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Highlights of the rkba.org Archive

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firearms.faq -- Guide to Internet Firearms Information Resources
Information available on the Internet which you can use to protect your rights.

Top action item
Something you can do today to help restore your rights. Clayton Cramer has a pamphlet "Four Facts You Know About Gun Control That Aren't So" or locally. There's also a version for California.

Remember the key points of political action. Please also see Jaspar's Five Minute Handbook For Gun Rights Activists. It's right on target!

Similarly when you catch the mass media making errors/distortions/lies/propaganda it's really important to call them on it. Literally. For newspapers and magazines, write letters to the editor. For radio and TV stations, send them a letter for their public file and carbon copy the FCC. Very often your calls and letters will stop the distortions.

Guy Smith's great Gun Facts book

Guy provides solid and timely information, research and references to hot topic gun rights issues such as so-called "assault weapons", "ballistic fingerprinting" and much more. He cites authoritative sources such as the National Institute of Justice, FBI, state governments.

NSSF Amicus Brief filed by Paul D. Clement in NAGR v Naperville

On May 5, 2023, outstanding attorneys Paul D. Clement and Erin E. Murphy filed a superb Amicus Brief for NSSF (local copy) in the case National Association for Gun Rights, et al., v. City of Naperville, Illinois, et al., which seeks an injunction against a city ban on semi-automatic firearms and magazines. The U.S. Supreme Court may take this case and overturn all such laws nationwide.

Supreme Court destroys two-step review of Constitutionality of Second Amendment cases and New York State's extremely restrictive carry permit scheme in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen (local copy)

Published on his 74th birthday, June 23, 2022, Justice Thomas writing for the majority eviscerated the two-step process used by District Courts of Appeal:

(1) Since Heller and McDonald, the Courts of Appeals have developed a "two-step" framework for analyzing Second Amendment challenges that combines history with means-end scrutiny. The Court rejects that two-part approach as having one step too many. Step one is broadly consistent with Heller, which demands a test rooted in the Second Amendment's text, as informed by history. But Heller and McDonald do not support a second step that applies means-end scrutiny in the Second Amendment context. Heller's methodology centered on constitutional text and history. It did not invoke any means-end test such as strict or intermediate scrutiny, and it expressly rejected any interest-balancing inquiry akin to intermediate scrutiny.

This sets the stage to repeal many of the existing infringements on our Constitutional rights, including magazine bans, gun bans, etc., several of which are already pending before the Supreme Court or stalled in District Courts. It also clears the way for hundreds more future lawsuits challening other unconstitutional infringements, and provides clear legal guidance on how to challenge them on textual grounds as informed by the original laws of the founding era.

Supreme Court hears oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen (local directory with some content)

On November 3, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in NYSRPA v. Bruen. This is a case challenging New York state's discretionary licensing scheme for concealed carry permits that essentially denies the right to bear concealed arms in public by most law abiding citizens. Given that the Supreme Court in Heller found that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right to arms for self defense, including outside the home, it's hoped that the Court will use NYSRPA to finally declare a standard of review for the Second Amendment.

If the court correctly finds that the Second Amendment should get strict scrutiny as a standard of review, not only could unconstitutional concealed carry restrictions in New York, California, New Jersey, Marlyand, Massachusetts, Hawaii, etc., be overturned, but also other unconstitutional infringements on arms rights currently on the law books in other states.

Top lawyer Paul Clement made a good case for the plaintiffs in oral arguments, including an interesting reference to some good statistical work in an amicus brief by Professor William English that non-discretionary ("shall issue") concealed carry did not lead to more crime in those many states that now have it.

Expect a decision in NYSRPA in 2022.

Circuit Court invokes strict scrutiny in overturning Maryland semiauto and magazine ban
The Fourth Circuit court has correctly applied strict scrutiny for the constitutional right to arms in overturning Maryland semiautomatic firearm and magazine bans in its February 4, 2016 opinion in Kolbe v. O'Malley. This sets up a split with other federal courts of appeal which may increase the likelihood of the Supreme Court ruling on an appropriate standard of review for this pre-existing, constitutionally-recognized, individual and collective right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Gun Rights attorney Chuck Michel's site includes the opinion in Kolbe v. O'Malley, along with other filings including Amicus briefs.

Supreme Court incorporates Second Amendment in McDonald
The U.S. Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment under the Fourteenth Amendment its McDonald v. City of Chicago decision (local copy) on June 28, 2010. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito found that the Second Amendment is incorporated under the "due process" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This means that the Second Amendment fully applies to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment, just as it does to the Federal government under the Heller decision. As a result the lower Federal courts will likely overturn the handgun bans of Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. This should also open the floodgates to overturn other obviously unconstitutional state and local infringements on arms rights. Please support the firearms civil rights legal defense funds of the national and state arms rights associations. This is how the lawsuits to overturn those unconstitutional laws will be funded. The lawsuits will take many years and many millions of dollars to proceed through the courts.

Good coverage of McDonald v. City of Chicago
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago on March 2, 2010. The case challenges the constitutionality of handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois and seeks to "incorporate" the Second Amendment under the 14th. If the court incorporates the Second Amendent, then it will mean that the individual right to keep and bear arms it recognized in the Heller decision applies to state and local governments in addition to the Washington, D.C. federal enclave. The Supreme Court is widely expected to incorporate the Second Amendment when it decides McDonald towards the June end of term, which would mean that many state and local infringements upon firearms rights, many of which are clearly and obviously unconstitutional, could be challenged and likely overturned on Second Amendment grounds.

