Kopel weblog 2006 Archive, Oct. 3 through Dec. 31

[David Kopel, December 29, 2006 at 2:10pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

The Unnoticed Mass Murder in Ethiopia

In a new article on Tech Central Station, Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and I detail the Ethiopian government's efforts to destroy the Anuak people, who live in southwestern Ethiopia. As is typical of past and present mass murders in East Africa (including Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda), the government has done its best to ensure that the victims are disarmed.

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[David Kopel, December 16, 2006 at 2:30pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

Tom Tancredo and Taiwan:

My latest media column for the Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post criticizes Colorado media for failing to cover Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo's exemplary work in support of a strong U.S. policy in defense of Taiwan's democracy and independence.

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[David Kopel, December 15, 2006 at 12:51am] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

C-Span Debate on Gun Control:

On Saturday and Monday, C-Span's BookTV will be broadcasting a gun control debate in which I participated. Here are the details:

On Saturday, December 16 at 8:00 am and at 2:30 pm and Monday, December 18 at 1:00 am Gun Control Debate with Arnold Grossman, "One Nation Under Guns" and David Kopel, "Gun Control and Gun Rights"

Description: The Denver Press Club hosts a debate on the issue of gun control. Arnold Grossman, author of "One Nation Under Guns - An Essay on An American Epidemic," argues the pro-gun control case while David Kopel, co-editor of "Gun Control and Gun Rights: A Reader and Guide" speaks for the opposing side. The debate is moderated by Cnythia Hessin, executive producer of Rocky Mountain PBS.

Author Bio: David Kopel is Research Director at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado. Arnold Grossman co-founded SAFE Colorado, a bipartisan anti-gun violence group, in 2000, following the Columbine school shootings. Mr. Grossman co-authored "1998" with former Colorado governor Richard Lamm.

I also wrote a lengthy review of a book, in which I argued that it was riddled with factual and legal errors, and that the book unintentionally reveals why the gun control movement in the United States has become such a failure in recent years.

27 Comments


[David Kopel, December 12, 2006 at 4:36pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

Tremendous Victory for the Second Amendment in Ohio:

A few minutes ago, the Ohio Senate voted 21-12 to override Republican Governor Bob Taft's veto of a bill to reform Ohio's gun laws. The Ohio House had previously voted 71-21 to override the veto of House Bill 347. Because both houses achieved the necessary 3/5 majority, the bill will become law in 90 days.

Today's vote is the first time that the Ohio legislature has overridden any veto since 1986, when a line-item budget veto was overridden. It is the first time since 1977 that a veto of an ordinary bill has been overridden.

The bill makes a variety of changes to Ohio's Shall Issue law for concealed handgun licenses. It explicitly prohibits local governments from creating no-carry zones, except in places where state law already forbids carryings. The bill also removes the requirement that concealed carry permitees must, when driving, keep the handgun in plain view in the car, or in a locked container.

Even more significantly, the bill eliminates over 80 anti-gun local ordinances, including bans on cosmetically-incorrect self-loading firearms (so-called "assault weapons") in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati. Like the vast majority of states, Ohio does not have an "assault weapon" ban, but Ohio has had more cities with local bans than has any other non-ban state.

As I detailed in a 2003 Issue Backgrounder for the Independence Institute, almost all states have some form of preemption law which restricts or prohibits local gun laws. The strong, comprehensive preemption law enacted in Ohio is the model used in about half of the states with preemption.

Some other features of the bill:

The bill begins: "The individual right to keep and bear arms, being a fundamental individual right that predates the United States Constitution and Ohio Constitution, and being a constitutionally protected right in every part of Ohio..."

The bill bans all local gun control laws which do not duplicate state or federal law. Litigants who bring a successful suit under the bill are entitled to attorney's fees.

Localites may still enact zoning laws which: 1. Ban gun stores in residential or agricultural areas. 2. Impose laws about hours of store operation, as long as those same laws are imposed on other non-gun stores.

