This is the World Wide Web edition of J. Neil Schulman's book Self Control Not Gun Control. It's posted for informational and entertainment purposes only and may not be crossposted to any other datafile base, conference, news group, email list, or website without written permission of the author. If you wish to purchase the hardcover edition, it's available for sale at this website, or at fine booksellers everywhere.
Copyright © 1995 by J. Neil Schulman. Rights to make copies and print-outs from these files are limited by the license agreement. All other rights reserved.

The Politics of Gun Control

Scorched Earth Policy

It was an ad in the real-estate section.
For sale by owner.
Five bedroom, three bathroom house.
Family and dining rooms, all new appliances.
Three-car garage and large back yard.
Owners motivated to sell.
Fifty thousand pints of blood or best offer.

Well, why not?
Isn't that how we do it?
Dracula must cry
at all the blood ruined by dirt
and because of it.

I can see that some places
might be worth fighting over.
Niagara falls might be worth a few thousand pints.
I might donate a couple of pints myself
for the Grand Canyon.

But why is it
that some deserts
are worth baptizing?

I've seen sand.
When you've seen one dune
you've seen them all.
Cactus isn't that pretty a plant
and I wouldn't take a bus for a camel.

And why is it
that the real-estate they fight over
in Ulster
has the charm of the Bronx?

And Bosnia.
Jesus, Bosnia.
I've seen pictures.
What's left to fight over
isn't worth fighting over.

There is something insane about
variable interest rates
figured in hemoglobin.

So let's play Klaatu.
I'll be Gort.
Solomon would like this, too.
It's a rule from now on.
If you can't play with your toys nicely
You just can't have them.

You fight over land
You spill blood there
You say it's so holy you'll kill for it.

We say:
You have a week.
Get the family pictures
Fill up the pick-up.
Don't forget the dog.
Cause it won't be there after Sunday.

You fight over it,
we'll make it glow in the dark.
You'd better have snapshots
Cause it won't be there Monday.

These things are so simple
if we're serious about ending it.

But if it doesn't happen
Then maybe
just maybe
It isn't about land
But about what we do
for fun?

February 6, 1995

Presented to the 1995 Virtual Gun Rights Conference as a white paper.

Okay, Let's License Guns Just Like Cars

How many times have you heard gun-control advocates argue that it's ridiculous just anyone can buy a gun without a license in most states, considering you need to register your car and get a driver's license?

Further, the argument goes, guns should be registered and licensed the way cars are because while it's true that cars are involved in about 50,000 accidental deaths a year in the United States and firearms in only around 1,500 accidental deaths, guns are used in around 15,000 homicides a year and another 15,000 or so suicides.

Of course this comparison leaves out how many automobile fatalities are actually suicides. Police accident reports have no good way of knowing how many single-driver or opposing-traffic crash fatalities are suicides. An autopsy showing blood alcohol or drugs won't necessarily tell you it was an accident because wouldn't you get stoned if you planned to kill yourself in a car crash?

But the final argument to register guns and license gun owners is always the same. Unlike cars, we are repeatedly told, guns have only one purpose--to kill.

Forget for a moment that the best criminology shows guns being used two-to-three times more often in defense against a crime than guns being used to commit a crime; and forget that the overwhelming number of these gun defenses occur without the trigger ever having to be pulled. Let's also forget that 99.6% of the guns in this country will never shoot anyone.

For the moment, let's just pretend that there is some reason behind the argument that guns should be licensed and registered like cars.

If we're going to take that argument seriously, then let's enact the same standards for owning and operating a firearm in the United States as are actually in use for owning and operating a motor vehicle.

Comparing Manufacture, Ownership Registration, and Enforcement

To begin with, anyone in the United States may own a motor vehicle without a license. You can be living on death row in your state's maximum-security prison and still hold title to a motor vehicle.

But under federal law, no convicted felon, or dishonorably discharged veteran, or a person addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance, may own a firearm; and there are additional restrictions on possession of firearms by persons under a court restraining order.

If we're going to treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we're going to have to repeal these firearms laws.

There are no restrictions whatsoever on what sort of motor vehicle anyone may own. Anyone of any age may buy or own an automobile, or an eighteen-wheeler, or a motorcycle, without restriction. You can own a car that looks like a hot dog, if you feel like it.

But there are both federal and state restrictions on the ownership of various types of firearms, or even parts for them. Restrictions include operational capacities, accessories, or mere appearance. Laws restrict the sale or ownership of fully-automatic firearms; similar restrictions affect some magazine-loading but non-automatic firearms. Other laws restrict rifles with pistol grips or bayonet mounts or flash suppressers. Federal restrictions forbid the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than ten rounds. There are laws against rifles or shotguns with too short a barrel, and restrictions on owning firearms which are made to look like anything else, such as a wallet.

If we treated ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we'd have to repeal these sorts of laws.

One need not register any motor vehicle unless one operates it on public roads. In some states, the registration of a motor vehicle need not be in the actual name of an owner but may be registered under a fictitious or business name. One may own and possess an automobile even if one lives in public housing. There are no laws requiring that automobiles be kept in locked garages or specifically penalizing parents if their children gain access to an unlocked garage and operate the vehicle, causing harm. There is no restriction on the ownership or possession of motor vehicles in Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, New York, or other major cities; nor any requirement that motor vehicles be kept disassembled and locked up or unfueled, unavailable for immediate use.

In cities such as Washington D.C. and New York, numerous prohibitions, restrictions, and requirements are made in the possession of firearms. In Washington D.C. and elsewhere, if you're allowed to own a firearm at all, you must keep it locked up, unloaded, and disassembled, even in your own house. In some public housing projects where the police are rare, poverty-stricken residents must surrender all rights to possess firearms for self-protection. In California and elsewhere, a parent who keeps a loaded or unlocked firearm for protection, even if well-hidden, risks special penalties if a child finds it and causes harm with it.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws.

There is no waiting period or background check necessary for the purchase of any motor vehicle. There is no restriction on the size, power, or seating capacity of the motor vehicles one may legally purchase. No one passed laws making it illegal to lower the noise-making capacity of a motor vehicle; to the contrary, laws require that motor vehicles not violate noise-pollution statutes. There are few or no restrictions forbidding automobile ownership by ex-cons, or convicts on probation, or parolees, or individuals under court restraining orders, or even registered sex offenders--not to mention so-called deadbeat dads. Even persons convicted of vehicular homicide may usually still legally hold title to an automobile.

But there is a waiting period to purchase a firearm in many states, ranging from the five days mandated by the federal Brady Law, to some states or cities where the background check can take many months to process. Background checks often block the purchase of a firearm by someone whose only crime is that she has an unpaid traffic ticket or that he's behind on his child support, or someone is subject to a restraining order obtained as a legal maneuver in a divorce. Often the license allows just one firearm of a type selected by a police official, and also restricts the times, places, and purposes for which one may possess that single firearm. There are laws forbidding the installation of silencers on firearms which would allow them to be fired quietly during target practice, with the result that damage to hearing--even with ear protectors--is common.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these restrictive firearms laws.

There is no federal license needed to manufacture a motor vehicle; nor is the possession of parts with which one can manufacture a motor vehicle subject to federal, state, or local laws. The federal government does not raid the homes of its citizens looking for parts that could be used in the unlicensed manufacture of motor vehicles. Kids can make or modify motor vehicles in their back yards, driveways, or in school auto shops with help from their teachers.

In contrast, manufacture of any firearm requires a federal license requiring fingerprints, an FBI background check, oaths and warrants, and significant license fees. Both federal and state authorities have harassed both licensed dealers and noncommercial sellers suspected of paperwork or technical violations; and sting operations have entrapped individuals. Authorities induced backwoodsman Randy Weaver into sawing a shotgun barrel shorter than the legal limit, and attempted to make him miss a court appearance for this violation by changing his court date without notice; his failure to appear resulted in a violent confrontation between this previously law-abiding man and federal authorities. The confrontation resulted in the death of a federal officer and of Weaver's wife Vicki, who was shot--standing unarmed while holding an infant--by an FBI Hostage Rescue Team sharpshooter only 200 yards away.

At Waco, Texas, an armed assault by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms on the Christian Branch Davidians resulted in a firefight which led to the immediate deaths of seven civilians and four federal agents, and the later deaths of over 80 previously law-abiding men, women, and children; the warrant which authorized this raid was that the Davidians were suspected of possessing parts which would have enabled the conversion of a magazine-fed but non-automatic rifle into a full-auto rifle that--if the federal tax had been paid--would have been legal to own in the state of Texas, anyway.

In numerous cases, acting on nothing more than anonymous tips, federal officers have staged raids on gun-owners' homes, destroying their property, terrorizing their families, confiscating valuable gun collections later determined to be perfectly legal, and even killing their pets. No compensation has ever been made to victims of these gestapo-like raids.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these confusing laws and disband federal police agencies involved in these sorts of operations.

There is no requirement that a motor vehicle be purchased from a licensed dealership. There is no federal licensing of motor vehicle dealers, and no federal bureau with police powers allowing regular inspection of dealer's sales records without a warrant.

In some states, including California, all purchases of firearms must be made from federally-licensed dealers. All federally licensed firearms dealers must allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms a yearly inspection of their dealer-record-of-sales forms. ATF agents have been known to use these occasions for general searches or even theft of any other paperwork they find interesting, without obtaining a search warrant meeting constitutional requirements. The Bill of Rights forbids general searches and requires officers, if they wish a search warrant, to make sworn affidavits stating with specificity what they are looking for and what crime it is evidence of.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws, and forbid such unconstitutional searches.

Anyone can purchase a motor vehicle by mail, or across state lines. There is no restriction onthe number of motor vehicles one may own, or any restrictions on the number of motor vehicles one may buy in a month.

It is illegal to purchase a firearm by mail or from a seller in another state unless one holds a federal dealer's license or such purchase meets legal purchase requirements in both states. Some states, such as Virginia, forbid the purchase of more than one firearm per month.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these laws.

Comparing Licensing

One does not need any license to be in possession of any motor vehicle anywhere in the United States of America. There are no requirements that a motor vehicle be kept locked up and in non-operational condition as a requirement of legally transporting one. There are no laws requiring cars to be stored in locked garages, or otherwise made inaccessible to their owners. Students who drive may drive their cars to school and park them on school property if such parking is available.

In many cities and states, it is illegal for a private individual--and often even a sworn police officer who is off-duty--to be in personal possession of a firearm in operational condition--that is, loaded and without a trigger guard--or in possession of even an unloaded firearm if it is concealed or not deliberately rendered inaccessible to its owner; or to keep even an unloaded firearm in the trunk of one's car or concealed on one's person.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws.

There are no restrictions on the operation of motor vehicles on private property, with the owner's permission, anywhere in the United States. A child may legally operate a motor vehicle on private property with no license required. The only licensing requirements in any state are in the event that one is going to operate that motor vehicle on public streets or highways, in which case one must qualify for and carry an operator's license.

In many states or cities it is impossible for a private individual to legally possess a firearm on public streets at all; and the use of a firearm, even in cases of legal self-defense or protection of the lives of others, often results in prosecution on firearms charges. Bernhard Goetz, acquitted by a jury for shooting young punks on a subway whom he had good reason to believe were attempting to mug him, was convicted and served jail time for possessing the firearm he used to defend himself. There are additional restrictions on the possession of firearms by minors, even with their parents' permission, under conditions where such possession would be for a legally-permissible purpose. In addition to other criminal penalties, students possessing a firearm, or a toy gun, or even empty ammunition casings on school property are suspended or expelled.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws against possession and legitimate use of firearms.

Training for operating a motor vehicle is part of the curriculum at public high schools. There are also private operator's schools in every neighborhood, without zoning restrictions. In many states one may get a learner's permit to operate a motor vehicle on public roads as young as age 14, and an operator's license as young as 16. At 18 one can get an unrestricted operator's license. Additional tests allow one to operate 2-wheeled vehicles and 18-wheel vehicles. The test for an operator's license measures one's knowledge and proficiency in the safe operation of a motor vehicle. You do not have to convince anyone that you have a need for the license. Once you've demonstrated competency at a level that almost anyone can satisfy, the state has no discretion in refusing you an operator's license. Except for convicted violators allowed restricted driving privileges, any state's license for operating a motor vehicle is good in all places throughout the state, at all times, and every state's license is recognized by every other state. The license is good for operating all motor vehicles of that class, not just motor vehicles which one owns.

In those states where it is possible to obtain a license to carry a gun at all, such licenses are often at police discretion, and handed out as payoffs to political cronies. The licensing procedure is often burdensome, invasive of privacy, time-consuming, and expensive. In some states the possession of a carry license is a matter of public record which can be reported in the news. Often licensing is blatantly discriminatory against women and minorities. Often the license has severe restrictions as to time and place that one may carry the firearm, and limits the carrying to only specified firearms. Usually the license is not recognized by other states and a person carrying a firearm under another state's license is prosecuted as if they were not licensed at all. In Los Angeles, actor Wesley Snipes was arrested for carrying a gun; Snipes was licensed to carry in Florida but was charged anyway. Even in states, such as Florida, which make issuance of licenses mandatory to qualified applicants, there are numerous restrictions on the places into which one is permitted to carry the firearm, resulting in accidental violations of law and suspensions of licenses. One must be twenty-one to obtain a license to carry a firearm in most states; and federal law severely restricts possession of firearms by individuals under eighteen, even with their parent's consent. Firearms training in schools is a rarity, with the result that those minors in possession of firearms--even if they have legitimate fear for their lives--are both penalized for carrying them and often left unqualified, by lack of available training, to possess or operate them in a safe or disciplined manner.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must rewrite these carry laws to remove these burdens and restrictions, and make training more available.

You may, with your motor vehicle operator's license, rent a motor vehicle when your motor vehicle is unavailable--such as upon arrival at an airport in a city one is visiting.

There is certainly no Hertz Rent-a-Gun at every airport.

Now, shall we place exactly the same restrictions on the manufacture, vending, purchase, ownership, and operation of firearms that we currently place on automobiles?

The laws regarding motor vehicles in our society, while not perfect, at least recognize these common devices as serving the legitimate purposes of large numbers of the population. Lawmakers have at least tried to see that the laws governing automobile ownership and operation do little more than serve basic public requirements, such as revenue and encouraging proper training and safety awareness. Ordinary motorists, while perhaps overburdened themselves, at least aren't penalized for thinking they have a need to keep a working car with them. Punishments in our society are reserved for those who misuse motor vehicles, not those who use them as they were intended.

Contrariwise, the laws regarding firearms in our society always seem to place the burden of proof on any private person to demonstrate to some public servant a need to own or possess a firearm. Restrictions disarm the public in places where there is increased danger of violence-precisely where one might need to defend oneself.

It is true that, for most of us, guns aren't as useful on a daily basis as cars. Looked at with a micro perspective, you could carry a gun for years before finding it needful; a gun kept for protective purposes is more like a fire extinguisher than a car. You might never need it; but when you do, having it can prevent tragedy.

Looked at with a macro view, existing research shows that one of your neighbors uses a firearm every thirteen seconds or so preventing just that sort of tragedy, and that using a gun for defense against an assault or robbery attempt is twice as likely to keep you unharmed than either not resisting at all or attempting any other form of resistance.