Ninth Circuit incorporates Second Amendment in Nordyke
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals incoporated the Second Amendment under the Fourteenth Amendment in its opinion on Nordyke v. King on 20 April 2009. That's a huge step towards saying the Second Amendment prohibits state and local governments from infringing on individual arms rights. That's arguably at least as important as Heller, which said there's an individual right under Federal law. Nordyke says it applies to state and local governments too, at least in the Ninth Circuit, which comprises several Western states. It's now up to the Supreme Court to hear Nordyke and make that prohibition against state and local infringements apply to the entire country.

Here's the Ninth Circuit opinion in Nordyke v King (local copy). Author and attorney Dave Kopel speaks about it in this podcast. Here's Calguns' wiki coverage of the case. Here's Eugene Volokh's initial blog post about the opinion. Cato's Ilya Shapiro piece about it is titled "Yes, California, There Is an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms". Here are Mark Hemingway's comments about Nordyke in National Review Online.

Alan Gura speaks about Heller and follow on lawsuits
Alan Gura, pro-rights attorney in the Heller case, spoke at the Santa Clara University Law School about the Heller case and its likely impact on future gun rights issues. Here are my notes about his talk on 1 April 2009.

Supreme Court upholds Second Amendment in Heller
On June 26, 2008 the Supreme Court by a 5-4 margin held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms for "traditionally lawful purposes," including "self-defense within the home." It also recognized the collective right of individuals to arms for militia purposes. It left open the question of what standard of scrutiny should be applied to arms laws, but found that the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and functional long arms in the home is clearly unconstitutional "[u]nder any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights". The original opinion can be found here, and a local copy here. A complete collection of the amicus briefs, oral argument, and opinion can be found in the judicial/heller directory.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Heller
On Tuesday, November 20, 2007, the United States Supreme Court agrees to rule on Second Amendment cases Parker v. District of Columbia and District of Columbia v. Heller. In agreeing to hear the case, the Court asks:
"Whether the following provisions -- D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 -- violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?"
More information on Parker lead attorney Alan Gura, and his Parker opinion piece in JURIST's Hotline make good reading. Eugene Volokh's blog entries, comments, and references are also of interest. The California Rifle and Pistol Association has a nice collection of newspaper editorials in response to the Supreme Court's granting of certiorari in D.C. v. Heller.

Oral Arguments for Heller were heard by the Supreme Court on March 18, 2008. The transcript is published at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/07-290.pdf (local copy). CSPAN has Real Media video of the argument and press conference.

DC Circuit Court gets Second Amendment exactly right
http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200703/04-7041a.pdf (local copy)

To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment's civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.

Parker v. District of Columbia, March 9, 2007

"Dependence of the Firearm-Related Homicide Rate on Gun Availability: A Mathematical Analysis"
New research by Dominik Wodarz and Natalia L. Komarova attempts to mathematically model "gun control" and gun defense. It has a number of flaws including the false assumption that criminals are signficant affected by "gun control" laws and that restricting fundamental self-defense rights is ethical, legal, or valid, but is interesting nonetheless. Here is the U. C. Irvine press release about the paper. Here is a local copy as a PDF.

Resources about so-called "Ballistic Fingerprinting"
Here are some "ballistic imaging" resources: NSSF Press Release (local copy), NSSF Ballistic Imaging Fact Sheet, NSSF copy of California State report on Ballistic Fingerprinting (local copy), NSSF copy of H.R. 3491 (local copy). An independent report commissioned by the California Department of Justice found that so-called "Ballistic Fingerprinting" is unworkable for a number of reasons. Maryland's existing 5 million dollar "ballistic fingerprinting" program has failed to catch even one criminal according to Direct Action.

Yeah it has a funny name and it's not on this server, but please check out the excellent, 2-3 minute Flashmedia movies at this site. They provide solid, hard-hitting arms rights perspectives and they debunk gun control myths, including so-called "ballistic fingerprinting".

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms: Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary
One excellent source of research about the Second Amendment is a report from the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution in 1982. Senator Hatch was the primary author from a time when he was more firmly in favor of the right. I'm pleased to have archived the full text of the report whose official title is:
"U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, The Right to Keep and Bear Arms: Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Congress, 97th Congress, 2nd Session, February 1982"
Supreme Court refuses to hear Silveira case, leaving in place conflicting Appelate Court decisions
12/1/04 Update: Supreme Court refuses to hear Silveira. A feckless Supreme Court refuses to take up the Silveira case, leaving standing lower court decisions with clearly conflicting interpretations of the Second Amendment. Ninth "Circus" Appeals Court Judge Reinhardt found no individual arms rights in Silveira, while the Fifth Circuit in Emerson found the Second Amendment recognizes a clear individual right. Something's got to give....

8/6/03 Update: Women Against Gun Control file an Amicus Brief (309 KB) in the Silveira case.
8/15/03: NRA files an Amicus Brief (188 KB) with the U.S. Supreme Court in Silveira.

5/6/03 Update: an En Banc Panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denies a petition to rehear Silveira, setting up a challenge to the Supreme Court. While denying a rehearing, six of the Judges argued strongly against Reinhardt's collective-rights-only interpretation, finding broad and strong constitutional and legal support for the Second Amendment as an individual right. (The order linked above is the original 2 Megabyte PDF file. Here is a relatively unformatted text version exported from the PDF at about 80 KB.) Silveira's attorney Gary Gorski is filing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve this glaring discrepancy.

Setting up a conflict which the Supreme Court may need to decide, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' Judge Stephen Reinhardt issued an anti-individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment in Silveira v. Lockyer. This directly conflicts with the individual rights interpretation cited by the Fifth Circuit in Emerson. These are the sort of directly conflicting Circuit court rulings that may force the Supreme Court to finally do its duty and rule directly on the Second Amendment.

