Not All Firearms Owners Fit The Stereotype...

Yes, my first interview!

As I’ve said in the past, the Second Amendment is for everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or political inclination. By the books, it’s not “politicized”. However, unfortunately it has become a political lightning rod, and both major parties in the US use it as a wedge issue. But, within each group, there exists people who break the mold, including people like Jae Seifert, owner of WZ Outfitters, a firearms shop in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. At first observation, Jae looks to be one of millions of firearms enthusiasts in this country. However, in his political stances, he is definitely not your stereotypical firearms owner…

An ardent Bernie Sanders supporter the last election cycle, he reluctantly voted for Hillary Clinton this past November. Pro-immigration, pro-marijuana legalization, he doesn’t fit into the conveniently-assigned buckets society tends to put people in. For my first interview ever, I’m pleased to have (virtually) sat down with him to hear his thoughts on politics, society, and firearms in general. And without further ado…

Q: Regardless of political stance, everyone who is into firearms got their start somewhere, whether it was from an older relative, just picking up a gun one day, or the rare “come to Jesus” traumatic event - how did you get into this?

A: I grew up hunting with a BB gun I got for Christmas when I was 8 until I was old enough to take my hunter’s safety class in Iowa and carry a live firearm and from there started using a 20 gauge Browning Auto 5. Growing up in Iowa we only ever had shotguns around the house for hunting ducks and pheasants. My father, a former EMT, felt that handguns were only good for killing and not hunting so I never saw one in real life until much later. I did get into Trap shooting in High School to spend more time around firearms. I had a buddy in college who was really into guns and a collector and he really got me into shooting handguns and rifles, and eventually I got my first handgun from him an East German Makarov.

From there it kind of snowballed after I graduated college and I got my first AR-15 as a gift for myself for graduating college and at the time I was worried they were going to be banned (this was following the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy).

When I moved out to Colorado I met a lot of people who were into shooting and I picked up my first Glock and started shooting USPSA and Steel Challenge and my hobby/job/passion for firearms and shooting has just continued to grow.

Q: You are a licensed dealer of firearms who is a registered Democrat - do people care? Has there been drama?

A: As with most things the internet had more opinions about it than anyone else, someone on The Truth About Guns likened me to being a Jewish Nazi with Stockholm syndrome. The reality is all my local customers don’t care, and I’ve gotten quite a few sales from the internet from people who have seen my interview or have interacted with me on the sites I frequent.

I was a registered Democrat during the election but un-registered after seeing what Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and HRC did to collude against Bernie and I also disagree with a lot of the democratic platform - namely on gun control but also a few other issues. So right now I’m actually politically unaffiliated. Just like real life people like to imagine things as black and white when the reality is a million shades of gray.

Q: Yeah, TTAG tends to take an all-or-nothing approach politically. Even as a Libertarian 2A absolutist, I get crapped on. Anyway, some of my Democratic friends had a theory about Clinton, and to a lesser extent, Sanders, when it comes to the Second Amendment. The calls for universal background checks, registration, and an assault weapons ban were talking points in both their campaigns. My Dem friends argue that both candidates were pandering to the base and to the powerful Democratic donors, and that if elected, neither candidate would have really made gun control a priority. What are your thoughts?

A:I would actually agree with that and actually extend that to the GOP - with a few exceptions they’ve also been unwilling to try to expand actual 2A rights like the HPA, repeal of the NFA or reform of the ATF. Just like we saw with Obama who did spend a lot of time talking about gun control but didn’t manage to accomplish much on that front, Bernie and Clinton would have behaved similarly. While gun control gets a lot of national headlines the actual legislation used to enforce it usually comes from the state and local levels - the feds have much larger issues to concern themselves with vs. state legislatures.

Additionally I think the gun control issue is used to galvanize a base and raise money on both sides, the right uses it to bring single issue voters to the polls and the left uses it to build their base (their message being guns = republicans and their regressive agenda according to the dems).