Yet, for a person not either engaged in a life of crime or professionally confronting criminals, it is the very unlikeliness of needing the gun that fosters our problems with them. If more ordinary people carried guns more regularly, more of us would be familiar with them, education in them would be as common as for cars, and we'd see more stories on the news about how one of our fellow citizens was Joanie-on-the-spot with her gun when some psychopath decided to turn her lunch break into a murder spree.

The protection of your life, property, family, and community…hunting game…shooting sports…and training of the young in arms…these are all well-established in our nation's customs, the Declaration of Independence, our Bill of Rights, federal legislation, and various state constitutions and laws. Unlike laws treating motor vehicles, our firearms laws are a patchwork quilt of taxes, burdens, regulations, conditions, invasions of privacy, and outright prohibitions, all expressing the mentality that only persons of political privilege may possess means to use deadly force if the need arises. Gun control advocates demand a "national gun policy," but their demands are only for increases in gun restrictions in places that don't currently have them; they are unwilling to unify laws in such a way that local violations of firearms rights are preempted by federal laws.

So, by all means, let's start immediately rewriting the laws in this country so that the ownership, possession, and use of guns are as fair and even-handed as laws governing cars. Maybe more people will then keep guns with them when they're needed, and criminals with guns will no longer operate with the guarantee of a disarmed public to prey upon.

Honest gun-control advocates should be delighted at this prospect. They just might get precisely what they've asked for.

Go to Next Chapter.

Return to Table of Contents.

Why Do People Fear Guns?

I've come to a conclusion recently. People who think guns should be banned or restricted have an excellent reason for believing that.

Follow my reasoning for a moment.

How do we know what we know? We either have direct experience, or have to rely on what other people tell us or, in the age of recorded information, what we read and what we see on TV and film.

The people who own and carry guns, with some exceptions, are overwhelmingly in favor of them. This is true whether that person is a criminal or a good guy. Criminals like guns because they give them power, which they can use to overcome their targets. Good guys like guns because it gives them the power to deter, frighten away, or combat the criminals who are made more powerful by guns.

On the other hand, those with no direct experience of guns have to rely on secondary sources. For intellectuals, those secondary sources are reports on guns being used--either in print or in broadcasts for the most part--or even more abstract interpretations of those reports, such as statistical compilations.

And, where do those reports come from? They come from police who are called to the scene when a gun has been used. Or, they come from reporters who find out about an incident, usually from the police, and report on it.

The problem is, defensive incidents aren't reported for the most part. If someone frightens away a burglar or a mugger merely by showing that she has a gun, it isn't news. It often isn't even reported to the police, particularly in areas where carrying or owning guns is illegal--and those are the cities with the highest crime rates: New York, Washington D.C., Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Thus, the secondary sources portray a world in which guns are predominantly tools of criminality, rather than of defense against criminality.

The solution?

People whose only opinions about guns are based on the opinions of others who have as little direct experience as they do should practice a little humility, and at least consider that gun owners may know more about the gun issue than they do.

Go to Next Chapter.

Return to Table of Contents.

In Defense of the NRA

Most of what you hear about guns on TV and radio, and most of what you read about guns in prominent magazines and newspapers, is distorted to the point of lying, by writers who have a prejudice against private ownership of guns by the American public.

Most journalists today write as if the NRA--usually lumped in with the Tobacco Institute--represents only the commercial interests of "merchants of death" who don't care how many lives are lost--particularly the lives of our young people--just so long as they get to keep selling their product.

So let's get that myth out of the way right now.

The National Rifle Association of America is a 124-year-old organization almost entirely financed by the dues and small contributions of its 3.2 million members, not by money from the gun manufacturers. In addition to the NRA's other programs, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action lobbies for the right to keep and bear arms not only of 70 million current American gun owners, but of anyone who might want to exercise that right in the future.

This media hostility to the NRA permeates the entire debate about guns and violence in this country, and allows lie to be piled upon lie. When NRA held a news conference to tell the media that a new Luntz-Weber poll showed that most Americans don't think gun control will reduce crime or violence, the room was empty. When Handgun Control, Inc., called a news conference around the same time to discuss the results of a Louis Harris poll, the room was jammed with reporters and TV cameras, and the media reported Handgun Control's interpretation of the poll results as if it were a papal encyclical.

At some point, you just have to ask yourself the following question: who knows more about guns--the millions of NRA members who own them, handle them on a regular basis, and have taken NRA's safety courses…or journalists who talk and write about guns for television networks and national magazines, but are often afraid even to be in the same room with one?

As a comparison, would you believe a writer who spent his life railing about how dangerous automobiles were, but who had never sat behind the steering wheel of a car? Why on earth would you believe a critic who spent his life telling you how to improve automotive safety but who had never bothered to get an engineering degree--and who dismissed the opinions of real automotive experts who pointed out the critic's incompetence and bias, sneering that the experts were "just mouthpieces for the automobile manufacturers' lobby"?

The press accuses the NRA of being the most powerful lobby in America. God only knows that with our rights to maintain the means to defend ourselves hanging by a thread, I pray this remains true.

Part of the reason for the media's hostility to civilian firearms may be ideological disagreement with our philosophical premises. But part of it is without doubt the realities of how news collection and reporting works day-to-day.

The problem is what sociologists call "dark side phenomena": events that happen in a way that they can't be easily seen or calculated.

It's the classic problem of how you would go about proving that an extraterrestrial with an invisibility cloak is hiding behind a door. When the door is closed, you can't detect him because the door is in the way. As soon as the door starts to open, he turns on his invisibility cloak, so you still can't see him. It's logically impossible to prove that the extraterrestrial isn't there, so the burden of proof falls on those who assert that he is. But without either the extraterrestrial's active co-operation, or an indirect means of confirming its presence despite its proven ability to remain hidden, this is darned difficult to do.

That's why it's taken so long for criminologists to prove that there are two to three times as many incidents every year where a firearm is used in defense against a criminal than there are incidents where a firearm is involved in harming an innocent person.

Gary Kleck, Ph.D., professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, is considered the dean of criminologists on firearms issues by his colleagues in the American Society of Criminology, who in 1993 awarded Kleck its coveted Hindelang Award for his book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1991). Kleck's unimpeachable liberal credentials--he's a registered Democrat and a member of Common Cause and Amnesty International, for example--precludes any possibility of pro-conservative or pro-NRA bias. He takes no funding from any partisan in the gun-control debate.

In Point Blank, Kleck had already analyzed a dozen studies conducted by other researchers, and had concluded that American gun owners used their firearms at least one million times each year in defense against criminals. But Kleck wasn't satisfied with the research methods used in some of these studies, so in Spring, 1993 he and his colleague Marc Gertz, Ph.D., conducted a National Self-Defense Survey of 4,978 households.

I interviewed Kleck about the not-yet-published results of this survey for the September 19, 1993 Orange County Register; it's also included in Stopping Power.

What Kleck's National Self-Defense Survey discovered is that even excluding all uses of firearms by police, military, or security personnel, American gun owners use privately owned firearms 2.45 million times each year in actual defenses against criminals. About 1.9 million of these defenses use handguns, the rest some other firearm--a shotgun or a rifle.

In Stopping Power, I boil down the results of my interview with Kleck as follows:

Every 13 seconds, American gun owners use their firearm in defense against criminals. If you're only counting handguns, it's every 16 seconds. Compare this to the "once every two minutes" that the much-ballyhood Death Clock in New York City's Times Square clicked off an incident of "gun violence."

Women use handguns 416 times each day in defense against rapists, which is a dozen times more often than rapists use a gun in the course of a rape. Handguns are used 1145 times a day against robbers. Handguns are used 1510 times a day in defense against criminal assaults.

A gun kept in the home for protection is 216 times as likely to be used in a defense against a criminal than it is to cause the death of an innocent victim in that household--the well-publicized Seattle study's 43-1 ratio of dead householders to dead burglars notwithstanding.

It's this lack of dead bodies for the police to find which is the main reason that for every time you see on TV or read in a newspaper about a gun being used to defend someone, you are seeing hundreds of cases where a firearm is used in an incident of wrongful violence.

Kleck's data shows that in only 14% of the gun defenses reported in the National Self-Defense Survey was the gun in question even fired. In only 8% of gun defenses did the survey respondent believe that he or she had even wounded a criminal, much less killed one--and this might be a vastly high estimate of criminals shot by their potential victims, given the relatively small number of actual justifiable or excusable homicides recorded each year--between 1500 and 2800, according to Kleck.

The question remains: why aren't crime victims reporting their gun defenses to the police, so that these incidents can find their way onto the evening news?

The answer is the prejudice in our society against gun ownership itself. Most of the crime in this country takes place in large cities, and for most of this century, city-dwellers have been either socially discouraged or legally prohibited from carrying a firearm for protection.

The New York City case of Bernhard Goetz in the mid-1980's was a perfect example.

After one grand jury failed to indict Goetz, a white, middle-class victim of a previous armed robbery, for shooting and critically wounding several African-American teenagers whom Goetz said had threatened him with a sharpened screwdriver on a subway car, the New York prosecutor submitted the case to a second grand jury, which did indict Goetz. Goetz was acquitted of all charges except illegally carrying the handgun he had used to defend himself, and served jail time on those gun charges. Additionally, even though Roy Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality--now an NRA director--sided with Goetz, Goetz's action was portrayed in the media as racially motivated.

After seeing what happened to Bernie Goetz for carrying the means to defend himself, is there any wonder why most people decide not to tell the police that they had to use a gun to save their lives?

Every month, news clippings about gun defenses are sent in by readers of the NRA's magazines, The American Rifleman and The American Hunter, and many are published in "The Armed Citizen" column in these magazines. Many of these news clippings are from smaller newspapers, or from newspapers in rural regions where gun ownership is more accepted. Major newspapers in Democratic-party-controlled cities hardly ever report on incidents where the use of a gun has a beneficial result, even when the incident deserves a front-page headline.

Two months after the much-reported October 16, 1991 incident where a madman randomly murdered 23 lunchers, and wounded another 19 at a restaurant in Killeen, Texas, postal clerk Thomas Glenn Terry, who had a license to carry his concealed .45 semi-auto pistol, saved 20 hostages in an Anniston, Alabama restaurant from takeover robbers--one of whom had murdered a motel clerk just a few days earlier. No TV network news program mentioned it. A madman with a gun is news. A hero with one isn't.

The same thing happened again on September 18, 1992, when ex-prizefighter Randy Shields, a part-time bodyguard with a rare license to carry a concealed .380 semi-auto pistol, saved a 4 n 20 Pie Shop in Studio City, California from a gang of takeover robbers who had already started shooting wildly at customers and employees. The story wasn't reported outside Southern California--and the anti-gun Los Angeles Times buried the story in its sports section.

This distortion of how firearms are actually used in our country is only the beginning of the myths the anti-gun media creates: cop-killer bullets that were sold as police rounds and never killed a cop; "Rhino" hollowpoint bullets which, defying all laws of wound ballistics, are reported as being able to penetrate police body armor; deadly "assault weapons" which hardly ever end up in police evidence lockers; "invisible plastic guns" which contain over a pound of metal and X-ray identically to all other handguns--this list is almost endless.

The media gleefully report every case where a waiting-period law supposedly kept a gun out of the hands of a criminal--but they never bother checking to find out how many of these criminals who were denied a gun purchase were later arrested in possession of a gun they'd stolen or bought on the black-market anyway.

They edit TV footage to misrepresent the accuracy and firepower of "assault weapons"--to make them look more deadly than they actually are.

The news reporters terrorize you with daily shooting reports to make you afraid of guns, then the editorialists and columnists call you paranoid for thinking the danger is great enough that you should consider keeping a gun to defend yourself from all these armed criminals.

As I said, it depends on whom you're going to trust: the people at the NRA who have 124 years of institutional experience dealing with firearms, or a bunch of ignorant, politically biased pundits who believe the lies they tell each other.

Isn't it your right to demand that the people who report the news make the effort to get the real facts about guns and gun control, so you can make a rational decision for yourself?

Or are you willing to have the American media continue to manipulate and lie to you?

In the months following the November 8, 1994 elections--which even President Clinton recognized as a defeat of anti-gun Democrats because of NRA's opposition--the attacks on the NRA by the Clinton administration and its media choirboys have been relentless. They've even sunk so low as to try to blame the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building on the "extremism" of NRA's opposition to their gun-control schemes.

But there are many up-sides to this sort of political attack. The first is simply that the more the Democrats attack the NRA, the more they are showing that the NRA is a potent force reshaping the American political landscape.

The second is that it's making the gun issue a litmus test for both parties. The more pro-gun Democrats are being pressured to ignore their pro-NRA constituents and follow the Democrats' anti-NRA leadership, the more Democrats are looking to get out of their party and look for a more congenial political home. And the more anti-gun Republicans like Rudolph Giuliani and John Warner endorse Democrats--and the more liberal Republicans like George Bush and Pete Wilson jump on the anti-NRA bandwagon--the more apparent it will become to the Republican leadership that anti-NRA Republicans can't be trusted to support Republican candidates…and when Republicans support gun rights, the NRA can.

It's your right to keep and bear arms that the NRA is defending. It's possibly your life--or that of a loved one or neighbor--that's hanging in the balance.

While not even the Tobacco lobby would dare to claim that their product saves lives, the NRA--through both its firearms safety programs and its support for gun-owners rights--does.

And in my view, that makes the NRA one of the best things America has going for it.

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NRA and the Libertarian Party

Some Libertarian Party critics of the NRA have been putting forward a strategy of pursuing liberty by advocating only undiluted liberty and accepting nothing less. I have no quarrel with that. I have stated myself that our ultimate goals must be stated loudly and clearly, even as we work for tactical victories or minor strategic improvements.

But some of these critics have been engaging in typical self-destructive radical tactics of denouncing anyone who doesn't make kamikaze runs at the target as a sell-out.

This flawed tactic was first made evident to me in the November 8, 1994 elections. Some libertarians were perfectly prepared to campaign for Libertarian Party candidates who couldn't win even if doing so would cause the defeat of Republican seatholders--which would have kept the Democratic Party in power. It didn't matter to them that by punishing Republican candidates who voted for the anti-gun crime bill it would result in anti-gun Democrats maintaining their abilities to ram additional gun-control down our throats, and keep our allies in the Republican Party powerless to fight for us.

Strategy was subservient to revenge.

This is irrational, counterproductive thinking. "Strategy" like this is one of the reasons the Libertarian Party has been a small benign tumor on the American body politic since its formation in 1971. It's also one of the main reasons that I think the NRA-ILA has been proved correct, against my advice, in its decision to pretend that Libertarian Party candidates don't exist, even when they're the only candidates on the ballot advocating the right to keep and bear arms. If you're serious about politics, you don't support losers, whiners, loose cannons, and people who will stab you in the back the first time you have to close a deal that doesn't bring about the millennium in the first round.

The Libertarian Party critics' attack on the NRA is, as far as I'm concerned, based on ignorance regarding the character and motives of the people currently running NRA-ILA. It fails to see that the Neal Knox slate of candidates is transforming the NRA from a sportsmen's club to a potent, emerging force for political liberty. I think it also displays a faulty analysis of what lobbying is capable of doing and what it is not.

