It's not about guns...

It's about citizenship

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Assaulting Jim Zumbo

The NRA on Extremists

NRA scams its members

The Lionel Show
AirAm Radio's ignorant, crude, ugly,
air waves barbarian
Dear John Ashcroft
The armed populace doctrine at the DOJ
The Washington Post
cultivating ignorance.
"Sixty Minutes"
Failing its Mission
NPR's Diane Rehm
Civilized without Substance.
A longstanding dereliction.
Violence Policy Center
The public health agenda
falls in line with the NRA.
Militia Act of 1792
To enroll— conscript, register— That is,
a coerced civic obligation.
Return of Militia
Inventory of private weapons in
the early Republic reported to the
President of the US
John Kenneth Rowland
Lawrence Cress
John K. Mahon
LaPierre's list

The Quotes, the Quotes
Fabricating the armed populace doctrine
Libertarians, Conservatives

Tenn. Law Rev., 1995

Chicago-Kent Symposium, 2000
What does the NRA want?

Update August 17, 2008
Update November 8, 2008
Update December 12, 2008
October 1, 2009

Briefs in McDonald v. Chicago, NRA v. Chicago
The US Supreme Court does not belong here. The only reason there is a claim for an individual right to be privately armed for self-defense is that the gun rights militants, led by the NRA, work very hard and very successfully to defeat any legislation that would apply against the lawless because the same legislation would apply against its "armed citizen guerrillas" and others with insurrectionist fantasies. The Supreme Court cannot correct for failed policy. The courts have already decided all they need to decide in the conclusions of the Parker/Heller cases. The gun rights militants will fight viciously to defeat any legislative attempts to implement those conclusions.

We don't have to worry that there will be political leadership that makes a difference. If Judge Sotomayor had had any political savvy she would have turned the Second Amendment questions around on the senators and asked, Do you accept and support the conclusions in Parker/Heller? Any member of congress who said, yes, would be viciously opposed and attacked by the gun rights militants.

Supplemental briefs filed in Nordyke v. King in 2008 are available:

Insert August 31, 2009
In July, 2008, candidate Obama proposed that as president he would created a Civilian National Security Force. The proposal received no attention in the campaign. It has more recently become a source of hysteria among right wing ideologues. Search Google for "Civilian National Security Force Barack Obama". It was the subject of an hour program on Glen Beck on August 27, 2009. If the Obama Campaign was going to raise the issue at all, it needed to frame it in terms of both the Supreme Court's opinion in Heller, released in June, 2008, which affirmed registration for militia call up and in the context of constitutional history. Militia duty in the Second Amendment was conscript duty. It was a coerced civic obligation. Gun rights involve the most vital and fundamental issues and values of political and civic life. These are completely missing from public knowledge and discourse. Obama's Civilian National Security Force resurrects the original civic obligation enacted in the Militia Act of 1972 and is an opportunity for radical change in civic values against the ascendency of libertarian anarchy and political cynicism.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's President, Michael Beard, adopted the basic concept from the Potowmack Institute in his webpage, May 18..

In spring, 2009, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's Josh Horwitz with Casey Anderson came out with Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea. The Potowmack Institute started bringing attention to the insurrectionist idea in the 1990s. We critiqued it in our brief in the Emerson Case in 1999. Their concluding page states that this is not about public health statistics, which the gun controllers have focused on for decades, but civic values. It is long overdue to bring up fundamental civic values. The Obama team has failed miserable so far.

What the political culture has degenerated into can be found in the anarchic ruminations of judges on the US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. See Nordyke. These anarchic ruminations are on schedule to be affirmed by the Supreme Court when it takes up 14th Amendment incorporation cases in its next term. This will take place completely outside of public consciousness.

Insert May 3, 2009.
Heard on C-Span's Washington Journal, May 2, 2009:

So, let's enroll this guy in the militia and put his privately owned weapons on the militia inventory. so he can be called out to fulfill his constitutional civic obligation to enforce the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections (not make them), and repel invasions. There is a historic precedent for what he worries about. It happens when there is a government that does not understand what it means to be a government, does not understand that the rule of law, the state's monopoly on violence, and the state's internal sovereignty all mean the same thing. Look here.

