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« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

64th gun case since Miller in 1939

Recognition of individual right to arms could be reversed

by Alan Korwin, Co-Author
Supreme Court Gun Cases

Nov. 20, 2007, Washington, D.C. -- The Supreme Court today decided to hear the District of Columbia v. Heller civil-rights case, characterized by many as its first gun case since the Miller case in 1939, a common error.

The High Court has been ruling on guns and gun rights since 1820, with 31 cases addressing the subject before Miller and 63 cases afterwards until this one. The widely quoted Miller case concerned two bootleggers and a sawed-off shotgun. Miller was murdered before his case could be retried as directed by the Supreme Court, leaving that short, controversial decision to be interpreted in many ways.

In the Court's 92nd gun case, U.S. v. Bean (2002), it decided that a man deprived of his right to keep and bear arms, due to a questionable felony arrest in Mexico, could not sue in federal court to regain those rights, since the federal bureau in charge of reviewing such gun-rights cases had failed to act.

The 93rd gun case, Brosseau v. Haugen (2004), asked whether a police officer shooting an escaping felon in the back was an excessive use of force. The Court avoided this question, resolving only a side issue of the officer's immunity from a lawsuit after the shooting. The case involved a rather wild fracas and an awkward shot at a driver through the rear driver's side window.

In its 94th such case, Small v. U.S. (2005), the Justices decided that a felony conviction in a Japanese court, which used procedures far below American standards, was not sufficient to deprive the defendant of his right to buy and possess a firearm.

The 95th case, Castle Rock v. Gonzalez (2005), confirmed a long-standing rule that, even though an armed violent spousal abuser under a restraining order had repeatedly threatened his estranged wife, the woman had no grounds to expect police protection. Some claim this is not a gun case per se, even though the husband shot her three children to death, before he was shot to death by police. Others have suggested that, since police have no duty to protect you, the right to self preservation, and the tools to make it effective, must be inherent under due process.

Ms. Gonzalez had assistance from civil rights groups and a firm with 1,000 lawyers but still lost the case. Although counterintuitive, police only have an obligation to society in general, not to specific people. Justice Scalia, in the 7-2 decision said there is no federal constitutional right to police protection, which leads some observers to infer a right to self protection. The Court said states were free to craft laws to fill the gap, but states have not. It is not the most clear-cut of the Court's many related cases, but it does firmly establish police "no duty to protect."

The new case now granted review, District of Columbia v. Heller, is somewhat different, since the parties are arguing specifically over the Second Amendment itself, and not the firearms they choose to bear or how they put them to use. The District of Columbia has, since 1976, denied its citizens any right to keep and bear an operable firearm even in their homes. Some credit this law, and the related city bans on obtaining or carrying a firearm, with forcing its law-abiding, defenseless citizens to live in one of the murder capitals of the nation, where only the criminal element (and authorities) are armed.

Discussions of the first 92 cases are compiled in Supreme Court Gun Cases, published by Bloomfield Press, which for the first time dispelled the notion that the High Court had been quiet about the subject of guns. The Court's decisions use some form of the word "gun" (rifle, shotgun, handgun, firearm, etc.) more than 2,900 times. Fourteen of the cases deal specifically with using guns in personal self defense.

News outlets, universally calling the Heller case the first gun case in decades, are merely repeating each other, rather than doing research that would easily show it's not true. (Going against the tide at this point might be hard for most news organizations.)

The case could be pivotal however, since the Justices could use it to effectively overturn gun laws at the state and federal level that civil-rights advocates have for years claimed infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. The D.C. law is an extreme example, they say, though New York City, Chicago and even some entire states have highly restrictive laws against private possession of arms, which tend to increase crime rates.

There is also a chance this decision, expected next year with a hearing as early as March, could set a precedent by finding against an individual right to keep and bear arms, which is what the mayor of D.C. and his supporters seek.

That would reverse two centuries of consistent rulings that have recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms for self defense and all other lawful purposes.

In private, pro-gun-rights groups and anti-gun-rights groups express dread at the chance the decision will go against them. A strong, broad decision in either direction could tear at the fabric of the nation, leading some observers to expect a carefully crafted and narrow decision that avoids the most delicate or volatile issues.