Here's our situation. The Republican Party is home to many advocates of the Right To Keep and Bear Arms (RTKBA), but it is also home to many people who are in their heart statist pigs. The 1994 elections changed the mixture in the direction of the RTKBA advocates, but it is still an open question whether there are enough to repeal anti-gun laws over the agenda of the Republican leadership, which is not where the strongest support for RTKBA lies.

The alternative in USA realpolitik is the Democratic Party, which is dominated by statist pigs who want to fry RTKBA forever.

The Libertarian Party has had a quarter of a century to try to convince the American people that it reflects the values of the Founding Fathers. While it has crafted party platforms that express views that I believe are logical extrapolations of 18th century republicanism, it has never found candidates who are both people of depth and charismatic spokesmen for its viewpoint. A party which should have as its supporters George Lucas, Bill Gates, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Clancy instead gives us the likes of Howard Stern--as a bad joke.

The Libertarian Party has never elected a single Representative to the Congress of the United States, nor a United States Senator, nor a governor of any of the 50 states, nor--for that matter--a mayor of an American city of the first order. In its campaigns for the presidency it has never achieved anything other than a fractional vote total.

Perhaps it is impossible to build a major third party in America, but Ross Perot--using nothing but charisma, some folksy sound bites, and cash--managed to do in six months what the Libertarian Party couldn't do in two-and-a-half decades. So if any cynicism is due from any quarter, I'd say the Libertarian Party has certainly earned it.

Which leaves us with the Libertarian Party critics' attacks both on the NRA and the Republican Party.

The Republican Party finds itself with more power than its leadership expected to have, due largely to a disenchantment with the politics of statism--and the power-grab of gun-controllers in particular. It is our job to make sure that the Republican leadership pays its debt to us. This will not be accomplished if we prove to them that we will shoot ourselves in the foot by putting the Democrats back into power if the Republicans screw us. It is accomplished by reminding the Republicans that we are capable of going into the Republican primaries with the vigor we went into the 1994 general elections, and playing Big Time Payback if they don't pay us. We can, effectively, veto any Republican candidacy for the presidency if we feel like it. We could go into Newt Gingrich's own Congressional District and defeat him, if he doesn't pay us off. This could end Newt's career while leaving the Republican Party in power--not a bad outcome, if he doesn't keep his word to us.

Libertarian Party critics don't realize that the NRA is our best shot at playing this sort of hardball--and they also don't realize that Tanya Metaksa is an ideologically hard-core pit bull who isn't about to let the Republican Leadership scam us.

Repealing the gun prohibitions enacted in the Crime Bill doesn't have to happen in the first 100 days. It just has to happen soon enough that we can manipulate the Republican primaries to our ends, if they fail us. If this means that the Republicans attach a repeal as a rider to some unrelated legislation that Clinton can't afford to veto, fine. I don't believe in telling professionals how to do their job. You just tell them what results you expect and how fast you'll fire their butts if they fail to achieve them.

I support the Libertarian Party critics' uncompromising defense of the right to keep and bear arms. But I also realize that if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If the American public were all self-aware libertarians, we would have already won. But we are contending with a society in which the educational and media establishments have been lying to people for most of this century, and we have been fighting a holding action. Right at the point when things are just beginning to swing back in our favor is not the time to get involved in dividing our own forces. It's the time to get the enemy to divide their forces.

If it's time for a third party in America right now, I want it to be some sort of leftist-fringe party which will suck off ultraliberal votes and keep the Democratic Party out of power. This would allow the Republican Party to keep seats without either moving to the center-left (the Rockefeller Republicans) or having to appeal to its repressive right (the nativist protectionists, the America-is-a-Christian-Country fundamentalists). There is a home in the Republican Party for libertarian ideology--the ideology of smaller government, decentralism, bringing the troops home, privatization, RTKBA, and mind-your-own-business social policy--if Republicans realize that libertarians have been the intellectual leaders of the American right for most of the last two decades. Perhaps the Libertarian Party has played some significant role in this--but it is hard to get people to take your ideas seriously when you are ranting about what sons of bitches they are.

It's time to stop this infighting. It's time for libertarians to realize that we are essentially teachers rather than politicians, and let those in politics who can be reached by our ideas take them, regardless of their party affiliation.

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The following article appeared in Out of Step Vol. 3, No. 11 November 25, 1994.

Can You Handle Victory?

November 9, 1994

We won the elections.

You. Me. The NRA. Gun Owners of America. The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

According to Connie Chung on CBS News tonight, about one-third of registered voters went to the ballot box yesterday, and 25% of them were gun owners, and about four out of five of them voted for the more conservative candidate or ballot issue.

You know the results. An avalanche which swept the Democratic Party out of power in both houses of Congress for the first time in forty years--and control of a majority of governor's mansions.

Today's Los Angeles Times reports that out of 24 races which the NRA targeted, they won 19: a batting average of .791.

Sell-outs on the assault-weapons ban gone: Tom Foley, Jack Brooks.

Enemies gone: Governor Ann Richards of Texas, whose threatened veto killed CCW reform there; Governor Mario Cuomo of New York; Howard Metzenbaum's hand-picked successor; Dan Rostenkowski.

Enemies humbled: Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who won't get much of a chance to talk about 10,000% ammunition taxes anymore); Charles Schumer (who lost chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime); Ted Kennedy; and Rudy Giuliani, who endorsed both greater gun control and the losing Cuomo.

Friends now in power: Orrin Hatch, who'll take over the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and numerous pro-gun Republicans who will now control House and Senate rules and the committees.

Distinct possibilities if we press for it: real investigations of Waco (because Republicans control the judiciary committees of both Houses and the governor's mansion in Texas now); as well as investigations of the ATF and FBI misconduct in the Randy Weaver case; and Whitewater, including the numerous mysterious Arkansas-related deaths.

What we have, my friends, is a real possibility of pressing our agenda, if we can avoid fighting each other for a little while and close ranks.

We must, first and foremost, press home to the Republicans who was responsible for putting them in office: we did it.

We must let elected officials know that running against gun owners is political suicide. The final returns on the Feinstein-Huffington race are not in yet, but even if Huffington loses, an analysis of the vote will show it was lack of gun-owner enthusiasm that cost him his victory--in spite of $28 million dollars he spent buying TV time.

Our overall agenda: we must use this breathing space to educate the public on three points: (1) private guns in this country save lives; (2) when 5% to 10% of the public carries guns in public, random street crime in this country will be reduced by 90%; and (3) gun control tends to increase violent crime by shifting the balance of power to the well-armed criminal.

Our immediate political agenda: (1) reduce the impact of the Brady Law by speeding up implementation of instant background checks and depriving states which still cause gun owners delays of federal criminal justice funding; (2) eliminate restrictions on the manufacture and importation of firearms and magazines banned by the 1994 Crime Bill and redirect the restrictions only to convicted violent felons; (3) passage of a federal law recognizing the Second Amendment as an individual right and implementing a national standard restricting ownership or carrying of arms only to persons prohibited by reason of criminal convictions, criminal insanity, or provable criminal intent; (4) repeal of the 1934 Firearms Act and the 1968 Gun Control Act, and the abolition of the ATF, a federal agency which uses as its symbol a handgun with a circled slash through it.

Longer term: we must make the Second Amendment a litmus test for the appointment of all federal judges, particularly the next appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And we must ram home to the Republican Party that Republicans such as Riordan and Giuliani and Warner who attack gun-owners can be counted on to stab the Republican Party in the back by supporting Democratic candidates.

A few weeks ago I was convinced the United States, as a federal constitutional republic, was finished, and was busy distributing copies of a ballot initiative to break up the United States, hoping some of the states could regain their liberty.

Now the American people have crushed my cynicism and convinced me that this is still America.

We have a chance for victory, folks.

Let's pat each other on the back, then get back to work.

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The following article appeared in Out of Step Vol. 3, No. 11 November 25, 1994.

Putting Republican Feet to the Fire

Maybe you have noticed that the Second Amendment is not mentioned in the Republican Contract With America.

Maybe you have noticed that Republican spokespeople have not been mentioning gun owners as having played a significant part in turning the Congress of the United States over to a Republican majority in both houses for the first time in four decades.

Maybe you have noticed that Republicans seem to be treating gun owners like an embarrassing rich cousin at a wedding feast. The gifts were too extravagant not to invite the cousin--but the cousin is seated as far away from the bride and groom as possible.

My fellow gun owners, I am not happy about this--and I darn well don't trust politicians to do the right thing unless they are given no wiggle room whatsoever.

I propose the following:

First, if you are not a registered Republican, switch your registration to Republican. Next, Republican gun owners must send letters to the Republican leadership--Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole, in particular--explaining that we are neither trustful nor patient when it comes to our Second Amendment rights. Tell them why you voted on November 8th--whether it was primarily your concerns about prayers in schools or your concerns about the right to keep and bear arms that brought you out to the polls in an off-year election.

Third, we need to raise a national political war chest for the 1996 elections. We need to raise a large amount of money soon enough to explain to the Republican leadership that if they pass laws restoring our Second Amendment rights, this money will be spent on Republican candidates in the 1996 general elections; but if the Republicans fail to restore our Second Amendment rights by this time in 1995, the money will be spent in Republican primaries to defeat the Republican leaders who failed to deliver for us--and to make especially sure that no Republican candidate who isn't 100% dedicated to protecting our Second Amendment rights will get anywhere near the Republican nomination for president in 1996.

You may not have realized the political clout we just demonstrated on November 8th. We had better let the Republican leadership know that we aren't wallflowers at this wedding celebration and if they don't ask us onto the dance floor fast, they just aren't going to enjoy the honeymoon.

And as I look at the Republican leadership's performance six months later, it's a mixed bag. Newt Gingrich has included a chapter on the importance of the Second Amendment in his book; Bob Dole committed himself to repeal of the anti-firearms provisions of the 1994 Crime Law…yet in the wake of the Oklahoma bombing, the Republican leadership can't hold together the votes to repeal the "assault weapons" and magazine bans...and a Republican-chaired House subcommittee--with time-limits and softball questions--failed to bring out the truth about who were the real criminals at Waco.

This may be outdated information by the time this book sees print. Books have a long lead time between writing and printing. But if the Republicans don't get their act together, grass-roots politicking by gun owners is going to give them a kick in the butt they won't like. --JNS

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The following article appeared in Out of Step Vol. 4, No. 6, June 23, 1995.

Political Apologies

I was in Phoenix at the NRA's 1995 annual meeting when I first learned that Wayne LaPierre had issued an apology for the NRA fund-raising letter which used the phrase "jack-booted thugs" in reference to federal law-enforcement agents at Waco, Ruby Ridge, and elsewhere.

My first reaction was the same as most libertarians: what on Earth does Wayne think he's doing? You don't apologize when you're right. You don't apologize when doing so will reveal your underbelly to your enemies.

So, I introduced a resolution during the annual meeting on May 19th. It was one of my shorter works. The resolution was, "No more apologies!"

I thought it would be quite clear to the NRA membership what this meant, in the context of recent events.

NRA President Tom Washington read the resolution to the assembled members. There was applause. He called for a second and heard one.

I didn't bother speaking for the resolution; I thought everyone understood it.

The first person to come to one of the eight microphones offered an amendment, asking that all such resolutions, when passed, be published in the American Rifleman and American Hunter magazines. I accepted this as a friendly amendment with regard to this particular resolution.

The second person to come to a microphone to speak regarding the resolution was perhaps the most respected man in the room: firearms philosopher and trainer, Jeff Cooper. He opposed it. Cooper said it was impossible to tie the hands of an organization's leadership so that they couldn't apologize when they made a mistake.

The third person to speak on my resolution was Wayne LaPierre. He reiterated what he had said in an earlier address to the members, that his apology was to federal law-enforcement officers who might have thought that he was calling them all jack-booted thugs, not just the few who committed wrong-doings at Waco, Ruby Ridge, and so forth.

By this point, there were about half a dozen people lined up at the against microphones to oppose the resolution, and no one at a for microphone to support it.

If I had been more adept at parliamentary tactics, I might have asked to amend my resolution to something like, "There was nothing to apologize for!" But, I felt disheartened that so obvious a point had been missed by the thousand or so NRA members sitting in the hall--or that they simply disagreed with my attempt to stiffen the NRA's spine.

Fellow activists came up to me and asked me to withdraw my resolution so as not to give the media more fodder for claiming the NRA was divided and in disarray.

I took their advice. Approaching a microphone and getting recognized by President Washington on a point of personal privilege, I said that having gotten a sense of the meeting, and because of Mr. LaPierre's eloquent words, I was withdrawing my resolution.

My withdrawal received far louder applause than the resolution's introduction.

Now, what are we to make of all this?

The first thing that strikes me is that the NRA leadership has an excellent sense of what will play with the NRA membership and what won't play--a far better grasp than I had.

The leaders of a democratic organization have to speak for the organization. They can't be either more radical or less radical than the membership wants them to be--or they will be out of a job.

And, if I did nothing else, I demonstrated that Wayne LaPierre is almost precisely where the NRA membership wants him to be.

The membership, as expressed in their treatment of various resolutions from the floor, want the NRA leadership to be politically activist in opposing infringements on the Second Amendment, but they want the organization to steer clear of privately organized militias, steer well clear of any sort of armed resistance to government authority, and they want the NRA to be perceived as generally supporting law enforcement.

Wayne LaPierre's apology to federal law-enforcement, while refusing to back down on specific cases of abuse of power under color of authority by federal law-enforcement officers, appears to be exactly the balance that the NRA membership wants their leaders to take on their behalf.

It's no secret that I'm a revolutionary, albeit one who believes revolution can be accomplished in the voting booth, who wants government power reduced and dispersed, and private rights and powers maximized. I'm a Liberal Republican: a 19th century liberal and an 18th century republican.

But any revolutionary has to be aware that revolution is a political effort, which requires winning the support of the people. A revolution without popular support is almost a contradiction in terms: it wouldn't be a revolution but a mere coup d'état, a changing of tyrants.

If, as it seems, the NRA is currently the largest organization in the United States--about 3.4 million members--that defends the entire Bill of Rights, that would explain why the NRA was successful in overturning four decades of Democratic Party rule of Congress because of the 103rd Congress passing a gun ban…why the Republican Party leadership fears the NRA and supports their political agenda…why the keynote speaker at the NRA annual meeting was Republican Presidential hopeful Phil Gramm…why Wayne LaPierre and Tanya Metaksa had as many TV cameras, microphones, and notepads around them at the meeting as Johnnie Cochran does when he leaves Judge Ito's courtroom…and why every newspaper I saw--every TV news program--featured the NRA convention as one of the lead stories of the weekend.

It also means that the NRA goes about as far, in opposing the actions and policies of the federal government, as the American people are willing to go at this time.

In politics, it does not pay to get too far away from the feelings of the people, no matter what your agenda. If you think that Wayne LaPierre and the NRA looked bad at the end of this brawl, look at the bruises on the other guy.