"Be careful of your heart's desire. It shall be yours."
— Alexander Pope.

Update April 27, 2009

We are all socialists now.

Our Libertarian Deliverers on the federal judiciary will deliver us up to anarchy.
The revised Nordyke was released April 20, 2009.

Will ABC News get serious?

The time is ripe for full blown public hearings by congressional committees. It is no longer simple a domestic issue for the judiciary committees but is now international and a subject for the foreign relations committees. Viewers who show up here are encouraged to check if their representatives are members of either committee in the House or Senate and write to them to encourage hearings. The gun rights militants must surely want this. They can get out their message.

Update December 12, 2008

On December 1, 2008, the New York Times published the editorial The Gun Lobby’s Loss.

The Potowmack Institute wrote this letter to the editor, Dec. 2. It is about 270 words. It could have been edited down to less than 200 words and still conveyed the message. The letter was not published:

The "blatantly anti-gun" New York Times blatantly fails its public mission to enlighten the public. The story is simple and obvious. It doesn't have to take it from the Potowmack Institute.

In the 17th and 18th centuries serious public discourse was in the pamphlets,
The pamphlets are now on the internet. The newspapers are two inches thick with irrelevant drivel and they are going bankrupt. They will not be missed. The people's right to know is satisfied somewhere else.

The New York Times will publish William Ayers' excuses and apologetics,
We can question whether Ayers' political vandalism and protest were not something worse. What we will not learn from the NYTimes is that at his worse Ayers was acting out the NRA's childish political fantasy. The NRA gets a free pass on its claim of a civil right for its "armed citizen guerrillas". Meanwhile, Orwell's "large and uncomfortable fact" has made it all the way to the Supreme Court almost without notice. The NYTimes keeps the most vital and fundamental issues of political life very far removed from public knowledge.

The rhetoric now is all about "hope" and "change", "unity" and a new "social contract", but the Obama team has failed the knowledge and leadership to cultivate a vision that opposes the gun lobby/libertarian malignant, cynical, anarchic vision in which the enemy is the dreaded socialism. Without knowledge there is no leadership.

NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert Vol. 15, No. 45 11/14/08:

The question the Obama team needed to ask was, Do you support and accept Judge Silberman's conclusions in Parker? What will the NRA object to then? The Obama team does not understand the political world it has to function in.

Eric Holder, the Obama nominee for Attorney General, is a weak sister on firearms policy. He will not lead but there is nothing in his record below that is inconsistent with the Parker/Heller opinions:

We have to go through all kinds of contortions because we cannot decide that citizens are citizens under law and government with civic obligation not individual sovereigns, laws unto themselves, in the State of Nature which is the state of anarchy.

Update November 8, 2008
In the last month, the presidential election campaign turned to the real issue. We heard about the "socialism". Well, what is the dreaded "socialism"? In his speech to the Republican Convention in 1964 which launched his political career, Ronald Reagan said,

Thomas' Socialist Party had four major policy goals:
1) Collective bargaining for labor.
2) The basic provisions of the original Social Security Act (which included unemployment insurance and workman's compensation).
3) The forty hour work week (enacted in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and upheld by the Supreme Court in US v. Darby (1941)).
4) National health insurance.
The first three of these were achieved in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. They were important parts of the New Deal Constitutional Revolution which we can only find mentioned in constitutional laws texts. Constitutional authority was found in the Commerce Clause. There is still a public clamor for the fourth and we might see national health insurance in the Obama Administration.

We hear much discussion that we have transcended the sixties culture wars. McCain was pre-sixties. Obama is post-sixties. No, the Libertarian Right's agenda has always been to defeat the dreaded "socialism",
The New Deal and the Courts
Or, is all this just so much demagoguery.

The Socialist Party was our most successful political party. It achieved three quarters of its goals and those are still fundamental parts of our national existence. It has had no role in national politics since although it still runs candidates. Ronald Reagan had the next twenty five years of his political life including eight years as president to dismantle the achievements of Thomas' Socialist Party and stop the advance of the dreaded "socialism". We never heard about the "socialism" again. Is there anyone who is opposed to the "socialism"? President Nixon said famously, We are all Keynesians now. Will someone say, We are all "socialists" now. The Libertarian Right's malignant, anti-government political cynicism does not accept the contours of the modern state; however, most everyone else does. The advance of the dreaded socialism has to be turned back with demagoguery. We get much small-minded, obstructionist politics.

