Second Amendment Project Newsletter. October 20, 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. New Kopel articles: McCain on Gun Shows. "Safe" Storage Laws are
Lethal Laws.
2. New links.
3. Doctor Emerson acquitted in state court!
4. Canadian Gun Registration. By Lorne Gunter.
5. Guns and Phony Health Care Costs. By Dr. Miguel Faria.

1. New Kopel articles
Not-so Safe-Storage Laws. The only ones "safe" are the intruders.
National Review Online. Oct. 18, 2000. With Dr. Paul Gallant & Dr.
Joanne Eisen.

McCain Is a No Show on Guns. The Senator's appearance in
gun show "loophole" ads in Oregon and Colorado.
National Review Online. Oct. 16, 2000.

Kopel on NRA Live. "Myths of the Gun Show 'Loophole'."
Oct. 18, 2000.

2. Great new links.

a. Disarming America. Attack of the Second Amendment Nihilists
Tanya Metaksa reviews Michael Bellesiles' "Arming America."

Tanya's article discusses the Kopel & Halbrook law review article
Tench Coxe and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the Early Republic:
1787-1823" 7 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 347 (1999).
A draft of the article can be found at:

b. "For Democrats, Gun Issue Is Losing Its Fire"
Washington Post

c. Clinton administration criticized for hiding gun prosecution
data from Syracuse University research center. 

d. Panel faults Reno, Clinton on Waco
Justice disputes public was misled
Dallas Morning News 10/20/2000
By Lee Hancock and Michelle Mittelstadt

House Republican Report on Waco

House Democratic Report on Waco

3. Doctor Emerson acquitted! (by Eugene Volokh)

According to the San Angelo Standard Times, Oct. 19,, Dr. Emerson (of U.S. v. Emerson fame) has
been acquitted of threatening his ex-wife with a gun.

Recall that the feds went after him as a result of that alleged threat
(since otherwise they probably wouldn't even have known that he still
had his guns). Emerson's story was that the ex-wife "barged into his
office and would not leave when he asked. He then pulled a Beretta
pistol out of a desk drawer and laid it on the desk. According to
Emerson, McSpadden insisted on going down the hallway to retrieve the
daughter's shoes and socks. According to an affidavit, Emerson said he
again warned McSpadden about trespassing and held the gun in the air,
cocked it, then lowered it to his side."

Prosecutors, on the other hand, "argued that the case was one of
domestic violence and that Emerson put McSpadden and his daughter in
danger of their lives when he drew the weapon." The jury seems to have
bought Emerson's claim; Texas law apparently allows people to threaten
deadly force to eject trespassers, so Emerson was apparently acting
within his rights under state law.

4. Canadian Gun Registration Push Fails.
By Lorne Gunter
Edmonton Journal Friday 13 October 2000

They fanned out throughout the country all summer, like packs of
super-chipper McDonald's cashiers.

"Would you like fries with that firearms license, sir?"

"How many ketchups with your registration?"

Desperate to boost the number of Canadian gun owners who
had signed up for the new federal firearms licenses,
the Department of Justice spent a rumoured $73 million this
summer on a Licensing Outreach Program that sent
pairs of fresh-faced university students to nearly every local fair,
rodeo, sportsmen's show and community fish-fry in the country.

The students, 260 of them, were to help gun owners apply.
And they succeeded.

Well, they succeeded in adding more mountains of paper to the mountains
that already existed at the license processing centre in Miramichi,
N.B. And, to be frank, they didn't add nearly as big a mountain as
Justice Minister and Edmonton West MP Anne McLellan had hoped for.

The very expensive ads Canadians watched during the Olympics, cajoling
them to seek licenses, were part of the Outreach program, too. As were
85 temporary "storefront counters" opened in federal buildings and
shopping malls across Canada, and staffed by an addition 180 students.

I love that ad of the two guys at the lunch counter discussing
licenses. The twin messages are clear: It is un-Canadian not to comply
- good citizens will go along. And, you are too stupid to know about
the requirements of the law already.

Indeed, the whole of the Outreach program is based on the notion that
non-compliance is rooted in ignorance of the law. Canadians have not
been complying, in the government's estimation, either because they are
unaware of the need to or because they have been duped by the law's
opponents into fearing its provisions needlessly.

Either way, the whole tone of the campaign sets very little stock in
the smarts of the average Canadian gun owner.

Think about it. Can there be a significant number of gun owners who do
not already know about C-68? For the six years since the Liberals
introduced it, debate on the controversial law has seldom ceased. Nor
the protests. Nor the propaganda. Nor the court cases.

This paper alone has carried more than 300 stories since the passage of
the bill in 1995. That's about one a week. You'd have to be pretty
thick to have missed the buzz.

Yet, it's not too hard to imagine some Liberal government committee in
Ottawa assuming gun owners are indeed that thick. They must be slow,
the minions would agree, they own guns, a sure sign of retarded
development. This is such worthwhile legislation, committee members
would reassure each other.

What reason would anyone have for not complying with our attempts to
ensure the common good? The controversy is an irrational creation of
the gun lobby. If only Canadians knew about the law, they'd eagerly
embrace it.

