Jan. 25, 2001, Second Amendment newsletter

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.

Second Amendment Project Newsletter. Jan. 25, 2001.
The Second Amendment Project is based at the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado.

Table of Contents for this issue

1. New Kopel and Independence Institute short articles.
Banning guns because of community fear, the new Cato Handbook
for Congress, an NRA Live interview, Boulder gun control, and more.
Also, transcript of Kopel and Gary Kleck speech in Oakland.

2. New Kopel long articles. Three law journal articles now on the web:
Treating Guns Like Consumer Products; BATF Traces; the Brady Act and

3. The "Arming America" controversy. New study examines the same
probate records that Michael Bellesiles claimed to - and
discovers that firearms were commonly owned in early America.

4. Lots of swell links.

1. New Kopel and Independence Institute articles and speeches.

a. "Empty-Barrel Gun Policies."
A legacy of nonsense from Clinton, Blair, and the Left.
National Review Online. Jan. 22, 2001.
By Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant, & Dr. Joanne Eisen

b. "Living in Fear. . . . of gun-control laws."
Community fear as the latest reason to ban guns.
National Review Online. Jan. 17, 2001.
By Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant, & Dr. Joanne Eisen

c. "Check the Footnotes."
Skip Bellesiles. Read Halbrook.
Book review of "Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876," by Stephen P. Halbrook (Praeger, 1998, 248 pp., $57.75)
National Review Online Weekend. Jan. 13-14, 2001.
By Dave Kopel and Clayton Cramer

d. NRA Live. Phone interview with Kopel.
On gun registration, Canada, other topics.

e. Cato Handbook for Congress Released.
Washington Post article about the Handbook:
Full Cato handbook:

Kopel chapter from the Cato Handbook
The Expanding Federal Police Power

Another Kopel chapter from the Cato Handbook.
Gun Control

f. Boulder's 'Common Nonsense' Gun Laws."
By Ari Armstrong
Independence Feature Syndicate.


g. 1/24/01 10:00 a.m.
"Who Killed George Washington?"
The murderer still roams free.
The dangers of irrationality in public policy
By Dave Kopel & David C. Stolinsky

h. GUN CONTROL: Separating Fact From Myth
November 15, 2000
The Independent Institute Conference Center
(not the same as the Independence Institute)

2. New Kopel law review articles on the Web.
Thanks to Rick Norwood and Rob Rice for their formatting work
on these articles!!

a. "Treating Guns Like Consumer Products."
From the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.


b. "Clueless: The Misuse of BATF Firearms Tracing Data."
Law Review of Michigan State University Detroit College of Law.


c. "The Brady Bill Comes Due: The Printz Case and State Autonomy."
From the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal.


d. Also, the final published version (instead of just a draft) of
"Tench Coxe and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the Early Republic."
By Dave Kopel & Stephen Halbrook,
From the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal.

3. "Arming America." The main factual claim is proven false.
The foundation of Michael Bellesiles book "Arming America"
turns out to be plainly wrong -- based on the data he claims to haveused.

"Counting Guns in Early America."
by James Lindgren & Justin Lee Heather of Northwestern University
Article is posted at the Center for Public Health Law
University of Missouri at Kansas City.


Probate inventories, though perhaps the best prevailing source for
determining ownership patterns in early America, are incomplete and fallible. In this article, the authors suggest that  inferences can be improved by using multivariate techniques and control variables of other common objects. To determine gun ownership from probate inventories, the authors examine three databases in detail-Alice Hanson Jones' national sample of 919  inventories (1774), 149 inventories from Providence, RI (1679-1726), and Gunston Hall Plantation's sample of 325 inventories  from Maryland and Virginia (1740-1810). Also discussed are a sample of 59 probate inventories from Essex County, MA  (1636-1650) and Anna Hawley's study of 221 Surry County, VA estates (1690-1715). Guns are found in 50-73% of the male  estates in each of the five databases and in 6-38% of the female estates in each of the first four databases.

Gun ownership is particularly high compared to other common items. For  example, in 813 itemized male inventories from the 1774 Jones national database, guns are listed in 54% of estates,  compared to only 30% of estates listing any cash, 14% listing swords or edge weapons, 25% listing Bibles, 62% listing any  book, and 79% listing any clothes. Using hierarchical loglinear modeling, the authors show that guns are more common in early American inventories where the decedent was male, Southern, rural, slave-owning, or above the lowest social class-or  where the inventories were more detailed.

