It's not about guns...

It's about citizenship

The Potowmack Institute
updated 09/05/2007

Other actions in court:
Second Amendment in Court

Parker et al. v. DC Government
DC federal district court case no. 03-0213-EGS
DC Court of Appeals case no. 04-7041

This is where we understand everything else in the present political culture.

All Appeals Court court briefs in Parker were filed by August, 2006. Oral arguments were held Dec. 7. Opinion was released Mar. 9, 2007.

The DC Court of Appeals en banc denied a rehearingof Parker. The Potowmack Institute hopes to file a brief in the Supreme Court if the Supreme Court grants certiorari. We will need an attorney who is a member of the Supreme Court bar. Some one must be interested in helping. On September 4, 2007, the DC Gov petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari — that is, that the Supreme Court will hear the case. The name has been changed to DC Gov. v. Heller, Sup. Ct. case no. 07-270. If the Supreme Court does not take up the case, it will be because it wants more opinion to develop in the lower courts. Not hearing the case is very likely.
Discussion on the case can be found at:

Despite all the jubilation among the libertarians and the gun rights crowd, the DC Court of Appeals' opinion in Parker et al. v. DC Gov. is a devastating repudiation of the gun lobby and its anarchic ideology. There is no indication that the judges read my amicus curiae brief in Parker,
If they had read the brief they might have served the gun lobby better. Just as in Emerson,, having received his precious, comically fabricated individual right in 84 pages of gratuitous obiter dicta, poor Emerson was sent back to the district court for trial and eventually convicted; In Parker after all the fallacious pap about an individual right and hints at a right to insurrection Judge Silberman, arrives at this conclusion (p.54):

Judge Silberman denies the gun lobby's "armed populace at large" fantasy protection against the one and only point of policy it cannot accommodate. That policy is exactly what the Potowmack Institute has advocated for more than ten years, My purpose in filing the brief was less to influence the judges than to stimulate public discourse on a vital issue. Serious public discourse is still only a matter of hope in our failed political culture.

Potowmack Institute makes three main arguments in our amicus brief:

1) Absolutely the only policy issue the "armed populace at large" fantasy that the NRA has argued to the Supreme Court,, cannot accommodate is registration of gun ownership. The doctrine is unabashedly proclaimed and widely subscribed to that the purpose of all those guns in private hands, outside of the knowledge and reach of law and government, is to maintain a balance of power between a privately armed populace and any and all government. There is no individual right protection in Judge Silberman's opinion that protects gun owners against registration, the one tyrannical encroachment of government that the gun rights ideologies cannot accommodate. He also explicitly accepted "reasonable restrictions" to protect public safety against irresponsible, insane, and criminal types. There must be standards and those standards must be legally enforceable and enforced not left to word of honor, promise of good faith, and vigilante response. The only way those restrictions can be enforced is through a system of registration and licensing. Unfortunately, one person's reasonable restriction is another's police state. Removing DC's absurd, counter productive, ineffective, unenforceable gun law and the consciousness that produced it provides enormous opportunity for renewed civic life. Even some DC officials have recently expressed doubts about the law. The "armed populace at large",, meanwhile still begs for constitutional recognition and protection.

2) The right of armed self-defense includes a right of armed self-defense against the government itself, the same government the gun rights ideologues want to secure their rights. The Constitution explicitly defines treason as the waging of war against the United States. It explicitly establishes as one of three militia functions the suppression of insurrections. Those constitutional provisions cannot be in conflict. The right of armed resistance— that is, treason— against the encroachments of government— that is, laws, and not just gun laws— is unabashedly and ubiquitously proclaimed by gun rights advocates. Judge Silberman makes a few cryptic reference to this right with words like "to resist and throw off a tyrannical government" (p. 22) from Blackstone's Commentaries which were written in praise of the British Constitution, a wholly difference context, a generation before the US Constitution. The reason there is a claim for an individual right to armed self-defense is that gun laws which Silberman finds reasonable that can be effectively applied against the lawless could also apply against the NRA's "armed citizen guerrillas",,, p. 40, when they decide to act out the gun lobby's childish political fantasy. A circumstance of no effective gun laws leads inevitably to an anarchic claim. In the place of the consent to be governed by people who call themselves patriots we get vigilante policing. Instead of explicitly telling some people they cannot have their childish political fantasy, Silberman's illogical opinion left this crisis in gun lobby consciousness in conflice and unaddressed. There can be no constitutional right to treason. A right we have as long as do not exercise it is not a right at all but the fantasy of a right.

3) The defenders of state sovereignty at the time of ratification feared that the new federal government would become a remote, unaccountable, arbitrary power that would invade the people's peace and security with a mercenary standing army. They had just been through that kind of experience with the British. The political cynicism of our present gun rights ideologies transfers those fears to the modern state and the social contract erected in the twentieth century to regulate financial and labor markers (Federal Reserve, New Deal Constitutional Revolution) and to guarantee liberty and justice for all (Fourteenth Amendment, Civil Rights Revolution). The gun lobby's malignant view of social and political life parallels the Libertarian Right's malignant view of economic life. They are both part of the same story. It was too much to expect that politically appointed, ideologically motivated judges would address the malignacy and political cynicism but the rest of us can.

