Second Amendment Project Newsletter, April 26, 2000

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. Grover Norquist to speak at Independence Institute.

2. Kopel/Gorman op-ed in NY Post on school safety.

3. Two Kopel columns and one Gorman column on the Elian Gonzalez kidnapping.

4. "Leftist Actions Speak Louder than Words." By Linda Gorman.

5. Worth reading on the web.

6. New poll on Waco.

7. Issue Backgrounder on contingent fee government lawsuits. By Dave


1. Grover Norquist event

Grover Norquist, will be speaking at the Independence Institute on Sunday April 30 at 3:00 pm. Grover is the head of the Washington DC-based Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)  and the unofficial leader of the "Leave Us Alone" coalition.  Spend a lazy Sunday after noon with us and learn why we are winning.  RSVP at 303-279-6536

Free for Independence members, $5 for non-members.

2. April 20, 2000, New York Post

School Safety. By Linda Gorman and Dave Kopel

Psychologists have found that people consider an event more likely when instances of it are easy to imagine or recall. Given the saturation coverage of school violence since the Columbine shootings, it comes as no surprise that the number of people who fear for their children's safety at school has risen dramatically. According to a Washington Post poll conducted last November, 60% of surveyed adults felt that "children in America are no longer safe at their own schools." The good news, though, is that schools are actually safer than they used to be.

According to the National School Safety Center, there were 26 violent deaths at school during the 1998-99 school year, including the 13 at Columbine. That's half as many as in 1992-93, when 55 people were killed on school property. With roughly 52 million people enrolled in U.S. public schools, the chances of dying a violent death at a government school are about one in two million.

And at non-government schools—where discipline is stronger, and students more motivated to be there—fatalities are very, very, very rare.

How about non-fatal crimes? A joint report from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice found that there were 102 crimes against students per 1,000 students in 1997. This was down from 144 such crimes in 1992. These figures include non-violent crimes, such as a student's calculator being stolen surreptitiously.

The report shows that the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon on school property fell from about 12% in 1993 to 8.5% in 1997. Weapons threats, physical fights, and instances of bullying have remained constant since 1992.

One reason that your child is safer in school today than in 1992 is that school administrators have been more conscientious about cracking down on violent crime and violent threats at school.

Unfortunately, too many school administrators seem unable to tell the difference between normal behavior and crime. For example, using "zero tolerance" as an excuse to display zero intelligence, school officials have arrested teenagers on a bus for felony "assault" because the peanuts they were throwing at one another happened to hit a bus driver, have suspended kindergartners for using finger guns on the playground, and expelled an honor student for having a pocket knife in a first-aid kit locked in a car.

Another sign of the decline in common sense regarding school safety is the widespread use of a new psychological computer profiling program, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The program will intensify the persecution of students who don't into some BATF bureaucrat's definition of "average" behavior.

In the Columbine case, long before the murder spree began, the killers had committed a felony by breaking into a car to steal property, and had made detailed death threats both in person and on the Internet. If sheriffs and schools are too obtuse to address such obvious dangers, then all the computer programs in the world won't help.

What's the best way to address the rare, but horrifying crimes of attempted mass murder at public schools? Many lives were saved in Pearl, Mississippi and Edinboro, Pennsylvania, when adults used their lawfully-owned firearms to stop school murder sprees in progress. Making it illegal for law-abiding, trained, caring teachers to possess firearms at school is simply an invitation for punks like the Columbine duo to attack people with impunity. Gun ban advocates should put aside their ideology, and allow responsible teachers—with proper training and strict safety regulations—to possess firearms to protect themselves and their students.

3. Elian Gonzalez columns.

Q: What's the Elian case doing in a Second Amendment Project newsletter?

A: Castro's tyranny needs gun control to survive. And the Castro-style kidnapping of Elian on Easter weekend by the jackbooted bunny is a horrific example of firearms abuse.

"Is Miami another Waco?" National Review Online. Apr. 26, 2000.

By Dave Kopel.


"Mr. President, You're No JFK". The Elian Gonzalez kidnapping.

By Dave Kopel. National Review Online, Apr. 24, 2000.


"Elian's Return Another Leftist Atrocity." By Linda Gorman.

Colorado Daily, Apr. 11, 2000


Colorado Daily, Mar. 28, 2000.

The peculiar mix of doublespeak and intransigent intolerance that characterizes the Left was on full display in three separate incidents last week. 

Before Charlton Heston's March 21 speech at CU-Boulder, the Colorado Daily reported that 2nd Amendment defenders protested loudly but peacefully outside Macky auditorium  until "a large contingent of gun-control advocates arrived."[i]  Tensions rose.  Mr. Robert Howell "threw a punch at another man," scuffled briefly, and was wrestled to the ground by police officers.  The Denver Rocky Mountain News reported that Mr. Howell is vice-president of the Boulder chapter of the Bell Campaign.[ii]  Charitably speaking, the Bell Campaign consists of utopian dreamers who would consider even complete gun prohibition a "reasonable" restriction, and who believe that when guns are outlawed not even criminals will have guns.  Its accuracy can be gauged from its web page where, as of this writing, it calls Boulder "a suburb of Denver."[iii]

In an Orwellian twist worthy of President Clinton, Boulder chapter's president, Sam Cole, told The Denver Rocky Mountain News that the group was going to adopt new guidelines for protests because "Our protesters and members are a very peaceful group of individuals that believe in nonviolence, and we have a zero tolerance for violence at demonstrations."  Given that new guidelines are evidently needed to rule out assault and battery, one wonders what the old ones were. 