Personally, I'm not particularly worried about the NRA apology. That will be forgotten by next week. What won't be forgotten is that the NRA was willing to call jack-booted thugs jack-booted thugs…and the next time jack-booted thugs do their thing, everybody will start asking under their breath, "Hey, wasn't it the NRA who warned us?"

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Gun Club to Gun Rights Author:
No Guns Allowed!

August 5, 1994

Well, here's one for the books.

A few weeks ago I was invited to be a luncheon speaker for a gun club on the subject of concealed-carry weapons licenses. The club is drawn from employees of a huge conglomerate which, among other things, supplies credit information to banks and supplies various and sundry widgets to the Department of Defense.

One of the reasons I was asked to be a speaker on the subject of CCW licenses is that I have one. Here in Southern California they are notoriously hard to get, and I was one of the people who instigated, and acted as an advisor to, a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles for failing to comply with California state law regarding its responsibility to issue CCW licenses to persons "of good moral character" who can "show good cause."

I believe in practicing what I preach. I suggest in my new book, Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns, that one of the reasons we in this country suffer from the crime that we do is that there are way too few honest people carrying guns. I give several examples in the book where ordinary individuals carrying guns saved groups of people--as many as 20 at a time--from armed criminals. I also give examples such as the Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, the law office in San Francisco, and the Long Island Railroad, where massacres of large groups of unarmed people could have been stopped if any of the victims had carried a gun for self-defense.

As a consequence of my study of these issues, I "don't leave home without it"--and I'm not talking about a credit card. I leave home armed, and the only time I have left my gun in my car is when I had to go into a courtroom to fight a parking ticket.

I pointedly chose not to go into the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance several months ago--a museum attached to the Simon Wiesenthal Center devoted to the Holocaust--when they wouldn't let me keep my gun with me, even after I showed museum officials my CCW license. I'm a Jew who believes that if the Jews of Europe had been well-armed, there couldn't have been any Holocaust in the first place. I also believe American Jews who support gun prohibition are setting their children up to be victims of the next Hitler to come to power. I gave their librarian a copy of Stopping Power to educate the Museum of Tolerance's gun-intolerant director, and left.

The gun club was inviting me to speak during lunch yesterday in a conference room on the company premises. As soon as I was told where I would be speaking, I notified the club's officers to give advance warning to company security that I was a CCW license holder, so there wouldn't be any surprises.

As a defense contractor, the company has decided that armed citizens on its premises are a threat to national security, and has a no-gun policy for employees or visitors. The club members I spoke to informed me several times that if I didn't bring up the subject myself that I was carrying a gun with me, there wouldn't be any problem. I assumed that some club member had discussed this with company security as I was told a policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" had been arrived at. I found out only yesterday that no one from the gun club had bothered to talk to company security, and club members had spent two weeks advertising my appearance at the meeting on the assumption that I would, at the last moment, decide to leave my gun in the car rather than disappoint the club.

The people who invited me, however, started worrying that my even trying to walk into the company premises with my gun might get club members in trouble with their bosses. So they phoned me the day before my appearance, asking me not to bring my gun in with me. My response was simple: "Where my gun isn't welcome, I'm not welcome."

I've passed an FBI background check and California POST certification for reserve police officers. Anyone who wants me to disarm is telling me that they consider my gun a threat rather than an additional protection.

I find that insulting. I also find a request to disarm to be pusillanimous and un-American.

I told them, "If your company considers that my gun is unwelcome, then I'll be happy to speak anytime to the gun club at another location where it is welcome."

They didn't seem to have considered moving the meeting when I told them that or, for that matter, any time during those two weeks.

I was told by one of the club members that I was being "unreasonable." Thank you. I was being unreasonable. It's Americans being "reasonable" about taking off their guns for the last century or so that's got us into this mess where armed criminals have a field day with legally disarmed victims, and people can be convinced by professional liars that their neighbors' guns are a danger to them.

There used to be laws requiring men to wear their guns to church. Now there are laws declaring "places of worship" defiled if members of the congregation go in to worship while armed.

Kids used to park their .22 rifles near the coat racks when they went to school. Now 11-year-old girls are suspended for carrying water pistols to school, and Patrick Purdy was free to massacre school kids with an AK-47 lookalike because even the school teachers are disarmed and helpless to defend the innocent children placed in their charge.

Unreasonable? Unreasonable?

You tell me what's unreasonable when workers allow their bosses to disarm them like slaves. When local Los Angeles TV news is running special features about how the most common cause of death at work is murder, you tell me a "no guns" policy is to be tolerated. If ever there was an issue for a union to have called a strike over, this is it.

I would very much like to have spoken to the gun club about the value of carrying guns.

But when the club members got to the meeting room and found out that their scheduled speaker, the author of a new book on the gun issue, wasn't coming because he wouldn't take off his gun, perhaps they learned more than I could ever had said to them on the subject anyway.

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Q&A On Civilian Gun Carrying

The following are replies I made to a challenge I received in a November, 1994 gun-control discussion on GEnie where I posted as a message "Can You Handle Victory?" In it I'd said, "when 5% to 10% of the public carries guns in public, random street crime in this country will be reduced by 90%."

The questions are in italics.

Could you please offer your references for this claim. You didn't just make this up did you?

My analysis that 5% to 10% of a population carrying guns will reduce street crime by 90% is based on several different things.

The first is observation of several incidents in Israel, where you do have around 10% of the civilian population carrying guns regularly. In these incidents, terrorists with fully automatic assault weapons opened fired on civilian crowds, only to receive immediate return fire from Israeli civilians, who captured or killed them. One took place in Jerusalem in April, 1984; another in Ashod in February of this year. The results are in marked contrast from massacres by armed assailants of unarmed civilians in this country such as the Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, and the Long Island Railroad.

In the Israeli cases, civilian fatalities were a fraction of those in the American cases. I am contrasting these cases because they involve assailants whose main object was the deaths of innocent victims rather than some other crime such as robbery or rape.

In the American examples cited, anti-gun-carrying laws eliminated the likelihood that a civilian would be carrying a gun and therefore could resist with one.

The second is my analysis of the National Self Defense Survey conducted by professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz in Spring, 1993 at Florida State University, and information (quoted in Kleck's book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America) drawn from a 1975-1980 National Crime Survey compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Kleck interview is in Stopping Power. Since that interview, Kleck has written his own monograph on his survey's results which confirm and expand upon what he told me in the interview.

The National Self Defense Survey shows that about 1.3% of the population uses a firearm each year in defense against a criminal. That comes to around 2.45 million defenses per year, or a defense on average every 13 seconds. About a third of these defenses take place in the home and another third take place in areas immediately surrounding the home. The remaining third take place away from home. There is also quantitative data on what crimes were being attempted. According to Kleck, "About 8 percent of the defensive uses involved a sexual crime such as an attempted sexual assault. About 29 percent involved some sort of assault other than sexual assault. Thirty-three percent involved a burglary or some other theft at home. Twenty-two percent involved robbery."

The National Crime Survey data analyzed by Kleck breaks down crime encounters by whether and how offenders are armed compared with how potential victims are armed, in robberies and assaults--the crimes that people are most subject to away from home. It finds that those potential crime victims who resist with a firearm are far less likely to suffer harm than those who resist with a lesser weapon, no weapon, or do not resist at all. To quote criminologist Don Kates's summary of this data in his foreword to Stopping Power: "Though the submissive are only half as likely to be injured by criminals as are victims who resist without a gun, criminological data show victims who submit are still twice as likely to be injured by criminals as are victims who resist with a gun--not to mention that the submissive are much more likely to be raped or robbed."

Gun carrying is observably most effective, then, in precisely those cases where a civilian would want to carry away from home: common robberies and assaults, and the much-less-common but more devastating civilian massacres. And the 5% to 10% figure is based on two elements: it's the point at which it is more likely than not that an assailant intent on massacre of a crowd of civilians will encounter at least one armed civilian who could provide effective resistance; and it is the point at which a criminal who engages in a regular pattern of robberies or assaults will likely encounter an armed civilian within the first few attempts, and either be scared into a less violent lifestyle or die attempting to continue it.

The claim of a 90% reduction of street crime is based both on the likely elimination of that 3% of frequent criminals who are responsible for 90% of robberies and assaults; and an historical analysis of current crime rates with that of American cities of the 19th century where the custom of civilians carrying guns relegated crime to gunfights between usually drunk young men, but where rape, assault of random strangers, and muggings were virtually unknown.

Currently, even in the one-third of American states which make it easy for civilians to carry guns, only between 1% to 4% of the population are known to carry guns (because they are known to have a license to carry); but data suggests that even those with licenses to carry do not necessarily carry regularly.

It is my object, therefore, not only to make the carrying of guns by civilians legal, but to establish the custom of widespread carrying of guns by responsible, trained adults as an immediately achievable method of reducing street violence in our society. In my view this will produce both more dramatic and earlier crime reductions than those methods ranging from longer prison sentences to drug education to midnight basketball being offered in the agendas of the two main political parties right now.

A claim of reducing street crime by 90% sounds grossly inflated. You make it sound as if all street crime involves a one-on-one confrontation with a weapon.

By street crime I include muggings, assault, sexual assaults by strangers, wildings, takeover robberies in places of business, carjackings, and revenge shootings.

I don't think American and Israeli social, economic and political conditions are similar enough to make any clear comparisons.

I think a comparison of the ethnic warfare in Israel and the gang warfare in American inner cities would provide lots of parallels. But that's beside the point. The question isn't what causes people to want to murder crowds of random strangers. What I was addressing was the survival rates between crowds of armed strangers (Israel) and unarmed strangers (U.S.).

Have you taken into consideration that once it becomes difficult to legally obtain a weapon that it also becomes difficult for criminals to obtain such weapons? Have you considered with no one legally carrying weapons around that there is less incentive for criminals to carry?

There is little evidence that gun control denies guns to highly motivated criminals. It may deny guns to less motivated criminals--but I'm obviously less concerned about them. And there is no evidence that American criminals feel less need to be armed themselves when attacking a likely unarmed population. Quite the opposite is demonstrated: where the public is the most disarmed, criminals seek the advantages of guns to make their crimes easier.

You would have us believe that everyone is some sort of Rambo or super crime fighter like you see in the movies.

Nope. Guns make ordinary people more powerful. That's why criminals seeking an advantage want them and ordinary people seeking not to be disadvantaged do also.

I cannot believe that in the course of a robbery, no resistance will increase the likelihood of being harmed. Don't the police encourage people to cooperate with robbers, because they will less likely be harmed?

This data is from the federal government. Police who tell people not to resist believe the unsupported statements of anti-gun propagandists at Handgun Control, Inc., rather than scientific evidence. Their bad advice undoubtedly costs lives.

Nonresistance is safer than ineffective resistance; the more effective your weapon, the safer you are if you choose to resist. Guns are effective enough to double your chances of not being injured as compared to non-resisters.

The case where the robber and the victim are both facing off with guns doesn't seem as safe as the cooperation option either.

According to the National Self Defense Survey, a potential victim resisting with a gun will be facing a lesser-armed attacker in five out of six cases. In the sixth case, you're in a fight for your life and the readier you are for combat, the better the outcome will be for you and the worse for the person attacking you.

As for assault, the intent is to bring harm to the victim. Because the crime is assault (not murder) the perpetrator does not intend to kill the victim. I would have to agree that carrying a gun would deter most assaults, but this is because you have outgunned your attacker. Something to consider is when you add a gun into the equation of assault, the crime may become upgraded to murder. And our victim becomes dead instead of assaulted.

You have unsupported assumptions about the intent of a person committing an assault. The survival of the person being assaulted may be of little or no consequence to a criminal attacker. That's why anyone threatening grave bodily harm, mayhem, or death are equally subject to lawful use of defensive lethal force. As a moral equation, someone committing an attack using lethal force has no further right to life until he is no longer a threat.

What about a third scenario for a criminal--that he will become good at what he does! That he will become a good marksman, stick to safe situations, maybe he will decide to kill his victims first before they realize they are being robbed. Maybe this will be the end result of your "solution."

If it's a criminal's intent to kill you before you know you're being robbed, then the advice not to resist at all would be terrible advice, no?

While it is theoretically possible for a criminal to "be good at what he does," the fact is that they usually aren't. Criminal behavior is statistically linked to undisciplined people with no ability to plan ahead; cops like to state it that criminals are just stupid.

That's why the guys who go off the deep end and start killing crowds of strangers are so deadly: they sometimes aren't habitual criminals. Patrick Purdy was a habitual criminal; but George Hennard (the Luby's massacre), Colin Ferguson (Long Island Railroad), John Hinckley (assassination attempt on Reagan), Dr. Gang Lu (physics graduate at University of Iowa), and others had no previous criminal record.

Arming the victims of crime is not going to lessen the need of the criminals to commit crimes. Deterrence measures will never reduce crime by 90%. Only by changing the lifestyles of the criminals will we really have a "dramatic" solution to crime.

Changing the lifestyle of a criminal to six-feet-under will reduce the first wave. The smarter criminals will find another less-stressful line of work. The stupid ones will be killed in an earlier encounter, all to the good of public safety and, in my view, no loss whatsoever to the human race.

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Letter to President Reagan on Gun Amnesty

This is the earliest writing of mine on guns which I've found in my files. I'd only shot handguns once before, about seven years earlier, and I didn't own a gun of my own until four years after I wrote this.

Worse, I was living in New Jersey at the time.

But in reading it now, I am surprised that aside from my overdramatic and pessimistic view of the survival of the Second Amendment at the end of my plea to President Reagan, I got the basics right. --JNS

17 June 1987

Ronald Reagan
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20050

Dear Mr. President:

By profession I am a writer: a published novelist, free-lance journalist, and a screenwriter who has had his work produced on network television. I am also a libertarian who is far from impressed by the historical track record of all branches of government in protecting individual rights.

I write you the day after a jury in New York City has acquitted Bernhard Goetz of all charges related to his using a gun to defend himself against four criminals on the New York City subway, but nonetheless convicted him for the illegal possession of that gun, a felony carrying a jail term up to seven years.

Mr. President, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," but the United States court system has failed to protect this right, narrowly interpreting this Constitutional provision to mean that this right applies only to "a well-regulated militia": military personnel such as the National Guards.

This is an absurd judicial interpretation--no military unit ever needed a "right" to bear arms--and an interpretation designed only to maximize government power at the expense of the People. We, the People--not the National Guards--are the "militia" the Founding Fathers meant. The drafters of the Bill of Rights were well aware that an armed populace is the best defense against tyranny and criminality, whether it is by a government, domestic officials, or thugs on a New York subway car.

Bernhard Goetz is only the latest victim of repressive legislation that deny his Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If it were not for the firearm he carried, he might very well have been mugged once again, as he had been on previous occasions.

No person should be forced to choose between obeying the law and therefore possibly losing his life, or defending his life and being jailed for possessing the means of defending it.

I do not own a firearm for self-protection, because current legislation and court interpretations would treat me as a criminal if I carried it. Further, it is impossible for police to protect the public: they can't be everywhere at all times, and criminals make a point of attacking when the police aren't around. Consequently, I am a potential victim of any armed criminal or gang of armed criminals.