The gun vote is a point of demagogic leverage to control political outcomes. Silberman's opinion is of great significance in the present political culture. This is where we understand everything else. This is where political and intellectual leadership can initiate new direction for political change. This can start with the gun controllers. They can give up on trigger locks, suing the gun manufacturers, waving placards on the Capital Mall,, and supporting absurd laws like DC's and start formulating and advocating a national firearms policy modeled after the Militia Act of 1792, They can cite Judge Silberman's opinion as constitutional imprimatur. There is nothing unconstitutional about Congress declaring private arms to be a public resource subject to public duty,, putting private weapons on inventories,, and reporting the inventories to state governors and the president of the United States. We can call it the Homeland Security Militia. With that policy in place, we can establish and enforce at the same time legal standards and restrictions against the lawless.

There is one great problem with this. The Militia Act of 1792 was our first national conscription law. Soccer Moms, if that is still a category we can talk about, don't want guns on the playing field. They also not want conscription. The libertarianism is pervasive. Don't forget that it was the late Milton Friedman, the foremost and most prestigious of our Libertarian Deliverers, who was the driving force on Nixon All Volunteer Army Commission, The Selective Service Act of 1917 was a radical departure from original design and intent during the First World War. The abandonment of conscription in 1973, like it or not, for better or worse, was another major turn in twentieth century civic life. The civic obligation of the conscript militia became manifest in the twentieth century in the twentieth century Selective Service Acts. We went from the civic obligation of national conscription to the Libertarian Right's political cynicism.

Maybe now we can get our shallow, lazy news clowns to get serious about the business of public enlightenment. NPR's Diane Rehm can be stand in for the whole news, commentary and talk show charade, More media dereliction is at The dereliction is across the political spectrum. We are not likely to get the NRA's most reliable asset, the one the NRA calls the "rabidly antigun Washington Post" to print what James Madison was really describing in Federalist Paper No. 46,,, but the rest of us can examine the historical record.

See for files in the parallel case of Seegars et al. v. DC Gov., Ashcroft.

Other actions in court:
Second Amendment in Court

DC US Court of Appeals Parker Briefs

More Parker briefs:
It is noteworthy that GuraPossessky does not list the Potowmack Institute amicus curiae brief. There are certain issues they do not want raised.

Cato Institute lawyers' brief for Appellants (Plaintiffs) in Parker et al. v. DC Government to the DC Court of Appeals filed June 1, 2006:

DC Government (Appellee/Defendant) Response Brief in Parker to the Court of Appeals filed July, 2006:

Appellants (Plaintiffs) reply brief filed August 21, 2006:

Amici in support of DC Gov.

Potowmack Institute amicus curiae brief in Parker to the Appeals Court filed July 25, 2006, pro se by the president of the Potowmack Institute:

Brady Center/Violence Policy Center joint amicus curiae brief in Parker to the Appeals court filed August 7, 2006:

Court of Appeals briefs not in possession of in electronic form:
Cities of Boston, New York et al.

Amici in support of Plantiffs (Parker et al.)

Second Amendment Foundation amicus curiae brief in Parker to the Appeals court:

State Attorney Generals' amicus curiae brief in Parker to the Appeals Court:

Congress of Racial Equality's amicus curiae brief in Parker to the Appeals Court:

Brandeis/Kates amicus curiae brief in Parker to the Appeals Court:

Court of Appeals briefs not in possession of in electronic form:
National Rifle Association
American Civil Rights Union

DC District Court Parker Briefs

Parker complaint filed in DC federal district court, February 10, 2003
Also from the Cato Institute website:

Cato ideological arguments, March 14, 2003

District court opinion, March 31, 2004

Other motions and orders:
Final Judgement, March 31, 2004

Order, March 31, 2004

Brady Center motion to participate as amicus curiae:

Brady Center amicus curiae brief to the District Court:

Violence Policy Center amicus curiae brief to the District Court:

American Civil Rights Union amicus curiae brief to the District Court:

Order granting motion to suspend Parker pending ruling in Seegars, August 25, 2004

Motion granting Potomack Institute leave to file amicus brief, August 25, 2004

Order that Parker will Proceed November 2, 2005:"

Other files:

"Group Suing DC Over Gun Ban Shuns NRA Involvement"

NRA's parallel suit:
Seegars et al. v. Ashcroft and Williams

Search Google and Google groups for "heller parker palmer ambeau", "seegars ashcroft".

Workman, David, “NRA Under Fire For Entering DC Gun Ban Suit Fray"

Levy, Robert, and Healy, Gene, “The Battle of the Gun Ban," Washington Times, July 22, 2003.

© Potowmack Institute