Not even the Justices know what they will ultimately decide, but the case is sure to be closely watched by pro-rights and anti-rights advocates, and wild speculation is running rampant. People are "counting votes" based on past decisions and known or supposed preferences. The ruling is unlikely to close the debate on gun rights, with parties remaining heavily committed to their own points of view, and the freedom of the country literally hanging in the balance.

Supreme Court Gun Cases, published in 2003 after six years of research, is available for news-media review by calling 1-800-707-4020. The authors are available for interview.

To see the book or purchase one:

News media fact sheet:

Summaries of the first 92 cases are online:

Specifically, the Court agreed to resolve this issue:

"Whether the following provisions -- D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 -- violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes."

The cited provisions are: 1 - The ban on handguns not registered before 1976; 2 - the ban on carrying an unlicensed handgun; and 3 - the ban on keeping an operable firearm at home. The Court didn't address the Parker case, involving five of the original litigants who seek to join this case. The Court could add that later, decide it seperately later, or ignore it. News on that should come out after Thanksgiving. Enjoy your holiday. We're having brisket.

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Cantoni: Global Warming

Author and guest columnist Crag Cantoni writes --

Dear Friends with Brains:

The Fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons has an article that is the best yet in debunking the mass propaganda about global warming being caused by humans. (It also has an article of mine.) Each of the article's many graphs is a jaw-dropper. By the time I finished the article, my jaw was on the floor. Of particular interest were stats that you won't find in the establishment press or classrooms -- such as the negligible amount of human-generated C02 relative to total C02. The amount is almost as negligible as the countervailing facts on global warming known by the average indoctrinated American.

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$3 Billion Guntax

The lamestream media told you:

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that the 15-year total excise tax on guns and ammo, which is dedicated to conservation measures, has just topped $3 billion. The incredible achievement was missed by lamestream news outlets everywhere. State wildlife conservation and habitat restoration programs get the money, the single largest source of conservation funding.

Gun-tax collections by the Treasury Dept., paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers and passed on to consumers, was a whopping $76.6 million in the second quarter of 2006, up 36% over the same period a year earlier. The reason the stunning increase was missing in "news" reports was unknown, but maybe they lacked space, one expert suggests.

Although the tax increase is huge, it is also a sign of robust health in the gun industry, a fact that lamestream reports keep hidden from people who don't receive Page Nine reports (or info from NSSF), both of which are free.

"Strong handgun sales, up 44.8 percent, long-gun sales, up 37 percent, and ammo sales, up 29.2 percent," lead the surge, reports NSSF. "It is projected that $715.5 million in sales was generated in the quarter, not including retail markup or final retail sales." In other news, people are still fighting over Anna Nicole's baby.

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America Funds Mexico

The lamestream media told you:
President Bush is seeking $500 million to give to Mexico to help fight that country's war on drugs. "We all grasped the historic nature of the moment," said Asst. U.S. Secy. of State Thomas Shannon, on learning of the plan to cooperate with Mexico on a grand scale. Mexico is, "a country long suspicious of U.S. meddling in its affairs," according to Chris Hawley, a reporter editorializing in a front page "news" story for The Arizona Republic.

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
A close look at a proposed Mexican aid package reveals that President Bush is seeking $500 million of U.S. taxpayers' hard-earned money to give away to U.S. companies, not Mexico, and boost the firms' bottom lines. Mexico and the dubious "war on drugs" (which delivers drugs at steep markups to every city in America without exception), only provides cover for the tax giveaway, according to critics.

$208 million will go to build eight U.S. helicopters and two U.S. surveillance planes, which will be given to Mexican authorities to use. Mexicans get no money in the deal -- that goes to the companies making the aircraft and their employees and suppliers. According to experts, a $208-million-dollar order is a good thing for a company.

$63 million will buy U.S. X-ray machines, ion scanners and other high tech devices. $28 million will go to computer companies for hardware and software. $23 million is going to satellite communications gear. An undisclosed amount is going towards weapons for Mexican officials who say they are "outgunned" by gangs who buy guns illegally in America (and get away with it). Companies not getting orders are envious and would like to get in on the war-on-drugs sale.