G. Gordon Liddy is an articulate spokesman for right wing ideologies. He takes this a step further. In his interview with the Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik in January, 2005, he made clear the political cynicism of the Liberarian Right:

The tyranny is the dreaded "socialism"— the New Deal Constitutional Revolution, the expansions of federal power under the Commerce Clause, the modern state, government itself— the twentieth century itself. There were actually five transformations of the United States in the twentieth century of constitutional proportions. The political cynicism of the Libertarian Right has never accepted any of these.
The gun rights militants want to return to working seventy hours per week in coal mines and sweat shops. But, with a gun in every pocket, they will all be free from the tyrannical encroachments and horrors of government. It gets very confused. Liddy is a big supporter of martial virtues and military service. There is complete political cynicism toward a governing authority in civil society on one side and complete surrender to military command on the other. And, of course, national conscription is nowhere enumerated in the Constitution as a power of the Federal Government.

In "The Road to Socialism?", Philip Green presents a proper concept of socialism that goes far beyond the achievements of the Socialist Party and the New Deal:

This might be quite utopian and certainly a very distance and even farfetched goal in the present political culture, but most Americans support worker, consumer, and environmental protections, some form of government supported health insurance, a sensible energy policy that includes conservation and renewable resources as much as more drilling, and a government role in stabilizing and regulating the market excesses and crimes of corporations and financial and investment institutions. Capilalism is self-destructive without law and government. Even Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) who was the source of much anti-socialist ideology with his Road to Serfdom (1944), accepted restrictions of work hours and control of environmental toxins. For Hayek, the rule of law was the rules of the road not the specification of the destination. Many capitalist economies, nevertheless, function quite well specifying economic policy goals without going down Hayek's road to serfdom (socialism). The United States has done so for decades in defense contracting and may be about to set policy goals for the automobile industry.

There is another version of the dreaded "socialism". V. I. Lenin's State and Revolution, written in August and September 1917, was the last Marxist/Leninist tract before there was Marxism in power. Lenin wrote:

The gun lobby/libertarian claim to a right of individual armed self-defense leads ultimately to the same utopian doctrine of vigilante policing. The great flaw of Marx, Engels and Lenin is that, unlike the Framers of the Constitution, they had no theory of political power, countervailing forces and political balance. Their failed political theory led inevitably to Stalinism and arbitrary power. A government that does not understand what it means to be a government is as dangerous as the tyranny the gun rights militants fear the most.

There is no political or intellectual leadership that makes the advance of dreaded "socialism" part of our national consciousness and holds our candidates accountable for what they are really talking about. The great failure of the Obama Campaign was the failure to define in public consciousness a viable concept of government which in the twentieth century has included the dreaded "socialism" and hold its Republican opposition to the dreaded "socialism". Or, is there a great hypocrisy and deception? It is no coincidence that McCain's favorite justices on the Supreme Court are the ones who are committed to dismantling the New Deal Constitutional Revolution. They are also the same ones who voted in the majority in Heller. In that failure the Obama Campaign failed before the voters to define itself and create a strong, purposeful governing authority that will achieve its vision of "hope", "change" and "unity" all of which may involve more advance of the dreaded "socialism"— that is, rules of the road provided by law and government and maybe even some policy goals. It failed the opportunity to redefine American politics. The real polarization of American politics is between the dreaded "socialism" and some pre-New Deal vision of robber baron capitalism. The Libertarian Right does not even accept the constitutional transformations of the United States in the Civil War. Its entrenched ideological interests and hyperactive constituencies are not going to disappear. With a loss of political power they will become more obstructionist and vicious and there are plenty of rogue elements which no one has control over.

There are other failures. McCain supporters have denounced Barack Obama for his tenuous association with William Ayers, characterized as a domestic terrorist who hates America. Sarah Palin has her own associations with those who espouse insurrectionist and secessionist doctrines. The doctrines are pervasive in the present political culture. G. Gordon Liddy espouses domestic terrorism. Liddy hosted a McCain fund raiser. Does to pledge allegiance to the flag and to the Republic for which it stands mean we consent to be governed under the laws of this country or is there some other vision that includes the NRA's "armed populace at large", which is armed outside the law? If the Obama Administration wants to promote unity it needs to start right there.

