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Second Amendment Project Newsletter, Nov. 30, 1999

About once a month, Dave Kopel produces a free e-mail Newsletter containing short summaries and links to important new research and writing involving the Second Amendment and firearms policy. The newsletter also reports on Kopel's latest writing.

The content of this newsletter is produced by the Second Amendment Project at the Independence Institute, a think tank in Golden, Colorado. The newsletter is electronically distributed by the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Washington. Thus, the Second Amendment Foundation will be given your e-mail address.

Archive of past issues.

The Second Amendment Project is based at the Independence

Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado.


Table of Contents for this issue

1. New Research Reports and articles: Vexatious lawsuits, BATF profiling of schoolchildren, Waco.

2. John Lott on Hawaii's gun laws

3. K-Mart Dumps Bigot

4. New Canadian Gun Law Offers Example for U.S.

5. Hanukkah

1. New Research and Articles

a. "Government-Sponsored Gun Lawsuits by the Numbers: Five Things You Probably Didn't Know, but Should." Issue Brief no. 118, by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. This 2-page report shows the hypocrisy and greed of the politicians and their allies who are pushing the vexatious lawsuits against gun companies. The Issue Brief is available for free at http://www.ntu.org/issues/state/ntufib118.htm.

b. "Mosaic 2000: An Education Dragnet." By Virginia L. Thomas. A Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation explains the civil liberties dangers of "Mosaic 2000," a computer system developed by BATF, and being deployed at 25 schools in the first week of December. Supposedly, the computer program can warn which students are potential mass murderers. But as Thomas explains, the Mosaic net is cast far too broadly, and may lead to innocent children being fingered for nothing more than normal teenage behavior. The full text of the op-ed is available at: http://www.heritage.org/views/99/ed111099.html

c. "Waco Returns: But Will John Danforth use all the new evidence?" New article in December issue of The American Spectator, by James Bovard. Full text available at: http://www.spectator.org/1299TAS/pulse1299.htm

2. John Lott

"Tighter Gun Laws Are Not the Solution"

Letter to the Editor, published in the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 22, 1999.

The article "Hawaii's Xerox-Office Shooting Throws into Relief State's Effective Gun Laws" attributes the low murder rate in Hawaii to its restrictive gun laws. That's an unjustified inference, for many states with few gun regulations experience even less crime. In 1997, 18 states had as low or lower murder rates than Hawaii. Out of these, most had relatively lax gun laws, as evidenced by Handgun Control Inc.'s own rating: the gun laws in 14 of the 18 states received "grades" from "C" to "F."

States might well differ in many other  respects, though, so the more important evidence comes from the effects of changes in gun-control laws on crime rates. Such studies show that restrictive laws have either increased crime or have had no effect.

Hawaii's murder rate has traditionally been below the national average, and there is no evidence that tightening its gun-control laws further lowered its low crime rate. Data from across the U.S. indicates that each one percentage point increase in a state's gun-ownership rate has been associated with a

4% drop in violent crime.

The long state waiting periods discussed in the article unfortunately prevent people from quickly obtaining a gun for self protection, and such laws are associated with more crime, particularly against women.

John R. Lott Jr.

Senior Research Scholar, School of Law

Yale University

New Haven, Conn.

[Note: A typographic error by the Wall Street Journal mistakenly substituted "3%" for "4%" above, in the version printed in the Journal.]

3. KMART Dumps Bigot

According to the Nov. 19 issue of the (New York) Daily News, KMART has dropped  Rosie O'Donnell from its advertising because of the negative attention created by O'Donnell's mean-spirited campaign against the Second Amendment.

The First Amendment protects Ms. O'Donnell's right to say that every gun-owner should be sent to jail, as well as her right to be rude to Tom Selleck, and her right to bar basketball star Karl Malone from her show because Malone supports the Second Amendment.

But we would not expect a socially responsible American corporation to retain an advertising spokesperson who urges that every person who goes to church, reads newspapers, owns a gun, or exercises any other constitutional right should be sent to prison. Rose O'Donnell is a mean-spirited bigot, and that fact that she wants to imprison America's 80 million gun owners does not make her any different from other extremists who rail against the American Constitution.

Companies often hear complaints, but rarely get praised when they do the right thing. If you think that KMART did the right thing by cutting off funding for a bigot, then give KMART at pat on the back by filling out a customer comment form at their website http://www.kmart.com/b_cust/index.htm. Or you can call them at 800-63-KMART. KMART needs to now how many people will be able to resume


4. "New Canadian Gun Law Offers Example for U.S."

By Dr. Michael S. Brown

Originally printed in the Seattle Times, and reprinted with the author's permission.

Participants in the gun control debate often compare the United States with other countries.  Some countries, like England and Japan have virtually no legal gun ownership, so comparisons are of limited value. Comparing Canada with the United States is much more useful.  Most Americans know that Canada has a low crime rate and relatively strict gun control laws. What few people realize is that the number of guns per capita is roughly similar.

Nobody really knows how many guns exist in either country, but one estimate for Canada is 21 million guns owned by a population of 30 million people.  In the United States, we have over 200 million guns and a population of 273 million.

