Second Amendment Project Newsletter. September 22, 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.

***Now being delivered in HTML rather than plain text***

Table of Contents for this issue:

1.  Six new Kopel articles

2.  **Secret Searches are back**

3.  John Lott: California gun storage law leads directly to pitchfork murder of two children

4.  Law and courts update. Waco, frivolous anti-gun suits, more.

5.  Black (National Guard) helicopters invade Boulder County. More militarized law enforcement.

6.  Gun Rights Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., next weekend.

1. New Kopel articles.

Gunning for the Kiddies. What kind of a "climate" has taken hold of society? Should children be kicked out of school for pointing "finger guns"? National Review Online. Sept. 22, 2000. With Drs. Paul Gallant & Joanne Eisen.

Citibank Goes PC. But then relents when it finds that being against the Second Amendment is bad business. Others businesses need to consider the safety of their customers and of their profits before jumping on the p.c. bandwagon. National Review Online. Sept. 20, 2000. With Dave Gowan.

Violent Misinformation Campaign.Don't look to the government and the media to explain drops in violent crime.National Review Online. Sept. 15, 2000. With Drs. Paul Gallant & Joanne Eisen.

The Gun Access Follies. Access to guns was a lot easier forty years ago than today. And juvenile crime was way lower. So don't look at the guns — look at the kids. National Review Online. Sept. 13, 2000.

As Goes Moldova... Threats to civil liberty in the Eastern European nation, including gun registration. With Dennis Polhill.National Review Online. Sept. 11, 2000.


Waco Whistleblowing. The Danforth Commission. With Paul Blackman. National Review Online. Sept. 7, 2000.


Last May, Kopel exposed the Reno Department of Justice plan to sneak a "secret searches" scheme through Congress by hiding in the methamphetamine and bankruptcy bills. The proposal would make ALL federal searches subject to the same rules as a wiretap. Namely:

Thanks to the leadership of pro-privacy Representative Bob Barr (R-Georgia), the secret searches clause was taken out of the House methamphetamine bill.

But now, SECRET SEARCHES ARE BACK. A new bankruptcy bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, S. 3046, includes the secret searches language in Section 1591. The bill also contains other provisions dangerous to civil liberty. Note for non-lawyers: Section 1591 is titled "Notice Clarification" and the language the bill is very confusing unless you have a copy of the U.S. Code at hand. The main point is that the language allows all searches to be performed under the rules currently applicable only to wiretaps. The "" article listed above provides a statutory walk-through.

It is unlikely that S. 3046 itself will pass at this late date in Congress, but is extremely likely that Department of Justice lobbyists and others will work hard to include similar language in last-minute appropriations bills.

3. John Lott. "Unsafe Gun Laws: Reducing Access To Guns Makes People Sitting Prey."

Investor's Business Daily. September 22, 2000. Pg. A24.

It was a gruesome story. At the end of August, a naked man broke into a Merced, Calif., home and used a pitchfork to stab to death 9-year-old Ashley Carpenter and her 7-year-old brother, John. Three other sisters barely escaped, with two "bleeding from dozens of puncture wounds," according to one report. Little Ashley  bravely slowed down the killer as she held on to his leg while screaming, "Stop it, don't hurt my sister."

Her actions saved her three sisters' lives.

In a scenario worthy of a horror movie, the children's first response was to call the police, but the telephone lines had been cut.

Still, this tragedy could have been prevented. While the attacker was breaking into the house, 14-year-old sister Jessica, who was baby-sitting her younger siblings, desperately attempted to get their father's gun. But as a good law-abiding citizen, the father had locked the gun away in compliance with California law.

Jessica knows how to use the gun and is a good shot. The children's great-uncle, the Rev. John Hilton, said, "If only Jessica had a gun available to her, she could have stopped the whole thing. If she had been properly armed, she could have stopped him in his tracks."

