About once a month, Dave Kopel produces a free e-mail Newsletter containing short summaries and links to important new research and writing involving the Second Amendment and firearms policy. The newsletter also reports on Kopel's latest writing.
The content of this newsletter is produced by the Second Amendment Project at the Independence Institute, a think tank in Golden, Colorado. The newsletter is electronically distributed by the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Washington. Thus, the Second Amendment Foundation will be given your e-mail address.
Archive of past issues.
Last issue for 2000.
The Second Amendment Project is based at the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado. http://i2i.org
Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice issue.
Enjoy the Solar Eclipse on Christmas morning, and make sure to wear appropriate safety glasses.
1. Kopel columns. Canada and majoritarianism. Statistical "sampling."
2. Clinton: NRA cost Gore five states, and is the #1 reason
Republicans still control the U.S. House.
3. New links.
4. Kopel and Kleck at the Independent Institute.
1. New Kopel columns
a. " No Canada." National Review Online, Dec. 20, 2000.
With Paul Gallant & Joanne Eisen.
Looks at the counter-majoritarian role of the Electoral College in the U.S., the unchecked and unbalanced system of government in Canada, and finds the U.S. system far superior for protecting civil liberty. Publication of this column generated a great deal of "right on" e-mail from Canadians and ex-Canadian.
b. "Common Statistical Sense." The whole population
was studied on Election Day, in the best way available.
National Review Online, Dec. 20, 2000. With David Stolinksy.
A look at how people ignore science to invent "results" to
fit their preconceptions. Discusses the "Million" Mom March.
2. Clinton on the NRA.
Interview of the President by Dan Rather of CBS News
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is the text of an interview of the President by Dan Rather of CBS News
The Oval Office
December 18, 2000 4:28 P.M. EST
Q Do you agree or disagree that some of your failures -- policy as well as personal failures in the White House -- had an impact on Al Gore's losing?
I don't think there is -- I don't know if you'd call this a policy failure, but I don't think there's any doubt that, in at least five states I can think of, the NRA had a decisive influence because they disagreed with our attempts to close the gun show loophole and have child trigger locks, safety locks and ban large scale ammunition clips.
You know, presumably, some people voted for him because we were for those things. But one of the sad things about all gun safety legislation is that people tend to vote for the issues, but when they're voting for candidates the antis" tend to be more intense than the "pros." I mean, if you look at Colorado, which is basically a Republican state now, the Vice President lost there, but closing the gun show loophole passed 70-30. In Oregon, because of the Nader candidacy, he only won a narrow victory, but the gun show loophole closing carried 2-1.
Q. I want to read you off a list and ask you to tell me the first thing that comes into your mind.
The National Rifle Association.
THE PRESIDENT: An effective adversary, but I think, on balance, a negative force, because they're trying to convince their people that we're trying to do something we're not trying to do.
Q Which is?
THE PRESIDENT: Take everybody's guns away. That's why I like giving speeches in debate with them, because I always tell everybody I talk to, if you missed a day in the deer woods or a single sports shooting contest, you ought to vote against me and our whole crowd. But if you didn't, they must be telling you something that's not true here. Let's look at what we're really for.
So I think the NRA did a lot of good things in Arkansas when I was there -- hunter education programs, they helped me resolve some property disputes. They really did some good things. But now they're just into terrifying people and building their membership and raising money, and it's just not true we're trying to take their guns away. It's just not true that we've interfered with legitimate hunters and sports people. And it's just not true that we've done enough in America to protect people from the dangers of criminals and kids having guns.
But you've got to give it to them, they've done a good job. They've probably had more to do than anyone else in the fact we didn't win the House this time. And they hurt Al Gore.
a. Public Schools Are "Clueless" About Guns
By Scott Rubush
Nine-year-old suspended from California public school because he
possessed photographs of himself and his family at a shooting range.
c. "Concealed Weapons" by Joyce Lee Malcolm.
Reason magazine. January 2001.
Book review of the year's #1 hoax book: "Arming America,"
By Michael Bellesiles.
c. Second Amendment Police Department announces newest updates to website:
Ron Willis, Detective, Gresham, Oregon Police, provides a challenge to all gun owners with "Divide and Conquer".
