Mar. 17, 2000, Second Amendment newsletter

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.

Second Amendment Project Newsletter. Mar. 17, 2000.

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. Gore Campaign Attacks Kopel.

2. The real issue with Clinton. By Mark Chally.

3. "The Second Victimization Of Kayla Rolland."

By Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne Eisen

4. Speech by Lorne Gunter on firearms rights in Canada.


1. "Colorado's Most Libertarian Dem Cited in Gore Ad."

By Peter Blake. Rocky Mountain News, Mar. 5, 2000, page 3B.

The Coloradan who should be least likely to show up in a television for AL Gore has done so nevertheless.

He's David Kopel, authority on (and supporter of) the Second Amendment, an Independence Institute staffer and the most entertaining panel member on KBDI-Channel 12's 8 p.m. Friday show, Colorado Inside Out.

It's not Kopel's face but his name that appears is the ad, as the byline over an article headlined "Gun Shows Under Attack!" The piece appeared in the January 1999 issue of American Guardian, a National Rifle Association publication. [available at: ] You'd better look sharp; Kopel's name is on screen for about one second.

Gore's ad, which features gun-control advocate James Brady, probably won't be aired in Colorado. Gore is so far ahead nationwide he won't be throwing his money away here. But anyone with access to the Internet can find it linked to

Politically, Kopel is clearly a lowercase libertarian, but when it comes to registrations, he says, "I'm a Demmycrat, just like my pappy." That's former Legislator Jerry Kopel.

Those who think of Kopel the Younger as conservative, and therefore a Republican, don't understand where he's coming from. "A party that keeps on nominating Bob Dole and Richard Nixon is not all that attractive," he says.

Who's he voting for in Colorado's March 10 presidential primary? Certainly not the man who's publicizing him.

The difference between Gore and rival Bill Bradley is minimal, Kopel admits, but the character of the President does matter and "Bradley is a much more authentic person." Gore, he says, "is only doing what the latest focus group tells him to do."

"Gore was pro-gun and anti-abortion most of his congressional career, but he suddenly switches in the late 1980s and now you'd think gun control and choice are his dearest causes," Kopel says.  "I can understand a person sincerely believing either way but I have a lot of trouble with a sudden conversion as he changes for being a Tennessee congressmen to wanting to run in a national Democratic primary.  It so obviously insincere."

"All Bradley ever claimed to be a star basketball player.  He's never claimed to have discovered Love Canal, invented the Internet or been the subject of Love Story.

"Gore is essentially like Clinton except stupider and sexually temperate," Kopel concludes.

Kopel's words have been used by Democratic office seekers before. Denver lawyer Dick Freese, who challenged Attorney General Gale Norton in 1994, ran a series of highly negative ads, one of which quoted Kopel.

Norton ended up getting 62 percent of the vote.

"My hope is Al Gore's quoting me will bring him is much successes as it brought Dick Freese," says Kopel.


2. "The Real Issue." By Mark Chally

"If we can do more things to keep guns away from criminals and children, that don't have anything to do with the legitimate right of people to go hunting or engage in sport shooting, we ought to do it," Clinton said.

This is where the *real* controversy is.  The President, and most of the "Gun Control" crowd believes the only legitimate uses for guns are hunting and sport shooting.

They neglect the constitutionally guaranteed, natural right of self-defense and community action (militia).  It is on this distinction where the battle over gun control will be won or lost.  If we allow them to sell this idea without drawing this distinction we will be send sliding down the "slippery slope" of restrictions on all of our liberties as has already happened in many other cities, states, and nations.


3. "The Second Victimization Of Kayla Rolland"

by Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne Eisen

On February 29, a 6-year-old boy brought a handgun to Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris Township, Michigan, and shot 6-year-old classmate Kayla Rolland to death.  The incident triggered a new feeding frenzy among America's firearm-prohibitionists and most of the propaganda  media.

Unlike the weather, the response is always utterly predictable.  With each new tragedy, the faces of grief-stricken parents are paraded across every newspaper and television screen.  Michigan is no exception.

Never, ever, are we shown the faces of children saved from certain death by the presence of a firearm.  Yet, according to Yale researcher Dr. John Lott, guns are used to prevent crime 5 times as often as they are used to commit crime.

It has become an undeniable fact that the main ingredient in the recipe for firearm-prohibition is the obscene exploitation of human tragedy.  And that recipe is an international favorite.