Unfortunately gun control isn’t a one size fits all issue given our country’s geographic size and it’s diversity - we’re both larger and more diverse racially, economically, and politically than anywhere else gun control is touted as being “successful.” And the overriding concern should be how can we minimize the negative uses of our rights (mass shootings, murder, etc.) and maximize their utility for those who abide by the law. I have yet to see a gun control solution proposed that doesn’t significantly infringe on people’s ability to lawfully arm themselves.

Q: Along the same lines, do you think the risk to your business would have been worth it? Had either been elected, there would have been a small chance that legislation directly affecting your bottom line would have been effected. For example, if an AWB would have been put in place, you would have experienced a massive surge in sales, and then a drop-off as the legislation kicked in and the industry adjusted with new “compliant” offerings.

A: I don’t think an AWB would have been passed because we would have still ended up with a republican house and senate, I think in the last 8 years it’s been shown that unless you can get the GOP on board as a whole with something almost nothing will get done with guns legislatively - people still vote pro gun in most elections and neither party is willing to spend the political capital to change things one way or the other.

As far as compliant items go I would hope they don’t come into law, while I would stand to make more money as a dealer (just seeing the last 8 years of AR 15 price fluctuations is proof enough) I wouldn’t support them in any fashion, they don’t make people safer, they make it harder to defend oneself and make it a pain for law abiding citizens to enjoy their hobby and have the best defense possible from harm.

Q: Speaking of bans, what say you? You live in Colorado, which has a ban on sales of magazines over 15 rounds. Do you think there’s a point, or is it just all theatre? Is it even enforced?

A: It’s political theatre. Unfortunately Colorado has been growing it’s population massively on the front range (Denver/Boulder Metro area) and with that has come a decidedly more liberal populace who also have opinions on guns. We tried to repeal the magazine ban last spring and failed, so I believe it’s here to stay. It’s not enforced very hard but they do cite people who violate the law.

Q: The National Firearms Act is a hot topic these days - especially with the Hearing Protection Act to partially deregulate suppressors/silencers worming it’s way through Congress. What are your opinions on it? Do you sell NFA items?

A: I do sell NFA items, mainly silencers, and I’m fully in support of the HPA. That being said there’s been a huge slowdown in NFA sales because everyone thinks the HPA is a done deal - it’s in fact far from it, the American Suppressor Association (ASA) needs support to keep it working through committee so it can even have a chance of making it to a vote. It’s my hope silencers get cheaper and more widely available as well as used more often if the HPA passes, the better neighbors we can be at shooting ranges etc. the more friends we’ll make for the sport.

Q: Tell me about it. I bought a can in 2014 and it took 120 days to clear. It’s up to 9 months now but slowly creeping the other way since there’s a huge slowdown for suppressor sales. Anyways, do you feel the Second Amendment has to be tied into a conservative viewpoint? Or can it exist on it’s own?

A: I think the 2nd Amendment is a universal right enumerated in our constitution. You don’t have to be a liberal or conservative to support it - the GOP thinks they’re the only sellers of freedom and I vehemently disagree and the Democrats as a party have been totally against the 2nd Amendment for a long time now. If you support an individuals ownership of themselves and their views (religious or political) against governments or any other party and their ability to be free you should support the 2nd Amendment. To anyone reading this saying I cannot vote democrat and support the 2nd Amendment, I certainly can and do - I’m not a single issue voter and no one should be, and additionally you cannot change most organizations from the outside especially ones like the Democratic Party.

(now, we talk guns!)

Q: What do you prefer for a handgun? You a GLOCK guy? S&W fanboy? Wheelgun addict?

A: I’m a Glock guy namely because that’s what I could afford when I got into handguns, although I’m a huge fan of what Sig Sauer has been doing lately with the 320 series especially the X Carry and X5, along with the 320RX (comes with a Sig Micro Red Dot that’s bore sighted from the factory). I’m also a big fan of CZ, they’re really kick ass guns for the money and are super fun to shoot. One of the best things about being a gun guy these days is that there are so many awesome guns, most manufacturers are getting really responsive to the market in terms of features and prices.

