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Gun law update: CORRECTIONS

Apologies friends and fans --
I must have been half asleep --
let me start with the easy errors,
and progress to the more involved issues:

"1- Second Circuit Court Ends D.C. Gun Ban"

1- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Ends D.C. Gun Ban

"By now you've probably heard that the federal 2nd Circuit Court has overturned..."

By now you've probably hard that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned... [the 2nd Circuit is up New England way.]

"Congress could care less."

Syndicated radio host Tom Gresham of Gun Talk notes -- Alan, this means the opposite of what you wanted to say. This means that Congress cares. You mean to say that Congress could NOT care less. It's common usage, but it means the opposite of the intended meaning. Thanks for being on the show Sunday. As always, you did a great job. Tom

"The case is named after Cato senior fellow Tom G. Palmer."
[Dumbest error of them all. Sheesh.]

"Parker v. DC" is named after Shelly Parker, an African-American woman who lives in DC and had her life threatened by local thugs. I knew that. Cato senior fellow Tom G. Palmer was one of the six D.C. residents in the case who argued for the right to defend themselves in their homes.

"The Cato Institute... lead this successful charge."

The Cato Institute does not litigate. It does occasionally file amicus briefs, but did not in this case, didn't fund it, and made no arguments. This was a personal project by Cato scholar Robert A. Levy, who paid expenses out of his pocket, and had legal assistance from colleagues. Lead counsel Alan Gura worked for small compensation and co-counsel Clark Neily worked pro bono. Cato was supportive on the issues, and weighed in with the media, but was only indirectly connected to the case.


An NBC correspondent objected to how I characterized their coverage of the case ("I fear your recent note did not fairly represent the story I did for NBC News"). The quote attributed to NBC came directly from the caption at the top of their website story, with the glum-faced DC mayor all upset. Admittedly their story did go further than the single item I used. On the other hand, they didn't lead with jubilant civil rights advocates who were jumping for joy nationwide, now that the tyrannical decades-long repression of basic human rights had been lifted.

In that sense, the NBC coverage was remarkably similar to the other networks and mainstream outlets -- a similarity that leads many in the public to wonder about their independence of thought. Why do mainstream stories have such a uniform slant, which so often does not harmonize with what the public thinks?

Note to correspondent -- I don't recall seeing any reports from NBC on armed self defense, even though by all accounts these occur frequently in America; yet I frequently see isolated criminal acts involving guns from remote areas of the country on national news. This leads many to believe NBC has a bias against all the good that guns do -- saving lives, stopping crime, family enjoyment and the rest. How would you respond to that claim?

Aaron Zelman, the head of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership asked for a public apology, and here it is. They are definitely not "shouting from the rooftops with joy" as I indicated by batching them with other gun-rights advocates who are. They are keenly aware of the downsides of the decision, and the huge potential damage an appeal could cause. Check them out here: And Aaron, let's not overlook the court's reliance on permit schemes instead of rights, easy acceptance of onerous conditions like mandated training and registrations, reasoned discussion of the bogus individual/collectivist subterfuge, and the severe limit of the decision to people only in their homes.

Author and scholar Dave Hardy observes:
"And the dissent is ... weird. It doesn't say there is no individual right, it says the right doesn't apply in DC because it was meant to protect states against federal tyranny and DC is not a State. If that sounds rather nonsensical ... well, that's the best I can read it."

Syndicated columnist Vin Suprynowicz notes:
Unfortunately, ALL THREE judges ruled there's no right to keep and bear arms. Yes, yes, I know two of them SAID there's a fundamental individual right. They then proceeded to instruct D.C. to issue the plaintiff a PERMIT to own and carry a weapon, but ONLY IN HIS OWN HOUSE. How can you issue a PERMIT to exercise a RIGHT? Got your Freedom of Religion Permit? Don't try to use it outside your own house, now!

I have to agree with Vin, and have been a long-time foe of all the permit schemes so willingly embraced by gun-rights advocates everywhere. See, for example, "Reciprocity Schemes." The question before us is one of incrementalism, and politics being the art of the possible. We can, like libertarian purists do, stand on perfect philosophical grounds and be crushed, or stand by and watch politicos of every stripe do battle in the belly of the beast and gather up what crumbs may fall. Yeah, mixed metaphor. And a tough call. For complaints on that point, please place finger in electrical outlet.

Item (6) about the gun lobby being less than unified on the merits of this case (and that's putting it nicely) will be explored in a story under development (not by me), and I'll let you know when there is news.

And finally, news media everywhere characterized this as a battle between the "individual rights" and "collective rights" interpretations of the Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms. The New York Times: "unconstitutional on the ground that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals, as opposed to the collective rights of state militias."

That is a fallacious, underhanded and preposterous deception, because the "collective rights" nonsense was invented late last century solely as a way to attack this basic human right. Into the 1960s nearly every high school in NYT's home turf had a firing range and rifle team, and there was virtually no debate on whether you had a right to arms -- it's a new concoction (but why let that stop the Gray Lady).

Attorney Stephen Halbrook's extensive historical research lead him to this interesting conclusion:

"In recent years it has been suggested that the Second Amendment protects the 'collective' right of states to maintain militias, while it does not protect the right of 'the people' to keep and bear arms. If anyone entertained this notion in the period during which the Constitution and Bill of Rights were debated and ratified, it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth century, for no known writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis. The phrase 'the people' meant the same thing in the Second Amendment as it did in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments -- that is, each and every free person."

In further research he discovered:

The "collective rights" theory originated in U.S. v. Tot, (1943). The historical references in Tot simply do not support its thesis. See Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed 189-191 (1984): Subsequent cases merely string cite to earlier cases which are ultimately traceable to Tot.

Stephen's work is just SO good.
And thanks, y'all, for your patience with me.


Fun Bob

I appreciate you going to the trouble to publish a comprehensive errata and own up to your errors. However, I would rather see you correct the text in the original post and make note of the corrects with your errata published later.

I want to link to your original post but I must also provide a link to your errata and any readers I send your way are going to have to flip back and forth--mentally filling in the correct text for themselves as they go. Too much trouble. So much so that I hesitate linking your excellent analysis.

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  • Freelance writer Alan Korwin is a founder and past president of the Arizona Book Publishing Association. With his wife Cheryl he operates Bloomfield Press, the largest producer and distributor of gun-law books in the country. Here writing as "The Uninvited Ombudsman," Alan covers the day's stories as they ought to read. Read more.

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