The problem is that both our New Left insurrectionists and present right wing insurrectionists embrace the National Rifle Association's childish political fantasy. A member of the NRA's National Board wrote in the Washington Post in 1989:

Ayers can only be faulted for acting out the NRA's childish political fantasy. The Obama Campaign can be faulted for the failed political leadership to turn the whole issue around on the McCain Campaign and exploit the opportunity the courts have given to bring rationality to firearms policy. Does McCain support Judge Silberman's conclusions in Parker? See Below. If yes, the gun vote goes to Bob Barr and Ron Paul. Its demagogic appeal, in service to the Libertarian Right, is neutralized in national politics. If no, McCain is unfit for public office.
The gun rights militants need not worry that political and intellectual leadership will emerge to make the point.

Update August 17, 2008

The former homepage through March 5, 2008, has been moved to a new file. Addressing Gun Violence contains more information.

The homepage from March 5, 2008, to July 16, 2008, the most important part of which is a letter to Walter Dellinger who argued for the DC gov to the Supreme Court, has been moved to "Whither the United States of America?". There are other important observations.

I. Sovereignty, the Rule of Law, the State's Monopoly on Violence.

William Vizzard's book Shots in the Dark (2000) is the most authoritative and complete treatment of firearms policy. Vizzard describes five paradigms for firearms regulation (p. 4-11):
1.) crime control
2.) public health and safety
3.) sovereignty and social control
4.) political symbolism
5.) world view.
Political symbolism and world view lead to much posturing and rhetoric but do not lead very far in the policy arena. Crime control and public health have been the dominant paradigms for more than thirty years and they have failed. Crime control is a false conceptualization that is easy for politicians to embrace. Gun violence is a public health problem but it does not have a public health solution. The solutions are political.

That leaves sovereignty. Vizzard writes:"Although many Americans are ill at ease with the sovereignty and social order paradigm, it is likely the heart of the gun control issue." Sovereignty is the heart of the issue. Sovereignty is where we get seriously political. Sovereignty is the most vital and fundamental issue of political life. Sovereignty is internal and external. It means that the state's internal sovereignty, the state's monopoly on violence, and the rule of law all mean the same thing. The fundamental concepts mean that the Constitution is a frame of government not a treaty among sovereign individuals, citizens are citizens under law and government not individual sovereigns in the State of Nature which is the state of anarchy. We get sovereignty right first. A sovereign gives and enforces law. A sovereign, whether an individual or a state, does not accommodate to a law giving, enforcing authority. However, the most vital and fundamental issue of political life is very far removed from present political knowledge and consciousness. Americans are not just ill at ease with sovereignty, they are hostile. The greatest hostility come from the people one would think would be most receptive. NPR's Diane Rehm told the Potowmack Institute to take her off of our mailing list,, p. A-14
AirAmerica Radio calls itself "progressive talk radio", but keeps on its program schedule an incredibly ignorant, crude, ugly airwaves barbarian,
The Potowmack Institute argued sovereignty in its amicus briefs in Emerson in 1999
and in Parker filed in 2006
The Supreme Court released its opinion in DC Gov. v. Heller on June 26, 2008, Here again sovereignty is missing. The Supreme Court is very derelict in discussing gun rights without mentioning the anarchic and insurrectionist proclamations that abound on the internet.

The political agenda is an individual right to armed self-defense. The way we defend outselves under law and and government is to create and apply legal categories of gun ownership against the lawless. There is no conflict in principle between gun ownership for self-defense and accountability to a governing authority. Accountability to a governing authority means specifically registration of gun ownership. The gun lobby has a different agenda: The only reason there has to be the claim to be privately armed for individual self-defense as argued in the Parker/Heller cases is because the gun lobby, led by the NRA, works very hard and very successfully to defeat any laws that would apply against the lawless because the same laws would apply against the "armed populace at large", which the NRA argued for without success to the Supreme Court in Perpich,, p. 6.
The "armed populace at large" is a collection of sovereign individuals who made a treaty not a government,,
The laws would also apply even more strongly against the NRA's "armed citizen guerrillas",, p. A-40
and others with insurrectionist fantasies. Whatever rights are enumerated in a constitution have to be consistent with what a constitution is. The Constitution defines treason as the waging of war against the United States. The Constitution is not perverted. It does not then secure a civil right to commit the same.

