Archive for May, 2010

Alongside Night Author to Sue United States for Copyright Infringement


(OPENPRESS) May 21, 2010 — Author/filmmaker, J. Neil Schulman, today announced his intention to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement of his 1979 novel, Alongside Night, which tells the story of the collapse of the American economy due to massive government overspending and the issuing of unbacked money and credit to pay the interest on the national debt.

Alongside Night 30th Anniversary edition

Schulman intends to name the United States government as his primary defendant. According to Schulman, “The United States government — both the executive and legislative branches, aided by the courts, have stolen the entire premise — and a lot of the plot — of my novel!”

Schulman also intends to name, as co-defendants in his copyright infringement lawsuit, the Federal Reserve Bank, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, General Motors, and the country of Greece.

“Just look at TV news or read a newspaper,” Schulman said. “Plot point after plot point is identical. In my 1979 novel I have General Motors go bankrupt — General Motors then files for bankruptcy. I have Europe issue a common currency in my novel called the ‘eurofranc’ — the European Union then goes and issues the ‘euro.’ In my novel I have a European Chancellor, based in France, accuse the U.S. President of having the monetary policies of a banana republic — then the President of the European Union — also based in France — slams U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as ‘a road to hell’ and says President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout ‘will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market.’ The copycat nature of all these plot points and dialogue” — says Schulman — “could not be more obvious!”

Alongside Night won high-profile praise when it was released in hardcover by Crown Publishers in 1979.

Milton Friedman, who in 1976 won the Nobel Prize for economics, wrote about Alongside Night, “An absorbing novel–science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”

The Los Angeles Times Book Review wrote, “High Drama … A story of high adventure, close escapes, mistaken identities, and thrilling rescues. … A fast-moving tale of a future which is uncomfortably close at hand.”

And Anthony Burgess, author of the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, wrote, “I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings.”

The novel was entered into the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1989 — its first year of eligibility — and in May 2009 was named Freedom Book of the Month by the Freedom Book Club.

Congressman Ron Paul wrote of the novel’s 30th anniversary edition in 2009, “J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night may be even more relevant today than it was in 1979. Hopefully, the special thirtieth anniversary edition of this landmark work of libertarian science fiction will inspire a new generation of readers to learn more about the ideas of liberty and become active in the freedom movement.”

Alongside Night has had over 87,000 downloads of its 30th Anniversary PDF edition since it was made available on the web on June 13, 2009. The publisher, Pulpless.Com, will remove this PDF edition from its website when 100,000 copies have been downloaded.

As described by the Wikipedia entry on Alongside Night, “The book focuses on the character of Elliot, the son of a fictional economist and Nobel Laureate … set in a United States on the brink of economic collapse, where inflation is spiraling out of control and the government struggles to keep hold of its power. Trading in foreign currency has become illegal and many shops are subject to rationing; as a result there is a sprawling black market for almost all conceivable goods. Other nations have not fared so grimly, and organisations such as EUCOMTO (European Common Market Treaty Organization – the novel’s prophetic vision of the future EU) issue stable gold standard currencies.”

J. Neil Schulman intends to produce and direct his own screenplay adaptation of Alongside Night as soon as he has production financing in place.

“Who knows?” Schulman says. “Maybe one of the defendants in my lawsuit will settle quickly and I can use that money to make the movie!”

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Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website and as a DVD on Amazon.com. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Law & Order: Arizona


Arizona has an interesting history for law enforcement.

It is, after all, the location of Tombstone, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and such colorful rogues as Wyatt Earp, “Doc” Holliday, and the Clintons — er, Clantons.

Newspaper story about the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Arizona still maintains a lot of its Wild West image. Just a few weeks ago Arizona joined Vermont and Alaska as states where it’s perfectly legal for any adult who is legally permitted to own a gun to carry it concealed without a license.

Arizona is home to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has a national reputation for being creatively ruthless — some who’ve read the Bill of Rights might say “cruel and unusual” — in the punishment of his department’s prisoners.

For many years I lived in Southern California and drove several times cross-country to the east coast, and many more times to visit my parents in San Antonio, Texas, and my sister in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My drive always took me through a scenic, mountain-lined thirty-mile section of Arizona as soon as one drove over the Nevada border, where I learned by hard and repeated experience that if I drove even one mile-per-hour above the posted speed limit — which got progressively and erratically higher and lower every mile or so with poorly-visible signs to notify drivers of the changes — I ended up getting a very expensive ticket from well-concealed Arizona police.

I’m white. It wasn’t about the color of my skin. It was about skinning me.