It's worth noting that in support of its flawed arguments, the Ninth Circuit cited the widely and officially discredited work of anti-gun historian Michael Bellesiles and the academically-ignored, one-sided Chicago-Kent Law Review. Update: Reinhardt revised his finding to remove references to Bellesiles fraudulent and widely discredited work. In my mind this weakens both Bellesiles' and Reinhardt's claims. Further it turns out that the Chicago-Kent Law Review's Symposium against the Second Amendment was funded-to-order by the anti-gun Joyce Foundation. In other words the "scholars" providing material to the Chicago-Kent individual-rights bashing, cited by Reinhardt and including Bellesiles, were paid about $8000 each for their dubious contributions, which apparently is way out of line for participation in legitimate academic forums.

Here are a couple letters rebutting Silveira by CCW activist Jim March, and research scholar Clyde Spencer. In addition, here are comments by Eugene Volokh in National Review Online, biting, insightful comments from Clayton Cramer in his blog, fairly neutral coverage by law.com, NRA, SAF, Washington Times. Note that the SAF site includes many links and references to related material. Cramer gives many well-known citations from case law that show Judge Reinhardt is utterly wrong in his anti-individual rights Second Amendment claims.

Added some original court documents: Initial Complaint to Federal District Court, Writ of Certiorari to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Court in Nordyke Strongly Affirms Second Amendment As Individual Right
Yet Judge O'Scannlain in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in the the Nordyke appeal finds the court strongly affirming the right to individual arms.

Principles of Firearms
Principles of Firearms is a general technical description of the components, functions and operating principles of automatic and semi-automatic firearms which I have written and now present in the general interests of education and preserving freedom.

A Guide to the Drilling, Reaming, and Broaching a Bolt Action Receiver at Home
I've archived a copy of Raymond Benwood's public domain document about how to make a bolt action receiver. I got it from the JPFO web site. Use the information at your own risk.

Bellesiles' Lies Officially Refuted And Punished
1/7/03: More trouble for Bellesiles: Knopf halts publication of his book Arming America. This follows Columbia University stripping his Bancroft Prize for this book and Emory University taking the unusual step of forcing him out of his professorship for the abundantly apparent fraud in his work. Interestingly with a total of only 24,000 copies of the book were ever sold, about 8,000 in hardback and 16,000 in paperback, it was not exactly a runaway bestseller.

12/13/02: Columbia University rescinds Bellesiles' Bancroft Prize, concluding correctly "that he had violated basic norms of scholarship and the high standards expected of Bancroft Prize winners."

10/25/02: Bellesiles has resigned his professorship at Emory University after an independent panel investigating his research in Arming America found "extensive errors," and "evidence of falsification." Here is a copy of the press release by Emory about Bellesiles' resignation and the investigation report and a (local copy).

Some of the results of other formal academic research into Bellesiles' claims can be found in The William and Mary Quarterly forum titled "Historians and Guns". In a sense it's a good thing for academia that Bellesiles fraud was caught and Bellesiles fired. It means academia is still somewhat functional.

(Earlier:) Bellesiles has been asked to formally defend his ludicrous and falsified claims about gun ownership in early America by his University. Emory University History Department Chair James Melton told the Boston Globe:

If there is prima facie evidence of scholarly misconduct, the university has to conduct a thorough investigation. Whether it be a purely internal inquiry, or the university brings in distinguished scholars in the field, will depend on how Michael responds.
Bellesiles' academic misconduct was also covered by the Boston Globe and Fox News. The Boston Globe independently confirmed some of the original sources which quantitative history Professor James Lindgren reviewed in checking Bellesiles work, finding significant errors. Many other people have found many serious problems with Bellesiles' citations, to the point of fraud.

Bellesiles' first formal response to the criticism his research does little to explain his errors. Here is the Boston Globe's coverage. The New York Times also notes the controversy. The Times finds Bellesiles' draft extended response, appearing in a special issue of the William and Mary Quarterly, "concedes some mistakes and challenges others, but leaves many serious errors unaddressed." The Chicago Tribune includes Bellesiles in a cautionary tale about what can happen to professors who publish "fraudulent data". National Review Online published a follow up article with links to notes from the Contra Costa County Historical Society (local copy, by permission) regarding Bellesiles' recent (and apparently only) visit there and the materials he incorrectly attributes as San Francisco probate records. The Boston Globe summarizes the scholarly criticisms appearing in the January 2002 William and Mary Quarterly wherein three of the panel of four historians "severely criticize" Bellesiles' inaccuracy, numerous "errors in facts", strong bias, and striking discrepancies:

For example, Bellesiles writes in his book that in 46 years, there were no homicide cases heard in the courts in Plymouth Colony. But [violence historian Randolph] Roth writes that well-indexed and readily available records clearly show 11 murder cases in the Plymouth courts, and possibly four others.

On the February 7, 2002 eve of publication of the William & Mary journal, Emory University opened a formal investigation into Bellesiles' bogus research. Here is the Associated Press article. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also covers the growing scandal from nearby. More good coverage by David Skinner appears in The Weekly Standard February 25, 2002 issue. Kimberley Strassel continues coverage of Bellesiles' ongoing saga of deceit and denial in her February 22, 2002 column in the OpinionJournal. The San Francisco Chronicle interviews Betty Maffei of the Contra Costa Historical Society regarding Bellesiles' misuse of their records (local copy, by permission) and assaults on their reputation. There is further academic and lay response in an online forum in The Chronicle of Higher Education's Colloquy.

In another blow to his credibility, the National Endowment for the Humanities has withdrawn their name from a recent fellowship granted by the Chicago-based Newberry Library to Bellesiles. Kimberley Strassel's June 6, 2002 OpinionJournal column is among many articles covering the latest in the drawn out dethroning of this liar. Here is the AP wire service article about the NEH withdrawing Bellesiles' grant support.

