By Nancy Matthis and Budd Schroeder
| Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 1:11 pm
Tomorrow the Supreme Court will begin hearing the case of Heller versus The District of Columbia. The Second Amendment challenge to the District’s ban on personal ownership of firearms is a landmark case.
However, the premise of the original law is faulty logic — the mistaken belief that if guns are banned, crime will be reduced. In fact, the opposite is true. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Today’s WaPo makes the case:
Fighting Gun Traffickers Involves Lots of Legwork, a Little Luck
By Paul Duggan | Monday, March 17, 2008
For police and federal agents trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals in the District, building a case against a firearms trafficker can mean months of work. Or it can come together quickly — as fast as a speeding motorcycle.
Virginia State Trooper Eric Linkous was looking for speeders on Interstate 66 in Fauquier County on Aug. 10 when Michael W. Lewis II blew past him on a Suzuki Katana going 99 mph. By the time Linkous caught up with the Suzuki, Lewis, 30, of Front Royal, Va., had abandoned his bike and fled on foot, leaving behind a black satchel.
In the bag were five stolen pistols, four of them taken from a Manassas gun store three nights earlier in a burglary that netted 19 firearms. Lewis, arrested within days of the chase, was soon linked to three other burglaries and nearly 70 stolen guns — most of them still missing. Authorities said they think the guns were sold to criminals, mainly in the District.
Firearms traffickers such as Lewis profit in an underground economy that has bustled for decades in the District, regardless of the city’s long-debated prohibition on handgun ownership, one of the toughest gun-control laws in the nation….
By Nancy Matthis and Budd Schroeder
| Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 at 2:52 am
There are ten civil rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, or the first ten amendments to the United States constitution. Together they define a society that offers freedom and opportunity that is unique in this world. But one of those rights is essential to preserving all of the others, both from foreign invaders and domestic tyrants. That is the second amendment, which guarantees the right of each individual to be armed.
In the next two months, our survival as a free nation faces the ultimate challenge, as the forces of international globalization and domestic socialism seek to disempower the citizens of the United States. The landmark case District of Columbia, et al., Petitioners v. Dick Anthony Heller is currently before the Supreme Court.
HISTORY: On March 9, 2007 the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down a long-standing ban on private gun ownership in the nation’s capital (Circuit Court Case #04-7041). On May 8, 2007 a rehearing before the Circuit Court was denied, leaving the District of Columbia with two options — give up or go before the Supreme Court. Determined to save face, newly elected district mayor and gun control advocate Adrian M. Fenty vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court. On January 4 of this year, the Brief of petitioners District of Columbia, et al. was filed.
As an interesting side note, the day before the District of Columbia filed their brief, the lawyer who was working on their case was fired in what appears to be a political squabble unrelated to the case. For coverage, see the Washington Post: Attorney For D.C. in Gun Ban Case Fired:
Acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles has fired the city lawyer who had been preparing to defend the District’s longtime ban on handguns before the Supreme Court this spring, a move that some city officials fear could harm the case.
Alan B. Morrison, who has argued 20 cases before the high court, was asked to leave his post as special counsel by the end of this week. Morrison had been hired by then-Attorney General Linda Singer and put in charge of arguing the handgun case. Singer resigned two weeks ago.
Nickles declined to elaborate on his decision, but Morrison suggested in an interview that he was fired as part of a feud between Nickles and Singer.
The case is one of the most important in the city’s history, and the court’s ruling could have a national impact, legal experts have said….
More coverage and a lot of interesting commentary from readers is offered on Peter Lattman’s Law Blog: D.C. Fires Attorney in Supreme Court Gun-Ban Case.
The government of the United States weighed in with an amicus brief filed on January 11 by the Justice Department. Many gun rights advocates were initially cheered by language in the brief that gave lip service to the second amendment. But upon close inspection this is, as researcher John R. Lott Jr. points out, a “bad brief.”
A lot of Americans who believe in the right to own guns were very disappointed this weekend. On Friday, the Bush administration’s Justice Department entered into the fray over the District of Columbia’s 1976 handgun ban by filing a brief to the Supreme Court that effectively supports the ban. The administration pays lip service to the notion that the Second Amendment protects gun ownership as an “individual right,” but their brief leaves the term essentially meaningless.
Quotes by the two sides’ lawyers say it all. The District’s acting attorney general, Peter Nickles, happily noted that the Justice Department’s brief was a “somewhat surprising and very favorable development.” Alan Gura, the attorney who will be representing those challenging the ban before the Supreme Court, accused the Bush administration of “basically siding with the District of Columbia” and said that “This is definitely hostile to our position.” As the lead to an article in the Los Angeles Times said Sunday, “gun-control advocates never expected to get a boost from the Bush administration.”
As probably the most prominent Second Amendment law professor in the country privately confided in me, “If the Supreme Court accepts the solicitor general’s interpretation, the chances of getting the D.C. gun ban struck down are bleak.” ….
The National Rifle Association announced that it will file an amicus brief also. From their correspondence with members:
Statement of the National Rifle Association On The Pending U.S. Supreme Court Case
By Wayne LaPierre And Chris Cox
In the coming months, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.’s ban on handgun ownership and self-defense in law-abiding residents’ homes. The Court will first address the question of whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as embodied in the Bill of Rights, protects the rights of individuals or a right of the government. If the Court agrees that this is an individual right, they will then determine if D.C.’s self-defense and handgun bans are constitutional.
