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.
May the first century of the new millennium be an era
of freedom, tolerance, and enlightenment.
1. New Kopel columns: Elian's Revenge. Prohibition Fever. Common
2. Larry Pratt: "A Tale of Two Cities."
3. Lorne Gunter. Canadian licensing system goes into effect.
4. Saf-T-Lok executives settle fraud claims.
5. Politics of gun control. Clinton re-iterates that gun
issue hurt Democrats. Ashcroft nomination.
6. Links. Latest news on AOL, Prudential, and more.
7. Florida Appeals Court upholds privacy for NRA members.
8. Book Review: "People For and Against Gun Control."
a. "Elián's Revenge." It will benefit us more than it will benefit
National Review Online, Jan. 10, 2001. With David C. Stolinsky
b. "Prohibition Fever." Why banning things like guns or alcohol
causes more problems than it prevents.
National Review Online, Jan. 4, 2001. With Michael Brown
c. "Common Statistical Sense." The whole population was studied
on Election Day, in the best way available.
National Review Online, Dec. 19, 2001. With David
d. Coming soon: In the Jan. 13-14 Weekend Edition of National Review Online, Kopel and Clayton Cramer review Steve Halbrook's book "Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866- 1876." Also coming soon on National Review Online: Kopel, Paul Gallant & Joanne Eisen look at the "community fear" rationale for anti-gun laws.
It's a cautionary tale -- or should be -- of two cities. In one (Wakefield, Massachusetts), it was the worst of times because only the Bad Guy mass murderer had the guns.
But, in the other city (New York), it was the best of times since a Good Guy also had a gun, knew how to use it, and because of this the Bad Guys are dead.
Describing what happened when seven employees of an Internet consulting company were murdered in cold blood, Middlesex County (MA) District Attorney Martha Coakley said: "There is an enormous amount of bullets and casings in the building. There was an enormous amount of fire power that occurred in that building today."
The Washington Post said that what happened was a "slaughter." And a surviving co-worker of the employees who were massacred lamented the fact that she was unable to do something "for the people who were there and couldn't get out of the way."
Meanwhile, in the other city, the Big Apple, things turned out quite differently.
Off duty but armed, on Christmas Eve, Detective Michael Zeller went to the Two Flag Deli Grocery in Brooklyn. Zeller was accompanied by his wife Marie, their 3-year-old daughter, and a two-month-old son. They were going to pick up Mrs. Zeller's mother who owns the Deli.
Just about closing time, Jonathan Lynch walked in and asked for a sandwich. Marie Zeller, who was closing up while her Mom left to get her bags from her nearby apartment, said, sure, she'd make him a sandwich.
But, as the New York Daily News reports it, the Zellers became suspicious when Lynch said he wanted to go outside and ask a friend if he also wanted a sandwich. The Zellers watched Lynch chat with his friend, who stood near the open trunk of a parked car.
Michael Zeller studied the two men but dismissed any distrust, telling his wife things looked OK. But, to be sure, he walked outside to take another look. Seconds later, when he headed back into the store, he was staring down the barrel of a .22 caliber revolver pointed at his head. As the first robber ordered the husband to lie on the floor, the second robber held a knife to Marie Zeller's throat, forcing her to empty a cash register.
Suddenly, the Zeller's 3-year-old daughter Devin, who was at her Mom's side, ran from behind the counter and screamed: "Leave my Daddy alone." Daddy yelled to Devin: "Go back." Startled, the robber gunman briefly took his eyes off of Michael Zeller -- a big mistake.
Reaching into his waistband, Zeller pulled out his 9mm Glock pistol and squeezed off five shots. The first two bullets struck the 6-foot, 240-pound James Culbertson in the chest, mortally wounding him. Another shot ripped into the lungs of the 6-foot, 170-pound knife-wielder Lynch, who died at the scene.
Both of the two dead robbers had long criminal records. Police said Lynch's record dated back to 1986, with arrests for assault, grand larceny and armed robbery. Culbertson had been arrested seven times, but six arrests were sealed, apparently because he was a juvenile at the time. In 1999, he was arrested in Queens for robbery and possession of stolen property, but was allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct and sentenced to "community service."