Consider this. On April 28, 1996, a lone gunman, Martin Bryant, entered the Broad Arrow Cafe in Port Arthur, Tasmania, and killed 20 patrons. By the time Bryant was finally apprehended, 35 people were dead, and 18 injured. What followed was the forfeiture, by government confiscation, of 1/8 of Australia's privately-owned firearms in what has been euphemistically termed a nationwide "gun buy-back program".

Port Arthur and its aftermath are chronicled in a 1998 book by Simon Chapman entitled "Over Our Dead Bodies".  Chapman is an Associate Professor of Public Health in Sydney, and an avowed advocate of civilian disarmament. Citing firearm legislation drafted early in 1996, he noted that "there was no chance" the bill would have been passed under the then-prevailing circumstances. "Nonetheless", he added,

"it would represent a model Bill lying ready for action in the right political climate...".

The "right political climate" was conveniently created in Australia, just months later, by Martin Bryant.

Unlike his American counterparts, Chapman is candid about the tactics employed by the anti-self-defense lobby.  As he correctly observed, "major advances in gun control depend largely on relatively uncommon but more dramatic killings, particularly when these occur in public places...These infrequent events can therefore be considered critically important to possible advances in gun control policies."

The unthinkable killing of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland by another 6-year-old, on the heels of the Littleton massacre, created for Bill Clinton and his fellow firearm-prohibitionists just the "right political climate" in which to fan the flames of frustration and outrage, and capitalize on the misfortune of others.

The opportunity was not squandered.  On March 7, Clinton asked the nation, "How many people have to get killed before we do something?...When first-graders shoot first-graders, it's time for Congress to do what's right for America's families".  He called on Congress to pass a gun bill by April 20, the first anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.

Among the items on Clinton's wish list are mandatory "child-safety locks" on all guns, background checks on gun show sales, and national licensing of all gun-owners.

But just which law is it that we can count on America's criminals and juvenile gang-bangers to abide by?  Exactly which law can we count on abusive and irresponsible parents to obey?  And which have

they paid attention to, so far?

To even suggest that a drug-addicted criminal with outstanding arrest warrants, living in a crack-infested flop-house, would be responsible enough to store a stolen handgun safely out of reach of any children present - let alone place a trigger-lock on it! - represents the height of intellectual dishonesty.  Yet, said Clinton, with a straight face:  "I'm not at all sure that even a callous, irresponsible drug dealer with a 6-year-old in the house wouldn't leave a child trigger lock on a gun."

No gun law could have prevented the Michigan tragedy, nor any other recent high-profile shooting.  And while Simon Chapman readily acknowledges that "no blueprint of gun control promises to eliminate gun violence", that's exactly the promise made to us by the anti-self-defense lobby, here in the U.S.

The wholesale, blatant exploitation of Kayla Rolland after her death for the personal political gain of some, and the advancement of a political agenda, is abhorrent and inexcusable. All the more so when all scientific evidence confirms that the laws we are asked to endorse have never worked as advertised.

That so many, including our nation's President, are willing to sacrifice the welfare of their fellow citizens, and substitute fear-mongering and hysteria for reasoned, honest discourse, is p0roof that conscience and integrity are rare commodities in America, today.

To those who naively embrace firearm-prohibition out of a genuine belief that this is the road to a safer world, answer this question: Are you willing to bet the lives of your children on a philosophy which requires tragedy, deceit, and the death of innocent persons for its successful implementation?


Dr. Paul Gallant practices Optometry in Wesley Hills, New York. Dr. Joanne Eisen practices dentistry in Old Bethpage, New York. Both are research associates with the Independence

Institute, a civil liberties think tank in Golden Colorado,






[Notes from Lorne Gunter:

It is in many respects two speeches. The first half is an update on the state of Ottawa's universal gun registry. The second half, though, is an explanation of my interest, as a non-gun owner, in the right to keep and bear arms. It is pretty strong stuff. Some might think it a bit wild for a Canadian speaker. I prefer to think of it as passionate. Either way, I suspect it will not bore.

A line of asterisks separates the two halves.

Any one who wishes to post or repost either half, but not both, is welcome to do so, with the proper attribution, of course.]

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. When I was asked to speak here this evening, it was suggested I might offer my assessment of Ottawa's gun registry.