But where the controversy about how Arizona handles matters of law enforcement has recently come into national focus is its new law designed to clamp down on residents of the state who are in non-compliance with the federal immigration regulations. I’ve done what Fox News and Republican point-talkers keep asking Obama administration officials to do: I’ve read the complete text of the law.

The Fox News and Republican point-talkers keep making the talking point that the new law specifically forbids law-enforcement stops asking for papers based on ethnic characteristics — commonly called racial profiling. This is true. It’s in the text of the law — twice.

But while the new Arizona immigration law specifically outlines penalties which any legal resident of Arizona may trigger with a lawsuit against Arizona officials who fail to enforce federal immigration regulations, the new Arizona law does not outline any penalties for Arizona officials who make stops asking for papers based on ethnic characteristics. Unlike ordinary criminal cases where a judge can throw out an indictment based on police misconduct, in the case of a person arrested by Arizona law-enforcement officials and turned over to federal authorities for deportation, there is no court case or judge to release the prisoner if the bust was illegal.

But even if the Arizona police don’t want to cherry-pick ethnic persons who look like they might not be in compliance with federal immigration regulations, there’s an easy work around — the same one used to give me tickets. It’s based on the old teacher’s tactic that if you don’t know who threw the spitball you give the entire class detention.

Simply stop and ask for papers from as many white dudes as ethnic dudes, and at the end of the day every cop can honestly say he or she did no racial profiling. Polling data suggests that seventy percent of Arizona residents are perfectly willing to be harassed like that if it will rid the state of ethnic persons who look like they might not be in compliance with federal immigration regulations.

So the law’s intent to rid Arizona of persons out-of-compliance with federal regulations has teeth; the intent to forbid racial profiling is toothless.

Further, Arizona now piggybacks just about every other felony or misdemeanor offense into this new immigration law by denying civil rights due citizens — for example, the right to keep and bear arms — to anyone determined to be in the country without being in compliance with federal regulations.

Do you notice that I keep saying “federal regulations” rather than law? There is very little actual law involved in determining who is and is not in the country legally. It’s largely a complex maze of bureaucratic regulations designed to sanction federal law-enforcement and Homeland Security officials to bully anyone they want to by threatening to throw them or someone they love out of the country.

A lot of these regulations — and the new Arizona law — operate on the hostage system. By threatening third parties law-enforcement officials can use perfectly legal extortion as a tactic for nullifying any rights or legal protections written down in what’s supposed to be the real law of the land, the Constitution of the United States.

I wrote about one such vulnerability — hiding “illegals” from the authorities — in my earlier article “The Diary of Anna Francisco.”

Now, am I in favor of Mexicans sneaking into our country, evading minimum-wage laws, not paying income tax or Social Security, getting free schooling for their kids and free medical care at overtaxed hospital emergency rooms, and committing heinous crimes?

Of course not. I’m an American.

So don’t export Mexicans so much as import Americans.

Get rid of the minimum-wage laws that do nothing but forbid freedom to contract between job-providers and job-seekers.

Get rid of federal income and Social Security taxes, and if you have to have taxes to pay for the federal government, the Constitution says you put duties on all those imported goods that used to provide jobs here and are now providing jobs there.

Close down the public schools and if you feel public education is still necessary take that tax money and use the money to endow libraries. Public schools are bureaucratic propaganda factories that can’t teach anything worthwhile anymore anyway.

Make the providing of health and medical care efficient and responsive to people’s needs by eliminating all government regulations, taxes, subsidies, licenses, and mandates over the practice of medicine. That’s the way it was at the time the Constitution was written, when this was a free country.

And if you don’t like living in a free country, may I suggest you might be happier in Mexico?

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Reserve Militia Training and Regulation Act: a Proposal


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Some Notes and Discussion on the Second Amendment


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Reserve Militia Training and Regulation Act: a Proposal


Constitution of the United States of America

Article I, Sect. 8:

The Congress shall have Power

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Amendment II:

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 purpose of this proposal is to draft “The Reserve Militia Training and Regulation Act,” and get it enough support from both reasonable gun-control advocates and gun-rights advocates to get it in front of Congress.

This is not a discussion of the National Guard. At this point, the National Guard serves a defined function as a military organization that can be called out by the individual states in event of statewide emergency, and as a reserve military force which the president can call up, even for fighting overseas. Whatever the merits of this treatment of the National Guard, it is not militia as the term was originally conceived by the authors of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment regards the militia as the people themselves, able-bodied and armed for defense against dangers to the civic safety and liberty from enemies both foreign and domestic. The original constitution, before amendment, has a militia clause which grants Congress the power “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States, respectively, the appointment of the Officers, and the authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” The Constitution also provides that, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of … the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States … ”

A bill for training and regulation of the militia is, therefore, not only constitutional, but constitutionally mandated.

