It's not about guns...
The Potowmack Institute
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
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The Potowmack Institute
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,"
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
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.
The Potowmack Institute
cc: Thomas Merino, Mayor, Boston
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.
Registration of ownership, militia call up, proficiency testing, public safety regulation, screening for militia suitability. These are the makings of a firearms policy. Do you accept and support Judge Silberman's conclusions? Will your administration work towards a national firearms policy based on these conclusions? ************************
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
. 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.
The Potowmack Institute
enclosures included the page from FP 46 with this comment
July 8, 2008
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City
Mayor of Dayton, OH
Mayor of Houston, TX.
Dear Mayor __________:
Thank you for your response to my letter of May 8. I sent that letter with enclosures to 256 (the ones I could find addresses for) of the 300 plus mayors who have joined MayorAgainstIllegalGuns. My purpose was to test out their commitment and consciousness. There were only four responses. Sadly, I did not expect better. The commitment is a continent wide and a millimeter deep. I have worked on this subject for twenty years. Nothing has changed in public knowledge in that time. This is still serious business. The time for change is now. The courts have given the opportunity. The leadership for change can come of out of MayorsAgainstIllegalGuns.
C-Span's BookTV recently featured Kevin Phillips talking about his book Bad Money. He criticized the Democratic Party for not going for the jugular. It goes for the capillary. Nothing better describes the efforts up till now to address gun violence. The gun controllers have not got beyond promoting trigger locks and suing the gun manufactures.
The jugular is in Judge Silberman's conclusions in Parker:
MayorsAgainstIllegalGuns can go for the jugular. The goals
proposed now are still the capillaries:
- Close the gun-show loophole.
- End gun-dealer fire sales.
- Require gun dealers to do background checks on employees.
- Close the "terror gap."
Judge Silberman's conclusions are a devastating repudiation of what the gun rights ideologies really want to maintain an anarchic balance of power between a privately armed populace and any and all government. The Supreme Court has not invalidated his conclusions .
Judge Silberman's reasoning in Parker and the Supreme Court's
reasoning in Heller are confused, anarchic, historically
preposterous and constitutionally pernicious. They are part of
politically motivated agenda to control political outcomes in a
much larger struggle over the modern state and the political
economy of capitalism. There is an introduction at
There is more in my Parker amicus,
It is not necessary to raise those issues. Everything changes by asking a few simple questions of our presidential candidates, Do you accept and support Judge Silberman's conclusions in Parker, now affirmed by the Supreme Court? Will your administration work toward policy goals based on those conclusions? We have until November.
Much is missing from the court opinions. The rest of us do not have to miss anything. The way we defend ourselves under law and government is to create legal categories of gun ownership that can be applied against the lawless. The only reason there is a claim for an individual right for private self-defense is because the gun lobby, led by the NRA, works very hard and successfully to defeat any laws that would apply against the lawless because the same laws would apply against its insurrectionists. In validating an individual right the courts have validated an insurrectionist doctrine well, sort of. The issue is still wide open. Along the way the courts mention lawful and unlawful purposes for gun ownership but provide no guidance on or appreciation of the need for effective standards to enforce the distinction.
The great need is for a national firearms policy that shuts down the
illegal traffic in firearms between and among jurisdictions. This
can only be achieved with national policy. My proposal for a
national firearms policy,
, was written in 1998. It was last updated in 2001. It has now been validated by the courts. It is about time people started paying attention.
Shutting down the illegal traffic is the essential power of enforcement for local jurisdictions' "reasonable restrictions". Judge Silberman has given the opportunity. Registration for militia call up and the reporting of private sales and transfers, strictly enforced, achieve that goal and, bring to bear the realities of political life. The obstacles are political and practical not constitutional.
The gun lobby, led by the NRA, would fight viciously any attempts to implement Judge Silberman's policy conclusions. The one point of policy the gun rights ideologies cannot accommodate is accountability to a governing authority through registration. The right sought is the right to individual or personal sovereignty. The Constitution is reduced from a frame of government to a treaty among sovereign individuals with all its insurrectionist and anarchic implications. This is proclaimed on hundreds of internet bulletin boards. An appeal to civic obligation as manifest in the original militia concept defeats these proclamation. High, enforceable standards for proficiency testing, public safety regulation, and militia suitability, decided by local needs, are the "reasonable restrictions" Judge Silberman accepts and the Supreme Court has affirmed.
The political parties have abandoned the issue. The news organs are completely derelict to enlighten the public. The gun controllers cannot get beyond gun safety. The politicians from all persuasion pander to the gun vote. The courts have now joined the pandering. The people who are closest to the collateral damage of a larger struggle have to take the leadership. The intellectual work has been done. Does anyone want to get started on this?
The Potowmack Institute