Q: Every day I see a gun I want to buy. Yesterday it was a GLOCK 19 Gen4. Today it’s a SIG P229R, tomorrow who knows? Anyway - caliber wars. 9mm? .40 S&W? .45?

A: Like Larry Vickers I’m a 9mm guy, capacity and low recoil beats grain weight, especially with modern 9mm defensive loadings. A 9mm typically carries more ammo in a smaller frame (better for anyone with smaller hands) and is cheaper to shoot - practice again being more important than how big your bullet is. If you can afford to practice with .357 sig or .45 as often as I do with a 9, and I try to shoot minimum 100 rounds per month by all means carry it. Personally I also like that I can get 9mm at any gun store, sporting goods store, Walmart or wherever.

Q: I have all the majors in my inventory, but I always go back to my 9mm pistols, so I agree! Long guns. I see you’ve purchased an AR for yourself. What is it? Did you get bit by the bug and buy/build more? Any other long guns?

A: I’ve got an AR and an AK as well as a 10/22 and a Savage in .270. I haven’t built more yet although I am planning on building a 9mm PCC for USPSA. I do love my AR which started as a DPMS and is now anchor heavy and incredibly loud, owing to my inexperience in picking parts and picking a task for what my rifle would be built for. Now that I’m a little older and hopefully a little less stupid I’m going to lighten it up with a new barrel/hand guard combo (I really like Midwest Industries Slim offerings or I might go Carbon Fiber) and I definitely want to suppress it.

Similarly I love AK which is a Yugo that now has all Magpul Furniture and will be getting a Dead Air PBS1 AK specific Silencer and I’m debating whether I want to spend the money on the ALG Triggers for it, AK’s are super fun to shoot and still offer a great value for the money in my opinion even if they’re not great for gaming or hunting/tactical use like an AR is.

Q: Do you offer any courses via your business? Concealed carry courses, “Rifle 101”, etc?

A: Not yet solely because I’m not a certified trainer, but I definitely want to integrate that into my business, training is the 3rd most important thing for a firearm owner after 1. the gun itself with with a holster and 2. ammo, a gun isn’t a talisman to ward off evil and buying a tool doesn’t guarantee proficiency - if you plan on using a gun to defend yourself or your loved ones you need to train with it and train frequently.

Q: Do you suppress? If so, what can/cans do you have?

A: I do and I absolutely love it. I’ve got an Ayklys Defense Pilum 9 and a Kopis .22 and am waiting on a Form 3 to clear to get a Silencerco Hybrid and a Gemtech Mist 10/22 barrel.

Q: Full-auto - fun, or just turning money into noise?

A: It’s fun if you can afford it, I’ve shot a few full autos and the giggle switch does live up to it’s name but the fun dampens pretty quickly after your mag is empty in a few seconds yet again.

Q: Last one - favorite ‘gun guy’ or ‘gun girl’ personality out there on the intertubes?

A: I’m a huge fan of EDC GunsandGear, he started making videos a little more than a year ago but has awesome content for the tactical/competition shooter and his gear reviews are great - succinct and without a lot of conjecture about what an accessory or part will do for your shooting. He’s also Colorado based which I think is awesome. A close second is Carnik Con, although he’s no longer actively making videos.

Thanks again for reaching out and if you’re ever in my neck of the woods please stop by my shop or let’s go to the range!

You got it, Jae. I have friends in Basalt so consider it done next time I’m out that way!

Thanks again for your time.

Jae’s words, again, proved a primary point I like to make, in that the Second Amendment is for everyone. The universal right to keep and bear arms isn’t, and shouldn’t be married to a specific political ideology. The old trope about gay married couples guarding their marijuana plantations with automatic weapons comes to mind. There’s no asterisks or footnotes in 2A.

For anyone who is interested, Jae’s main web presence is on his Facebook page at fb.com/wzoutfitters. - he’s in the process of building an e-commerce portal on his primary domain, which will be along shortly.