The Potowmack Institute

Potowmack Institute, amicus curiae
US v. Emerson, Fifth Circuit, Case No. 99-10331

Appendices pages A-47 thru A-53

Sources of Quotes
[Copies of original articles or pages were supplied to the court.]

1. Sue Wimmershoff-Caplan, "The Founders and the AK-47," Washington Post, July 6,1989, p. 17.

[Source of "armed citizen guerrillas."]

2. Wayne LaPierre, Guns Crime and Freedom, 1994, p. 7.

3. David Kopel, "Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control," Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 109, 1988.

4. Newt Gingrich, To Renew America, 1995, p. 202.

5. Sen. Ted Stevens, Congressional Record, November 19, 1993.

in graphic image, AK47.JPG

1. Sue Wimmershoff-Caplan, Washington Post, July 6, 1989, p. A17.
©1989, The Washington Post, used with permission.

Taking Exception

The hostility provoked by the National Rifle Association's ad ". . . The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms. . ."— which pictured a bloodied student surrounded by helmeted Chinese soldiers— points up the public's misconceptions regarding the importance of the US Constitution's Second Amendment. Readers who chide The Post for even accepting the ad [Free for All, July 1] are avoiding public discussion of a controversial but vital issue.

Notwithstanding The Post's editorial gibe [June 23] that the ad simplemindedly implied that "you can never tell about governments," this is precisely what the Framers of the American Constitution believed. Detailed and sophisticated public discussions were led by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in 1787-88 on the inclinations of all governments to keep expanding their prerogatives, both by sudden arrogations of power and by gradually chipping away at democratic processes at the expense of civil liberties (The Federalists Papers, Nos. 12, 19, 28, 39, 46 and 48). European history revealed countless betrayals of citizens by their rulers. The Founding Fathers concluded that such travesties of government were made possible by undemocratic structures and also by the failure of those regimes to "trust the people with arms" (Federalist, No. 46). Our constitutional Framers were proud to be different from "almost every other nation" in approving of their already armed population (Federalist, No. 46).

Actual shooting revolutions were what the Framers wanted to avoid at all costs. The "devastation and carnage" (Federalist, No. 19) endured by other peoples convinced them that the best way to prevent such disasters in America was not to trust wholly to paper guarantees, but also to rely upon the fact that Americans would continue to keep privately owned firearms. Such arms would act as a quiet but tangible deterrent upon government criminality and despotism and function as a "barrier" (Federalist, No. 46) against governmental acts that might provoke armed rebellion. It was such subtle political considerations— not frontier conditions, hunting pleasures or the Indian threat— that concerned the Framers when they premised the entire American republican form of government upon the understanding contained in the Second Amendment, that the people would always be armed:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

The private individual right to own and use arms was thereby guaranteed. "Militia" in colonial parlance did not refer to men in uniform but meant every male in the community capable of carrying arms (as noted by contemporary scholar Don Higginbotham). Hamilton himself spoke of "the whole nation" or "the populations at large" as the militia (Federalist, No. 28). "Arms" in this context were those weapons suitable for use in a one-to-one encounter. Indeed, a proposal to limit the language of the amendment to cover only public defense was soundly defeated in the very first session of the U. S. Senate in September 1789.

A disarmed population is forced to resort to the most desperate measures. The storming of the Bastille, which ushered in the 1789 French Revolution, was motivated by the desire to obtain the gunpowder stored there. Cobblestones and uprooted trees were implements of frustrated French revolutionaries in the early 1830s, as vividly described in "Les Miserables." Likewise in 1989 Beijing, the Chinese students having found nonviolence futile, tore up the sidewalks and trees for ammunition and barricades. The point is not that the demonstrators should have confronted the army with weapons but that if all Chinese citizens kept arms, their rulers would hardly have dared to massacre the demonstrators, to say nothing of the continuing purges and executions taking place now.

Once a population is disarmed, any calamity is possible. The contrived Ukrainian "Harvest of Sorrow" famine of 1932-33 was preceded by the confiscation of civilian-owned rifles. Strict registration requirements, introduced in 1926, provided convenient lists of rifle owners and streamlined seizures by the police.