Why reporters failed to note that the president's foreign aid goes to American firms was unclear at press time. The firms getting the money have filed no complaints.

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Intelligence Levels Vary

The lamestream media told you:
Dr. James Watson, who co-discovered the structure of DNA in 1962 1953 [See "Corrections: Small Arms, the Gun Lobby, and DNA"], retired under controversy after questioning the intelligence of Blacks and Africans in general. He expressed concern about Africa because, "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really." Saying he hopes everyone is equal, "people who have to deal with Black employees finds this is not quite true." His remarks have been denounced as racist propaganda, personal prejudice, vicious and unsupported, and he was forced to apologize.

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
Causing confusion in "news" outlets everywhere, another prominent scientist has challenged the widely promoted but obviously false presumption that people are all perfectly equal and that intelligence is distributed perfectly equally across the planet.

Although Nobel-prize winner James Watson referred to test results in making his statement, no "news" outlets reported on the tests, preferring to simply spew bile phrases like racist propaganda, personal prejudice, vicious and unsupported.

America, in a 200-year-old gound-breaking policy that had set it apart from all other nations, endeavored to treat all people equally under the law, even though people are individuals and never perfectly equal in any physical way. The nation continues to struggle toward that elusive goal.

In other news, racially sensitive multiculturalists are calling for an investigation into the lack of diversity on the defensive line of NFL football teams. Noting a distinct lack of Japanese players, and a ratio of black-to-white players that does not reflect the diversity of the community, a congressional investigation is being sought. Congress could not be immediately reached for a response.

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Gun Lobby Power

The lamestream media told you:
The NRA, the most powerful lobby in Washington, dictates its deadly policies to Congress, which is helpless to stand up against the massive power of the brutish heat-packing gun-toters.

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
Since "the most powerful" anything is an editorial statement, presented in this context without any guidelines for comparison, Page Nine readers should immediately spot this unethical media deception and refuse to accept it just on its face.

If "powerful" is measured by bills passed and taxes allocated, the military is top dog.

The NRA does indeed wield influence and sometimes succeed in getting bills passed or defeated in an effort to protect the right to keep arms and the right bear arms, rights which Americans have always had and exercised. It is almost a tragedy that such a basic human right needs a lobby in a free country, but it surely does. Like any lobby, NRA wins some and loses some for its members and the nation as a whole.

Applying a form of measurement to the media's characterization -- money spent on lobbying activities -- the NRA doesn't make the top ten. Reporters, as they often admit, are generally not real good with numbers, and lack a good understanding of economics, but continue to report anyway.

As common sense might suggest, the tiny gun industry, for all its zeal and ardent support, doesn't come close to the spending and influence America's major players have over Congress. In true power-politics style, the most powerful lobbies are outfits you never heard of.

The top 10 lobbies measured by money spent are dominated, as you might expect, by energy, drugs, telecom and business, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce holding the number one position by a slim margin over the American Medical Assoc. The only other industry in the top 10 is tobacco (Philip Morris) at number three. Pack reporters consistently fail to check the easily found statistics in their unbiased and honest rush to label NRA as the baddest boy on the block.

A bit more diversity slips into the next 20 top lobbyists, with automakers, realtors, Boeing and social-security lobbyists added to other business/power/telecom brokers, but still no gun lobby.

After that it's a free for all, with IBM, chemical makers, railroads, seniors, banks, unions, broadcasters, Microsoft, insurance, agriculture, investment and even Fannie Mae, the tax-funded government mortgage operation, spending the big bucks to bend congressional policy, down to the top 50 lobbyists.

The gun lobby doesn't show up until #78, after the forest industry, Walt Disney, and the Mississippi Band of Chocktaw Indians. UPDATE: See "Corrections: Small Arms, the Gun Lobby, and DNA."

The Indians, called "Native Americans" by the "news" media, typically lobby to get gambling monopolies, and for other purposes. The Uninvited Ombudsman, though born in America, is not a member of the Native American lobby.

