up and again, you're bringing all of the baggage with you that we've now outlined here. You've talked to Obama, you've gotten in front of America and given these speeches. And so when you are now sitting down for your official questionnaire in which you're going to tell the truth for the first time, how does that go?


So usually when I would walk around town and people would recognize me or at least do like double takes, it was somewhat gratifying, right? Empowering maybe when you are being checked into suicide watch at the psych ward, at the VA, it is more like mortifying because nobody's, like, asking for selfies. They're professionals. But, you know, you can tell when someone has recognized you and they kind of do that extra. So it was embarrassing. And then this resident comes in, resident on duty, the psych resident. And it was pretty apparent within the first minute or two that he didn't know who I was. He was from out of town and didn't recognize me at all. And that was, like, really freeing and a big relief. So we talked for like 30 minutes, and I lay out all these symptoms for him, and he's about ready to actually let me go. And he just sort of offhandedly asks. He says, by the way, do you have, like, a particularly stressful job or something? And I say, well, I'm in politics. And he's like, what does that mean? And I just kind of gave him a very short version.


I said, well, I was going to run for president, and I decided to run for mayor, but I'm going to call that off tomorrow. I want to come here and get help. And that threw him. And he's like, president of what? Now, remember, he's looking at a guy who's on suicide watch, who's not even wearing his own clothes. I'm in scrubs that are several sizes too big, sitting on a stainless steel bed, like, hugging my knees and explaining, yeah, it's not a big deal. I was a presidential candidate, but it doesn't occur to me. So I'm like, of the United States. And so we have a little back and forth, and he's like, who told you you could run for president? And now I have gone from really relieved that this dude doesn't recognize me to kind of irritated that he doesn't believe me. So somewhat arrogantly, I say, I don't know what to tell you, man. I spent like an hour and a half, just me and Obama in his office. And he seemed to think it was a pretty good idea. And so he takes this in for a second and he says, barack Obama told you could run for president.


I was like, yeah. And he says, so how often would you say you hear, so that was my first day at the VA.


So now it's hopefully clear to you how Jason Cander has had a trajectory pretty much unlike anyone else in american politics. He is 42 now, by the way. He is still a baby in politician years. And I should mention that when he taped that viral gun ad, which was eight years ago now, he was Missouri secretary of state, the youngest statewide elected official in America, which he covers in a really good book that he wrote about his family and his recovery titled invisible Storm. And if you read that or if you just talk to jason, what becomes clear, too, is that he is very different from me, at least in a very significant way, because Jason Cander is a gun guy. He still is, which is why what I wanted to find out here today is what he specifically sees as a realistic, optimistic way forward without any political spin or bullshit on what I consider to be a uniquely american problem.


My relationship to guns start as a kid. My dad was a cop here in Kansas City, so I grew up, we would go shoot pistols. I never really went hunting. Most people around here, they grew up hunting. I didn't. I grew up shooting pistols with my dad, and my dad taught me how to handle a gun, and he taught me those things and how to respect it. And so it was a cultural. And plus, like everybody I knew, their dads owned, like, a rifle, and they went hunting and all that. So it's part of the culture here. And then I went into the military and I learned, as I said in that ad, how to respect my rifle, how to show the proper respect for it as a tool. And so my perspective often on this, when I look at things like assault weapons, for instance, is that is a tool that's meant for a specific thing. And now, look, I'm not going to get into a whole thing where I lecture whoever's listening about it's a weapon of war and all that. I've done that plenty, and I still feel that way. But I also, look, I work at a place where, as you mentioned, I worked at a national organization focused on veterans.