The position of the National Rifle Association is clear. The Second Amendment protects the fundamental, individual right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for any lawful purpose. Further, any law infringing this freedom, including a ban on self-defense and handgun ownership, is unconstitutional and provides no benefit to curbing crime. Rather, these types of restrictions only leave the law-abiding more susceptible to criminal attack.
The U.S. Government, through its Solicitor General, has filed an amicus brief in this case. We applaud the government’s recognition that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right that is “central to the preservation of liberty.” The brief also correctly recognizes that the D.C. statutes ban “a commonly-used and commonly-possessed firearm in a way that has no grounding in Framing-era practice,” the Second Amendment applies to the District of Columbia, is not restricted to service in a militia and secures the natural right of self-defense.
However, the government’s position is also that a “heightened” level of judicial scrutiny should be applied to these questions. The National Rifle Association believes that the Court should use the highest level of scrutiny in reviewing the D.C. gun ban. We further believe a complete ban on handgun ownership and self-defense in one’s own home does not pass ANY level of judicial scrutiny. Even the government agrees that “the greater the scope of the prohibition and its impact on private firearm possession, the more difficult it will be to defend under the Second Amendment.” A complete ban is the kind of infringement that is the greatest in scope. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit correctly ruled that D.C.’s statutes are unconstitutional. We strongly believe the ruling should be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The National Rifle Association will be filing an amicus brief in this case and will provide additional information to our members as this case moves through the legal process.
History shows that the disarmament of the public is a precursor to enslavement and genocide.
As researcher Debbie O’Hara states:
The only people empowered by gun control laws are governments and criminals.
On the other hand, there is no data to support the premise that gun control reduces crime. Quite the opposite. As Robert A. Levy of the Cato Institute points out:
Before the District banned handguns in 1976, the murder rate had been declining. But soon afterward, the rate climbed to the highest of all large U.S. cities. It also rose relative to nearby Maryland and Virginia as well as relative to other cities with more than 500,000 people. During the 31-year life of the ban, with the exception of a few years during which the city’s murder rate ranked second or third, there have been more killings per capita in Washington, D.C. than in any other major city.
In 12 of the years between 1980 and 1997, including all nine years from 1989 through 1997, the violent crime rate in D.C. exceeded 2,000 per 100,000, reaching a high of 2,922 in 1993, versus 1,481 in 1976 — a 97 percent increase in violent crime, 17 years after citizens were forbidden from defending themselves with firearms. Moreover, the murder rate climbed as high as 81 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1991 — triple the pre-ban levels. As of 2005, the last year for which I have data, the murder rate is still 32 percent above the 1976 level.
Everyone who loves this country should be keeping a close watch on this case. The survival of our nation as we know it depends on the outcome. We risk sacrificing the freedoms that we fought for in the American Revolution and have paid for so dearly with the blood of our soldiers ever since.
From R.J. Rummel:
Pray tell, my brother,
Why do dictators kill
and make war?
Is it for glory; for things,
for beliefs, for hatred,
Yes, but more,
because they can.
By Nancy Matthis and Budd Schroeder
| Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 at 11:21 pm
Well, yes, the New York Times published this. But they published it in the Science section on Christmas day!
We think it is a worthwhile read for the thinkers in the ADMC family of readers, so we are calling it to your attention. Read all three pages if you have the time. You will get the sense, perhaps not intended by the Times, that conservatives and liberals have different views about why societies grow and why they ultimately fail, because they evaluate data through the lenses of their respective ideologies.
Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Two of his published books use comparative analysis to determine the factors that shape the rise and fall of societies. The first, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, examines concomitents of societal success. The second, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, parses the coordinates of societal failure.
Malthus lurks in the shadows.
The Times article reprises reaction to Diamond’s work at two relevant symposia. The first was Exploring Scholarly and Best-Selling Accounts of Social Collapse and Colonial Encounters held by the American Anthropological Association in San Jose, California last year. The second was a seminar sponsored by the Amerind Foundation in Dragoon, Arizona this past fall which convened archaeologists, cultural anthropologists and historians to discuss Choices and Fates of Human Societies.
Here’s a sample from the Times piece. We hope it will induce you to read the whole article.
A Question of Blame When Societies Fall
By GEORGE JOHNSON
Although “Guns, Germs and Steel” has been celebrated as an antidote to racism — Western civilization prevails not because of inherent superiority, but geographical luck — some anthropologists saw it as excusing the excesses of the conquerors.
….human will was an important pivot in the turning of history, as were freak accidents and chaotic “butterfly effects,” in which tiny perturbations are amplified into cataclysms. But the accidents of geography — the availability of raw materials and crops, a hospitable climate, accessible trade routes and even the cartographical shapes of continents — step forth as prime movers….
While “Guns, Germs, and Steel” explored the factors contributing to a society’s rise, “Collapse” tried to account for the downfalls. Here, human agency played a more prominent role. In case after case, Dr. Diamond described how a confluence of factors — fragile ecosystems, climatic change, hostile neighbors and, ultimately, bad decision making — cornered a society into inadvertently damaging or even destroying itself….