It just sounds so powerful to denigrate the gun lobby as the powerful gun lobby, why let a little thing like facts stand in the way. No reporters have been indicted for the phony editorializing disguised as news, but they are lobbying hard for a federal shield law to protect them in the future.

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Vick's Dog Gone

The lamestream media told you:
Michael Vick is getting what he deserves for having engaged in the cruel dog-fighting business, and we can all feel better about our moral superiority over this highly paid football player, even though he happens to be a person of color.

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
Mr. Vick, whose 15-acre Virginia farm had about 60 dogs, was almost too small to matter, but it was sufficient to get "news" readers charged up and it sold a lot of airtime and newspapers. Real coverage of dog fighting, which has been doubling in popularity every year since 1998, is essentially non-existent. In 2004, more than 1,000 pit bulls were seized in a single Maryland county alone.

According to the Humane Society, "professional" dog fighting (U.S. figures only) involves about 40,000 owners and trainers, with an additional 100,000 street fighters routinely participating in the popular activity. Organized fights attract hundreds of spectators with multiple bouts on the card and elaborate rules. Based on hard "news" coverage, attacking a single unlucky football player is obviously more important than dealing with this controversial sport, which has received zero coverage since.

Part of the popularity comes from the highly respectable field of rap music, promoted primarily to youngsters. Angry stars growl for the camera and are featured prominently in pop culture by media giants. Snarling fight dogs are featured in "music" videos and ads and, "hip hop culture has decided to brand them and make them part of their image," according to the American Kennel Club, a point omitted from lamestream reports.

Kids, interviewed by a Florida community relations officer, frequently tell him they can't wait to get their first fighting dog, but no mention of Vick's small operation was included.

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And in the dubious news department...

A report believed to be complete satire followed release of a Washington Post-ABC News poll that showed 63% of Americans think the war in Iraq is not worth fighting and that the U.S. is "headed in the wrong direction."

The questionable report suggests al-Qaeda supporters are delighted with the results of the Post-ABC poll. "The message is getting through to the American people," said one unnamed possibly al-Qaeda official. "We have found U.S. news media to be much more cost-effective than al-Jazeera in convincing people that resistance to jihad is futile, and that Iraq is just a civil war of no consequence to Americans."

Soldiers returning from Iraq express surprise at what they call the bogus nature of U.S. "news" reports on the war. The media denies such claims.


New Ray Gun

The lamestream media told you:
Known as an Active Denial System, the U.S. military debuted its still secretive, new truck-mounted dish-shaped "ray gun." It delivers an energy beam that makes people feel like they have caught on fire and rapidly retreat, without causing them any harm probably. The extreme pain is felt through clothing and windows, but not thick walls, and currently has a range of 500 yards. Initial deployment in Iraq is expected soon.

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
Civilian possession of the new "Silent Guardian" defensive weapon system has not been discussed, but will become an issue when improvements evolve and hand-held versions are developed.

The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, refer to "arms" in the Second Amendment, not "firearms," reflecting an understanding that cavalry swords and other hand implements of a soldier were crucial and to be protected. This makes the common anti-rights argument, "So do you support people owning tanks?" specious, since the dividing line was understood to be "small arms" of an infantry soldier, as opposed to cannons on caisons and navy ships.

A hand-held ray gun of defensive character would clearly qualify as militia-style arms, though federal agents might be prone to argue the point, because that's their job. Cost and a delivery date for such a device is completely unknown, but put me down for two.

UPDATE: See now "Corrections: Small Arms, the Gun Lobby, and DNA."



National Ammo BUYcott

The lamestream media told you:
Nothing, and will not cover the planning or results.

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:
For several years, Nov. 19 has been declared National Ammo Day, a day on which law-abiding Americans are called upon to buy 100 rounds of ammunition, and help empty the shelves of stores nationwide. By participating, you help the economy, strengthen the industry, support your local dealers and annoy the enemies of the right to keep and bear arms. Plus, you get 100 rounds of fresh ammunition and a chance to chat with your local shopkeepers, which leading experts say is a good thing.


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About the Author

  • 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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