So I work with a lot of fellow combat vets, and I live here and work here in Kansas City. So there's all sorts of political views among the leadership of the place where I work, and a lot of them are very pro gun. I mean, there's an ar 15 hanging on the wall at the place where I work. And so when I look at the debate as it exists right now in this country over guns, what I see is a very successful effort by gun makers to pit people like yourself, who have a view that is the same view I have about gun policy, but who don't have a familiarity with guns, against my neighbors. And that's the divide that works politically. If they can make my neighbor, who I know owns guns and is an enthusiast a bit, if they can make him feel like you are out to get him and that you and he have nothing in common, well, then they have divided and conquered. But to me, the real thing that's going on in this country is not between people who want gun safety and people who own guns. It should be between everyday Americans, whether they love guns or not, and the gun companies that are making enormous profits without having to have any responsibility for the danger of the product they create.


And that's what prompted me this last week to start talking a lot about the protection of lawful commerce and Arms Act. Placa.


Yeah. And so for people who don't know Placa, I'm doing this episode because I want people to know about it, because it helps explain why it is that guns, not just from a cultural perspective, but from a legal liability perspective, have been given this halo of protection in a codified federal way.


Yeah. To understand it, we got to go back a little bit to the bunch of successful lawsuits at the local level against gun makers. If people want, like, a cultural touch point to think of in this, they can think of the Grisham book that became the movie runaway jury, which was about a lawsuit against a gun company. Because at the time the book was written, that was happening a lot, and the gun companies were losing the analogy to think of for this is tobacco. The big breakthrough in tobacco litigation was when juries were presented with evidence that the gun companies actually had the science to know about the carcinogenic levels in cigarettes and weren't doing anything to change their product or to make people aware of it. So what was happening is you were increasingly having these lawsuits that were saying, hey, juries were saying, hey, you took absolutely to the gun maker or the gun seller, you took absolutely no precautions whatsoever or did any checks about who you were selling to or what their purpose was for using it. And juries started holding gun companies liable and responsible for that. And what most industries tobacco know, several others think about when tires on Ford explorers were blowing up the auto industry.


Yeah. Trucking. The trucking industry. When juries started saying, you're not requiring your truckers sleep enough, and as a result, there's accidents happening. What other industries in America do over the last 200 plus years, when they are exposed to this kind of liability, is they reform their corporate practices, they change their product, they make it safer, they do things to avoid liability. It's why when you see disclaimers on things, people make jokes. Oh, a lawyer wrote that. That's right, a lawyer did write it. And they had to, because this beautiful thing come up with by the founders of this country called a jury, which is just twelve people getting together and deciding what the standard in their community is for conduct, decided that they had business conduct that was beyond the pale and it had to change. It also is born out of this thing in the US Constitution, that's not the Second Amendment, it's the 7th Amendment, which says that in any matter where there is a disagreement of more than $20 in value, you are guaranteed a civil trial by jury. So if you take all that together, that's why most industries reform when they're hit with successful lawsuits.


That's not what the gun industry did. The gun industry used their political power to go to Congress and get placa passed. In 2005, it was supported by Republicans and Democrats. Not across the board, but there were some Democrats. It was signed by George W. Bush. And what the law says, basically, is that you may not bring a lawsuit against a gun maker so long as the product functioned as it was meant to function. Basically, if one child points a gun at another child and the gun goes off and kills them, no other details are important whatsoever, so long as the gun didn't fire by accident, as long as the gun didn't malfunction. And that since that law passed in 2005, gun crime in this country has gone up 59%. And we debate all the time, background checks and a gun registry, and we ask ourselves, why won't they make smart guns required? And for those who don't know, smart guns is technology that exists. Much like the tobacco companies knew the science about how carcinogenic cigarettes were and how addictive nicotine was. The technology exists so that just like your iPhone or anything else, a gun can only work when it's your hand on the gun.


And by the way, the majority of gun crime in this country is committed using stolen guns. Even though that exists, we have no laws to say that that's the kind of gun that you have to sell. But if juries could weigh in on it, you can guarantee they would say that's the reasonable expectation in their community.