Clayton Cramer Proves Michael Bellesiles Latest Book Arming America Is A Fraud
Historian Clayton Cramer investigates the revisionist claims in Michael Bellesiles' latest book Arming America and finds them not just biased but fraudulent. Bellesiles claims that early Americans did not significantly hunt, shoot, own guns, or physically defend their communities, country or freedom. Bellesiles is a liar, and Cramer demonstrates the scholarship to prove it. See Cramer's original version or a local copy of the pdf at about 720K Bytes. Also available is a brief, 8-page version addressing just Bellesiles' academic fraud (original at ggnra). An earlier version of Cramer's review of Bellesiles was published in National Review Online. Columnist Vin Suprynowicz also comments on Bellesiles and Cramer's findings. Processor Joyce Lee Malcolm also finds glaring errors by Bellesiles in her review: Concealed Weapons -- The controversial book "Arming America" has the facts all wrong in the January 2001 Reason Magazine. The Second Amendment Foundation has put together a good web page of responses refuting Bellesiles by Cramer, Malcom, Halbrook, Lindgren and Lee, Stromberg, Suprynowicz, NRA, About.com, and even the Washington Post. Included also are quotes from founders such as:
If this now flourishing City, and greatly improving Colony, is destroy'd and ruin'd, it will not be for want of Numbers of Inhabitants able to bear Arms in its defence. 'Tis computed that we have at least (exclusive of Quakers) 60,000 Fighting Men, acquainted with Fire-Arms, many of them Hunters and Marksmen, hardy and bold. -- Benjamin Franklin (1747), B.F. Papers, vol. III, p.202

I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence... I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy. -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Giovanni Fabbroni, June 8, 1778.

Here is a flyer by Randy Herrst handed out when Bellesiles spoke at U.C. Irvine, and a version modified by Jeff Chan for Bellesiles' appearance at Stanford Law School's Second Amendment Conference 4/21/01. Both contain links to numerous reviews, criticisms, refutations. Here are some of my overall impressions of the conference. Here's an October 2000 early review titled "Disarming America" by former NRA honcho Tanya Metaksa.

BJS again proves "Gun Show Loophole" and "Assault Weapon" hysteria false
The U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics in November 2001 released results of nationally representative 1997 prison inmate surveys in a report titled "Firearm Use by Offenders". Some of the key findings repeated on the BJS main Firearms and Crime page:

The percentage of inmates who got firearms at a gun show in the 1997 survey is 0.7%. Flea markets were 1.0%. Rifles were carried in 1.3% of crimes. Obviously this shoots big holes in the so-called "assault weapon" hysteria, and the "gun show loophole" lie, and it's from authoritative government sources. Be sure to mention this in letters, etc. These results are largely consistent with earlier versions of the BJS surveys by James Wright, etc.

The main page for the BJS Firearm Use by Offenders report is at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov./bjs/abstract/fuo.htm, and I have archived copies at: http://rkba.org/research/bjs/fuo/

2002 Freedom Forum poll shows 79% of Americans support the right to own firearms
A scientific poll conducted for Freedom Forum shows very broad and rapidly growing support for individual arms rights. For 2002 support for "the right to own firearms" jumped from 64% to 79%, a 23% increase over 1997. Freedom Forum included this question in their annual survey asking American's attitudes towards the First Amendment, news coverage, and other freedoms. Sample size of the professionally conducted telephone survey is over 1000 adults.

Supreme Court Declines To Hear U.S. v. Emerson
10/8/02: After the Supreme court refused to hear his case, the lower federal district court convicts Emerson of gun possession while under a restraining order. The law violated is known as the Lautenberg Act after the law's principal sponsor. 8/5/02: After the Supreme Court refused to hear Emerson, the 5th Circuit Court's decision remands it back to lower court for final disposition. A Federal District court in Texas is scheduled to close out the Emerson case on 8/19/02. Here is an Associated Press article about the trial date announcement.

6/10/02: As the Ashcroft Justice Department suggested it should, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Second Amendment challenges by Emerson and Haney. News coverage ranged from relatively neutral Reuters to the blatantly biased and incorrect characterization by Associated Press that the 1939 Miller precedent supports a collective, not individual right. This false interpretation is pretty much a rehash of prior anti-rights press releases. Here are some of my responses to Reuters, AP and About.com coverage. In its most recent review of the Second Amendment, the Miller decision, the Court clearly and repeatedly characterizes it as recognizing, or even requiring, an individual right to arms. Read my comments and the text itself and see if you agree.

UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh comments in his Wednesday, June 19, 2002, 10:58 AM blog about the mischaracterization of Miller by the media, and about the general meaning of the Supremes refusing to hear Emerson or Haney. (Here is a local copy of Volokh's comments on the Emerson cert. denied that may come up faster since it's a plain text excerpt.)

12/7/01: The Second Amendment Foundation is filing an appeal of the Emerson case to the Supreme Court! Here is a link to the original announcement of The Emerson Defense Fund and a local copy of the 12/7/01 announcement of the Supreme Court appeal.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals long-awaited decision on Emerson is a whopper as far as the Second Amendment is concerned:

We agree with the district court that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to privately keep and bear their own firearms that are suitable as individual, personal weapons..., regardless of whether the particular individual is then actually a member of a militia.
While the Circuit Court upheld Emerson's conviction for firearms possession while under restraining order, it issued one of the best and strongest possible interpretations of an individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Depending on how the appeals work out this could lead to a reading on the Second Amendment by the Supreme Court. Since the lower court decisions so strongly make the case for an individual right, if the Supreme Court hears the case on Second Amendment grounds, it's hard to see how it could strike down an individual interpretation. A possible problem is that further appeals may find a way to weasel out of addressing the Second Amendment issue. Here is a link to the original Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision at http://rkba.org/judicial/emerson/circuit-decision.html (266k), and a link to a local copy.