In 1994, the Liberal Party pushed through a new gun control measure known as The Firearms Act (C-68) that will force Canadian gun owners to register themselves and their firearms of all types.  At the same time, handguns suitable for self defense, those with a barrel less than 4.1 inches in length and those of .32 caliber or less were banned.  Since handguns have been registered since 1934, it was felt that this ban would have a good chance of being effective.  C-68 is being phased in gradually, with mandatory licensing of gun owners required by January 1, 2001.  All firearms must be individually registered by January 2, 2003.

Unfortunately for the Liberal Party, there have been serious problems with implementation of the new system, which is known as the registry.

The registry is far over budget and way behind in processing the applications. The original budget was $85 million over 5 years, but $300 million has already been spent and annual costs of $60 million have been projected by the Department of Justice.  Detractors of the program expect this to go much higher.  More and more money is being diverted from important law enforcement activities.  Tight budgets combined with the unpopular law are affecting police morale and there is concern that crime might actually increase as a result of C-68.

Compliance with the new law has been poor.  A large portion of gun owners say they have no intention of registering their guns and predictably, criminals are not registering their guns at all. Officials say that black market gun trafficking is thriving.  Since the total number of guns in Canada is unknown, it will be impossible to determine how effective the system is.  Any registration system must be accurate if it is going to be useful to law enforcement officers, but various reports coming from within the Justice Dept.

indicate an error rate between 20 and 100 percent in the current database.

By targeting honest gun owners, the government has alienated millions of citizens who would otherwise be motivated to help the police do their job. Law enforcement at the local level may actually become more difficult. Ironically, polls show that most front line law enforcement officers do not support the gun registry.  This may have been the reason for the creation of special "Firearms Officers" in each province.

The Liberal Party has been further embarrassed by proof that they falsified crime statistics from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in order to promote the passage of C-68.  In a letter to the Minister of Justice, the Commissioner of the RCMP complained that information his agency had supplied to the Ministry regarding crime in 1993 had been misinterpreted to greatly overstate the amount of firearms crime in Canada.  For example, the Ministry of Justice claimed that firearms had been involved in 623 violent crimes, while the true figure was only 73. Furthermore, the RCMP investigated 333 homicides that year and only 6 involved a firearm, another indication that criminal misuse of firearms was not the major problem that the Liberal Party politicians claimed.

Perhaps most damaging to gun control efforts was the admission by the Minister of Justice that he could not identify any crimes that had been solved because of Canada's previous sixty-four years of handgun registration.

Several important political forces are now arrayed against the Liberal Party on this issue. A majority of the Provincial Governments are opposed to the new law and are fighting it in the courts.  The Canadian Police Association has called for a full review of the law and three of Canada's major political parties have announced their opposition.

There are many interesting similarities with gun control efforts in the United States.  Our Justice Department has been caught fudging statistics on the success of the Brady Bill.  Police chiefs promote gun control which rank and file officers do not support and feisty gun owners vow civil disobedience.

American politicians would do well to observe these events North of the border.  Calling for gun control in the name of public safety is an easy way to generate media attention. Administering real gun control is likely to be a political disaster.


The author is an Optometrist and moderator of an internet list for discussion of gun issues in Washington State.  He may be reached at: mb@e-z.net


Canadian Firearms Act:


Five Reasons Why Police Oppose Gun Registration, Garry Breitkreuz, MP


Backfiring Registry, National Post


Commissioner Murray's Letter to Justice Dept.


Responsible Firearms Owners Coalition of British Columbia


National Firearms Association, of Canada



5. The Festival of Lights

Starting on Friday night at sundown, Jewish families all over America will be lighting candles to celebrate Hanukkah.  In the United States, Hanukkah is an ordinary part of the holiday season, but that's not true in many other places.

In countries like China, Syria, or Iraq, lighting a Menorah is tantamount to treason.  By refusing to bow down to the state religion of Islam or Communism, a Jew in Syria or China puts her life at risk.

In historical terms, that's what Hanukkah's all about.  Hanukkah was first celebrated in 165 BC, in honor of Israel's victory in a war of national liberation against the Syrian Empire.  Judah Maccabee and his volunteer militia led the first revolution in human history fought for religious liberty.

Within a century after the Maccabean victory, Israel was again colonized and oppressed.  Nevertheless, the Hanukkah tradition helped the Jewish people remember that no matter how bleak the situation appeared, faith and freedom would eventually triumph.

It is no wonder that dictators like Hafez Assad of Syria are so threatened by the Hanukkah message. 

The Hanukkah tradition begins with particular military victory of a rag-tag militia in an obscure part of the world, but its message encompasses universal hopes: life is stronger than death, freedom is stronger than slavery, courage and faith are stronger than fear.  Happy Hanukkah!

As always, the Independence Institute website contains

extensive information on:

Criminal Justice and the Second Amendment:


The Columbine High School murders:

http://i2i.org/suptdocs/crime/columbine.htm and

The Waco murders: http://i2i.org/Waco.htm

That's all folks!


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Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action. Please send comments to Independence Institute, 727 East 16th Ave., Denver, Colorado 80203 Phone 303-279-6536. (email)webmngr @ i2i.org

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