Right? And I want to point out that, look, the last statistics that I could find here are a bit old. They're from around the year 2000. But it's the ATF and what they're pointing out when it comes to what they call crime guns, which is to say guns that are found in the investigation of a crime, the guns that pop up when the police are investigating something. The stat is crazy, and it speaks to this very premise. And I want to just read it out here. The ATF reported that 5% of dealers sell about 90% of crime guns. And so, again, I just want you to help me explain this, Jason, because gun manufacturers, Smith and Wesson and so forth, they make the guns, but dealers sell them. And in the United States, 5% are responsible for 90% of the guns that turn out to be an alleged problem. And so the question then becomes, how do we then put pressure on the gun manufacturers to not sell to that 5%?


If Placa had never been passed, you and I wouldn't have to even talk about it, because there would have already been lawsuits by victims of gun crime against gun manufacturers to say, hey, you know who you were allowing to sell your gun? You knew it and you did it anyway. And that does not meet the standard of care. And that's where things were headed. But instead, they created this liability shield that also acts as a morality shield. They no longer have to have any moral responsibility whatsoever.


Right. And I just want to spell out further, when it comes to the ATF, which is, again, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the most recent data from 2022, what they point out in terms of like, well, the ATF, federal bodies are looking into all of this stuff, aren't they? Aren't they investigating and checking on the dealers and the manufacturers? Well, it turns out that, statistically speaking, in 2022, the ATF, they only inspected about 7300 dealers, which is 9% of those who are allowed by law to sell guns. And so basically, what they point out here, this is their own statistics, a gun dealer could expect to be inspected once every ten years. And by comparison, federal regulators of elevators and restaurants, they require inspections five to ten times more frequently. And so the question is, okay, it's not happening on the level of inspections, and it's not happening on the level of, certainly an independent sense of concern on behalf of the manufacturers because their motive is profit.


And that's why my argument is, if you repeal placa, they will reform themselves, because otherwise they will lose so much money by losing lawsuits. It's why when I drive down the street. If there's someone smoking in the car next to me, my ten year old son will say, dad, look, that person is smoking. And when you and I were kids, there were smoking sections on airplanes because over time the industry had to reform because of the lawsuits. Lawsuits get a bad rap in our country, but it's why water doesn't kill us.


It's a check on corporate greed.


Exactly. And that's my point, is that you can be listening to this and you can have a room in your house that is your gun room with an NRA membership that's three generations in your family, and you're still getting screwed by the gun makers because they have no obligation to make their product as safe as possible because they've been given a get out of jail free card.


So to get those manufacturers to do something different, what we're going to do is expose them to lawsuits. And as a result, they will call for what? What would they want the government to do? Because they are going to be subject to litigation for it.


Well, before I answer that, let me just slightly rephrase what you're saying, because I want this to be clear. We're not just exposing them to lawsuits. All we're doing is saying if we repeal this law, you're going to be treated exactly the same as every other industry that makes a product in this country. And that's important. Right. It's not like we're not saying, hey, we want you to get, we're saying just be treated like everybody who makes widgets in America. Right. So if we were to do that, here's what I think would happen. I'm quite sure of it, actually. One of the first things that would happen is that they would develop. All of a sudden they would roll out the fact that they have the technology to make smart guns because it would not be in their financial interest anymore to be exposed to lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit, when all you have to do as a trial attorney that's suing them is present to the jury the fact that they've already researched the product and they already know how to do it. Right. A jury, you wouldn't even need that. A jury is going to implicitly understand that if their phone can catch them a scance and open up from barely seeing their face, then a gun can work when the owner picks it up and not work otherwise.


And they're going to have to do that because they're going to lose their ass in court if they don't. That's the first thing. The second thing is they are going to, I promise you, lobby the government to pass stringent background checks. And here's why. Because juries are going to expect, just as they were starting to expect it in the passed, expect them to check the backgrounds of the individuals and expect gun sellers in particular, to check the backgrounds of the individuals that they're selling guns to. The gun companies are not going to want to do that themselves. They're not going to want to have to pay to do that. So they're going to lobby the government to do it so that they offload that expense. Then they're going to want a gun registry. Because for them to make sure that they are not held liable for a gun that was stolen and used improperly, that they took the proper legal steps after a bunch of lawsuits established what those steps are to keep the gun from getting into the wrong hands. They're going to want to know who owns each gun so that they can avoid liability.