And Johnathan R. Marshall, an Aspiring Deputy Sheriff currently involved in the Testing in progress, give us an
interesting perspective with "God and the M60 Machine Gun"
4. Report of Kopel & Kleck speeches at Independent Institute,
Oakland, California. [NOT the Independence Institute, in Colorado,
where Kopel works.] Nov. 15, 2000. I've made some edits and corrections
to the original version of this e-mail.
From: "Joe Brower"
From a fellow member of the California TRT, a detailed writeup of the 11/15 Independent Institute meeting in Oakland, California. Feel free
to forward as desired:
It was a good meeting Nov 15 at the Independent Institute. There were easily 100 people, and probably more, packed into a relatively small conference room. Following is my far-too-long info from my notes:
Recommended Books and web sites from this meeting:
That Every Man Be Armed by Steven Holbrook
Fire and Smoke by Michael Krauss.
These above two were recommended as good background reading into the Second Amendment and its origin.
www.independenceinstitute.org - good online resource for RKBA info, to
read their newsletter, and other related resources
One particular page: http://www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/SlipperySlope.htm - All the Way Down the Slippery Slope - about gun control in England and lessons for America - supposed to be an excellent read
Origin of the Second Amendment by David Young
First up to speak was Gary Kleck. Most people know he is a well-known criminologist, with at least two books to his name. Point Blank was one, and they were selling another at the meeting - TARGETING GUNS: Firearms and Their Control.
Gary talked about various things, including how good research should start with evidence and move to a conclusion (as opposed to some "researcher's" infamous starting with a conclusion, then finding evidence to support it). Gary recommended that in determining which is the most reliable research to base your opinions on, you will want to look at how the researcher comes to their conclusions. Look for those who use GOOD research to produce reliable results.
He commented that guns are instruments of power - they can help those in control remain in control, but they are equally good at empowering the weaker among us.
He commented that in a confrontation, a criminal with a gun quite frequently will not be concerned if someone gets hurt (ie, the victim), so criminal use of guns will more often lead to human harm.
However, and I was interested in this - when a victim uses a gun for defense, first of all the attacker will quite often want to leave at that point. But additionally, the victim more often does NOT want to see anyone hurt, not even the aggressor. So victim use of guns for protection is less likely to lead to harm to a human than aggressor use of guns.
A couple statistics that Gary gave: first is the commonly-quoted 2.5 million defensive uses of guns per year. The second was the HIGHEST reliable estimate of CRIMINAL uses of guns per year is only 1 million.
An interesting turn on thought that Gary made is that a criminal getting and having a gun is not likely to increase crime. (The criminal is going to commit the crime anyway.) The most significant impact is that crime is more lethal, creating an increase in the number of homicides.
Gary stated that to make a strong case for gun control, they need to overcome the increase in lethality. Compare this to when victims have a gun, they will experience less physical harm, and see less property loss (due to increase in the number of criminals that "run away" on seeing the gun). Overall, Gary sees the net good and net bad of gun control as being a wash overall - for the amount of good accomplished, there is just as much bad.
Another set of statistics: currently we have about 270 million guns in private citizens' hands. We have about 3/4 million guns stolen per year, estimated.
Good gun control - it must determine a way to distinguish between the good guy and the bad guy. He was looking at it as a "if you are going to have gun control, don't infringe on the 'good guy's' right to have a gun in the process of stopping the 'bad guy' from getting one." Talked about having to draw a line and say "these people on this side are 'good', and those people on that side are 'bad'".
Gary sees longer prison sentences for those who commit crimes with guns as NOT being a panacea. His take on it is that the more people you have locked up for longer periods, the fewer people total you can lock up. There is only so much space in prison, so at some point you will not be able to lock up someone who needs it because someone else is serving the last 2 years of a 20 year sentence. And he said you can't just build more prisons, because eventually you will fill them up, too. (Don't know if I agree with it, but that was what Gary was saying.) He also said that because of this, longer prison sentences mean you are trading certainty of punishment with severity of punishment. He sounded to me like he was pushing for shorter, but guaranteed, sentences in order to have the criminals KNOW that if they get caught, they are doing time.
He went on to say that "Crime is a young man's game." Statistically, most crimes are committed by men 13 to 25, or maybe 29 years old. 18 is about the peak of a criminals career. After that, statistically, the amount of crime committed starts diminishing. So if a criminal does a 5 year sentence from age 18, it will prevent some crime, but keeping him locked up after age 25 "you aren't preventing him from doing much anyway." Basically it is the Hot Young Stud vs. the Old Fart - and Gary wants to see the HYSs locked up, and not focus so much on the Old Farts.