The “militia” as defined by U.S. Code is every able bodied male between 17 and 45 who is a citizen of the United States or has declared an intention to become one, as well as female members of the National Guard and former members of the regular armed forces under age 64. U.S. Code further goes on to divide the militia into two classes – the organized militia which consists of the National Guard and Naval Militia, and the reserve or unorganized militia which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia (10 USC, 311 b).

In Presser v. Illinois (1886), the Supreme Court stated “It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the States, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the Constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms … ”

U.S. v Miller (1939) recognized that the “militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense” and that when called to service these men are expected to appear “bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.”

In the last month, as I write this, we have seen on television news reports of massacres of innocent people by deranged, armed individuals. George Hennard, in Killeen, Texas, killed 23 and wounded 19 on October 16th, in a lunchtime cafeteria, using a couple of 9 millimeter semi-auto pistols. Dr. Gang Lu, a Chinese post-graduate student at the University of Iowa’s physics department, killed five and wounded one with a .38 revolver, on November 1st. Thomas McIlvane, a fired postal worker, killed four and wounded eight others with a sawed-off .22 rifle, on November 14th, in Royal Oak, Michigan.

All three gunmen made themselves their final victims, shooting themselves, fatally, as their last act. Retributive justice can have no deterrence on individuals who intend to kill themselves after committing murder. And police, even with excellent response times, can’t be everywhere at once.

According to the FBI, the United States is experiencing three such massacres – defined as one gunman and four or more fatalities – every month.

Combine this with the rates for street crime – drive-by shootings, gang-related shootings, muggings, “wildings,” rapes, purse-snatchings, etc. – and we have a society where the streets are a literal war-zone.

Advocates of gun-control believe crime can be stemmed by the passage and enforcement of laws restricting ownership, possession, and carrying firearms. Their thesis looks attractive in the abstract; but when you consider the over 200 million firearms that already exist in this country, no one can make a reasonable case that gun-restriction affects other than the extremely law-abiding – the least likely class to pose a threat to public safety.

However, the media is almost universally in favor of gun control, regardless of its practicality. It is obvious that any political change in this situation in the direction of increasing the ability of the public to defend itself, must come under the heading of “regulation.”

Which is precisely what the militia is supposed to be: well-regulated. Armed, trained, and ready at all times to defend the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

If three massacres a month isn’t a reason enough to make better use of the militia, then what is?

The purpose of “The Reserve Militia Training and Regulation Act” is to provide training on demand for any sane, adult, able-bodied American who is not a criminal, in the use of firearms, with the mandate that once trained, such people can be expected to maintain weapons at home, keep themselves able to use them safely and effectively, and be expected to carry arms, for the defense not only of themselves, but in defense of their loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers.

The reserve militia is not to be maintained as a standing army or “select” militia; it is not to be called up, as the National Guard is, for service, military or otherwise.

The militia must be civilian, not military or paramilitary, and its methods and functioning should be as narrowly focused to the purposes of individual defense as humanly possible.

The militia should be governed by civilian laws, rather than the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

No uniforms, no dress or hair codes. No militaristic trappings, such as saluting, marching, dress parades, etc.

No discrimination, whether based on gender, sexual preference, age (beyond excluding juveniles), and the usual race, creed, religion, national origin, color, etc.

“Able-bodied” should be defined as broadly as possible. If a paraplegic wishes to participate, and is capable of wielding an effective weapon, it should be permitted. Likewise, obesity shouldn’t be a factor, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the ability to utilize weapons properly. Likewise, if you’re 75 and still have good eyes and a steady hand.

Militia training should be designed to be as unobtrusive to civilian life as possible. No “boot camps.” No rigorous physical training. No requirements to leave home for training; training schedules should be evenings and weekends, and allow for flexible schedules as much as possible.

No use of militia for propaganda, even in the “best” of causes. No pamphleteering, picketing, or marching while armed. No organization of private or political paramilitary units by militia. No vigilantism.

Everything above is designed to distinguish the militia from military and police organizations, which presumably can continue functioning as usual.