My right to keep and bear arms for the protection of my life and family is being infringed, and I turn to you in a petition for a redress of this grievance.

Mr. President, it is high time that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution be protected and defended. The President is sworn to protect and defend all of the Constitution; but no President to date has defended the Second Amendment. I therefore call upon you to do two things:

(I) to issue an Unconditional Presidential Amnesty to all persons charged with, or previously convicted for, illegally possessing arms carried for purely defensive purposes;

(II) to introduce into Congress enacting legislation for the Second Amendment, declaring that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be limited by legislation or court interpretation to any governmental or quasi-governmental entity."

Because the most frequent victims of violent crime are minorities, the elderly, and women, I suggest you invite representative leaders from civil rights groups when you announce this Presidential action.

Mr. President, this is a chance for you to prove that you are not a lame duck. If you do not act now, then surely the right of the people to keep and bear arms is a dead duck.


J. Neil Schulman

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50,000 Watts on Guns

In Stopping Power I included three editorial replies I did on firearms issues. When I sent the book to KNX General Manager, George Nicholaw, who delivered the editorials I was replying to, he complained that by leaving out his editorials, I wasn't playing fair.

I explained to George that I'd left out his editorials because I was on too short a printer's deadline to approach KNX about copyright clearances,but I don't think he was too impressed with my explanation. So this time, I planned to precede my replies with the KNX editorials. I asked KNX for permission to run them.

And KNX turned me down.

I guess there's just no pleasing some people. --JNS

Toy Guns

The following is my KNX AM Los Angeles editorial reply broadcast November 19, 1994. --JNS

Being a responsible gun owner, I have mixed feelings when I hear that toy stores such as Kaybee and Toys R Us are banning realistic-looking toy guns from their shelves.

As the father of a small child I can agree with KNX that in an age when police officers are confronting younger criminals than ever who carry real guns, a child playing outside with a realistic toy gun is a potential tragedy which parents must teach their children to avoid.

But being a book author who knows that private citizens use their real guns every thirteen seconds in defense against criminals, I also want to make sure that the lessons we teach our children don't lead to foolish public policy for grown-ups.

We can all agree on the obvious. Not only shouldn't children confuse toy guns with real firearms, young children must also be taught not to touch real guns when they come across them.

The National Rifle Association makes a program available to teach children, preschool through sixth grade, not to touch real guns. It's called the Eddie Eagle program. Schools and law-enforcement agencies have already used it to teach almost a million young children that if they see what they think might be a real gun they should STOP…DON'T TOUCH…LEAVE THE AREA…AND TELL AN ADULT THEY TRUST.

You can get the NRA's 800 number from information. The NRA will be happy to send your children's school a free supply of Eddie Eagle workbooks, stickers, and a teacher's guide.

With real guns being kept in half the homes in this country, teaching that guns are not toys is a lesson that all children must be taught. As children grow into their teenage years, they can then be taught the adult choice they will soon face about the individual responsibility each citizen has to defend families and neighbors, possibly using firearms, from the violent criminals who threaten us.

Gun Permits

The following is my KNX AM Los Angeles editorial reply broadcast January 7, 1995. --JNS

KNX again worries about the reform of Los Angeles Police Department policies which finally permit L.A. residents to carry a handgun legally.

California law penalizes you if you carry a handgun in your car's glove compartment, under your clothes, or in your handbag, unless you have a license. Under the new policies, if you believe you need to carry a handgun for protection, you can apply to the LAPD for a license, and your application will be taken seriously.

KNX questions whether carrying handguns will increase our safety. I have good news for KNX: every serious look at that question indicates that it will.

The most complete study is the recent National Self Defense Survey done by criminologists at Florida State University. It tells us that, about once every minute in this country, an adult carrying a handgun away from home uses it for protection against a criminal. Another study tells us that someone who uses a firearm to resist an assault or a robbery is half as likely to be hurt than someone who either doesn't resist or tries to resist without a gun.

But let's take this out of the classroom and into your daily life. The next few times you're walking to your car after dark, or sitting in your car at a red light, or getting cash from an ATM, look around and see if there are any police who could help you if a mugger, a carjacker, or a rapist decided to attack you. If the answer is no, then just what are you counting on?

I'll give you my answer now. I'm not afraid for myself or my family when we leave home. I'm trained and licensed, and I carry a handgun. God forbid that I should ever have to use it for protection, but if I do, God have mercy on the criminal punk with a gun who thinks that this overweight middle-aged guy is just another easy day's work.

Tagging Debate

The following is my KNX AM Los Angeles editorial reply broadcast March 8, 1995. --JNS

KNX expresses uncertainty regarding William Masters' defensive shooting of two grafitti vandals who assaulted him with a deadly weapon. KNX also expresses disapproval of rape victim and Simi Valley Council Member Sandi Webb for admitting that, like Masters, she also has carried a concealed firearm for protection without a license.

Let's throw some light on the legal issues.

According to California Penal Code Section 841, private persons may make an arrest for any public offense committed or attempted in their presence. William Masters could have legally arrested those two taggers and held them for the police, but he didn't try. Instead, the surviving tagger admits that Masters was retreating and only took out his firearm as they continued to stalk him.

As for carrying a firearm for protection without a license, the California Penal Code--which prohibits carrying concealed or loaded firearms--might not survive the constitutional test of Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution. It states that all people have certain inalienable rights, including defending life and liberty, protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety.

Further, California Government Code, Section 845, states, neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to provide police protection.

So how can California laws forbid honest people from carrying the tools for protecting themselves when the California Constitution says it's their right, and the California Government Code says the police don't have to?

According to a 1992 LA Times survey, William Masters and Sandi Webb are joined by a quarter million other Southlanders who carry guns for protection without a license.

Obviously, it's time that California judges start enforcing the Constitutional rights of the people of California to protect themselves, and it's time for KNX to buy some law books.

Senator Dole

The following is my KNX AM Los Angeles editorial reply broadcast May 20, 1995. --JNS

KNX thinks that Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was merely playing presidential politics when he promised the NRA to repeal the federal ban against so-called assault weapons. KNX thinks the National Rifle Association is at odds with the will of the American people, who supposedly support the ban.

Never mind that President Clinton acknowledged that the gun ban cost the Democratic Party control of Congress. We can set aside the question of what the American people think until next year's elections.

What we can't set aside is that Bob Dole's opposition to the federal gun ban is based on a solid understanding of the U.S. Constitution.

No, not just the Second Amendment; also the Tenth Amendment--the amendment that Bob Dole carries around in his pocket.

It reads, "The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Tenth Amendment is usually cited as reserving powers to the individual states--but it also reserves powers to the people.

Founding Father James Madison explained it well in Federalist Paper Number 46: "[T]he ultimate authority…resides in the people alone…ambitious encroachments of the federal government on the authority of the State governments…would be signals of general alarm.… Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government… To these would be opposed a militia…of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties ..."

Was James Madison an extremist gun-nut in recommending that the people of the United States be armed and formed into militias as a check on the power of the federal government?

Because the words of those who wrote the Constitution--not Bob Dole and not the NRA--is where all these dangerous ideas about people having guns to keep the federal government in check came from.

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When the Truth Is Not in Vogue

Anytime a publication calls an article "THE TRUTH ABOUT" something, it's likely that what follows isn't going to be dispassionate facts about anything, but a sermon. Vogue magazine's October, 1993 cover, headlined "Armed and in Danger: The Truth About Women and Guns," bears this out.

The article's premise is that manufacturers play on women's fears to sell them handguns, but that firearms are more likely to endanger the woman or her family. Writer Steve Fishman begins with the parable of Sharon Kendall of Wichita, Kansas.

Fishman writes: "A 52-year-old single parent with 11-year-old twins and a 13-year-old at home, Kendall talked to a neighboring 16-year-old, a responsible kid, one who'd grown up around guns and who'd been to a gun school to learn how to handle them. He said he'd bring a gun over, just to familiarize her. The weapon was a .38 semiautomatic. He said it was loaded with blanks. The neighbor had a gun aimed at one of the twins, who reached over to turn the barrel away from him. The weapon fired accidentally, and Kendall's 11-year-old boy took one shot in the chest. He died at the hospital during surgery."

This 16-year-old neighbor was hardly "a responsible kid." The boy broke at least three primary rules of safe firearms handling.

1. "Never assume that a gun is unloaded, or that a round is safe because it misfired." But this boy "who'd grown up around guns" -- according to Wichita police -- had been dry-firing rounds he assumed were duds because they'd previously misfired. Any half-day National Rifle Association firearms safety course would have taught him that multiple strikes on a "dud" round can cause it to fire.

2. "Never place your finger inside the trigger guard until you intend to fire." And we can only ask why this teenager's finger was inside the trigger guard as he pointed it at an 11-year-old boy, if he had no intention of pulling the trigger.

3. "Never point a gun, even one you think is unloaded, at anything you don't intend to destroy." But this "responsible" 16-year-old pointed a firearm he knew was loaded at a child.

Where was Sharon Kendall? According to Fishman, she was in the house, aware that the kids were handling a gun, and did nothing to take it away from them.

So Fishman is hardly describing a responsible parent.

The rest of Steve Fishman's polemic relies on data as discreditable as his example. A study by Kellermann and Reay published in the June 12, 1986 New England Journal of Medicine is the centerpiece of Fishman's conclusion that "For every case of justifiable homicide with a gun, there were 43 murders, suicides, or accidental deaths."

But Fishman never quotes Kellermann and Reay's own caveat in their NEJM article, which states, "Mortality studies such as ours do not include cases in which burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm. Cases in which would-be intruders may have purposely avoided a house known to be armed are also not identified. We did not report the total number of nonlethal firearm injuries involving guns kept in the home. A complete determination of firearm risks versus benefits would require that these figures be known."

Fishman then gives his "balance": "The NRA claims that guns are used one million times each year in self-defense, but there appears to be no firm statistics to back this up."

No firm statistics, that is, except the dozen studies analyzed by Gary Kleck, Ph.D., professor of criminology at Florida State University, in his book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1991). Far from being an NRA spokesperson, Kleck has avoided taking funding from either side in the gun control debate, and he has impeccable liberal Democratic credentials.

Neither did Fishman ask Kleck about his recent survey which raises the number of firearms defenses each year to well over two million.

All of which proves that if you're looking for "the truth about guns," you'll find that it's just not in vogue.

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More Bogus Science About Guns

The Associated Press wire story from March 13, 1995, was titled, "Relaxed Gun Laws Mean More Deaths."

Its first paragraph reported, "More people were killed with guns after concealed gun laws were relaxed in 4 of 5 urban areas studied by University of Maryland researchers."

The AP story goes on to quote results from a January, 1995 paper titled "Easing Concealed Firearm Laws: Effects on Homicide in Three States." Its authors are David McDowall, Colin Loftin, and Brian Wiersema.

The AP story reports, "'While advocates of these relaxed laws argue that they will prevent crime, and suggest that they have reduced homicides in areas that adopted them, we strongly suggest caution,' said University of Maryland criminologist David McDowall. 'When states weaken limits on concealed weapons, they may be giving up a simple and effective method of preventing firearm deaths.'"

This is a typical media story intended to make you think that the more guns you have, the more endangered you are. It has already been the basis for the Los Angeles Times to editorialize against reforming California's laws which currently make it impossible for most Californians to carry firearms for self-protection without threat of arrest and prosecution under Penal Code Section 12025.

The AP story is carefully crafted to pull selected data from a study designed by anti-gun zealots who cloak themselves in the lab coats of medical research being conducted for the federal government; then it goes even further to misrepresent the study authors' own conclusions to make them seem firm and sweeping proof of the evil of guns.

It won't work this time. I read the study.

You can, too. Get a copy from the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, 2220 Samuel Lefrak Hall, College Park, MD 20742-8235 / 301-405-4735.

The fourth paragraph on page 1 states: "In 1985 the National Rifle Association announced that it would lobby for shall issue laws."

Footnote 1 on page 1 states: "This research was supported by grant R49-CCR-306268 from the U.S. Public Health Service. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Well, we know a couple of things right off. The funding came from federal tax dollars which were designated for the control and prevention of diseases. Instead, it was diverted from disease control and prevention into lobbying against NRA-proposed CCW reform laws using tax money.

Using tax money for lobbying is illegal.

Next, who do we see listed as a researcher on this study? We see Colin Loftin--a gun-control zealot whose previous "study" tried to prove that a decrease in Washington D.C.'s homicide count was a consequence of D.C.'s passage of increased gun prohibitions. That Loftin study has been shot full of holes on grounds that the decrease in homicide in D.C. was a trend established before the D.C. law was passed, that it didn't study homicide rates because it failed to take into account the decrease in Washington D.C.'s population during the study period, and that Loftin carefully cut off his study at the point when homicide in D.C. started climbing again.

Now let's get to this new "study" from Dr. Loftin and friends.

First of all, it was highly selective in what areas it looked at. It looked at "several urban areas within Florida, Mississippi, and Oregon."

It did not study homicides statewide in states which had modified its laws regarding the issuance of licenses to carry concealed weapons (CCW licenses).

By focusing on urban areas, the study was sure to select data from areas where criminal gangs are increasingly using firearms in their drug wars--cases where criminal gangsters are shooting each other. Since both offenders and victims in these cases are criminals who wouldn't apply for CCW licenses, data from these areas are irrelevant to ordinary people legally carrying guns for protection.

It did not study murder, it studied homicides. It did not study whether these homicides were murders, justifiable homicides, or excusable homicides. The source of the homicides was not even from police investigations; the study says "we used death certificate data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics."

And it did not study homicides linked to holders of CCW licenses. There is no statement anywhere in this "study" that a single homicide was committed by a CCW license holder in the states studied.

The "theory" under which this statistical correlation between easing of CCW's and the increase in homicide is as follows:

[S]hall issue licensing might raise levels of criminal violence. This is so because it increases the number of persons with easy access to firearms. Zimring and Cook argue that assaults are often impulsive acts involving the most readily available weapons. Guns are especially deadly weapons, and higher numbers of firearm carriers could therefore result in more homicides. Advocates of shall issue licensing often cite figures showing that few legal carriers misuse their guns. Yet greater tolerance for legal carrying may lead to higher levels of illegal carrying as well. For example, criminals have more reason to carry firearms--and to use them--when their victims might be armed. Further, if permission to carry a concealed weapon is easy to obtain, citizens and law enforcement may be less likely to view illegal carrying as a serious offense.

What linkage is claimed for the study? None. These two paragraphs are based on "might raise," "could therefore result," "may lead to," "for example…have more reason to," "may be less likely to view."

This isn't science--it's speculation.

And it's not even speculation grounded in anything--it's exactly the sort of speculation gun-control advocates use every time easing of carry prohibitions is proposed: every argument following a traffic accident is speculated to degenerate into a shootout--despite the fact that in the twenty-some states which have easy carrying, it doesn't happen.

There is no evidence collected or presented in this study that holders of CCW licenses are the types of people who commit "impulsive acts" in which easier availability of firearms would be likely to increase violence. The "study" didn't look at CCW license holders at all.


