It's not about guns...

It's about citizenship

The Potowmack Institute
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation
4423 LeHigh Road, Suite 273
College Park, MD 20740


Insert January 10, 2011

The letter here was to promote pressure on the Eric Holder DOJ to conduct a study to update Ashcroft's 2004 in the context of the opinions of the courts. There has not been a response. It remains to be seen if recent events will make any substantive changes.
November 8, 2010

Dennis Henigan
Vice President
Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
1225 I Street, Ste 1100
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Sir:

I have proposed that the Eric Holder Justice Department update Attorney General Ashcroft's 2004 study on the Second Amendment and individual rights in the context of Ashcroft's own reasonable restrictions and the courts conclusions in Parker, Heller and McDonald. The Holder DOJ is weak on leadership. Public pressure will be required. My proposal is expanded on in my August 27 letter to Joyce Lee Malcolm whose dubious history was apparently embraced by the Heller and McDonald majorities on the Supreme Court.

The arguments of the four dissents in those cases left much to be desired. That is why the next step is a DOJ study.

The purpose of the study would be to provide direction toward policy. In the very likely event that the Obama Administrations loses in 2012, the study would be its most important legacy especially if it leads to policy. The rationale for policy is civic obligation not gun safety. If TIME magazine will produce a major story on what I have called for years a childish political fantasy, it is time to define fundamental concepts which TIME does not do. Before there can be policy there has to be public knowledge. A DOJ study might be the resource that gives the necessary credibility which no one else has acquired. The Violence Policy Center did a critique of Ashcroft's study in 2004 which no one has read. If this government got serious about itself as a government and implemented without public knowledge and conviction the policy that the courts have opened the path for I anticipate dozens of Branch Davidian style conflagrations and standoffs.

The arguments have been around for a long time. I sent Handgun Control a crude draft that did little more than assemble basic information in early 1991. Some of my references showed up in your article in the Vaparaiso Law Review later that year. The problem is that no one has read it. You have not told the story to a larger public. Josh Horwitz's Gun, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea was inspired by my briefs in Emerson and Parker. He ignored my request to review his draft. He does not cite you. No one has read his book either.

I started the Potowmack Institute webpage in 1995 out of frustration to get anyone to give serious attention to fundamental concepts and issues most of all the news organs starting with the Washington Post. The webpage has grown to more than 300 files but in fifteen years only less than ten people have taken any serious interest and all of them have completely disappeared from communication. Public knowledge and conviction are missing. I went to Democratic Party/Drinkingliberally meetups in 2005-6 when the Parker case was proceeding in the courts to try to raise some consciousness. They shoved the pages back at me with a yuck and a sneer. One woman became hostile to the suggestion that she read something. She said she did not care if her neighbor had a gun. She just did not want those dirty Republicans to take away her Social Security. If she wants to keep her Social Security her politicians have to get elected. Gun rights and the gun vote are not about guns. They are about controlling political outcomes in a much larger struggle over fundamental civic values, the political economy of capitalism, the modern state and the twentieth century social contract.

I went to a nearby Unitarian Church where there is supposed to be some civic consciousness and they have a social action committee to try find some concerned citizens who would study what is at work in the courts. You can take your share of responsibility along side TIME, the Washington Post, NPR's Diane Rehm,