Second Amendment Ammo

By David B. Kopel

This is an excerpt from an article Reason magazine's Dec. 2000 issue, in which various authors recommend three books on various topics.

Washington treats the gun issue as one of pure symbolism, passing ineffective laws such as the ban on (nonexistent) “plastic guns” to show that politicians are “doing something.” In truth, though, protecting the Second Amendment is a matter of life or death. These books explain the public safety benefits of responsible gun laws— and the terrible consequences of repressive laws.

More Guns, Less Crime (1998, revised 2000). This is the most thorough criminological study—with the most data and the most variables—of any subject, ever. Lott proves that laws which allow law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for lawful protection lead to a significant drop in violent crime, especially crimes against women. He also takes on other important topics: the facts about gun accidents, the harmful effects of the Brady Act (a statistically significant increase in rape and in assaults against women), the shameless dishonesty of the gun prohibition lobby, and more. Along the way, he teaches the reader multivariate statistical analysis—although you don’t need a calculator to enjoy the book.

I edited and wrote part of Guns: Who Should Have Them?(1995), so of course I’m biased. But the book really does have the best analysis of such important topics as women and guns (by Skidmore women’s studies professor Mary Stange), the racist roots of gun control (by Rutgers law professor Robert Cottrol), and the fraud that permeates the “public health” case against guns (by constitutional lawyer Don Kates and several medical professors), “assault weapons,” and issues regarding children and guns.

Walter Edmonds’ novel The Matchlock Gun won the Newberry Medal way back in 1942 as that year’s best contribution to children’s literature. It’s based on a true story that took place in upstate New York in 1756. With his father gone to help the militia fight in the French and Indian War, a 10-year-old boy has to defend his family from Indian attack using an old Spanish matchlock gun, which is twice as large as he is. Will he be able to master the gun and protect his family? Thanks to the Newberry award, even the most politically correct librarians will have trouble refusing a donation of this book.

David B. Kopel ( is the research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado.

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