In practical effect, the Ohio bill is the most significant roll-back of gun control that has ever been enacted by a state. Preemption laws swept the country in the 1980s, after Morton Grove, Illinois, banned handguns. In most state legislatures, the bills were intended to prevent future local gun bans, since there were few local bans that were in effect. I am not aware of any other state where a preemption law has wiped out so many local ordinances which were already on the books.

Among the Senators voting for the override was Democrat Marc Dann, the Attorney General-elect of Ohio. I knew Marc when he ran that Gary Hart campaign in Michigan in 1983-84, for which I was a volunteer. He is a good man with limitless energy.
[David Kopel, December 4, 2006 at 4:26pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

Albion Tourgee and the Second Amendment:

A post by Eugene notes the publication of a new biography of the great 19th century civil rights lawyer Albion Tourgee. Undoubtedly, some VC readers are waiting for the secondary conspirators to explain what Tourgee thought of gays, guns, and Israel. So I will do my part, on the second topic.

Tourgee's book about the Ku Klux Klan explained that during the 1870s, in Southern areas where the black militias lost and the Klan or other white groups took control, "[A]lmost universally the first thing done was to disarm the negroes and leave them defenseless." Albion Winegar Tourgee, The Invisible Empire(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989)(1st ed. 1880), pp. 54-55. Of course the Klan's objective in disarming the blacks was to leave them unable to defend their rights. Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy vol. 5 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872), p. 1672 (reprint of Testimony Taken by the Joint Select Committee into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States (South Carolina, vol. 3), 42d Congress, 2d Session), cited in Kermit L. Hall, Political Power and Constitutional Legitimacy: The South Carolina Ku Klux Klan Trials, 1871-72, 33 Emory Law Journal 921, 945 (1984).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Albion Tourgee and the Second Amendment:
  2. Albion Tourgee:
13 Comments
[David Kopel, November 18, 2006 at 1:29pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

When is it legitimate for the Media to help "out" a gay person?

Almost never, I argue in my latest media column in the Rocky Mountain News. The column begins with the outing of minister Ted Haggard, and analyzes the history of outing -- from German government officials in the early 20th century, up to the present.

116 Comments
David Kopel, November 13, 2006 at 1:03am] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

Even More Bad News for Anti-Gun Lobby:

1. Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi has endorsed John Murtha for Majority Leader, according to The Hill. Murtha is a a southwestern Pennsylvania Democrat with a long-standing A rating from the National Rifle Association. Hoyer is a Maryland Democrat, with a long-standing and well-deserved F rating, although he has sometimes worked to procure federal military contracts for Beretta USA, a firearms manufacturer in his district.

Murtha is, of course, known as a prime advocate of cut-and-run in Iraq strategic redeployment to Okinawa, whereas Hoyer is merely a supporter of cut-and-run a rapid exit from Iraq, but not necessarily to Okinawa. And it is even more obvious that Pelosi's preference for Murtha has much to do with her desire to take revenge on Hoyer (a rival Democratic leader) and absolutely nothing to do with Murtha's pro-gun voting record.

Nevertheless, it the odds have increased that the Senate (with usually pro-gun Harry Reid) and the House (with inflexibly pro-gun John Murtha) will both have Majority Leaders who will be receptive to the argument that the gun control issue is a loser for the Democratic party.

2. The Rocky Mountain News (Nov. 11) chalks up the winners and losers of the 2006 election. First on the list of losers is "Gun control advocates. Democrats see this as a radioactive issue for them, have to wait for now."

3. In The New Republic, Thomas Edsall suggests that pro-gun "pragmatic, culturally conservative, libertarian" Democrats from the Rocky Mountains hold the key to the party's salvation.

4. During election-night blogging on this site, and in a follow-up on National Review Online, I suggested that about half the R to D shifts in the House had involved the election of pro-gun, Blue Dog Democrats, while the other half had involved the replacement of pro-gun Republicans with anti-gun Democrats. Gun Owners of America points out that several seats in which one Republican replaced another Republican (in Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio), which I had not written about, resulted in a strongly pro-Second Amendment Republican replacing a mediocre Republican. Accordingly, my estimate that the pro-gun side lost a total of 14 votes in the House should be revised to a loss of 12.5.