I say that all of this is a cautionary tale -- or ought to be -- of two cities. So, what, exactly, do I mean? Well, in his novel, "A Tale Of Two Cities," Charles Dickens notes, at the beginning, that he writes of a time when, among other things, "it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness." And so it is in our time regarding guns.
Over and over, ad nauseam, we are told, foolishly, by the Anti-Gun Nuts that guns are the focus of all evil in the world, that they must be banned, that concealed weapons always do more harm than good, blah, blah, blah.
But, this is a lie.
If just one employee at that Wakefield, Massachusetts, Internet consulting firm had possessed a gun, on the job, and knew how to use it, there's at least an even chance there would have been no slaughter. But, a slaughter is what always occurs when only the murderer has guns and his victims do not.
We must be wise and allow our citizens to keep and bear arms because
the lives of innocent people, literally, depend on this right.
Larry Pratt is Executive Director of Gun Owners of America located
at 8001 Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151 and at
http://www.gunowners.org on the web.
Enjoy today, gun owners. It is your last day as law-abiding citizens in your own country.
Thanks to the fanaticism, ignorance and paranoia of the last two ministers of justice, tomorrow you become criminals.
And you will become criminals even if you have taken pains to conform with the new Firearms Act. You will be criminals tomorrow, New Year's Day, through no fault of your own. But thanks to Ottawa rigidity and incompetence, you will be criminals nonetheless.
You didn't ask for the new gun registry. You know it won't do any good. It won't save lives from the criminal or accidental misuse of firearms. It won't cut down on the number of firearms stolen for use in hold-ups and murders. How could it?
The fans of the registry like to compare gun registration to automobile registration. Okay. Has the registration of Canada's millions of cars and trucks made them less likely to be stolen or criminally misused? Of course not. Vehicle registration is nothing more than an efficient way to levy taxes on vehicles.
But guns are symbols of power. They are also, for a lot of liberals, symbols of masculinity. Many see them as a challenge to the authority of the state, as symbols of war, as impediments to their visions of world peace.
In the rights hands, of course, firearms are no threat to peace, order and good government. Indeed, they are the bulwarks of POGG. But liberals are incapable of seeing this. They laugh condescendingly at the entirely logical notion that guns don't kill people, people do.
They have to blame guns, and law-abiding gun owners.
They stopped blaming criminals long ago. Criminals are criminal because their mothers drank while they were in the womb. Their fathers beat them. They were denied the comforts of life because of social injustice and income inequity. As teens they unwittingly became addicted to various substances.
To liberals, criminals are victims, too.
So who's left? Gun owners. They are disproportionately male, rural, conservative and non-professional, all cohorts liberals disparage. Besides, Americans like guns, and every good liberal knows how bad all things American are. It must be the guns and gun owners.
Licence them. Harass them. Subject them to dizzying amounts of bureaucratic gymnastics. Demand that they submit to withering checks into their marriages, finances and character. Insist that they open their homes to random inspection by government agents, that they lock up their private property more securely than contractors are required to lock up dynamite, and that they report any changes in their personal circumstances to federal officials or face years in prison.
Do all this, and as if by magic the drug dealers and the money launders, the people smugglers, the rum runners, the mob bosses, the biker gang members will all stop doing bad things.
But this is merely the tortured mental path the Liberals have followed to bring us to this the eve of mass criminality in Canada.
What will push millions of Canadians over the edge is Liberal incompetence.
The Liberals have spent two years and $600 million, and employed over 1,700 police officers and bureaucrats to licence just 600,000 gun owners.
Upwards of 1.1 million more have submitted applications. But even at the accelerated rate of recent months, those in this enormous backlog could wait until 2003 or 2004 for their licences; to say nothing of the two to three million additional gun owners who have not bothered even to apply.
In the interim, because the new law is among the most inflexible ever passed in Canada, the hundreds of thousands of gun owners who have applied for but not yet received licences are in violation of the law as surely as the millions who have not even applied.
According to the Liberal law, it is effectively the gun owners' fault their licences weren't processed in time. Ottawa permits no excuse, not even its own entangled gun registry in Miramichi, N.B., for owners not having licences.
Oh sure, Justice Minister Anne McLellan has asked police forces not to arrest gun owners who have applied for licences but not yet received them. But she has not postponed the implementation of the Firearms Act.