Evidence that the Left believes in freedom of speech only if it does not involve dissent from politically correct orthodoxy was provided by the ruckus created over UCSU Legislative Council representative Regan Alpert's FlatIrons Review editorial.  Ms. Alpert pointed out that the practice of pigeonholing Americans into bureaucratically convenient identity groups undermines American identity and threatens to divide the country.

Readers should be aware that this practice also menaces the public's health.  Reports indicate that Americans across the country are being made sick to their stomachs by Census advertisements ceaselessly exhorting various pigeonholed groups of government dependents to stand up and be counted.  Otherwise, they are warned, other porkers may crowd them out of their rightful place at the government trough.

As penance for her sin of pointing out the obvious, Ms. Alpert was subjected to a variety of illogical rantings by a crew of politically correct demonstrators.  "There are things you cannot say," one reportedly said, "and if you're going to say them, you have to take responsibility for them.  Our culture is not a grouping.  Ideas have consequences.  You said something that threatens our existence.  You said something that threatens who it is we are."[iv] 

If this demonstrator's "our culture" teaches him that his very existence is "threatened" when Ms. Alpert calls him an American, it must be even less robust than his logic and he is quite right to worry that it is endangered.  In an effort to build characters capable of withstanding mild adversity, American parents used to tell their children that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me."  This man appears to have skipped that lesson.  Like the average two-year-old aspiring to be a professional inhabitant of the state of high dudgeon, he responds to anything that a challenges his right to rule the universe by donning the mantle of victimhood and throwing a fit.

Evidence of the Left's tendency to destroy those who stand in its way was provided by Democratic Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York.  Mr. Spitzer does not like the fact that guns are still legal and people still buy them.  He and a coalition of politicians unable to convince legislatures to pass the laws they want are scheming to get their way by improperly using the powers of their offices to force gun manufacturers to 'voluntarily' comply with a trumped up regulatory scheme designed to put them out of business.  Mr. Spitzer says he plans to "squeeze manufacturers like a pincers and hurt them in the marketplace."  His ally, Mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta, promises that gun manufacturers will comply or "they will cease operations."[v] 

Gun manufacturers sell a safe, effective, well-engineered product that saves millions of lives each year.  Hypocrites all, people like Mr. Spitzer ooze concern for the weak and defenseless while plotting to deprive them of the most effective means of self-protection ever invented.  Democrats who are autocrats in disguise, they will deprive you of your paycheck without a qualm if you happen to get paid for making a legal product not to their liking.

They got away with these tactics once when they targeted tobacco companies.  Now they are after gun manufacturers.  Soon they may be after you.  Let them get away with this and anything, including your SUV, your beer, or your favorite form of entertainment, will be at risk.  They say that they care, but their actions speak louder than their words. 


[i]Terje Langeland. 22 March 2000. "Holy Moses! A brawl!," Colorado

Daily web site as of 22 March 2000. .

[ii]Carla Crowder. 23 March 2000. "Two sides of gun debate clash," The

Denver Rocky Mountain News, online edition.  as of 23 March 2000.

[iii]The Bell Campaign as of 23 March 2000. Chapter Information,

Chapters Developing: Focus on Colorado, p. 1.

[iv] Julie Gordon. 20 March 2000. "UCSU rep in firestorm," Colorado

Daily, as posted at  on

20 March 2000.

[v] Lawrence L. Knutson. 22 March 2000. "Cops To Favor Cooperative Gun

Companies," Washington Post, Online edition as of 23 March 2000.


Linda Gorman is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado.  Citations for the sources used in this article are available at the Institute's web site,

5. Worth reading on the Web:

a. "Let's Send Clinton on a Cruise: Americans Deserve a Vacation."

Great column by Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel.

b. "JAMming a Prescription for Gun Grabs."

Steven Miloy of the Cato Institute looks at another Arthur Kellermann study: a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association which uses data from Columbia to argue against licensed carrying of handguns for protection in the U.S.

c. New General Accounting Office report on the National Instant Check System (NICS).

You need Adobe Acrobat Reader for this file. If you don't have it, it's free at

Note: Please do not refer to the NICS check as the "Brady Check." Mrs. Brady and her lobby fought very hard against the McCollum Amendment in 1988, which began the research for establishing NICS.

d. "Paranoid about Gun Ownership?" Geoff Metcalf for WorldNet Daily. "Gun control" as slow-motion gun Prohibition, and the link between gun prohibition and genocide.


6. New Poll.

Harris. Released April 19(!), conducted April 7-10.

"Do you think there has been an official cover-up by the government or the FBI to keep the public from learning the truth about the events in Waco?"

Yes, cover-up: 51%. No: 33%. Don't know/refuse to answer: 16%.

7. Issue Backgrounder on Contingent Fees for government lawsuits.

Dave Kopel argues that government attorneys should not be hired on a contingent fee basis, since government workers are not supposed to use the force of government to enrich themselves personally. The issue arises in the frivolous anti-gun lawsuits, but has much broader application.

That's all folks!

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