The loss still leaves intact the pro-Second Amendment majority in the House. More significantly, the fact that fervent gun control advocates Charles Schumer and Rahm Emanuel won a Democratic congressional majority by deliberately recruiting so many pro-gun Democrats suggests that the party has outgrown the mistakes of the Clinton/Columbine era, when party leaders lost the Congress (1994) and then the Presidency (2000) on the mistaken belief that gun control was a popular issue.

UPDATE: Here's the opening of the Monday issue of National Journal's Hotline, which was delivered to subscribers at approximately 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time:

"What signal is Pelosi sending by backing Murtha over Hoyer? It depends on how you choose to view the maj. leader's race. -- Viewed through the prism of Iraq, Pelosi is embracing her party's lefty protest crowd. But on many other issues, from abortion rights to gun control to ANWR, Murtha is decidedly to the right of Hoyer (check out their Nat'l Journal ratings ). Pelosi's move could endear her to the Heath Shulers and Brad Ellsworths of the 110th, who are leery of backing the liberal Speaker. It could also help Hoyer among those Blue Dogs, who are itching to say they're bucking Pelosi.
A few commenters on this post, and on some of my previous posts, continue to push that the Democrats' new-found respect for the Second Amendment had nothing to do with their wins on Tuesday, or on their governing plans. National Journal, a well-respected source of the conventional wisdom of Washington, obviously disagrees.

60 Comments


[David Kopel, October 17, 2006 at 5:45pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

Global Gun Prohibition Lobby: Ban Arms Sales to Israel

This summer, the United Nations review conference for the 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms failed to reach an agreement for new global gun control rules. Although stymied on one front, the gun prohibition movement is moving forward elsewhere, pushing for a binding Arms Trade Treaty. The proposed treaty is currently being discussed at the United Nations by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) of the General Assembly.

The leading NGO lobbying for the Arms Trade Treaty is Control Arms, an organization created and directed by IANSA, Amnesty International, and Oxfam. Earlier this month, Control Arms released a major new report, Arms without Borders, which makes the case for the Arms Trade Treaty.

The report offers examples of arms transfers which, according to Control Arms, would be stopped by a global Arms Trade Treaty. Among the examples cited is the sale of Apache AH-64 helicopters to Israel (page 12). Control Arms notes an incident in which an Apache helicopter shot an automobile in Tyre, and that, according to Human Rights Watch, there was no evidence of Hezbollah activity in the vicinity. In response, Prof. Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University states that the HRW/Control Arms claims "contradict clear evidence of heavy Hizbullah presence and use of vehicles for transporting missiles and armed personnel."

Page 25 of the Control Arms report states:

Helicopters, combat aircraft and air-to-surface missiles supplied to Israel primarily by the USA, but often incorporating components supplied by other countries, have been used in the Occupied Territories resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, in apparent violation of international humanitarian law. According to Amnesty International, many of the 190 Palestinians killed in 2005 were 'killed unlawfully', including as a result of deliberate and reckless shooting, or attacks in densely populated residential areas. At the same time, Palestinian armed groups have used rockets, explosive belts and other bombs to kill and injure hundreds of Israelis.
Page 4 of the report includes a half-sentence criticizing Hezbollah for firing rockets at civilian targets in Israel. The Control Arms paper does not mention any problem about the international flow of arms to Syria. Iran is criticized for its arms sales to Sudan, but not for its supplying of arms to Hezbollah and to terrorist organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Control Arms paper presents, at best, a moral equivalence between Israel, Hezbollah, and Palestinian terrorists--all three of whom would, under the Arms Trade Treaty, theoretically be prevented from acquiring arms.

In future discussions of the Arms Trade Treaty, everyone should acknowledge that the Treaty is intended, according to its leading NGO sponsor, to create an arms embargo against Israel. A person who wants arms sales to Israel to remain legal under international law would be foolish to support the Arms Trade Treaty.

The General Assembly's First Committee meeting also covered other issues. Several delegates urged the First Committee to "stop the arms race in space," which is tantamount to asking for a ban on America's Strategic Defense Initiative.