Okay, I don't like it.

If you want a more technical assessment: The registry is a mess, and it's getting worse, not better.

But that is hardly enough to earn my supper.

The trouble is, I probably can't tell you much you don't already know. You are the people who to deal every day with the interminable waits for licenses, registration certificates and authorizations to transport. You are the ones who have to put up with conflicting interpretations and information from bureaucrats in the same office. And with verifiers who don't know a thing about firearms. And with ID cards with someone else's photo where yours should be. I just have to write about it for my newspaper.

But let's talk about the registry for a couple of minutes. It is a mess -- an enormous one. There are reports, which I cannot confirm, but which I have no trouble believing, that the Canadian Firearms

Centre in no longer registering existing firearms. It is accepting the forms, but backlogging them. All it is said to be doing at the moment is licensing owners and recording current sales. Some owners have

told me they have waited nearly a year for  registrations for firearms they had in their possession before the CFC opened its doors, and still have no word yet.

Right around 200,000 owners have been registered to date. The lowest of the government's low-ball estimates of the number of gun owners in Canada is 2.2 million. The 200,000 they have registered so far represent just nine per cent of this ridiculously low figure, and it has taken the CFC 14 months to deal with them. In the 11 months remaining before all firearms owners are required to be licensed it is inconceivable the registry can license them all. Inconceivable.

The costs of the registry are wildly out of control. The Liberals will admit to well over $300 million in spending so far, so you can bet the real price tag is well above that. Yet they still insist the start up costs will be just $120 million.

This may actually be technically correct, but only through some clever accounting, such as the accounting of some fly-by-night holiday tour operator who lures you in with promises of deeply discounted fares only to reveal later that the too-good-to-be-true price does not include food, drinks, loading your luggage on the plane, a seat to sit in during flight or a bed in your hotel room. You find out about these charges only after you've reached  the resort.

Perhaps Ottawa HAS kept the start-up costs to $120 million. But if it has, it is only through declaring stacks of related expenses to be unconnected.

Why just this week, Saskatchewan Reform MP Garry Breitkreuz (and is it worth saying at this moment that if it were not for the brilliant and determined work of Breitkreuz and his assistant, Dennis Young, we would know only a fraction of what we do know about the registry): Just this week Breitkreuz revealed that 57 per cent of the original $85 million the government estimated the registry would cost went to one computer consulting firm, EDS Canada.

A little more than two years ago, EDS was given two contracts worth a total of about $15 million to help set up the registry's computers. Since that time the pair of contracts have been revised nearly a dozen times as the  government either expanded the tasks it wanted EDS to perform or realized it had grossly underestimated the work involved. To date, these two contracts  alone have cost Ottawa not $15 million, but $49 million.

This total appears to be just to write software and design computer networks. It probably doesn't include the cost of buying computers for the registry. And it certainly doesn't include staff, buildings, printing,

travel, telephones, ad campaigns, payments to provinces and the RCMP, an army of verifiers and so on.

It was never possible that the registry would cost just $85 million (and remember, the government said that would be spread over five years). It is not possible the start up costs are a mere $120 million. Still the Liberals cling to that number, and they hide behind "cabinet secrecy" to preserve their charade, because they know a full accounting would anger the public the way their NHL subsidies and make-work schemes have lately.

Breitkreuz again, also discovered that the government had a full accounting of the costs available in February 1998 during the period between the time the Alberta government's case against the registry was argued before the Alberta Court of Appeal and the time the judges rendered their decision. The Liberals had it, but chose to conceal it for fear it would affect the judges' decision against the registry.

The Liberals were so afraid of the truth about the cost getting out, so afraid because they knew what that truth would do, that they hid the truth from judges.

What else can I tell you about the registry?

It will never achieve its twin goals of licensing all owners and registering all guns, and even if it did, it would have no effect on crime or domestic violence or public safety.

I can also tell you the registry has created a gun lobby where none existed before. (I get a chuckle out of the charges by the anti-gunners that a vast, powerful gun lobby is threatening to undo all the good work they have done in the past half dozen years. Well, if there is such a lobby, the anti-gunners created it with their hysterical efforts to rid the civilian population of guns. Yet if this lobby is so all-fired

powerful, name the one victory it has  won from either of the past two federal governments.)