Because if the study had looked at CCW license holders, it would have found that this speculation is ungrounded. The sorts of "impulsive" people to whom easier access of firearms might result in increased violence are those with no self-control: in other words, exactly the sort of criminal psychopaths that this "study" went out of its way to locate by concentrating on inner cities occupied by criminal gangsters.

Figures from the Florida Department of State clearly show that the criminal misuse of their firearms by CCW license holders is so rare as to be statistically nonexistent: perhaps one case in 12,000 for any misuse--even technical violations--and perhaps only one criminal homicide in 180,000 some persons issued CCW licenses since October 1, 1987.

The speculation as to whether criminals will be more likely to carry guns if their victims are armed can be quantified by data from the Wright-Rossi study reported in the book Armed And Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms, by James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi. This study was conducted for the Carter Administration, and at the time of their research, Wright and Rossi were gun-control advocates looking for proof that gun-control reduces crime. When their data contradicted their opinions, they were honest enough scientists to report what they had found and advocate public policy based on the actual scientific findings.

Wright and Rossi discovered that while 50% of the gun criminals they surveyed did give as a reason carrying a gun because their victim might be armed, 60% of gun criminals agreed that "most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police," one-third said that they had personally been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim," and "About two-fifths reported having decided at least once in their lives not to commit a crime because they had reason to suspect that the intended victim was armed."

Wright and Rossi note: "Many of these men's 'victims' are in all likelihood men much like themselves. The armed victim encounters reported by this sample may well be confrontations between two men with equally felonious histories and motives as between hard-core perpetrators and total innocents."

Yes, I noted the "may well be" in the above paragraph--but this speculation, published in 1986, was confirmed in 1992 by Murder Analysis by the Detective Division of the Chicago Police Department, which found that 65.53% of the murder victims in their study of all murders they investigated in the previous year had a previous criminal record.

Again, all this speaks to the issue of why this study focused on urban areas where you'd be likely to find criminals shooting at each other--and where gun-carrying by ordinary people is statistically irrelevant because they aren't involved.

Finally, the speculation that easing CCW license issuance might lead to a relaxation of enforcement of non-licensed gun carrying is refuted by Florida's own laws. Carrying a concealed firearm in Florida without a Florida CCW license is a felony.

Conclusion: since the McDowall-Loftin-Wiersema "study" isn't reporting any linkage of an increase of shooting homicides to persons holding CCW licenses having been involved in these shootings as either perpetrators or victims--and since the authors' speculations on a linkage are refuted by other criminological work--it ends up as a meaningless statistical comparison, akin to comparing the rise in the Dow Jones Index to the raising of women's hemlines: no rational mechanism for the linkage is even being offered.

The study concludes: "The stronger conclusion is that shall issue laws do not reduce homicides, at least in large urban areas."

Well, how could they--when the criminals are avoiding encounters with possibly armed strangers--as Wright-Rossi found--and shooting other criminals whose carrying of guns is unaffected by the change in carry laws which they don't pay attention to anyway?

"The weaker conclusion is that shall issue laws raise levels of firearm murders. Coupled with a lack of influence on murders by other means, the laws thus increase the frequency of homicide."

And this conclusion is not only "weaker," it is utterly unfounded because the study's bogus design didn't look at the question of homicides involving CCW license holders and has produced no grounded linkage between the increasing gun-homicide trends between and among criminals, and the ordinary people who carry guns for protection who might have started doing so when they could do so without risk of legal penalty.

And even the authors are afraid to do more than speculate, perhaps fearing that making refutable claims will interfere with their getting more federal bucks next time: "Despite this evidence," McDowall, Loftin, and Wiersema write, "we do not firmly conclude that shall issue licensing leads to more firearm homicides. This is so because the effects varied over the study areas. Firearm homicides significantly increased in only three areas, and one witnesses an insignificant decrease. In combination, the increase in gun homicides was large and statistically significant. Yet we have only five replications, and two of these do not clearly fit the pattern." [Emphasis added by Schulman.]

In other words, even their bogus design study couldn't find the data they were looking for to battle the NRA.

Yet, does the AP wire story report that the study's authors consider their conclusions "weak" and that two of the five cases they looked at do not support their conclusions? Do they quote the authors stating, "we do not firmly conclude that shall issue licensing leads to more firearm homicides"?

Is the headline, "Researchers Fail to Establish Linkage Between CCW Licenses and Homicide"?

Nope. The Associated Press headlined its story, "Relaxed Gun Laws Mean More Deaths."

"Easing Concealed Firearm Laws: Effects on Homicide in Three States" by David McDowall, Colin Loftin and Brian Wiersema is bogus science at best and criminal misuse of federal tax dollars at worst.

It was designed to produce the headline of the AP wire story--"Relaxed Gun Laws Mean More Deaths." The Associated Press wants you to believe that a new scientific study proves that making it easier for the public to carry guns legally will increase gun-related murders of innocent people--a conclusion which is completely unsupported even by the claims of the researchers.

This is further proof that in the absence of any provable case that the increase in availability of guns by ordinary civilians will have adverse effects on society, gun-ban zealots will lie, under cover of science, in an attempt to provide their willing co-conspirators in the mass media sound bites in order to fool the American people into being passive victims relying on the government to save them from armed and dangerous criminals.

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Resisting a Carjacker

Sometimes, as a writer familiar with the criminology of firearms use, I feel the popular misinformation about guns is so widespread, correcting it is like one of those dozen Herculean tasks I mentioned earlier. In addition to writing articles, computer messages, and radio rebuttals, I've also written my share of letters to the editor.

But I suppose correcting all the misinformation is no more impossible than getting to the top of the Stairmaster. --JNS

January 22, 1994

Gail Harrington, Editor in Chief
Automobile Club of Southern California
P.O. Box 60539
Los Angeles, CA 90060

Dear Ms. Harrington:

The timing of your January/February 1994 cover story on earthquake preparedness couldn't have been better, and I hope Avenues readers paid attention before the Northridge quake hit last Monday morning.

I must take issue, however, with the advice given on a different subject, your advice on page 10 that "If an armed carjacker demands your car keys, comply immediately."

I'm a journalist who has been focusing on crime-related issues for the last few years; I've had four articles on the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page and more in the Orange County Register's Sunday Opinion section. My book, Stopping Power, will be published this spring. My discussions with leading criminologists for the past few years have given me some insight on these issues.

The advice to surrender to carjackers has both practical and moral flaws.

The first practical flaw is the theory that criminals won't harm you if you give them what they want. It's just plain wrong. Many criminals today commit assaults and murders regardless of victim compliance. The second practical flaw is that resistance to an armed carjacker is twice as safe as no resistance at all if the potential victim is armed with a firearm.

A friend of mine who lives in Pasadena, Dan Feely, was driving home from the target range a few weeks ago, when he stopped at a light, not realizing that his foot had accidentally unlocked doors. A knife-wielding carjacker threw open his car door and threatened him. Dan had an unloaded pistol on the car seat next to him; he grabbed it and pointed it at the carjacker. The carjacker said, "Wrong car," and disappeared into the night.

Dan was transporting his firearm legally. California has laws against carrying a concealed or loaded firearm without a license to carry; but Dan's pistol was openly visible on the car seat and unloaded. A loaded ammunition magazine may be carried also so long as it isn't attached to the firearm. At the point when there is an actual threat, it is legal to load a gun and to carry it until police arrive.

Dan's experience is anecdotal, of course, but it illustrates hard data which I learned in an interview I did with Professor Gary Kleck for the September 19, 1993 Orange County Register. Dr. Kleck and his colleague, Marc Gertz, Ph.D., performed a National Self-Defense Survey for the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University in Spring, 1993, which surveyed 4,978 American households throughout the lower 48 states.

The results of this survey, excluding police, security guards, and military, found that American civilians use their private firearms 2.45 million times a year to defend themselves in confrontations with criminals. About 22 percent of these confrontations were robberies including carjackings, and about a half million of the defenses were when the potential victim was away from home. While the criminals were armed in about half of all cases, they were armed with firearms only about one-sixth of the time. Therefore, using the NSDS data, two out of three times having a firearm would--as happened with Dan Feely--make a potential victim better armed than an armed attacker.

The 1993 National Self-Defense Survey provides recent confirmation of data from a 1975-1980 National Crime Survey compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, which shows that a robbery victim who resists attack with a firearm is half as likely to be injured as a victim who either offers no resistance or resists using any other weapon (17.4% injured as opposed to 33.2% injured).

Therefore, the scientifically verifiable best advice to your readers should be to consider carrying an unloaded but quickly loadable firearm openly on the car seat next to them.1 If they can obtain a license to carry from their local chief of police or county sheriff, they can, of course, carry the firearm loaded.

The moral objection to Avenues's advice to potential carjacking victims is that carjackers are often stealing cars not for the value of the car itself, but so that car can be used in additional robberies. In consequence, surrendering one's car to a criminal is enabling a criminal to commit further criminal acts in which someone else may be seriously hurt or murdered. Obviously, if one is unprepared to resist, one has no ability to stop a criminal. But in a society where crime is rampant, it is cowardly and socially irresponsible for an adult to rely solely on others such as police to prevent crime. One is reminded of the townspeople in the classic western parable, High Noon, who did nothing to assist their sheriff in defending the town from a gang of outlaws.

Regardless of the personal risks involved--which, as I've shown above are usually miscalculated-citizens who wish to see a reduction of violent crime must consider that if they do not arm themselves to make themselves less vulnerable to criminal attack, they are making everyone else more likely to be criminally attacked.

This is a point made in the article "A Nation of Cowards" by Jeffrey Snyder, published in the October, 1993 journal The Public Interest, and praised by George Will in Newsweek.

I am not surprised that whoever wrote the "Car Safe" column gave the advice not to resist a carjacker. Many ill-informed police spokespersons give the public the same erroneous advice. It is clear, however, that there is a well-researched alternative viewpoint which should be presented to the members of the Automobile Club of Southern California, so they may make their own considered judgment on the question.

J. Neil Schulman,

14 Year Member,
Automobile Club of Southern California

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California Carry

I live in California. This article focuses on the issue of CCW laws in my home state. I hope that non-Californians will not think that this is only of local interest. Whatever the condition of your own firearms laws, the principles apply widely, since "right-to-carry" legislation has either just passed in your state, or is likely to be debated soon. --JNS

There are several bills in the pipeline here in California to "reform" the Concealed-Carry-Weapons (CCW) laws.

Currently, in California, it is illegal to carry a handgun, loaded or unloaded, concealed on your person or in your vehicle (Penal Code Section 12025), except in your own residence or a place of business you own. It is also illegal to carry a loaded firearm except in your own residence or place of business you own (Penal Code Section 12031). In addition, there is the "gun-free school zone" law forbidding being in possession of a firearm on or within 1000 feet of school property (Penal Code Section 626.9). First-offense violations of these laws are misdemeanors with up to six months in county jail and up to a $1000 fine; but restrictions on owning or possessing firearms can be imposed by the court as a condition of probation. Second or further offenses can be tried as felonies, which--in addition to serious prison time--can ruin one's life, credit rating, ability to obtain jobs, and forever bar one from owning or possessing firearms anywhere in the United States.

There are additional possession restrictions having to do with courts and legislative sessions; I'm not going to deal with these here, since they are a separate and thornier issue.

Effectively, these laws make it impossible for the average citizen to carry a firearm for protection in California, since the only way around them is to obtain a License to Carry a Concealed Weapon (CCW License). These are governed by California Penal Code Section 12050, which specifies the conditions and procedures under which a citizen may obtain a CCW license.

In California, a person wishing such a license must apply to a chief of police or sheriff in the county in which one resides. One must fill out a standard form mandated by the state's attorney general, submit photographs and a set of fingerprints which will be used for a criminal and psychiatric background check with both the California Department of Justice and the FBI. The chief of police or sheriff has the discretion to issue the CCW license to a resident of that county who is "of good moral character," and who can demonstrate "good cause" for requesting a CCW license.

In actual practice, this system of issuing licenses is highly restrictive and discriminatory. Few minorities and few women are granted CCW licenses. Even persons with obvious "good cause"--persons living in high-risk neighborhoods or working in high-risk jobs--are routinely denied CCW licenses.

A lawsuit filed against the City of Los Angeles for failure to abide by the requirements of California Penal Code 12050 has resulted in two sets of plaintiffs being issued CCW licenses; and revised standards for issuance make it easier for people who need to carry guns for protection in their business; but those needing licenses strictly for personal protection in dangerous neighborhoods can have little expectation of receiving a CCW license without a legal battle. In other cities in California, the situation is generally as restrictive as it has been for the last twenty years, except for some government prosecutors who are finding it easier to get CCW licenses.

Because of this dismal situation, gun lobbyists have been working with legislators in Sacramento to develop bills which will modify Penal Code Section 12050 to make it easier for Californians to obtain CCW licenses. Some of the proposals are based on the Florida CCW law which went into effect on October 1, 1987.

Under the Florida law, CCW licenses are granted by the state rather than a local sheriff or police chief. The licenses will be issued both to residents of Florida and U.S. citizens who aren't Florida residents. One must fill out an extensive form and submit fingerprints and a photograph, and pay an $85.00 application fee. One must submit proof of firearms proficiency--this is a minimal barrier since any 8-hour NRA safety certificate will do. If one is not in a category forbidding one to own a firearm, one will then be issued a CCW license good for four years. Note well: unlike California, in Florida a first offense for carrying a firearm without their CCW license is not a misdemeanor but a felony; conviction revokes one's right to own a firearm anywhere in the United States.

The Florida CCW law is attractive to most gun owners because, in a practical sense, it solves the problem of carrying a gun for protection. We are used to filling out forms, standing in lines, paying fees, and dealing with bureaucracy. We do it with tax forms, driver's licenses, business licenses, home-ownership, insurance, credit applications, and so forth. So, adding one more set of forms to fill out, and another check to write, isn't a big deal for a lot of us.

Of course there's only one problem with all this. Carrying a gun is a natural right deriving from our right to defend our lives and property. This right was codified in the Second Amendment as one of those fundamental rights of the people which was to be protected by the United States. However, the last two centuries have not been kind to the people's rights.

The United States is, in effect, no longer a society based on rights, but has slowly deteriorated into that from which it once seceded: a society based on political power and privileges. A citizen asserting the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights--or any of the unenumerated rights covered under the 9th and 10th amendments--will find that courts will not protect those rights and will not punish public officials who violate them. This is the reality we face today.

Today, one does not gain a right by asserting it. One gains a right by winning the political consensus necessary to get that right granted to whatever extent one can as a grant of political privilege.

This is, of course, disgusting in what's supposed to be a free country. But the alternative to using the political system to obtain one's rights as a privilege granted by those in power is to obtain the power to enforce our rights directly: that is, by the use of force.

We have before us a simple alternative. We can use the political means of obtaining power--that is, gaining the support of large segments of the society--to pass legislation which will better recognize our rights; or we can use the revolutionary means of obtaining power--that is, gaining the support of large segments of the society--to overcome the military and police forces at the disposal of those person in power who are violating our rights.

There is, of course, an ever-present third alternative: we can surrender our rights and live as subjects of those in power.