I've reorganized my Emerson files into their own directory which includes the District decision, notes on the appeal, and the Appellate decision. Both decisions strongly support an individual right to arms and contain excellent reference material on the Second Amendment.

Here are some notes on the Appeal to the 5th Circuit Court which led to the October 2001 decision: The Government's appeal of the Emerson case was heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on June 13th, 2000. The panel of three appellate Judges asked many questions clarifying the Federal government's position on the Second Amendment and hinted that it would reject their abuse of the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause in support of overreaching and unconstitutional Federal gun control. (The Federal Government abuses the Commerce Clause to control what should be State matters in many other areas too, so there are many issues beyond gun rights in reforming the application of the Commerce Clause.) Here's a local copy of Neal Knox's Report, filed by Linda Thomas at the hearing. If the Fifth Circuit rejects the government's arguments and sides with Judge Cummings' original decision recognizing individuals' Second Amendment rights, then the U.S. Supreme Court will probably need to hear the case to resolve the Courts' differences.

Shockingly, the Government's position in the appeal was that the Second Amendment only protects firearms issued to the National Guard and no private individual's arms. Government attorneys argued for a purely collective, federalized interpretation of the Second Amendment that is clearly at odds with the Amendment's actual wording and extensive history predating English Common Law. Total bans on the private ownership of guns is what we have been saying the anti-rights side has been after all these years and they have finally admitted it in open court. Here is an exchange between Judge Garwood and the Government's attorney Meteja, reported by Tom Gresham:

Judge Garwood: "You are saying that the Second Amendment is consistent with a position that you can take guns away from the public? You can restrict ownership of rifles, pistols and shotguns from all people? Is that the position of the United States?"

Meteja (for the government): "Yes"

Garwood: "Is it the position of the United States that persons who are not in the National Guard are afforded no protections under the Second Amendment?"

Meteja: Exactly.

Garwood: Membership in the National Guard isn't enough? What else is needed?

Meteja: The weapon in question must be used in the National Guard.

The Clinton Administration's position against individual rights in Emerson is confirmed in a response to an NRA member by his Department of Justice's Solicitor General Seth Waxman. Needless to say Waxman's citations are seriously flawed and out of context. (Note for example that U.S. v. Hale says U.S. v. Miller protects individual ownership of militia arms.) Frankly I find it disgusting that our government could be arguing so completely against individual rights. Our government was formed to protect rights, not destroy them. California State Senator Ray Haynes has some choice words about the Federal Government's position in the Emerson Appeal.

In the original Emerson decision, District Court Judge Cummings found that boilerplate restraining orders violating individuals' due process and firearms rights are unconstitutional. Judge Cummings' February 26, 1999 decision referenced Clayton Cramer's book, For The Defense Of Themselves And The State, among a host scholarship and legal history supporting individual firearms rights. Here is a link to the original District Court decision at http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/PDFs/emerson.pdf (141k), and a link to a local copy of the same. The Emerson decision contains a great summary of historical and recent thinking on an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. A very uplifting read.

The Second Amendment Foundation has a web site devoted to U.S. v Emerson including the government's appeal and lots of background material and original case documents. Their site is useful to keep up with this important case. For example, here are their observations on the good an bad in the Emerson appeal arguments.

Gun Control Researchers Prove Brady Law Has No Effect On Crime
In an August 2000 paper for the Journal of the AMA, anti-gun researchers Jens Ludwig and Philip Cook found that the Brady Law has no significant effect on crime. Rather than faithfully and objectively interpret their own results and admit that "gun control" is a failure, they heed the anti-rights dogma and insist that the solution is more restrictions on secondary (private party) sales. This of course ignores U.S. Government research by anti-gun James Wright for the National Institute of Justice proving that more than 90% of felons get their guns illegally and are largely unaffected by gun control laws.

This reminds of another study Cook recently performed to investigate the firearms self-defense research of Florida State University Criminology Professor Gary Kleck. Cook independently confirmed Kleck's results that guns are used at least a million times a year to stop crimes, mostly without a shot fired, then went on to say that the results are meaningless even though his own research proved that they were valid. Cook's arguments against his own results are laughably dogmatic, closed-minded and unscientific. It's remarkable that Cook can use the statistical tools of science competently and then completely misinterpret and bias the results. That's deliberate, bad science.

From Ludwig and Cook's investigations into the results of the Brady Law and Cook's confirmation of Kleck's results, the facts obtained speak for themselves. Gun control laws have little effect on criminals, and firearms are used far more often to defend against a crime than to commit them. The obvious conclusion, which Cook himself acknowledges as a possibility, is that "gun control" is socially destructive since it infringes on legitimate access to firearms, but does not effectively or significantly restrain criminals.

Violent crime up after United Kingdom and Australia confiscate most legal guns and ban effective self-defense
Violent crime in U.K. and Australia have increased remarkably now that their subjects are officially disarmed and prohibited from defending themselves. Criminals have effectively been given free reign to prey on defenseless victims. The results are unfortunately apparent. An editorial by Dr. Michael S. Brown summarizes well.

The Australian Government's own report No. 151 The Licensing and Registration Status of Firearms Used in Homicide by the Australian Institute of Criminology proves that gun registration, licensing and confiscation does not stop criminals from getting guns or killing: "in over 90 per cent of firearm-related homicides the offenders are not licensed and the weapons are not registered".

Gun ownership rates show negative correlation with murder rates in developed nations
Don Kates and Gary Mauser compare rates of gun ownership to murder rates in Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence in Volume 30, Number 2 - Spring 2007 of the The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. They find that the highest murder rates in Europe correlated with the lowest gun ownership rates. European countries with relatively high gun ownership rates such as France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland showed lower murder rates.