Nor has she made it possible for gun owners with applications but no licences to continue to buy ammunition while her confused, chaotic, mistake-prone firearms centre slowly grinds out a thousand or so licenses a day.
Tomorrow, because of Anne McLellan's law and Anne McLellan's incompetent staff, from top to bottom in the firearms bureaucracy, many of you reading this column will have to rely day-by-day on the good graces of your local police department or RCMP detachment to avoid being tied in criminal court for months, through no fault of your own.
Happy New Year from the Liberal government.
Columnist, Edmonton Journal &
Host, EssentialTalk Network
Click on to www.essentialtalk.com, weekdays from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
(Eastern), 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. (Mountain) for 'Hard Right with
Lorne Gunter' on the new EssentialTalk Network, the world's first fully interactive Internet talk network.
The Jan. 15 issue of "Firearms Business" reports that Saf-T-Lok has settled charges based on a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. The company earned notoriety for testifying in favor of mandatory gun lock laws. Chairman Franklin Brooks and former president John Gardner each agreed to pay $55,000 to settle a fraud suit brought by the SEC. The suit was based on SEC charges of a variety of lies which the SEC claimed that Saf-T-Lok had told regarding its financial condition and business prospects.
a. "Gun-Control Fear Tactic Bombed, Clinton Says."
By RICHARD SISK. (New York) Daily News. Jan. 9, 2001.
Clinton tells union that gun control tactic backfired in election.
b. Rush Limbaugh: "HEY, TRENT LOTT! FOLLOW THE NRA LEAD."
Limbaugh comments on the Daily News story (see item a.) and urges Trent Lott to show as much nerve in confronting Clinton as Wayne LaPierre did.
c. "Hill Democrats Ready To Resist GOP Push. By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post. Jan. 3, 2001:
"But many of Gephardt's more liberal colleagues -- already upset over the presidential election -- are worried that he may be too eager to shift to the right in an effort to make inroads with white male and rural voters, areas where Democratic congressional candidates did poorly in November. Gephardt has indicated, for example, that he might tone down the party's rhetoric on such issues as gun control, taxes and abortion.
Some Democrats are chafing at such suggestions, arguing that they
only serve to further alienate the party's political base."
d. HCI opposes Ashcroft nomination.
e. VPC Opposes Nomination of John Ashcroft for U.S. Attorney General
f. "Inside the Anti-Ashcroft War Room."
By Byron York. National Review Online.
Key swing votes: Zell Miller (D-Georgia). Ben Nelson (D- Nebraska). Susan Collins (R-Maine). Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Arlen Specter (R- Pennsylvania). Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island). James Jeffords (R- Vermont).
a. FIREARMS RELATED NEWS. New feature, near the bottom of
the page, for this info-packed website.
b. "Gun laws could not avert the Mass. office slayings."
By Michael S. Brown
Phil. Inquirer. Jan. 2, 2001.
c. "Tories to Propose Action on Intruders."
By Andrew Pierce. The Times.
Jan. 1, 2001.
British opposition party will propose that people be allowed to use "reasonable force" against violent home invaders. Last year, a man was sentenced to life in prison for shooting a pair of career burglars.
d. Digital Library. Good collection of important historical
documents, mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries.
e. Latest legal news on AOL effort to fire employees who lawfully
possess guns parked cars at work.
f. "Prudential denies coverage to gun owner Says policeman's
ownership makes insuring home too risky."
Jon E. Dougherty. WorldNetDaily.com. Dec. 26, 2000.
7. FLORIDA APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS PRIVACY
RIGHTS OF NRA/USF MEMBERS. (NRA/USSF press release).
On December 27, 2000, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, located in Miami, held that the identities of members of the National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida are private and need not be disclosed in a lawsuit. The NRA and USF sued the City of South Miami, for enacting an ordinance requiring trigger locks on all firearms in violation of Florida law. State law provides that firearms may be secured by other methods and, under Florida's preemption law (The Joe Carlucci Uniform Firearms Act of 1987), prohibits local governments from passing any laws concerning firearms or ammunition.
NRA and USF have hundreds of members in the City of South Miami who are adversely affected by the ordinance. The City filed for discovery and demanded a list of the names and addresses of all NRA and USF members in the City.