Gun locks are touted as reducing accidental gun deaths among children. But as the Merced killings illustrate, making guns inaccessible sometimes costs lives. The evidence indicates that mandating gun locks are more likely to cost lives than save them.

Accidental gun deaths among children are fortunately rare. With almost 35 million children under the age of 10, 48 children died in 1997 from all accidental gun shots, including five from handguns. With over 80 million adults owning at least one gun, the overwhelming majority of gun owners must be extremely careful or the figures would be much higher. Almost as many children under 5 drowned in five-gallon water buckets as died from accidental gun shots.

Gun lock laws do not reduce accidental shootings for two reasons: Only a few cases involve children shooting other children, and the adults who fire these guns accidentally wouldn't obey gun lock laws in the first place. The overwhelming number of shooters have problems with alcoholism and long criminal histories, particularly arrests for violent acts. They are disproportionately involved in car crashes, and they are much more likely to have had their driver's license suspended or revoked. Besides, no locking technology will stop an adult from accidentally firing his own gun.

The increased time required to unlock a gun, however, can be crucial. And many mechanical locks (such as barrel or trigger locks) also require that the gun be stored unloaded, further reducing the ability for a quick response.

Recent research examining juvenile accidental gun deaths or suicides for all the states in the U.S. from 1977 to 1996 found that safe storage laws had no impact on either type of death. The research did show, however, that law-abiding citizens were more vulnerable to crime. The 15 states that adopted these laws faced an increase of over 300 more murders and 3,860 more rapes per year relative to other states. Burglaries also increased dramatically.

Earlier this year, in an effort to promote gun lock legislation, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening held a press conference to demonstrate the ease with which gun locks could be used. But the press conference ended up illustrating the danger of locks - he couldn't get the lock off the gun and ended up having to get help from several police officers.

While accidental shootings of children make the national news, tragedies that could have been averted by access to guns, like the Merced murders, often get much less notice. The elections this year will determine whether more gun lock laws like those in California and Maryland are passed. Thank God for children like Ashley. It is sad her sister wasn't allowed to save her life.


John R. Lott Jr. is a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School. The second edition of his book, "More Guns, Less Crime," was published by University of Chicago Press in July.


4. Law and Courts

 a. New Material at http://GUNLAWS.COM

Including, "How can I take my gun from point A to point B?"

Direct links (as much as possible) for the gun laws for all 50 states; each one has its own page with lots of other info, too, such as their Game & Fish Commission, state links, etc.

b. "Judge reduces sentences for six Branch Davidians"

By Tommy Witherspoon (Waco) Tribune-Herald staff writer.

Sentences reduced from 40 years to 15 years to comply with the Supreme Court decision in this case.


c. Ohio Court of Appeals rules against vexatious anti-gun lawsuits.

(Downloads of this Word document may be odd.)

d. Great Western  v. Los Angeles (9/12/00 - No. 99-56605)

California Supreme Court is certified to determine whether California state law and Article 11 section 7 of state constitution preempt municipal ordinances regulating the sale of firearms on county property.,

and Nordyke v. King (9/12/00 - No. 99-17551)

e. Alameda Judge OKs Retrial in Beretta Case. The Recorder.

In Dix v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp, the trial judge complied with an appellate court order to let the plaintiffs retry the case.

The case involves a lawsuit against Beretta for not putting a magazine disconnect in their pistols.

For Kopel material on this and other abusive anti-gun lawsuits, see 

5.  Black helicopter invasion. Boulder Weekly

September 7 - September 13, 2000

by Wayne Laugesen (

"Two black helicopters hovered over Ward last week, terrorizing the townsfolk below. A mass hallucination? Too much ganja? Unfortunately, no. The unmarked helicopters were real and it was, in fact, a government mission to spy on the public. It was invasive and scary…"

6. Gun Rights Policy Conference.

FREE, on Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, just outside of Washington, D.C.

For details and registration, see

That's all folks!

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