Constitutional principles accommodate modern technology. If the right to private ownership of firearms is limited to the colonists' muskets, by the same logic, freedom of speech does not over radio, movies and TV, but is confined to the unamplified, untransmitted voice. The private keeping of hand-held personal firearms is within the constitutional design for a counter to government run amok, as when the military and police use such firearms against their fellow nationals. As the Tiananmen Square tragedy showed so graphically, AK-47s fall into that category of weapons, and that is why they are protected by the Second Amendment.

Twentieth-century military machines are far from invincible when outflanked by armed citizen guerrillas. Tanks and even high-tech military hardware were unavailing to the U. S. forces in Vietnam and the Russians in Afghanistan.

The price of liberty? Certainly firearms come into the hands of children, disturbed people and criminals. Needless deaths and injuries do result. Even so, the number of gun-related deaths in the United States including Stockton, Calif.-type mayhem is approximately 20,000 annually, which includes 10,000 suicides. Compare that with the millions of deaths (including untold numbers of children) in the Ukraine and the carnage of youngsters in China. If we do not understand and cherish the Second Amendment, it can happen here.

The writer is a lawyer in New York who has taught law at Baruch College there. She is a member of the National Board of the National Rifle Associations.


2. Wayne LaPierre, Guns, Crime, and Freedom, 1994, p. 7

Nowhere are Jefferson's thought about the rights and powers of the citizenry more explicit than in the Declaration of Independence, which he had such a hand in writing; "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed. That whenever any from of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it."

Certainly Jefferson, and his co-authors of the Declaration, preferred peaceful changes in government. But those four words— "the Right of the People"— state in plain language that the people have the right, must have the right, to take whatever measures necessary, including force, to abolish oppressive government.


3. "Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control," Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 109, July 11, 1988.

David B. Kopel, formerly an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, is an attorney in Colorado [1988].

Page 25:

Unlike automobiles, guns are specifically protected by the Constitution, and it is improper to require that people possessing constitutionally protected objects register themselves with the government, especially when the benefits of registration are so trivial. The Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the government form registering purchasers of newspapers and magazines, even of foreign Communist propaganda. [141] The same principle should apply to the Second Amendment: The tools of political dissent should be privately owned and unregistered.


4. Newt Gingrich, To Renew America, 1995, p. 202

In the midst of that serious occasion, I wondered, Does he think the Second Amendment protects the right to hunt ducks? Honestly, I was astonished that his staff had allowed that comment into a serious national address like the State of the Union.

With that single line the President proved to everyone who cares about the Second Amendment that he did not have a clue about what concerns them. The Second Amendment to the Constitution has nothing to do with deer or duck hunting. It has nothing to do with target practice or owning collector's weapons. The Second Amendment is a political right written into our Constitution for the purpose of protecting individual citizens from their own government. The lesson of the English civil War and the American Revolution was that political freedom is ultimately based on the courage and preparedness of those who would remain free. If the Lexington and Concord minutemen had not kept weapons, they could not have fired the shot heard round the world. If the American colonists had not been trained in how to shoot and fight, they could not have become American citizens.


5. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, Congressional Record— Senate, p. S16315, November 19, 1993.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator form Alaska [Mr. STEVENS], is recognized.

Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, as former California resident, I have listened with interest to my good friend from California, and I find it interesting that there is still this concept of support of waiting periods. California's homicide rate went up 132 percent despite the waiting period in California law.

What we have been talking about now for some time is to have the information generated from a national system that would eliminate the need for waiting periods. Would have instant background checks, and could have additional information that would even keep guns from people who otherwise should not have them beyond some of the restrictions that are even in the California law.

I find no incidents that increasingly the waiting period in California decreases the crime rate. That is really the basic problem here.

But what is more deep seated in those of us who believe in the second amendment, is the feeling that what people are doing with this bill is, they are not really interested in the waiting period, they are building up a Government base of the information necessary to determine who owns guns in this country. An armed citizenry, people who have the ability to defend themselves, are [sic] not going to become an oppressed citizenry. That has been our basic assumption throughout out this whole concept.

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