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

There were no credible responses to these letters. The early appeal was to the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings. The later appeal was to put pressure on the Eric Holder DOJ to conduct a study that updates Ashcroft's 2004 gun lobby propaganda piece in the context of the opinions of the courts. It remains to be seen if recent events in Tuscon will make any substantive changes.

October 5, 2010

Re: "Report: Weak Laws Turn a Handful of States Into Shopping Malls for Gun Traffickers," 9/27

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

In May of 2008, weeks before the Supreme Court released its opinion in Heller, I sent letters to 256 of the 300 mayors (the ones I could find addresses for) then signed on to MayorsAgainstIllegalGuns. I only received 3 responses including one from you. That was not a good display of consciousness on the most vital and fundamental issues of political life. This is serious business. It demands serious attention, but I will not spend close to $1000 in a wasted effort to write to the 500 mayors who are signed up now. As great as are your concerns, the consciousness is a continent wide and only a millimeter deep.

There can be something different. The Supreme Courts has now delivered its opinion in McDonald. The opinions in Parker/Heller/McDonald are devastating defeats for gun rights ideologies and present an opportunity for serious, aggressive political leadership to pursue a national firearms policy.
See enclosure. The CSGV's Michael Beard's comments are adapted from a letter I sent to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in spring, 2009. No response. Nothing frightens members of Congress more than their oath of office.
Policy has to start with the propositions that the Constitution is a frame of government not a treaty among sovereign individuals and that militia duty in the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and the Militia Act of 1792 was about military preparedness and a civic obligation not an anarchic individual right. Your "Trace the Guns" study points in the direction of national policy. The only role for the Federal Government is to shut down the illegal traffic between and among jurisdictions. That can only be accomplished with a national policy based on registration of ownership and reporting of private sales. The Constitutional authority which the courts have implicitly recognized is right there in the militia clauses and the Second Amendment. The original purpose was manifest in the inventory requirement of the Militia Act of 1792. All other efforts for forty years and your present proposals have been piecemeal and have failed and will continue to fail.

That political leadership could start with pressuring the Eric Holder Justice Department to update Attorney General Ashcroft's 2004 gun lobby propaganda study (very likely written by NRA operatives) in the terms of Ashcroft's own "reasonable restrictions" and the courts' opinions that we can have "registration ... for militia service if called up". The study would clarify fundamental issues and concepts and be a resource and provide direction toward national policy.

The gun rights militants led by the NRA would fight viciously to defeat any legislative attempt to implement the opinions of the courts. This is where serious leadership makes a stand and defines an agenda for national policy. The gun rights militants will have no counter argument to civic obligation.

My proposal with further rationale is outlined in a message I sent to Joyce Lee Malcolm on August 25,
Her dubious history has been embraced by the Supreme Court. What motivates the court is a subject worthy of consideration on its own right. Prof. Malcolm has not responded. She is a libertarian ideologue. She truly believes. Academics like everyone else never respond. Ideologues are not interested in truth seeking public inquiry. That is part of your challenge.

If the Holder DOJ cannot offer aggressive political leadership, the burden can fall on MayorsAgainstIllegalGuns. I will be so immodest as to offer myself to direct the study— And, for the simple reason that after 20 years of trying to get people to appreciate that what James Madison was really describing in Federalist Paper 46 was not a civil right of private individuals, I do not trust anyone else to get this right.

Yours truly,
The Potowmack Institute
cc: Thomas Merino, Mayor, Boston

May, 2008
The Hon. _________, Mayor

Dear Mayor _________:
Can we have serious political discourse in an election season? This is serious business. It demands serious attention. It is not just many lives and whole communities that are at risk, but constitutional government itself. In the struggle against illegal guns there is now the opportunity to change everything. This is where we become seriously political.

Some things are very far removed from public consciousness. The DC government did not need to take Parker/Heller to the Supreme Court. The gun rights ideologies were already defeated in the court of appeals. It all gets down to a pair of very simple questions posed to presidential candidates.

Nowhere in the eighty briefs filed in Heller or in the oral arguments at the Supreme Court are Judge Silberman's conclusions mentioned. His conclusions are not just the makings of a firearms policy. They are a devastating repudiation of the gun lobby's core doctrine that the purpose of all those guns in private hands, armed outside of the knowledge and reach of law, is to maintain an anarchic balance of power between a privately armed populace and any and all government. The Supreme Court will not overturn Judge Silberman's conclusions. The gun lobby, nevertheless, led by the NRA, will fight viciously to defeat any legislative attempts to implement Judge Silberman's conclusions. There is a reason the NRA works very hard to keep these cases out of court. Can anyone argue with the conclusions of the courts? The courts are now on your side.

The only goal needed for a national firearms policy is to shut down the illegal traffic between and among state and local jurisdictions. That is empowerment policy for state and local law jurisdictions to enforce the details of Judge Silberman's conclusions. Shutting down the illegal traffic can only be accomplished by registration and reporting of private sales. There is nothing unconstitutional about a national policy based on those. The Militia Act of 1792 required gun owners to be enrolled for militia duty that is registered in gun rights consciousness— And that their privately owned weapons be placed on inventories called "return of militia,",
. The inventories were reported to the President of the United States who reported them to Congress. No one in those days objected. Militia duty was conscript duty. By original design and intent, military preparedness trumps all rights and other concerns and interests. The aggressive leadership to compel change with a few simple questions can start with those who are suffering the consequences of failed policy and failed strategy. There is six months left to the general election.

Yours truly,
The Potowmack Institute

enclosures included the page from FP 46 with this comment

Another page with the Sue Wimmershoff-Caplan article included these comments.