It would be hard to think of another law passed by the Liberals since
they came to power in 1993 that was better known to the people if will
affect. Think of how arrogant it is for a government to assume average
Canadians know nothing of the Firearms Act and need to have 73 million
of their own dollars wasted on telling them about it.

What has all this condescension, primetime advertising and public
spending produced? The latest informed estimates project the cost of
the registry from December 1998 through March 2001 at $600 million,
seven times the original estimate of $85 million.

Before the outreach operation, the government was pretty consistently
receiving an average of 18,000 license application per month, according
to it own figures. From July through September, that number jumped
dramatically. About 486,000 applications came in above the normal flow,
more than double the total number of applications received in the
previous 18 months.

That's pretty impressive, until you realize McLellan and her
bureaucrats projected the outreach would bring in 1.4 million. The real
total was just one-third the number expected. Each extra application
cost Canadian taxpayers $150 just to generate. And that was the cheap
part. Now they have to be processed at an additional cost.

The total cost of the registry to date, less the cost of the outreach
program and application fees -- a sum of perhaps $420 million --
divided by the 500,000 applications and licenses already issued or "in
process," yields a cost per license of $840.

The current backlog of 368,000 applications could cost an additional
$310 million to process. That would bring the registry's cost to $800
million to $900 million by 2002, and we're at no more than one-quarter
of the estimated number of owners.

After that, there are all the guns to register.

Lorne Gunter, Columnist
The Edmonton Journal &
Host, Essential Talk Network
Tune in to 'Lorne Gunter Live' exclusively on the Internet at, Monday thru Friday, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Eastern, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Mountain.

5. Guns and Phony Health Care Costs
Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D.
Sept. 22, 2000

In a new book, "Gun Violence: The Real Costs" (Oxford University Press,
2000), to be released next month, economists Philip J. Cook of Duke
University and Jens Ludwig of Georgetown University have upgraded the
health costs of gun violence from the previously erroneous figure of
$20 billion to $100 billion.

To reach this astonishing figure, the authors used a novel approach,
"contingent valuation." By contingent valuation, Cook and Ludwig simply
asked people in a telephone survey how much they were willing to pay to
avoid the problem of "gun violence."

Thus, from a "nationally representative telephone survey" whereby
"1,200 people were asked how much they would pay per year to reduce
criminal gunshot injuries," they virtually extrapolated to the entire

This approach, as if it needed to be said, is as grossly unreliable as
the public health use of risk analysis to prove "relative risk" in
epidemiological studies. By this type of flawed methodology, public
health "scientists" proved that women who wore brassieres all day are
12,500 times more likely to contract breast cancer than "flower
children" women who go braless!

Cook and Ludwig included in their methodology "the much larger price,
the devastating emotional costs experienced by relatives and friends of
gunshot victims, and the fear and general reduction in quality of life
that the threat of gun violence imposes on everyone in America,
including people who are not victims."

Adding these numbers, the authors came to $80 billion. The other $20
billion comes from previous estimates of "lifetime productivity loss."
This type of study is the one that Dr. Edgar Suter, chairman of Doctors
for Integrity in Policy Research, had previously debunked and tagged
with a more realistic figure, downgrading the sum to an actual cost of
$1.5 billion, less than 1 percent of annual U.S. health care

Dr. Suter wrote, "Claiming that gunshot wounds create costs of nearly
half the annual U.S. health care expenditures requires estimates of
'lifetime productivity lost,' where every gangbanger is a brain surgeon
and every rapist is a rocket scientist."

In short, contingent valuation is an even more extravagant methodology
than lifetime productivity estimates or relative risk analysis used
erroneously by public health researchers, in this case, to inflate
health care costs due to guns.

This statistical legerdemain is consistent with the biased,
politicized, results-oriented research which we have seen coming out of
the public health establishment in recent years. It should be
disregarded in the same fashion as the previous false alarms, like the
Alar apple scare and the EPA-overstated danger of secondhand smoke and
of particulate matter to lung ailments, not to mention the various
other cancer scares.

These new, extravagantly inflated figures of health care costs due to
gun violence should be considered suspect and looked at with great

Constitutional and philosophical issues aside, what we do know is that
the benefits of guns far outweigh their criminal misuses.

As professor Gary Kleck of Florida State University has demonstrated,
the defensive uses of firearms by citizens amount to 2.5 million times
a year and dwarf the offensive criminal gun uses.

Professor John R. Lott of Yale University has also corroborated the
beneficial aspects of firearms in the hands of ordinary, law-abiding
citizens. He found all types of crimes homicides, rapes, robbery,
assaults went down (and remain low) in those states that allow
citizens to carry concealed firearms for protection of self and family.

Unfortunately, in their new book, Cook and Ludwig continue to make the
mistakes made by the public health establishment in not considering the
beneficial aspects of firearms by ordinary law-abiding citizens.

The fact remains that between 25 and 75 lives are saved for every life
lost to a gun. Moreover, medical costs saved are 15 times greater than
costs incurred by criminal use of firearms.

Guns prevent injury to good people and protect billions of dollars of
property every year.
* * *
Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D., is editor in chief of Medical Sentinel of
the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), and author
of "Vandals at the Gates of Medicine" (1995) and "Medical Warrior:
Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine" (1997). Web sites: and

That's all folks!

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