In the courts' very politically motivated fabrication of a right of armed self-defense, what is completely unappreciated is that the gun rights militants did not get their right to individual sovereignty in the Parker/Heller cases. In the end Judge Silberman fell back on the original design and intent of military preparedness and a coerced civic obligation:

These conclusions are a devastating repudiation of the gun lobby core doctrine. The gun lobby, led by the NRA, would fight viciously any legislative attempts to implement Judge Silberman's conclusions. See the NRA's Registration and Licensing Fact Sheet. There is nothing in the Supreme Court opinion that invalidates these conclusions. There is, however, no political or intellectually leadership that would exploit the opportunity the courts have given. Civic duty and individual sovereignty are in serious conflict but in the end civic duty triumphs even among politically appointed, highly ideologically motivated federal judges. Federal judges are under oath of public office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Those would include the NRA's "armed citizen guerrillas". Silberman's conclusions make the much ballyhooed individual right he seeks to invent and the core doctrine the gun lobby works hardest to maintain by defeating legislation perfectly meaningless. There are no challenges on this very fundamental political point to the candidates who want to be president of the United States.

It is a very offensive statement to some people but this is where we understand everything else in the present political culture: Our history; constitutional doctrine; evolution of the modern state; the performance of our lame, cowardly, pandering politicians; our shallow lazy news organs; the advocates; the capacity of a citizenry for self-government. These are all part of the same story.

This where we discover who we are.

This is not where we will find intellectual and political leadership.

Or, at least not so far. The urban populations that are suffering the scourge of gun violence have failed to change anything, but with the Heller opinion now in place as a guide for public policy, what may blow away the anarchic "armed populace at large" fantasy is the growing crisis of violence and sovereignty on the Southwest border. Public necessity could force big change very suddenly. When this country gets serious, it can get very serious.

Insert, Dec 25, 2008

US Must Close Gun Show Loophole to Curb Texas-Mexico Gun Running
San Antonio Express-News (Texas)
6 December 2008


Texas is Gunrunners' Land of Plenty and Source of Mexico's Crime Guns
San Antonio Express-News (Texas)
6 December 2008


Texan Straw Purchasers, Dealers Profit from Smuggling, Murder in Mexico
San Antonio Express-News (Texas)
6 December 2008


Texas Gun Shops Fuel Drug Wars, 'Caught Between Profit & Conscience'
San Antonio Express-News (Texas)
6 December 2008


US-Mexico Gun Trafficking Threatens Texans' Safety: Ban Assault Rifles
Houston Chronicle (Texas)
8 December 2008

We are not serious now. One of the great lesson of this website started in 1995 is that there is no constituency for a viable concept of constitutional government. The failure of political consciousness is broad. The Potowmack Institute was at the MillionMomMarches in 2000 and 2004 and could not find a single person out of hundreds asked who had heard of the gun rights cases in court. Meanwhile the gun rights ideologies have made it all the way to the Supreme Court almost completely without public notice or knowledge in Heller and received some qualified and ultimately rather meaningless "right". The gun rights militants follow these cases with intense interest. The gun controllers have not educated the public or even their own constituency. They haven't gotten beyond promoting trigger locks and suing the gun manufacturers. Instead of tinkering with its failed gun law, the DC Council could serve its residents with the leadership to change public consciousness but that is not likely to happen. The politically savvy consciousness just isn't there anymore than it is anywhere else. The "children of [anarchic] darkness" have nothing to worry about.

II. Sovereignty and the appalling spectacle of anarchic federal judges

III. Failing our history and historical concepts

IV. Civic values and the politics of the modern state

V. Guns and controlling political outcomes

VI. Toward a national firearms policy

VII. Adolescent insolence, insurrectionist fantasies and personal sovereignty

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