UPDATE: Several commentators make the point that Israel has a robust domestic military industry, and therefore could survive an arms import embargo. The Control Arms folks are one step ahead; their paper emphasizes that the Arms Trade Treaty must include control of components as well as finished products. Control Arms is also very clear on requiring that the trade in dual-use materials (e.g., titanium which could be used for civilian products, or for arms) be banned, unless there are strong safeguards that the material will not be used for human rights violations (such as, in the view of Control Arms, Israel's current tactics in its wars against Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al Aqsa, etc.).

The Control Arms report notes that Israel, like India, South Korea, and South Africa, among others, is an emerging arms exporter. The report offers no evidence that Israel has exported arms to any human rights violator. However, the report suggests that Israel and EU should both exert greater controls of the ultimate sale of Israeli or EU arms which are co-produced in India. 29 Comments


[David Kopel, October 16, 2006 at 3:47pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

French Public Ready to Crack Down on Criminals:

A pair of articles from the Sept. 30-Oct. 6 issue of France-Amerique(Le Figaro's American weekly) offer some cause for hope that France is getting ready to pull itself out of its downward spiral. Last November, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy referred to the young rioters in the French housing projects as "racaille" ("scum" or "rabble"). At time, the chattering classes were outraged, in part because the racaillethat Sarkozy was talking about were almost all immigrants (or children of immigrants) from North Africa or West Africa. But the racaille remark turned out not to be a mega-gaffe, as the intelligentsia had predicted. To the contrary, Sarkozy's tough talk about youthful criminals has proved to be enormously popular. A new poll shows that 77% of the French public (including 74% of persons aged 18-24) agree that the French system is too lenient on juvenile delinquents. The agreements cuts across all demographics and party lines.

Le Figarosuggests that the racaillecomment was a brilliant, deliberate political move by Sarkozy: while many French citizens realize that France's statist economic system needs to liberalize, they are reluctant to confront the issue publicly. By proposing crack-downs on young criminals, Sarkozy has made himself the leader on a topic of national near-consensus, and thereby shifted the focus away from his economic ideas. Le Figarocredits Sarkozy for realizing that if the French want a their next president to be a mommy who will protect them from the outside world, Sarkozy will never be able to out-mommy Segolene Royal, the leading Socialist candidate (who, within the French Socialist Party context, leans to the right). Accordingly, Sarkozy is running as the daddy candidate, who will take control of the housing projects and suburbs which have been turned into criminal havens, beyond the reach of French law.

Sources: Alexis Brezet, "Sarkozy: le pari du peuple" & Judith Waintraub, "La justice n'est pas assez severe selon 77% des Francais."

28 Comments


[David Kopel, October 13, 2006 at 4:12pm] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

St. George Tucker versus Saul Cornell on the Second Amendment:

Ohio State history professor Saul Cornell is the author of the new book A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), and of the law review article “St. George Tucker and the Second Amendment: Original Understandings and Modern Misunderstandings,” 47 W. & M. L. Rev. 1123 (Feb. 2006). Cornell is a talented writer and researcher, but his treatment of some topics is extremely misleading. In a new draft article, "St. George Tucker’s Second Amendment: Deconstructing 'The True Palladium of Liberty'," Stephen P. Halbrook takes the reader step-by-step through Tucker's monumentally influential annotated American Blackstone, the most important legal treatise of the Early Republic. Analyzing Tucker's Blackstone, and other writings by Tucker, Halbrook shows that Tucker explicitly recognized the Second Amendment as an individual right, including the right to posses firearms for personal self-defense, unrelated to militia duty. As Halbrook proves, Cornell has built has argument through highly selective quotations and the omission of portions of the treatise which directly contradict Cornell's thesis.