John Lott on Gun Storage Laws
John Lott's latest research into gun storage laws titled Safe Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and Crime is available online. Many other papers by Lott, including research into concealed carry laws and private use of arms in preventing and stopping crime are available at the Social Science Research Network Electronic Library.

In Taking Aim at Gun Control
Professors Daniel Polsby and Dennis Brennen refute common arguments made in favor of gun control. This paper is made available here with the permission of The Heartland Institute. It can also be found at http://www.heartland.org/studies/polsby-ps.htm

Professor Polsby's more recent Firearms and Crime paper is available from the Independent Institute.

Constitutional Law Second Amendment Teaching Guide Published
Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law together with Robert J. Cottrol, Sanford Levinson, L.A. Powe, Jr., and Glenn Harlan Reynolds present an important article to be published in the Journal of Legal Education: The Second Amendment as Teaching Tool in Constitutional Law Classes. Also of interest is his Sources on the Second Amendment and Rights to Keep and Bear Arms in State Constitutions which contains references from the laws of individual states.

An interesting debate about gun control and the Second Amendment held 4/8/03 at Harvard Law School found Volokh appearing with Alan Dershowitz and Dennis Henigan. The 2 hour panel discussion is available for viewing online with Real Media. Volokh and Dershowitz sidestep the Second Amendment initially, but Volokh speaks convincingly about the impracticality and undesirability of gun bans as a matter of policy. The talk was sponsored by the Harvard Law School Target Shooting Club and Democrats Club.

Professor Volokh appeared before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on September 23, 1998. Here's a local copy of his concise but complete report about the constitutionality of the Second Amendment as an individual right.

Speaking of the Second Amendment....

Documents of the Supreme Court case U.S. v Miller
Patrick Aultice has compiled original documents from the Supreme Court case U.S. v Miller. While anti-rights folks hold Miller as hostile to an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment, the actual decision speaks otherwise. Read it here and decide for yourself. You can also get this as a ZIP archive of Patrick's original Word document.

Guns in the Medical Literature -- A Failure of Peer Review
Dr. Edgar Suter of Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research solidly refutes several common anti-gun myths promulgated by the medical politicians, including the "43 Times" lie. My html version of this paper includes full graphs, active footnotes, and a live table of contents. New is an HTML version of Dr. Suter's response to criticisms from the net of "Guns in the Medical Literature..." (also available as plaintext).

See also DIPRs excellent 1995 Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia (JMAG) paper: Violence in America - Effective Solutions.

More excellence from Dr. Suter and Pete Kasler appears in their Rebuttal to the anti-gun proposals of the California Police Chiefs Association.

Here's a new HTML version of Dr. Suter's 1994 review: "Assault Weapons" Revisited -- An Analysis of the AMA Report.

Of related interest is a new HTML version of Dean Payne's analysis of Loftin's 1994 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) District of Columbia article. (The original plaintext is also available.)

"Shall Issue": The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws -- By Clayton E. Cramer & David B. Kopel
This excellent paper by Clayton Cramer and David Kopel for the Independence Institute is a thorough (210k) and highly significant paper on CCW reform. A similar version of this paper appeared in 1994 in the Tennessee Law Review. Scott Ostrander (scotto@cica.indiana.edu-nospam) converted to html. A plaintext version is also available.

Looking back, a 1988 Cato Institute paper by Dave Kopel: "Trust The People: The Case Against Gun Control" makes a strong statement against firearms restrictions but also the unfortunately reveals the great progress of the anti-gun effort, especially overseas. See for example what's happened to firearms ownership in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

Another very strong and important paper by Dave Kopel is Children and Guns: Sensible Solutions which debunks the common scare tactics about kids and guns and offers practical solutions that address the actual sources of juvenile gun crime. This paper is also available as a ZIP of the html or a ZIP of the original text file.

The Waterman Report -- Documents Australian Firearms Registration Procedures and Policies
Jean Houge at the Canadian NFA has converted a 1986 Australian police training manual by S. W. Waterman into an HTML document. It describes the implementation of registration and licensing schemes which in 1997 lead to the confiscation and destruction of many of the privately owned firearms in Australia.

NZ Police report on Firearm Registration 1983
Related to the Waterman Report above at least by topic, geography and historical Commonwealth ties is a report Ross Wilmoth presents as police research about the effectiveness of firearms registration in New Zealand. Given the generally honest nature of public administrators in New Zealand, and the conclusions, this paper may be genuine.

For a comparison of anti-rights and pro-rights scholarship, check out:
Steve Gustafson's The Second Amendment And Gun Control: A Skeptical View versus
Clayton Cramer's "For The Defense Of Themselves And The State": The Second Amendment & Individual Rights. (The latter is a draft of paper that has been published as a book.)

I answer some good questions posed by a high school student writing a Junior thesis.

Stephen Halbrook's The Fourteenth Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms: the Intent of the Framers
Mark Fuller has put Professor Halbrook's 14th Amendment article into electronic form. In it he documents how restrictions on black firearms ownership after the civil war prompted the development of the Fourteenth Amendment. This article was included in the 1982 U.S. Senate Report on the Second Amendment. (See my announcement.)

Professor Halbrook recently argued against the Brady Bill before the Supreme Court and won! His book THAT EVERY MAN BE ARMED: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right is a classic in the modern firearms rights literature.
Bill of Rights and Second Amendment, Court Cases
See my notes on the Second Amendment as an individual right and the Bill of Rights. For firearms court cases, see my judicial directory and my reference to James Bardwell's Archive which is an excellent source of public-domain versions of Supreme Court firearms cases.

New! Noted Second Amendment scholar and attorney David Hardy's legal review of the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act (300k) includes an outline of all federal gun laws. It has been cited as authoritative by the U.S. Supreme Court. Also available as a UNIX compress (http://rkba.org/research/hardy/fopa_rev.txt.Z 120k) or ZIP file (http://rkba.org/research/hardy/fopa_rev.txt.zip 105k).