Speaking for myself, I find the third alternative forever unacceptable. But since the first two alternatives both involve gaining the support of the populace as a precondition to victory, I find that there is little difference in strategy between organizing for political victory and organizing for revolutionary victory. Both require winning the minds and hearts of the people as its essential component and--in my opinion--once we have the minds and hearts of the people, victory is already ours. At that point, those in power can no longer effectively impose their will on the people and the institutions will change rapidly in the direction of liberty regardless of what they attempt. The collapse of the Soviet Union without massive armed revolutionary conflict is strong evidence of that.

In my view, the elements necessary for victory are always being clear about what our goals are, and always being clear that any half-measures accepted as a political compromise are not an end to our activism but only a beginning.

Currently, of the 50 states, Vermont is the only one which recognizes the right of any adult to carry a loaded firearm, openly or concealed, without obtaining permission from the government. Vermont Carry must, therefore, be our penultimate political goal on this issue.

The adoption of a Florida-type CCW law in California may be a way station toward that goal, and its achievement would certainly make it easier for Californians to carry their guns for protection. Innocent lives will be saved and some CCW-license holder may even be in the right place at the right time to stop the next George Hennard, Gian Luigi Ferri, or Colin Ferguson who decides to go on a shooting spree.

But, I feel that Florida Carry should be settled for only as a compromise, not sought as an end in itself. Toward that purpose, I have drafted language that if enacted here in California would go a long way toward achieving Vermont Carry in California.

Here is how it works.

Instead of attempting to modify Penal Code Section 12050, which governs the issuance of CCW licenses, the modification would be made directly to those sections of the California Penal Code which prohibit carrying to begin with--PC 626.9, PC 12025, and PC 12031.

Currently, to obtain conviction of violating any of these three sections of the California Penal Code, all that must be proved is that one was in possession of the firearm in the prohibited circumstance--either concealed, or loaded, or within the school zone. The prosecution does not need to prove any recklessness in the manner in which one was carrying. The prosecution does not need to prove that there was any intent to commit a crime. The prosecution does not even need to prove that you were aware that you were in possession of a firearm in the manner prohibited by the California Penal Code. The simple fact of carrying or possession in the prohibited circumstance is sufficient to obtain a conviction.

What this proposed language would do is change the standard for criminal convictions to require proof that the person carrying or possessing the firearm was doing so in reckless endangerment of the safety of others, or was doing so with the specific intent to commit a felony or violent misdemeanor.

If adopted, this language would mean that to be convicted of the crime of carrying a gun illegally, the prosecution would have to establish facts showing that you weren't carrying it for a legal purpose (such as self-protection) but carrying it for an illegal purpose (stalking someone, threatening someone, illegal target practice, terrorizing someone, mugging someone, carjacking someone, knocking over a 7-11, gang-banging). This returns the focus of the Penal Code to its intended purpose: to control criminal behavior, not impose prohibitions on what honest citizens may do for their legitimate purposes.

This proposal makes the debate on the issue of civilian carry of firearms crystal clear. If a politician opposes honest people carrying guns for honest purposes, it is only because he or she distrusts the people and really wishes for a police state to control them.

But there is an even stronger argument that can be made for inserting this language into Penal Code Sections 626.9, 12025, and 12031: it will bring those laws into compliance with the requirements of Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution, and also into compliance with requirements set forth in the California Government Code.

Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution reads: "All people are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy." (as amended 7 November 1972.)

All sections of the California Penal Code must be in compliance with this section of the California Constitution, or they are legally null and void. Since the California Constitution states, as inalienable rights, "defending life and liberty," "protecting property," and "pursuing and obtaining safety," any laws which interfere with the people's rights to do these things are unconstitutional, and must be rewritten so that they do not interfere with these rights of the people.

In addition, the California Government Code specifically relieves all government entities and government employees from any responsibility for failure to protect the public from crime.

California Government Code, Section 845, states, "Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to provide sufficient police protection service."

Section 846 states, "Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for injury caused by the failure to make an arrest or by the failure to retain an arrested person in custody."

Section 845.8 states, "Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for (a) Any injury resulting from determining whether to parole or release a prisoner or from determining the terms and conditions of his parole or release or from determining whether to revoke his parole or release. (b) Any injury caused by (1) An escaping or escaped prisoner; (2) An escaping or escaped arrested person; or (3) A person resisting arrest."

Section 845.2 states, "Except as provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 830), neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to provide a prison, jail or penal or correctional facility, or, if such facility is provided, for failure to provide sufficient equipment, personnel, or facilities therein.

Section 820.9 states, "Members of city councils, mayors, members of boards of supervisors, members of school boards, members of governing boards of other local public entities, members of locally appointed or elected advisory bodies are not vicariously liable for injuries caused by the act or omission of the public entity or advisory body. Nothing in this section exonerates a public official from liability for injury caused by that individual's own wrongful conduct. Nothing in this section affects the immunity of any other public official."

So, under the current state of California law, there is both a constitutional statement that the people have the rights (and therefore primary responsibility) for "defending life and liberty," "protecting property," and "pursuing and obtaining safety," and--contrary to the assertions of those who state public safety is primarily the responsibility of police agencies--the California Government Code specifically absolves all police agencies of having to answer legally for any failure to protect the public.

This is not just theoretical; it was proved when lawsuits filed against the Los Angeles Police for retreating and failing to protect the public during the Los Angeles riots were dismissed by the courts, citing these provisions of the California Government Code.

This gives us a powerful argument for redirecting the prohibitions on carrying and possessing firearms by the public so that only persons with reckless or criminal intent are affected. The California Constitution creates a "rational purpose" argument for such legislation: to protect the rights of the people, enable them to perform a constitutional responsibility, and direct the penal code to its intended purpose.

Public policy considerations--citing the National Self-Defense Survey's proof of 2.45 million private firearms defenses in the U.S. per year, 1.9 million of them with handguns and one-third of them away from home--can also be brought into the debate at the appropriate time.

With all this in mind, here is the language I propose be added to legislation pending in Sacramento:

"In order to comply with the intent of Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of California which states the inalienable rights of the people to 'defend life and liberty,' 'protect property,' and 'pursue and obtain safety,' conviction of California Penal Code Sections 626.9, 12025, or 12031 shall require proof that the individual charged with illegal possession or carrying of the firearm or weapon did so in a manner to recklessly endanger the safety of others, or did so with the specific intent to use that firearm or weapon in the commission of a felony or violent misdemeanor."

I urge all California firearms-rights activists to lobby their state senators and assembly members to introduce this language into pending legislation, and to pass it this session.

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Gun Owner Resistance

The following is drawn from computer messages I wrote in mid 1994--before gun owners going to the polls in the November elections threw out many Democrats who'd voted for the gun and magazine bans in the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill. I'd like to think that articles of mine, distributed widely on the Internet, played some small part in the defeat of so many anti-gun politicians. --JNS

I'm convinced that the whole purpose of the development of asset forfeiture laws is to use against gun owners.

First the government develops asset forfeiture as a tool against "drug lords." Then it bans certain classes of firearms--"assault weapons," or semi-autos, or magazines with more than 10 rounds.

It could be only a matter of a year or two before we will see people losing their houses and cars because police found an AR-15 or a high-capacity magazine presumed manufactured after the law went into effect. It seems inevitable to me that we're going to have to face this.

But will American gun owners present their posteriors when this happens, or will they resist?

A lot of gun owners posture about how they're going to bury their guns for some sort of glorious day of confrontation with the forces of darkness when the authorities come to take their guns. But how can I take this seriously when almost all of them are afraid to show up at an anti-gun-control rally for fear that someone might figure out that they're a gun owner?

This lack of organized resistance is precisely what led Jews in Germany to end up in the concentration camps.

American gun owners are fond of saying, "They can take my guns out of my cold dead fingers"--and that's precisely what's likely to happen unless there is a sea change among American gun owners, so that gun owners are willing to come out of the closet and show the face of political resistance.

Isn't it better to stand up and shout as loudly as possible--while there's still someone left to listen?

Look at the fundamentals: half the households in this country keep firearms--some of them a lot of firearms.

Along with the AARP and the unions, the NRA is one of the largest political-agenda organizations in the country--currently at 3.2 million members. ACLU, for example, has around 280,000.

The American people can not be disarmed.

But they can, possibly, be legally terrorized and cowed into burying their guns.

So the federal government would have to hire thousands of new police and spend gigabucks in order to conduct a campaign of terror against gun owners. Isn't that precisely what the president is calling for--transferring police enforcement from local to national? He wants to unify federal enforcement from a number of agencies such as DEA, ATF, and FBI, then add thousands of new officers taken from ex-military.

The precedents established in drug cases for asset forfeiture can and will be used against gun owners. We find an AR-15 in your house, you lose the house. Carry an illegal gun in your Mercedes, we take the Mercedes.

It's coming.

That's why Clinton, Reno et al are so hot on federalizing law enforcement. They know the local cops won't act as a Gestapo for them against gun owners.

Can they get away with it? I see it as an open question.

I've come to the conclusion that the only form of resistance most Americans are willing to engage in is passive aggressive in nature--tax evasion, driving faster than 55, and so forth. But except for the organized left and the Right to Lifers, I see little evidence that they will take to the streets to defend themselves against a campaign of official terror.

Americans are in denial right now. The popular approval of the deaths of the Branch Davidians--even by people who suspect it was done on purpose by the FBI--shows that there is popular sentiment for Draconian police powers. There has never been much tolerance for fringe groups in this country to begin with.

As to whether gun owners will succeed in defending themselves either politically or, failing that, by force of arms, is, in my mind, a dubious question with outcome undetermined.

We have the numbers to win. Whether we have the will remains to be seen.

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The Fallacy of Disarmament

From a 1989 "cafe" discussion on the Connected Education "virtual" campus. --JNS

As my friend, novelist Victor Koman, has written: gun-control laws are enforced at gunpoint.

If there is not already universal agreement that being armed is either unnecessary or a bad idea anyway, then the only way gun disarmament can be accomplished is by one group of people (let's call them the State) using their superior armaments to forcibly disarm a relatively weaker group (let's call them the People). Of course the State can try to convince the People that being armed is unnecessary; this seems to be the point of much of the anti-gun propaganda in which the State invests so heavily.

Since there are upwards of seventy million gun owners in America, the State's only chance at disarmament is to convince enough of those seventy million to disarm voluntarily that the State will be able to forcibly disarm the rest. Frankly, I don't think this will work, either. Every time a city such as San Francisco or New York has declared "gun amnesty"--turn in your guns -- they've gotten only a few dozen items, usually stolen out of the drawers and closets of the actual gun owner by a disgruntled housemate or unhappy spouse.

If I conceded that I'd go along with universal disarmament if the State disarms first, I'd be making more than a rhetorical point: the State cannot exist at all without guns; eliminate the force by which they intimidate the People and the State ceases to exist at all.

But even in a stateless society, I think I could make a good case that gun-ownership might be a good idea for some people: specifically, those who are physically unable to defend themselves otherwise. A 275-pound man can overcome a ninety-pound woman, and attack her brutally. An armed ninety-pound woman can successfully fend off a gang of 275-pound men.

This is true even if the gang is armed; the mere fact that they will encounter potentially lethal resistance will be enough in many cases for them to give up on this no-longer-helpless victim and search out safer targets.

I value the life of a ninety pound woman who wishes to jog in Central Park a hell of a lot more than I do a gang of mindless brutes who would rape her and leave her for dead. I wish her to live; I wish they could have been killed on the spot with their heads posted on public pylons as a warning to others.

Working for a world without guns seems impossibly utopian to me--and I'm accused of being a utopian! First of all, consider all the guns that already exist. I don't have statistics for other countries handy, but there are approximately 200 million firearms in private hands in this country alone; that doesn't count police and military arsenals. Next, firearms manufacture is extremely low-tech; the knowledge and tools needed to manufacture a usable gun is such that one can be made in a basement in a couple of days. These "zip" guns have been popular at different times among prison populations, youth gangs in more "innocent" days, and third-world revolutionaries.

We have to ask a few questions. Do we really expect the motives for power and violence to disappear? If it doesn't disappear, aren't people going to continue seeking firepower, regardless of the obstacles placed in their path--and like most prohibitions, overcoming them fairly regularly? If the motives to power and violence are reduced, won't gun possession become a non-issue?

I submit armed-to-the-teeth and peaceful Switzerland as a case study. Even Handgun Control, Inc., in its literature, cites Switzerland as having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. We also know that Switzerland has managed to stay out of every war in modern history.

Yet, the Swiss have universal armament. Virtually every household is required to maintain a fully-automatic assault rifle and a supply of ammunition. Swiss males are required to take military training in these weapons, and in civilian life, practice with them at gun ranges regularly. Yet, the Swiss are so law-abiding that when one of them wanted to commit murder, he didn't think of using his military-supplied weapon for it; he went out and bought his own gun for that purpose.

If we look at history, we can divide the situation into three groups. We have violent societies in which guns are the weapon of choice; we have violent societies which rely on other weapons; we have civilized societies in which guns are largely irrelevant--either everyone has them so they confer no particular advantage to the violence--prone, or the society is so naturally peaceful that even the criminals can't conceive of using them.

Many Americans live in cities in which the homicide rate from crime is comparable to war zones elsewhere. This is not hyperbole; Lebanon has a lower homicide rate than South Central Los Angeles.

If the Israelis can deal with living in a constant war zone by adopting the custom of commonly carrying firearms--and in so doing reduce their crime rate to that of Switzerland--than why shouldn't I assume that we Angelenos can achieve the same reduction by greater civilian armament as well?

It has been a long-standing argument whether human nature is perfectible. I'm not going to take either side of that argument. I'm merely going to note that if human nature is perfectible, it will come not by theoretical education but by practical example: you may not be able to teach gang members to love their neighbor, but you can make them understand that attacking their neighbor will result in their own quick destruction.

This is a deterrent doctrine called Mutually Assured Destruction--and it kept the world from being incinerated in nuclear holocaust for the 45 years of the Cold War.

At best, we are telling a criminal "attack me and you die." At worst, we are telling him "you may kill me, or your hostage, but you will die, too."

What mechanism can we possibly envision for unarmed people to disarm those who believe they need to be armed? How do we accomplish this?

Or, as Æsop's fable asked, who bells the cats?

1995: The answer seems to me obvious. If anti-gun people vote to disarm their armed neighbors, only armed officials can attempt to disarm them. There is no chance in the real world of disarming those with a will to power, whether for offense or defense. We will not achieve the disarmament of the 70 million armed and peaceful Americans without a bloody civil war. Any attempt to do so using the force of law will increase armaments both by the citizenry and the police forces who are charged with enforcing the disarmament--with the pacifists who created the civil war sitting uninvolved on the sidelines. It makes me consider the proposition that only armed people should be allowed to vote, because unarmed people who are not themselves willing to fight should not possess the political power to make armed people fight each other. If advocating that as a moral proposition doesn't get me labeled a fascist, somebody's just not paying attention. --JNS

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When Should Gun Owners Revolt?

In reply to a fan letter. --JNS

June 5, 1995

Thanks for the nice things you've said to me about my writings.