The registry has also created a dangerous US vs. THEM environment -- between the governed and the governors, between law-abiding citizens and the police -- where none existed before either. How many of you know look with suspicion at the Mounties when they drive by your home where once you took great comfort from seeing them there? In Canada, we used to enjoy what is called "consent policing." The police used to be part of us and considered law-abiding firearms owners as extensions of their efforts. Now there is a growing suspicion on both sides, and I DON'T LIKE IT.

The government and the anti-gun lobby did that, and it is a malignancy Loose in our democracy.

But despite all of this, the Supreme Court will uphold C-68, the Firearms Act, as constitutional and legal. And the Liberals will never abandon it.

What I expect the Liberals to begin doing soon is revising downward all their estimates about guns and gun owners so they can claim their registry is a success rather than an utter failure.

Through a bit of puffery, they claim to have a few more than half a million owners in their system. Soon they'll begin to say, "We guess even our lowest  estimates about the number of owners were way too high. Gun owning really is a pastime enjoyed by very few Canadians. There aren't 3 million owners, or even 2 million; the true total is probably under 1 million. So look at what a raging success our registry has been in registry well over half."

And they'll soon start saying much the same about the number of guns, "Why it's not 7 million. It's likely not much more than 2 million, and we know where about 85 per cent of them are. Aren't we the clever ones."

Nothing short of a change of government will reverse the Firearms Act and end this duplicity.

However, you already knew all of this, so what am I doing here tonight?


I have never owned a gun.

I have never hunted.

I have never even fired a gun.

I barely know the business end from the thingee at the other end.

So what am I doing here speaking to you, a group of sportsmen?

In short, I have come to encourage you to keep your guns; to plead with you to bear whatever burden the government imposes on you in order to do so and to pass on your interest in the shooting sports on to your children and grandchildren. If you don't, THEY (the government and the anti-gunners) will win.

But why should I care whether you own guns or not? I will probably never own guns, so it doesn't make much difference to me personally if guns are always available for sale to private citizens.

I don't want to live in a society in which only the police and military have guns.

The Luther Pastor Martin Niemoeller said famously, "In (Nazi) Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew...Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

That means I am here tonight for selfish reasons. Government should be limited. It should have limited power to regulate and dictate and advise us in our lives, our homes, families, properties, communities and businesses.

And any government that has lost sight of these limits to such an extent  that it has come to view the private ownership of firearms as a threat to the general well-being is a threat to my freedom. Any government that can come today for your guns, can come tomorrow for my computer.

If a government sees nothing wrong with its trampling of your right to own  firearms, it may eventually see nothing wrong in squashing my right to free speech. Oh, it would never see itself as trashing free speech, just as it is convinced it is not trampling your right to own guns. It may well do with speech as it has done with firearms, claim the right never existed in the first place, or that it existed, but always within significant and necessary limits.

Or it may wait until a majority no longer remembers what free speech means, and then it will claim, as it has with firearms, that it is merely acting on the democratic will.

But one way of the other, if it has overstepped its bounds on firearms, it easily could some day overstep its bounds on a right that affects me.

Expect no relief soon though from either governments or the courts, because both have become deaf to any arguments but their own. Those who populate government and the courts are members of the same elite, and that elite has become so imbued with its own self-importance and intelligence that it never occurs to it members any thought they have, any idea that enters their heads might be wrong.

A noted liberal scholar, Garen Wintemute of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis, recently wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that many of the most common gun controls were next to useless in preventing firearms crime. Buy-backs and hand-ins don't work. Assault weapons bans don't work. And, his work implied, neither do registries.

Sending lots of police into neighbourhoods with lots of crime at times when crimes normally occur, that worked really well at cutting crime. D-uh. Tougher penalties for using illegal weapons worked. As did tougher dealer  licensing, instant background checks and preventing large volume handgun -- handgun (not long gun) -- purchases.

In other words, focusing police efforts on cracking down on criminals who use guns works. Concentrating on firearms in the possession of law-abiding citizens produces few, if any results.

But will the chattering classes listen to Wintemute? Nope. They will now do one of two things: ignore him or slander him. He was an expert when he was on-side. Now that he has simply told the truth, it will be said that there were always doubts about his qualifications or methodology.

Politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, even law school academics have Little or no understanding of the Common Law right to own firearms.