Here is a preliminary overview of what the Reserve Militia Training and Regulation Act might accomplish:

1) United States Code Title 10 Section 311 would be amended to redefine militia from its current definition to that of any able-bodied person 17 or older, not a convicted felon (unless pardoned) or a person who has been found not guilty of a felony by reason of insanity (unless legally declared restored to sanity), who is a citizen of the United States, or has declared intent to become a citizen of the United States. Able-bodied would be defined so as not to exclude paraplegics capable of using weapons, or those who are otherwise physically imperfect, so long as the imperfections do not make it impossible to train in or use weapons.

2) A provision would be inserted forbidding involuntary call-ups of reserve militia for military service.

3)a) United States Code Title 32 Section 109 would require every State to provide training and qualification in firearms to any member of the reserve militia upon request. Standards of qualification would be comparable to that of NRA qualification, and training programs would continue to be under the jurisdiction of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship.

b) Once qualified with a weapon, a member of the reserve militia would be immune from all local, state, and federal laws which restrict or delay purchase of that weapon, purchase of ammunition for that weapon, and ownership of that weapon and, except for fully automatic weapons, bearing of that weapon in a condition loaded and ready for use, in all places, public and private, except that courts and legislative bodies may set restrictions for trials and legislative sessions. Militia members who have qualified with fully-automatic weapons would in addition be immune from laws against transporting them, unloaded, for purposes of training, practice, repair, display, or during purchase or sale.

4) Provision would be made for making available weapons and ammunition, and providing places for regular marksmanship practice, to militia members who could not otherwise afford to do so. Provision would also be made for the storing of ammunition, reserved specifically for the defense of the United States, in private homes.

5) This legislation would in no way act as a restriction upon the keeping and bearing of arms by those who do not participate in militia training. It would merely have the affirmative effect of enabling the keeping and bearing of arms to those who are currently restricted from doing so by local, state, and federal legislation.

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Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Open Messages to Judge Glen Ashman

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


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Yes, There Is a Hollywood Blacklist — and I’m on It

The following article by Dan Gifford — with a long excerpt from an email I sent him on May 3, 2010 — appeared yesterday on the website Andrew Breitbart Presents Big Hollywood.

Dan Gifford
Dan Gifford

The writer — Dan Gifford — has won the prestigious top Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, the International Documentary Association’s top award, and has been nominated for an Oscar, among other honors. He also acts and writes.

In a prior career, he was an investigative reporter who exposed organized crime, official corruption, and financial fraud for such news organizations as The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, ABC News, and CNN. MacNeil/Lehrer credited him with being the first to reveal the looting and lying by criminals and government officials that destroyed so many banks and savings and loans during the 80s. The Houston Chronicle had this to say:

Gifford is one of the few reporters who understands how banks get plundered, how takeover predators destroy companies and how Wall Street crooks manipulate the markets. He can draw blood with a financial statement and the powers that be don’t like it.

Dan began his broadcast career while a high school student in 1965 Baltimore as a newspaper newsman, radio reporter, and disc jockey.

As an actor, Dan has appeared in well-known feature films like Contact, Mad City, and Malcolm X. His TV credits include Tom Clancey’s Net Force, The X Files, The Practice, and Mr. Show.

In his producer capacity, he has helmed Waco: The Rules of Engagement (government mass murder), The Hungry Bachelors Club starring CSI’s Jorja Fox (miscegenation), and The Jaundiced Eye (homophobic false child abuse hysteria) to critical acclaim.

New York Press on Waco: The Rules of Engagement: “It is easily the most important American documentary of the past decade.”

Variety on The Jaundiced Eye: “Gifford should be congratulated for taking on unpopular subjects for which the mainstream press has no stomach or honesty.”

A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Dan attended school at Lynchburg’s Virginia Episcopal School, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, The Peabody Conservatory of Music and The Johns Hopkins University.

Dan served on the board of directors of the ACLU of Southern California for five years.

I’ll have an update and some additional thoughts of my own following Dan’s article. — JNS

That’s the affirmative answer to “Is there a Hollywood Blacklist?” recently posed here by Gary Graham.

It exists as certainly as political correctness and passive aggressiveness in Hollywood exist, and you know that it abounds and destroys the talented who take umbrage at George Bush jokes from the subtext of the parting “thank you for coming in” to the silence of the phone that follows.

The Black List

But today’s blacklist is different from the one publicly posted by anti-communists during the 50s. This one resides in the like-minded whispers of the leftist candor cowards who took over Hollywood’s power positions during the 60s. And it doesn’t just embrace conservatives. Even liberals can find themselves on it for an act of political indiscretion. Think what you will about that 50s list, at least it was posted openly by men. The current one is hypocritically hissed in secret by boys who need accoutrement bodyguards to visit the men’s room.