You're not going to get me to disagree with the Founding Fathers about the right to use revolutionary force when institutional means of redressing grievances have failed. But I must say I think you have a much lower threshold for when violence is justified than I think you would have found in the revolutionaries of 1776, because there is a fundamental difference in the two situations.

In 1776, there was no way for the American people to vote the king and his appointed governors out of office. There was no institutionalized means of redress; a popular revolt against tyranny had only one remaining avenue--armed force.

But we in America today can overthrow the government any time we want to at the ballot box. Sure, the playing field is lumpy and has potholes--and maybe even a few land mines--but as the November 8, 1994 elections showed, it can be done. As difficult as electoral campaigns might be, military campaigns to unseat the tyrants are even more inconvenient, as Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" well illustrates.

Any revolution, to be morally acceptable, has to reflect the will of the people. Admittedly, that is sometimes difficult to discern when the media distort who's doing what to whom. But the will of the people not to be under the tyrant's thumb is the key ingredient to any successful revolution--and as long as that will can be expressed by overthrowing the government peacefully through elections, lawsuits, impeachments, and criminal indictments, the use of violence is morally illegitimate except in immediate self-defense against official abuse under color of authority.

You say you are unwilling to abide by the verdict of popular elections. What do you propose instead: a minority imposing its will on the majority's electoral decision? The people are not perfect. They will make mistakes. They will not always perceive dangers to their liberty. We can do all we will to educate them; but once they have made their decision, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind"--as the Declaration of Independence puts it--compels us to live with the people's mistakes until the next election.

Armed force is the last resort of the free man in defense of his liberty--but it must remain the last resort, for when institutional redress has failed. Impatience with institutional sloth must not impel us to advocate violence, or we discredit the rightness of our cause and lose the moral faith of the people.

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The Second Amendment and Militias

Why won't advocates of civilian disarmament in the United States at least be honest enough to admit that the Founding Fathers were gun nuts? Instead, they come up with these incredible arguments that because the Second Amendment gives as one reason for an armed population that "a well-regulated militia [is] necessary to the security of a free state," that therefore when the Bill of Rights says that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," it doesn't mean "people" in general but only the National Guard.

And we're the ones who are supposed to be lying?

From an April 14, 1993 discussion on GEnie. --JNS

I have a copy of "Rudy Perpich, Governor of Minnesota, et al, Petitioners v DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al." Governor Perpich was suing to prevent the use of the Minnesota National Guard for overseas training and combat.

The Supreme Court denied his suit.

There is no mention of the Second Amendment anywhere in the Perpich decision.

From the decision:

The Dick Act divided the class of able-bodied male citizens between 18 and 45 years of age into an "organized militia" to be known as the National Guard of the several States, and the remainder of which was then described as the "reserve militia" and which later statutes have termed the "unorganized militia." The statute created a table of organization for the National Guard conforming to that of the Regular Army, and provided that federal funds and Regular Army instructors should be used to train its members. It is undisputed that Congress was acting pursuant to the Militia Clauses of the Constitution in passing the Dick Act.

Further on:

The draft of the individual members of the National Guard into the Army during World War I virtually destroyed the Guard as an effective organization. The draft terminated the members' status as militiamen, and the statute did not provide for a restoration of their prewar status as members of the Guard when they were mustered out of the Army. The problem was ultimately remedied by the 1933 amendments to the 1916 Act. Those amendments created the "two overlapping but distinct" organizations described by the District Court--the National Guard of the Various States and the National Guard of the United States.

[1d] Since 1933 all persons who have enlisted in a state National Guard unit have simultaneously enlisted in the National Guard of the United States. In the latter capacity they become a part of the Enlisted Reserve Corps of the Army, but unless and until ordered to active duty in the Army, they retained their status as members of a separate State Guard unit.

And still further on:

The unchallenged validity of the dual enlistment system means that the members of the National Guard of Minnesota, who are ordered into service with the National Guard of the United States lose their militia status as members of the State militia during their period of active duty.

What this means is that you have the reserve or unorganized militia--which is defined in the Dick Act as "able-bodied male citizens between 18 and 45 year of age"; you have the organized militia--which is the state (National) guards of each state while in service to that state; then you have the National Guard of the United States, which is not militia at all but a reserve component of the United States Army or the United States Air Force, and not legally empowered under the militia clauses of the Constitution, but by Congress's power to raise an army.

Then you have the Second Amendment, which says two things: that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, and that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The first part, which is stated as a present participial phrase--"A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state"--is not a restriction on the second part--"the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"--which is not only an independent clause incapable of being modified by a present participial phrase, but the only clause in that sentence--independent, dependent, or otherwise.

The right-to-keep-and-bear-arms clause in the current Virginia Constitution is the same as in colonial times, and was the basis for the Second Amendment: "That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Further, the exact same sentence as the Second Amendment is to be found in several state constitutions--North Carolina, South Carolina, Alaska, Hawaii--and Rhode Island's state constitution contains only the independent clause: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Which seems to blow out of the water the idea that the Second Amendment was a protection of state militias from federal control. If so, why would the same clauses be in state constitutions? The idea of a state needing to protect its militia from itself is nonsensical and immediately discardable on that basis.

Finally, in the case under discussion, the dual enlistment system in place gives the federal government complete control over the state militias any time Congress wants it anyway--and since the Perpich ruling says that this is legal, therefore the Second Amendment must protect some other right…as it does: the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

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A Clarion Call!


Yes, I intended all the exclamation points and capitalized letters. This was meant to be a classical broadside. --JNS

To all Militias and Patriotic Americans!

The events of the last few years make it clear that never in American history have our liberties been in such jeopardy!

The President of the United States does not think you are patriots! He thinks you are terrorists! He wants federal agents watching you closely!

Would the Revolutionaries of 1776 have put up with this? Would Sam Adams? Would Paul Revere? Thomas Jefferson? John Hancock? James Madison? Patrick Henry?

I say not!

Now is the time to act. It is the time to take this rogue president and his minions of liberty-hating Tories and give them the historical obscurity they deserve!

And only you can do it!

Here's what you must do!

Register to vote! Now!

Find patriotic candidates who support the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and most especially the entire Bill of Rights, and ELECT them to office, removing the knaves, poltroons, and scoundrels from public office!

Let the media know that being a patriotic American doesn't mean that you are a fool who thinks that the only way to effect revolutionary change is with the cartridge box when the ballot box is still working!

Join the NRA and the nearest grass-roots NRA Members Council--or form your own! Grass roots NRA activists helped drive the anti-gun Democratic Party out of control of the United States Congress for the first time in 40 years--and we can do the same with the White House in 1996! NRA lawyers and lobbyists have won victories in restoring the right to carry arms for protection, and limiting the powers of the federal government to dictate to state and local officials on gun issues! NRA, along with Gun Owners of America, The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and other organizations pledged to defend your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms are WINNING the battle for the Second Amendment in legislatures, executive offices, and in the courts!

If you have a telephone and a fax machine or modem, you can do what the revolutionaries of 1776 did with their Committees of Correspondence: stay in constant touch with other patriots to find out what's really happening in this country!

Voting patriots into office to take over the government is a perfectly legal way to create a revolution in this country! A government of patriots will protect our rights against all enemies, foreign and domestic!

Joining organizations which fight in the legislatures and courts for the right to keep and bear arms is a better way for you to keep your guns than burying your guns--and burying your head in the sand!

Using the Internet and fax machines to keep in close touch with other patriotic Americans who believe that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is today's way to assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances! It is a way to get past the lies spread every day in the mass media and learn THE TRUTH!

It's your choice! Join the revolution! Act now!

Later may be too late!

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An Open Reply to
Representative Charles Schumer

Statement of Rep. Charles B. Schumer
Ranking Member, House Subcommittee On Crime
April 5, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Today's hearing on the Second Amendment comes the day after the National Rifle Association conference on the same topic.

Is that a coincidence?

I think not.

In fact, at least one of the professors we will hear from today was billed as a "discussion leader" at that NRA conference.

Is that another coincidence?

Of course not.

Newt Gingrich and the Republican leadership are working hand in hand with the NRA and the gun lobby to use this committee to stage yet another pep rally for guns and gun nuts.

But the intellectual content of this hearing is so far off the edge that we ought to declare this an official meeting of the flat earth society.

Because the pro-gun arguments we will hear today are as flaky as the arguments of the tiny few who still insist that the earth is flat.

Like flat earth fanatics, Second Amendment fanatics just don't get it.

Facts are facts. The earth is not flat.

And Constitutional law is Constitutional law.

The Second Amendment is not absolute.

It does not guarantee the mythical individual right to bear arms we will hear argued for today.

The gun lobby and its friends in Congress can line up professors of history and law from here to NRA headquarters and back.

They can all swear what they think the Second Amendment means, and how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

But the settled law is flatly against them. The courts have uniformly, consistently, and unanimously ruled against them. There is no room to argue with the leading Supreme Court cases--United States v. Miller (1939), United States v. Cruikshank (1876), and Presser v. Illinois (1886)--and tens of lower federal court and state court cases following their precedent.

You don't have to take my word for it.

I'd like to take a moment here, Mr. Chairman, to play very brief excerpt from a television interview of a distinguished American on this subject.

[Excerpt played from video]

For anyone who may not have known, that was former Chief Justice Warren Burger, not exactly a raving liberal and not a gun banner. In case you could not understand the audio part of this video, the Chief Justice said that the NRA and its leaders "have trained themselves and their people to lie…and I can't use any word less than `lie.'"

That's not me. That's a distinguished American jurist calling these argument lies. He has also said:

"There is no Constitutional question here. The NRA has convinced a lot of people that the right to bear arms is an absolute right. It is not, any more than the right to have an automobile is an absolute right."

So there it is. If anyone tried to sell the baloney we'll hear today, they would be arrested for consumer fraud.

The NRA's Second Amendment is an empty cereal box in the market place of ideas.

I note also, Mr. Chairman, that the fans of an absolute reading of the Second Amendment do not extend the same absolute reading to the other parts of the Bill of Rights. They are among the first to carve the edges off the right to free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment, to shave the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure, or to restrict the Sixth Amendment's guarantees of due process.2

For the NRA Flat Earth Society, the Constitution consists of the Second Amendment and the Second Amendment only.

Now, one might say, so what? The NRA and its friends in academia and the Congress are entitled to their opinions, aren't they? What harm can come from peddling these phony opinions?

The answer is that plenty of harm comes from it.

The first--and most serious--harm is the poisoning of our political dialogue.

The NRA and its friends--some of whom serve in this body--have planted a poisonous weed of political paranoia in the minds of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

This barrage of cynical, fund-raising NRA propaganda about the Second Amendment has convinced many people that there is a vast plot to seize their guns and "take away their rights."

The sickening fruit of this poisonous lie are obvious in our society.

Right wing hate groups are arming themselves to answer a purely imaginary plot with real gun violence.

And every day, members of this body receive in the mail the most vicious, hate-filled mail imaginable, inspired by this biggest of NRA lies.

This is dangerous sickness.

I charge the NRA and others who encourage this rasping political hatred to take heed.

You are sowing seeds that will bear the bitterest of fruit.

The second harm is that decent Americans are bamboozled into opposing even modest laws designed to keep guns away from violent criminals, children, and the mentally dangerous.

They are stampeded even into opposing simple gun safety laws that would protect gun owners from the kind of accidents that every year cost the lives and limbs of hunters and recreational shooters.

Just one look at what the American people do for recreation makes this point clear.

According to a Roper poll published last week in The New York Times, 40 percent of Americans relax by driving for pleasure. Another 26 percent go fishing.

Only 8 percent go hunting. And only 8 percent engage in target shooting.

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, the 40 percent who drive put up gladly with a little inconvenience in exchange for our common safety. Their cars are titled and registered. They get driver's licenses.

And the 26 percent who fish endure the minor inconvenience of getting fishing licenses.

But the NRA and the gun lobby go nuts when society seeks to impose even the slightest inconvenience by way of licensing or registration on the minority who own and use guns.

This is madness.

A tiny minority of people fascinated with guns--and something they call the "gun ethic"--is bullying a much bigger majority on vital issues of health and safety.

Mr. Chairman, I'll listen to the flat earth arguments we'll hear today with as much interest as I can. But I say to the NRA and those who push the gun lobby's absolute view of the Second Amendment:

Get over it. The earth is not flat.

And the Second Amendment is not absolute.

You are wrong.

My Reply to Representative Schumer

Dear Representative Schumer:

With respect to your statement at the April 5, 1995 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Crime, your attack on the NRA for defending its interpretation of the Second Amendment misses the point.

The Second Amendment does not grant the American people the right to own and carry personal firearms, and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was not passed by the Framers of the Bill of Rights for that purpose. The Second Amendment was merely intended to forbid any governments under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the United States from infringing "the right of the people to keep and bear arms"--a right which the people have already.

You are quite correct that the Supreme Court of the United States has not enforced that protection of the people's rights, which is why the people's rights must be struggled for by other means; hence, the hearings in which you participate.

You see, Congressman, the Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Rights for that matter, is not the origin of any rights enjoyed by the American people. Those rights are, according to the founding document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, held to be self-evident.

You appear to believe that you have the authority to decide what rights the people of the United States have and what rights they do not. In looking over the Constitution of the United States, I find no enumerated authority for Congress to make such determinations; and since the federal government has only those powers which are enumerated to it by the Constitution, you are attempting to exercise powers which rightfully belong to the people. Stop doing that. You don't have the Constitutional authority and you don't have the moral authority.

I could understand that you might feel you had plenary authority to rule on the people's rights if you sat in some European parliament which does not have the people's rights as its founding authority; but the Constitution of the United States is clear enough to deny you any such illusion.

You might very well attempt to argue at this point that the rights of the people are not absolute, and it is the purpose of government to moderate those rights so to preserve civilization. That would be the sort of argument Edmund Burke made to Thomas Paine, and it seems to fit the sorts of arguments you make in support of gun control.

But, Congressman, even Edmund Burke would have had to concede that the rights of the people must be held firmly enough to withstand clear and present dangers to them. If we lived in a country such as Switzerland, where the policy of individual citizens keeping and bearing lethal weaponry for the defense of themselves and the country is so much a part of civic life that no amount of government control could disestablish it, then you might have a case for further regulation of the people's right to own and carry civil-defense arms.

But in a country such as the United States, where all the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are under judicial and legislative attack, and where defenders of those rights must put up with a powerful Congressman calling them "nuts" and "flat-earthers," no defense of those rights can be viewed as overly firm.

If you want an explanation, Congressman Schumer, of why the NRA seems inflexible in its defense of the American people's natural and Constitutionally-protected rights to own and carry lethal weapons for the defense of their individual and collective interests, with all due respect, look in a mirror. It is your dangerously intelligent arrogance in attempting to undermine the rights of the people which is the threat to our rights that we argue against.


1. If a pistol, the magazine must also be in plain view, even if unloaded. Also keep in mind, this only refers to California law at the time this book was written. For a full discussion, I recommend How to Own A Gun & Stay Out of Jail by attorney John Machtinger (Gun Law Press, Dec. 1994). -- JNS

2. Judge the accuracy of this claim for yourself, after you've read "A More Bulletproof Bill of Rights," later in this book. --JNS

Go to The Politics of Self Control.

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