And then you know what they're going to do? They're going to create subsidiary companies for gun insurance because they're going to make a ton of money selling insurance to people to say, you want to own a gun, you got to have insurance, just like if you want to own a car. And now you have a market that doesn't reward pushing as many guns out into the population unchecked as possible, but instead rewards doing it in a way that is much safer.


Right. And again, gun violence in the United States record levels as of 2022 and rising. Nearly 50,000 gun deaths a year. Guns being the leading cause of death for young people. And so what you're talking about here, as a gun guy yourself, so to speak, is a way to. Let's not talk about taking guns away from anybody. Right? You're talking about something different to avoid actually, what is, and I'll use this word meaningfully, although no pun intended, a very triggering feeling of, oh, no, they're coming for what I already have.


Yeah, it's a recognition that you can love guns all you want, but it doesn't make a lot of sense for you to then pledge loyalty, undying loyalty, to Smith and Wesson. Smith and Wesson is just a bunch of suits, man. It's all. It don't. It wouldn't make any sense. Smokers were not like, you know what? I'm just a Brown and Williamson guy. I'm just an R. J. Reynolds guy.


Yeah, I got my Joe camel back tatoo, because I love cigarettes so much.


Exactly. Like you can keep being a hobbyist a shooter, a hunter. You can even be a self defense extremist, sure. But you can do all those things and want the people who make products in America to make them as safely as possible and to actually be held to the same legal standards as everybody else who makes things in America.


Right. And so I want to point out that last year the Sandy Hook families had a pretty notable win when it came to figuring out, again, what are the angles that we can attack placa using. And so they used, I think it was local Connecticut law against marketing guns to children. And that was due to, again, complicated legalese that I won't sort of explain in full here. That was a way to get to placa, like, oh, there was also a conflict with local law. And so that was a win in Connecticut.


It's important to note, though, right, that because it was a state law and therefore a state lawsuit, it also, to some degree, mitigates the amount of damage that can be sustained by the gun maker as a result, as opposed to a lawsuit that can have federal reach. Right. And there are 30 states with their own version of placa. So Giffords, among other things, is working to repeal as many of those state level laws as possible.


Yeah. And the other thing that had just happened late last month in January, which was the mexican government suing gun manufacturers because it turns out that a consequence of having many of a supermajority of crime, guns flooding into the world from these irresponsible gun dealers is that they wind up in Mexico and that they end up fueling the drug trade. And a lot of the, again, it's just, of course, the thing that many people on the other side of this issue are complaining about, know, cartels and violence is happening because of the very thing we are talking about here. How do you put clamps on the irresponsibility of gun dealers? And so the mexican government sued the gun manufacturers in the United States and they just won an appeals court victory that said, actually that can proceed because placa does not apply the same way to the mexican government as it does, of course, in the United States and its citizenry and businesses.


I think it's really important to point out that for all the talk we have in this country about all the things that are coming across the border, fentanyl and everything else, what the mexican government is saying is, hey, man, we have real gun control here. And the people who have guns here, for the most part, absent your laws in the United States, would just be like law enforcement and the military. But now the cartels are getting tons of guns because they're coming across the border the other way because of the loose gun laws in the United States and because the gun makers are selling, knowing that they're selling to sellers who are going to the cartels.


Right. And so how do you, again, create responsibility or a worry you kill placa and some of that stuff might actually follow?


Let's point out that the result of that is likely to be that a lot of gun makers are going to say it's not worth it, and they're going to, hopefully, this is what the mexican government's wanting to do. They're going to stop selling to the gun maker, to the gun sellers who are selling to the cartels. That's why the mexican government is doing it, and that's the point.