I've grabbed copies of recent Supreme Court cases that mention the Second Amendment, U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990) and Justice Thomas' opinion from Printz v. U.S. (1997). They're used in my letter against California's SB 23 expansion of the so-called "assault weapon" ban and 10 round magazine ban.

See also the Judiciary section of my FAQ for more Supreme Court web sites.

I'm pleased to announce the availability of a landmark modern wound ballistics paper:

What's Wrong With The Wound Ballistics Literature, And Why
Dr. Martin Fackler's research should be useful in rebutting most mainstream media misstatements about the effectiveness of various kinds of bullets. It explains how and why most of what you read about this subject in newspapers, politicized medical journals, and gun magazines is usually wrong. Dr. Fackler's research and experience bears directly on the proper treatment of different gunshot wound types.

"Doctors Treat Assemblyman's Unfounded Fears with Facts"
is a powerfully well-written defense of self-defense by Edgar A. Suter MD of Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research, Inc. This press release dispels many myths opponents of Assembly Bill 638 (Concealed Carry in CA) would have you believe about responsible citizens carrying concealed arms.

The research directory has a wealth of solid firearms rights and crime info. Good source material for letters, discussions, etc. Includes a list of recommended books. (Guncraft and Laissez Faire Books sell several of these titles.) For examples of defensive uses of guns, see the users directory. See the README there for more pointers.

NEW: in research/bjs is the 7/9/95 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report "Guns Used in Crime" which has a number of flawed assumptions, methodological errors, and incorrect definitions but still manages to prove that so-called "assault weapons" are almost never used in crime.

Assault weapons and offenders

In the 1991 BJS Survey of State Inmates, about 8% of the inmates reported that they had owned a military-type weapon, such as an Uzi, AK-47, AR-15, or M-16. Less than 1% said that they carried such a weapon when they committed the incident for which they were incarcerated. A Virginia inmate survey conducted between November 1992 and May 1993 found similar results: About 10% of the adult inmates reported that they had ever possessed an assault rifle, but none had carried it at the scene of a crime. [emphasis added]

The quote above demonstrates several of the definitional errors in the BJS report. Commercial U.S. AR-15 and AK-47 rifles are not fully-automatic and are therefore not "military...assault rifles". Nonetheless, criminals don't use them. Note that the BJS now has their own site under the Department of Justice site. The BJS site includes a September 1998 report that serious crime rates in England and Wales are now higher than the U.S. despite (or perhaps because of?) stricter gun control there. (Have made a local mirror of "Crime and Justice in the United States and England and Wales, 1981-96".)

See also the Summary of James Wright's "The Armed Criminal in America" (22k). (The original plaintext version is also available.) The National Institute of Justice sponsored this survey of 1,800 felons. In this 1985 report, Wright finds that the overwhelming majority (83%) of felons get their guns through illegal means. Later surveys have shown this percentage to be even higher (90+%). This key research, funded by the government, shows why restricting legitimate gun sales has no significant effect on armed criminals.

Another office of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in 1994 examined juvenile delinquency, drug and gun use. On page 25 of their report "Urban Delinquency and Substance Abuse" they found that adolescent boys "who own legal firearms, however, have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use and are even slightly less delinquent than nonowners of guns." (Original at: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/urdel.pdf.)

Stop censorship of the Internet!
--> If you value freedom of speech and expression I urge you to join the Blue Ribbon Anti-Censorship Campaign and stop censorship of the Internet! See also the The Center For Democracy and Technology censorship bill update. I urge you to act on the fact that nothing you're reading here or anywhere else on the Internet is safe unless freedom of thought and expression are kept. Like firearms restrictions, the current Internet censorship is only a first step towards limiting and controlling what is said and done on the Internet. It is a direct attack on freedom itself.

Media contact info
Tell the one-way mass-media what you think. When you catch them making distortions/lies/propaganda it's really important to call them on it. Literally. For newspapers and magazines, write letters to the editor. For radio and TV stations, send them a letter for their public file and carbon copy the FCC. Very often your calls and letters will stop the distortions.

I have a copy of Robert A. Carter's (croberts@crl.com-nospam) list of TV networks and programs but remember that only the local stations are legally accountable for what goes out over the airwaves. So to be effective you need to fax the local stations, even when commenting on network-originated programs. See a commercial WWW database of all U.S. TV stations, including addresses and fax numbers.

I also have several lists of media email addresses, including: media-email.12nov95 (41k), medialist, and mass-internet (53k). A fax may have more impact though: lists MEDIAFAX_A-H, MEDIAFAX_I-M, MEDIAFAX_N-Y, contain media fax numbers from 1994. Many are probably still current since these numbers don't change very often. When in doubt, call and check -- they're usually happy to hear from you.

NRA on Clinton's Bullet Ban proposals
Check out NRA's excellent response to Clinton's latest proposals which would ban almost all rifle bullets and many handgun bullets.

talk.politics.guns FAQ file (large: ~360k)
I am pleased to host Ken Barnes excellent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) file for the talk.politics.guns Usenet newsgroup. Ken has collected and edited a wealth of information on arms rights. Please consult this file before posting to talk.politics.guns . A great reference refuting the common "gun control" myths. File is: research/rkba.faq . I'm also archiving Ken's large (350k) RKBA quote book, which is also available broken up as parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

If you're in California...
See the ca directory for the latest on what's going on in the state, especially firearms legislation.

If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area...
Here's some information on local NRA-type firearms safety and marksmanship classes.

Speaking of target shooting:

Internet "(e?-)Postal" Matches
"Postal Matches" are shooting competitions conducted by mail. Typically one would fire at a paper target and mail it in for someone to score and rank. Here's an International competition with the results distributed over the Internet, organized by Geoff Beneze (GeoffB@eworld.com-nospam). Geoff says he's getting a lot of responses -- like so many other things, the Internet makes this much more efficient...