Some popular strategies that don't work:
-Lawsuits against gun makers. They want gun makers to make safer guns, using smart gun technology. Only one problem - the smart gun technology doesn't even exist yet.
-Waiting periods. They may stop an occasional homicide, but mostly they are ineffectual. Murderers are not "last minute shoppers." They don't go get a gun to commit a crime "right now."
-Add on laws - those where the penalty is x years, but if you use a gun while doing the crime it's x+10 years. Generally are not a deterrent.
Smart strategy is to focus on the high frequency criminals. Go after the one with the most priors. So if you have a first-timer that did a crime, and you have another guy with a rap sheet a mile long, go for the most you can against the 'big rap sheet' guy, and don't push so hard for the 50-year sentence on the first timer. (At this time, Gary was also talking about how the lawyers get kudos for the "big prison sentences," so they tend to try to prosecute them longer and harder.)
David Kopel was up next. He is with the Independence Institute. They were selling one of his books at the meeting: Guns: Who Should Have Them?
David spoke more on the self-defense angle of gun ownership. The gun control issue has frequently been couched in the "sporting" aspect - the controllers don't (yet) attempt to infringe on the sporting use of guns.
As an aside, some predictions on gun control and other legislation and the next president. Gore apparently found the gun control issue was a liability during the election, so at some point he started distancing himself from it. His campaigners tried to tell folks in some areas that "Gore is not going to try to take away your guns." So if he gets elected, you will probably see him lay low on the gun control issue. He will probably push for more laws, but not very hard.
On the other hand, if Bush gets elected, he may have to support some control legislation. However, the other things you will probably see: he despises trial lawyers, so he will most likely support product liability reform law. This makes sense, especially from the point of view of the gun makers - guns are THE MOST regulated product in the US. It is incredible to try to sue them for the criminal use of their legally produced and sold product. If the suits against them manage to get thru, it will be open season on any manufacturer of any product - starting with the alcohol and automobile industries. There are practically no manufacturers that want to see these suits continue or succeed.
Additionally, we have seen the tobacco companies fighting (and losing) their legal battles. They have a LOT of $$, they can fight forever. On the gun companies - they DON'T have the money to fight. And they are severely hampered by this reality.
The interesting thing about the suits against the gun companies is that each and every one of them assumes NO defensive use value from the private ownership of guns.
As to the self-defense use of guns: no matter how much Gore wanted to separate himself from gun control, he simply could NOT support the use of guns for self defense.
Self defense is the pivotal point on gun control. Recommended reading at this point was the site referenced above - All the Way Down the Slippery Slope.
In England, they talked about thinking of the gun as a sporting tool or "a golf club." Well, the problem with that approach is that as soon as people are killed with a "sporting tool," it becomes hard to legitimize the ownership of these "sporting tools" (remember the mantra "If is saves just one life, it's worth it") - with a sporting tool, there is very little defense against this argument.
England, until a few years ago, had low gun crime. However, with the instigation of severe licensing and restricted ownership, gun crime has skyrocketed.
HCI, etc, talk about saving lives from accidents, and the value of gun control from that aspect. However, the pro-gun stance response can be that defensive use of guns reduces occupied home invasion, and prevents deaths during attacks. (Deb here: so do you want to save one life from accidental death at the cost of ten, or more, in robberies?)
HCI is mortally offended by the concept of defensive use. (Deb again: I guess they would rather see me dead than the criminal attacking me. Go figure. Does this mean they LIKE seeing proportionally more criminals roaming the country?)
If HCI were TRULY interested in the "moderate licensing" they SAY they are interested in, then concealed carry permits SHOULD be completely acceptable- the applicant is fingerprinted, IDed, has a background check run on them, certified mentally competent, frequently certified competent with a handgun. HCI should have no problem with this. Except that they do. Which tends to lead us to see their true colors.
And their "guns cost xx dollars in criminal damages each year" statement totally ignores the benefits (and therefore prevention of loss of dollars) from defensive use of guns. So they quote a number, but that is a one-sided, non-inclusive number using incomplete data.
That was the end of the prepared talks. Then came a Q&A session. Some
things from that:
What difference in impact was seen in Kennesaw, GA (where every homeowner Is required to have a gun on the premises) vs. Morton Grove, IL (where they banned handgun ownership)?