The picture of gun ownership that emerges from these analyses directly  contradicts the assertions of Michael Bellesiles in Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000). Contrary  to Arming America's claims, there were high numbers of guns, guns were much more common than swords or other edge  weapons, women in 1774 owned guns at rates (18%) higher than Bellesiles claimed men did in 1765-90 (14.7%), and  83-91% of gun-owning estates listed at least one gun that was not old or broken. The authors replicated all the portions of  Bellesiles' study where he both counted guns in probate inventories and cited his sources. They conclude that Bellesiles  appears to have substantially misrecorded or misremembered the 17th and 18th century probate data he presents.


4. Links.

a. "The Hate-Crime Myth"
People don't save people. Guns save people.
By Deroy Murdock, columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service.
National Review Online. Jan. 22, 2001.
"If Matthew Shepard had a gun, he would be alive today. . ."


b. "It's Raining Deer." Out-of-control herds, out-of-control solutions.
By James A. Swan, Ph.D., the "Media Watch" columnist for  North American Hunter magazine.
National Review Online Weekend, January 13-14, 2001.

c. "Release The Hounds!"
Fox-Hunting Facing Ban In England And Wales
"Britain's lawmakers moved closer to outlawing the centuries-old sport  of fox-hunting in England and Wales Wednesday, voting to ban it despite  opposition from campaigners who say it is an integral part of rural  life.


d. "That Was the Election that Was."
by Ron Faucheux
January 4, 2001
Campaigns & Elections
"The National Rifle Association matters. They provided enough  organizational muscle and turnout energy to maintain a GOP Congress."

e. Canadian Shooting Sports.
Fighting for diversity and freedom.

f. Louisiana Supreme Court interprets ban on possessing firearm while  possessing drugs narrowly, to avoid state right to keep and bear arms  problems: State v. Blanchard, Jan. 18, 2001.

g. Gun Talk, with Tom Gresham.
You can listen to this show live on the Internet, if you're not near
one of the dozens of radio stations which carries the fine program.

h. "A Nation of Victims." The Consequences of Gun Control.
By Annie. A woman speaks out for safety.

by Luke Hansen
AOL vs. AOL employees owning guns.

London Daily Telegraph, January 11, 2001
"The total was more than a third up on the previous year..."


k. "Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews"
By Stephen P. Halbrook
17 Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, No. 3, 483-535 (2000).

l. Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 1999
Bureau of Justice Statistics
U.S. Department of Justice
Describes background checks for firearm transfers conducted in 1999, the first full year of the permanent provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The report also provides the number of applications checked by State points of contact, estimates of the number of applications checked by local agencies, the number of applications rejected, the reasons for rejection, and estimates of applications and rejections conducted by each type of approval system, including permit approval systems.

m. Federal Firearm Offenders, 1992-98: With Preliminary Data for 1999  Describes trends associated with the prosecution of firearm offenders in U.S. district courts between 1992 and 1999. In addition, this report describes charge bargaining practices by U.S. attorneys; offenders charged with unlawfully receiving or transferring a firearm; sentences imposed for firearm offenses -- including statutory and sentencing guideline enhancements for firearms use; and the source of firearms used by Federal inmates during the offense for which they were imprisoned. 

Bureau of Justice Statistics U.S. Department of Justice

n. Making Juvenile Crime Pay in California: California Wellness Foundation Funds Anti-Gun, Anti-Incarceration Efforts
by Daniel T. Oliver
Capital Research Center
December 2000

o. The Independent Institute in Oakland, California is NOT  the same as the Independence Institute, in Golden, Colorado. This e-mail newsletter is coming from the Colorado organization. And our name came first! Nevertheless, the Oakland folks have some Interesting new material:
"The Independent Review" journal has two especially notable articles in  its Fall 2000 issue.

"Burn, Baby, Burn": Small Business in the Urban Riots of the 1960s"

Notes that in many big-city riots, mayors ordered police not to interfere. Accordingly, small business owners often used firearms to protect their family business.

Public Health vs. The Nanny State?
Tuesday, October 26, 2000
The Independent Institute Conference Center
Jacob Sullum
Senior Editor, Reason Magazine
Author, For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health with Thomas DiLorenzo

Quote of the month: "For a man's house is his castle and fortress,  as much for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose."  Semayne's case, 5 Co. Rep. 91.

Some pages you may want to visit at the award-winning  Independence Institute website:

Criminal Justice and the Second Amendment:
Kopel short articles: http://davekopel.org
The Columbine High School murders:
The Waco murders: http://i2i.org/Waco.htm
The Independence Institute's on-line bookstore. Start your  browsing at the Second Amendment section:

That's all folks!

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