NRA Prez Tom Washington's Letter to George Bush about BATF abuses
Here's an html version of a very good letter that documents abuses by federal agents of ordinary citizens. The occasion of the letter was ex-President George Bush's very public resignation from NRA over the "jack booted thugs" fund raising letter. I don't have a copy of the fund raising letter (try NRA), but the important point is that these and many other illegal, violent abuses by BATF and other federal police agencies should be investigated and prosecuted as the facts call for. If you agree, please write to your members of Congress.

Campaigns & Elections article on November 94 Election
Here's proof that gun owners made the difference in the recent elections. We changed Congress and many state houses through our grassroots, personal action such as walking precincts, working phone banks, and getting friends and family out to vote. The Campaigns & Elections Web site does not currently appear to have this (or any other) article, though it does have contact info for the magazine.

Working on the election campaign of a pro-rights candidate is the most powerful form of grassroots action you can do. NRA is already helping organize for the '96 election. This is the most direct, effective and rewarding way to work for your rights! Please participate any way you can.

It's also very important to remind the folks we put in office why we put them there, lest they forget.... See the following item for contact info:

Congress contact info
It's important to contact your Members of Congress now. How else will they know you want your rights back? congress.txt is a comma delimited text database of contact info for Congress including email addresses, fax and phone numbers and room numbers. You should be able to import this into most fax programs, databases, spreadsheets, word processors, etc. Please snail mail, email, fax, and call -- tell them what's on your mind. If you need some formatting examples or ideas for letters see my letters directory. See also research for some source material.

Faxes are best, paper letters and phone calls next best, email least. Hand written letters get more notice. It's definitely worth writing; your thoughtful and polite letters make a big difference in showing (undecided) legislators where interest and opinion are.

As are all files in my archive, this is also available using: http://rkba.org/federal/104/congress.txt A version of this database with fields in double quotes and cr-lf at the end of each line is: congress.dos

There are also some great Web resources with contact info. See the government section of my faq

Police have no duty to protect individuals
A 1993 article by Peter Kasler showing why "the police have no general duty to protect individuals". Includes the significant case law references.

Anti-gun groups/info
Check up on what the anti-self-defense, anti-rights groups are doing. Don't let their political action and advocacy go unchallenged! Speak up for your rights while you still can.

Who is the Militia? (Hint: You are.)
See my militia directory for more information.

Historic 1995 House RKBA hearings
Coverage of the historic 1995 U.S. House of Representatives hearings on firearms rights held at the start of the 104th Congress.

A Nation of Cowards
A great opinion piece by Jeff Snyder about staying free and safe. I got this directly from the publisher; Scott Ostrander converted to html.

JPFO shows Governments (and gun control) largest mass-murderers of 20th century
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has produced some excellent scholarship tracking gun control as a pre-condition for genocide this century. Columnist Alan Bock had a thorough review of their book Lethal Laws in the 9/11/94 Orange County Register. Noted Second Amendment scholar David Kopel reviewed the book in Volume 15, Numbers 2 & 3, 1995 of the New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law

Here's a press release from JPFO responding to the Anti-Defamation League's lies about JPFO and militias.

Why/how gun rights activists should get on the net.
Here's the flyer I handed out at the 1995 CA Gun Rights Rally. Contains basic info on getting a WWW/email account and a few sites of interest to us. Makes a handy single page flyer.

libertarian page
Here's my collection of some libertarian resources on the net. My libertarian archive includes a directory with most of the files from the International Society for Individual Liberty BBS. The ISIL page includes a link to Scott Banister's HTML versions of their excellent pamphlet series.

The ISIL "book" directory mirrored here includes the complete texts of many important essays on freedom. For example, it includes Thomas Paine's Common Sense, one of the classics of the American Revolution. It's as much a testament to the nature of government as the clear, strong writing and fundamental concepts in Thomas Paine's Common Sense that this monumental title in American thought is as true today as when first written.

HTML versions of Common Sense can also be found elsewhere on the net, such as at the Columbia University Project Bartleby Archive. The Columbia site includes John Stuart Mill's On Liberty.

Libertarian Presidential Nominee Harry Browne makes TV Debates!
Well known financial speaker and author Harry Browne is the first Libertarian candidate to make it into Presidential TV debates! This is some of the best news I've heard in a long time. With Harry Browne's excellent presentation skills, I hope libertarian ideas will free the nation and help restore freedom!

John McGlaughlin goes One-On-One with libertarians
Around the second week of July '95, John McGlaughlin of the PBS political discussion program The McGlaughlin Group had as the subject of his One-On-One interview program the question of libertarian ideas sweeping the nation. Ed Crane of the libertarian Cato Institute (the hottest think tank in D.C.) and John Sheddeg (R-AZ) of the Republican-Liberty Caucus were the guests. The answer is: Yes, libertarian ideas are sweeping the nation!

USA Today Notes Growing Generation X Libertarian Trend
In another hopeful sign, USA Today had a front page article July 26, 1995 about the growth of libertarianism among Generation X'ers. Here's the LP of Virginia press release and the National LP press release about this. Quoting USA Today:
What liberalism was to the Sixties and conservatism was to the Eighties, libertarianism may be to the youth of the 1990s -- the de facto philosophy of a generation steeped in the precepts of latch-key self-reliance and the individual freedoms of the Internet. ... the computer culture -- especially the Internet -- has accustomed twenty-somethings to a libertarian world where individualism is paramount and government just gets in the way.
And here's some more libertarian mention in the national press.

I hope you'll visit again soon & tell other folks about it.
Thanks for stopping by!
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There's much to see, so be sure to
...look around and explore the rest of my archive

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