NRA and USF refused to provide any membership information and filed a motion for a protective order. The lower court held that NRA and USF must disclose at least ten members.
NRA and USF spokesperson Marion Hammer said both organizations again refused to release any names or membership information and filed an appeal.
The Court of Appeals held: "We are not convinced that simply because the Associations filed the action as plaintiffs, they have waived their privacy rights concerning the members' names. The discovery of the names should not have been ordered." The Court based its decision on NAACP v. Alabama (1958), in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects the right of advocacy groups to associational privacy. The right to free speech includes the right to keep one's membership in an association private.
The decision was authored by a three-judge panel on the Court of
Appeals. Stephen P. Halbrook argued the case on behalf of NRA and
For more on Halbrook, see:
The NRA and USF primary case to stop the City from enforcing the illegal ordinance is still pending in the lower court with the next hearing scheduled for sometime after the first of the year.
National Rifle Association v. City of South Miami
2000 Fla. App. LEXIS 16894 (DCA 3rd 2000).
NOT available on the public Internet, since the Fla. 3d Cir. is not currently on-line.
The Florida court based its decision on the U.S. Supreme Court case
NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, 462 1958).
The Florida decision cites a page from the U.S. Supreme Court's NAACP case. That page of the NAACP case said, in part:
"It is hardly a novel perception that compelled disclosure of
affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute as
effective a restraint on freedom of association as the forms of
governmental action in the cases above were thought likely to
upon the particular constitutional rights there involved. This Court
has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate
privacy in one's associations.
. . . Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs. . .
8. Book Review:
"People For and Against Gun Control: A Biographical Reference"
by Marjolijn Bijlefeld
Greenwood Press. $49.95. 336 pages (1999)
Review by Dr. Miguel Faria, from the Amazon.com website.
This biographical reference book on "the key figures in the gun control debate today" delivers arguments and counterarguments on the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Americans' right to keep and bear arms. This book puts human faces on the argumentation.
The figures featured in the reference book came from different backgrounds and disciplines, law, medicine, academics, law enforcement and plain mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, etc. who have become, because of their own experience, activists in the great debate. Ms. Bijlefeld has dealt adeptly and in a neutral manner with this debate, a debate on which the contestants often argue hotly and emotionally. She should be applauded for her efforts, for this book belongs in the hands of all of those involved in the debate, as well as politicians, teachers, journalists, and in all of the public libraries, as an invaluable source of reference.
Some of the personalities featured in this book on the pro-gun side, Neal Knox, Gary Kleck, David Kopel, Don B. Kates, Sheriff Jay Printz, Suzanna Gratia Hupp, etc, contrast greatly, as can be imagined with those on the gun control camp headed by James and Sarah Brady, Carolyn McCarthy, Garen Wintemute, Phillip J. Cook, etc. The volume contains fifty stories, biographical sketches of these figures. The tome is well and concisely written, and for those of you not previously introduced to this debate, I suspect, the author is correct that the reader will experience a range of emotions and many "will change their minds several times over" before coming to an informed conclusion.
The well researched indices contain a summary of federal and state firearm laws (e.g., what bans are in effect in certain states, which states require registration, etc.), and various other compilations and sources of reference.
As one of the participants in the debate, I can categorically state she was fair, as fair as one can be, in her difficult task of writing this sort of book.
One point that should be made is that in the months since the publication of this book, public opinion has decisively swung toward less gun control and more crime control. This was reflected in the polls taken during the presidential campaign and, the relatively mild tone of Vice President Al Gore, who wanted more gun control laws, versus Texas Governor George W. Bush, who wanted to enforce existing laws and not implementation of further restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms by ordinary Americans. Sensing this, Al Gore wisely and uncharacteristically remained quiet on this issue in the final days of the Presidential Election, but the damage was done. Given the economic prosperity, peace, and stability, he should have won the election. The fear of many Americans of losing their gun rights may have contributed to his defeat.
Ms. Bijlefeld's magnum opus should be a good starting point for those readers not yet initiated in the gun debate as well as those of us who have been baptized in the fire of this controversy and desire to know more about our intellectual adversaries.
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Editor-in-Chief of the Medical
of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), and
author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995) and Medical
Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997).
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