William Blackstone, the great 18th-Century English legal scholar, traced the right to own arms back to the time of King Canute in the 11th Century. By the time of the Assize of Arms in 1181, the right was known as an "ancient" right.

Blackstone identified three absolute rights, rights that could not circumscribed except in the most dire of situations: The right to personal security (including a very aggressive right to self-defence); the right to personal liberty (freedom of movement, action and thought); and the right to own and enjoy property.

To protect these absolute rights, Blackstone identified five subsidiary rights as already existing in Common Law in his day: a freely elected Parliament; limits on the power of the monarch; due process of law; the right to petition the monarch or Parliament for redress of grievances; AND the right to own arms.

It is said Canadians do not have a constitutional right to keep and Bear arms the way Americans do, which is true. Until Allan Rock and Anne McLellan we had something better, a right extending back nearly 1,000 years; a right that was so basic and well understood it did not need to be written down.

But as our connection to our rural past, our masculine traditions and to our subsistence way of life have declined, so has the understanding among our elites of the civilian role of firearms in free society. Guns are no longer tools in the homes of the elite, but rather just props in the televisions shows and movies they watch. Elite impressions about firearms are not formed by direct personal experience - i.e. by knowledge -- but by ignorance, prejudice and fear. And, boy, aren't those good factors to be driving public policy.

There is also among our elites no fear of government and no sense of freedoms lost to government. The rapid and unchecked growth of government has increased their power, not decreased it. Since they are in charge of  government, it remains their servant not their master. They delude themselves into thinking that all Canadians are fully free, because of all the people they know and associate with, none is prevented by government from doing or saying anything he or she might want to do or say.

There is also a lot of unconscious snobbery. They firmly believe they know better than you.

Which brings me back to my real purpose here tonight.

Among the dozens of press release and news reports I see each month on firearms, one I saw this week really troubled me. It was from the Montreal Gazette of 3 February, and it is headed "Many gun-owners said to be giving up weapons to avoid bother of registering."

Now this is a story by a journalist who probably holds some pretty Typical views about guns and is based on an interview with an apparently anti-gun police chief. So I'm not sure it's facts and figures are reliable. But if it is true, even just a little, the trend disturbs me.

We who value the private ownership of firearms often quote Ronald Reagan when he said "Guns don't kill people, people do," which is exactly so. But then we also say that guns are safeguards of our liberty and rights, which is not so.

Guns don't safeguard liberty, gun owners do.

I believe the Liberals were just dumb enough to believe their registry Could be made to work and, once implemented, would create "a culture of safety" that would reduce crime and violence. I suspect it was never more than a minor goal of theirs to over-complicate the lawful ownership of firearms to such an extent that many casual owners threw up their hands in frustration, gave up their sports and got rid of their guns.

But my guess is that it is beginning to dawn on the Liberals that while the registry is a bust -- a colossal, expensive bust -- if they can keep it open long enough tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners will call it quits. They will have disarmed a significant portion of the population without really trying.

I said before that I don't want to live in a society where only the police and military have guns, despite my tremendous respect for both the police and military. Guns are symbols of where the real power is in society, and who the true sovereigns are. And I do not choose to live in a society where even the most benign police officers and soldiers are the sovereigns.

A government that doesn't trust its ordinary citizens to own guns should not be trusted to own guns itself.

The American writer William F. Buckley, Jr. likes to say he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book, than the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty. And frankly, I'd rather be ruled by duck  hunters, skeet shooters and firearms collectors than by the politicians, bureaucrats and chiefs of police who have lined up to limit the private ownership of firearms.

Every time a gun shop owner locks his doors for the last time, every time a hunter hangs up his orange vest for good, every time a gun club has too few members to compete for all its trophies, every time a Canadian gives up his guns with a sigh and a shrug, every time that happens, Allan Rock and Anne McLellan, Wendy Cukier and Richard Mosley* come one step closer to achieving the gun-free Canada they dream of.

Don't let that happen.

Don't (if you'll pardon my French) let the bastards win.

Thank you.

*In order: the former Minister of Justice (who introduced Canada's latest gun controls), the current Minister of Justice (who refuses to alter them), Canada's leading anti-gun activist and the senior federal anti-gun bureaucrat.


Lorne Gunter, Columnist

The Edmonton Journal

P.O. Box 2421

Edmonton AB CANADA

T5J 2S6


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