David Kopel, October 6, 2006 at 2:36am] 5 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

Make Schools Safe for Kids, not Criminals:

In a new podcast for the Independence Institute's iVoices.org, I offer a shorter version of an argument I made in detail in a cover story of The Weekly Standard: the only realistic gun control policy which would stop school shootings would be to completely prohibit firearms, and confiscate the entire existing supply of more than 200 million firearms. Lesser policies (e.g., one-gun-a-month, gun registration) would, whatever their other merits, be unlikely to have a significant effect on school shootings. There are no substitutes for firearms (in both offensive and defensive situations), because firearms are fairly easy to use, and can project force at a distance.

Constitutional problems aside, it seems completely implausible to believe the gun prohibition could be successful, given the ability of the black market to supply drugs (which have been illegal for almost a century) to a wide variety of consumers, including high-school students.

The second-best--and much more realistic approach--would be to allow licensed, trained teachers and administrators to possess concealed handguns on school property. I agree that having police officers on school grounds would be very helpful, but it seems that there are not sufficient police resources to cover all schools all the time.

In 2004, I detailed how Israel (which has a well-established Swiss-style [civic duty] gun culture) and Thailand (whose government is very anti-gun) have armed teachers in order to protect schools against terrorists.

Today, Wisconsin State Represenative Frank Lasee stated: "To make our schools safe for our students to learn, all options should be on the table." (USA Today). "Israel and Thailand have well-trained teachers carrying weapons and keeping their children safe from harm. It can work in Wisconsin." (The USA Todayarticle said that Israel has armed security guards, but not armed teachers; however, the sources cited in my Israel/Thailand article, supra, state that Israel has both.)

The left-side column of my home page has more links to articles by Independence Institute authors arguing that the false promise of "gun-free school zones" has made schools into one of the very few places in the United States where would-be killers are guaranteed not to face the risk of armed victims who can fight back and save lives.

Generally speaking, I have heard very few serious arguments against an armed teachers policy (for the minority of teachers who would want to carry, and would undertake the serious training which many thousands of certified firearms instructors would gladly provide for free).

Some critics state that schools are, statistically, still relatively safe, mass murders notwithstanding. This is true, but it would still be beneficial to reduce the number of children and teachers who are murdered.

Other people worry that a student might steal a teacher's gun. Putting aside the fact that it's not that difficult for a determined person to get a gun somewhere else (e.g., stealing from someone's home), the risk could be addressed through policies requiring that the gun always be carried on the teacher's body, or through similar policies.

Some persons are fearful that an angry teacher might shoot a student. But if you think that the your children's teachers might kill your child, if they had a weapon, then you ought to get your child out of that school as soon as possible. There might be too many mediocre teachers in some schools, but I don't that American teachers are borderline killers.

Finally, there are arguments that are really nothing more than generalized objections of armed self-defense, as well as to armed police. E.g., "What if the teacher aimed at the killer, but missed and hit a student?" This is always a risk--but it's a far smaller risk than allowing a killer to aim at his victims methodically. Police officers sometimes miss too, but that's not a reason to disarm the police.

"But the police are highly trained." Fine. Set the teacher training standard high too. A teacher does not need every component of police training -- such as how to react if a driver in a traffic stop tries to kill the police officer. If you want teachers trained to the relevant police levels of skill in Close Quarters Combat, go ahead. Personally, I think we would be better off with a larger number of teachers who had at least a moderate level of training, rather than a small number with expert training. But even a small quantity of teachers with the tools to protect their students would be a good first step.

There are plenty of teachers who would not want to carry a firearm; of that group, some would, however, be interested in training with and carrying defensive sprays, or in learning some basic techniques of unarmed combat--particularly, how to disarm someone when his attention is distracted. I wouldn't advise anyone to bring Mace to a gunfight, but I do think that any form of skilled, practiced resistance is better than passively allowing students to be lined up against a blackboard and murdered.

If you interested in the topic, you may also be interested in my media column which will appear in the Saturday Rocky Mountain News, which explores the terrible problem of how media coverage of school shootings leads to more school shootings. One prong of the problem is sensational coverage which publicizes the perpetrator (e.g., newsmagazines putting perpetrators on the cover). But the larger problem is that even sober, responsible coverage seems to play a role in causing copycats. For the latter problem, I have no solution, but I hope that starting the discussion might lead to other people suggesting solutions.

 

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