You know who you are.

I first heard about the consequences of crossing Hollywood’s prevailing liberal orthodoxy from the late film and TV director Alex Grasshoff.

Alex Grasshoff
Alex Grasshoff

His wife, Madilyn, had invited me to a birthday party at their Mulholland home where I had a chance to talk with him at length. Grasshoff was nominated for Oscars three times. When he finally won, he and his wife were so elated that they slept with the statue the first night. But the high was short lived. A few days later, Grasshoff became the first and only person to date to have the Academy take back a winner’s Oscar. His film was shown in a theater just before the official award year so it did not qualify for consideration.

That experience was a killer, Grasshoff, told me, but it was nothing compared to losing many of his best friends and Hollywood standing after he produced “The Nixon Years: Change Without Chaos.” It’s a short Republican National Committee re-election blurb that Grasshoff said was just a job he’d been hired to do that isn’t even listed among his credits. But that didn’t matter to the blacklisters. Grasshoff had aided the Republican dark side and the price was the shun and the Hollywood cold shoulder started immediately, he said.

Lifelong friends no longer called and they did not return calls. Neither did they extend social invitations or accept his. Work was more nuanced. He got some gigs directing episodes of TV series like “CHiPs” and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” but he had to beg for it and work cheap, he said. Meanwhile his big screen projects were politely dropped into those well known black holes after he was thanked for coming in — if he could get in at all. Cynical me had doubts the repercussions could have been all that bad, but Grasshoff’s story was corroborated to me several times during later years. One of those was still livid that Grasshoff had betrayed his talent and “his people.”

Writer, director Neil Schulman understands.

J. Neil Schulman
J. Neil Schulman

He says he was set to write an episode or more of the top rated “LA Law” series before penning an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times that the LAL people considered the epitome of political incorrectness. I first heard about this from Roger Lowenstein, a fellow ACLU Foundation board member, former trial lawyer who helped defend the Chicago 7 and LAL writer at an ACLU gathering in his Hancock Park home.

Roger Lowenstein
Roger Lowenstein

He mentioned no names, only that a promising young writer LAL was banking on had turned out to be a right-wing crazy and had been dropped and the word put out. They at LAL were all very “disappointed” I recall him saying. It wasn’t until several years later when I heard Neil tell his LAL experience story during a speech that it dawned on me that he was the great writing hope Lowenstein and the others had 86′ed.

But Neil is capable of telling his own story:

—–

In December 1991 I had a phone conversation with Alan Brennert, who as a producer on CBS’s The Twilight Zone had bought two scripts from me, including “Profile in Silver,” which was produced and aired on March 7, 1986.

Alan Brennert
Alan Brennert

In December 1991 Alan was now Supervising Producer on LA Law. In the conversation Alan told me they were running short of “A” stories for the series — the “courtroom” stories. The “B” and “C” stories were ongoing personal stories involving the regular characters.

Over the next two weeks I faxed Alan a dozen one- or two-line descriptions for stories. I remember one of my proposed stories was about conjoined twins, one of whom was suing the other to prevent the highly-risky operation to separate them. Another was a story of a boy who had been kidnapped and raised by another family as a baby, recently returned to his birth family, who was suing to remain with the family that had raised him. (This plot idea was later used in the 1999 movie “The Deep End of the Ocean” based on the 1996 first novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard, and starring LA Law executive producer David E. Kelley’s wife, Michelle Pfeiffer, but Alan Brennert told me Kelley had quit working in the LA Law offices as a producer in May 1991, six months before my submission. Kelley’s IMDb credits confirm this.)

After receiving this dozen story ideas from me, Alan told me the producing staff was thrilled with my submissions, and that about half of them were ideas that they hadn’t already done and were one’s worth doing. He said something to the effect that I was saving them. Since we were so close to the holidays nothing was going to happen until after the first of the year, but he assured me that he’d be bringing me in to discuss a script assignment in January, 1992.

(Some personal background here. In December 1991 my wife Kate and I were on the verge of a divorce. My last published book had come out hardcover in 1983 and my last book sales — paperback reprints of my two novels — had been in 1986 and 1987. My last sale to television had been at the end of 1986, a development deal for a TV movie for CBS that died with the six-month-long 1987 WGA strike. Kate and I had moved to Southern California from Jersey City in 1989 so I could pursue more TV and film work because I wasn’t getting any benefit from being near to New York book publishers, and in December 1991 we were working as apartment managers in Venice and our daughter Soleil was six-months old. Money was extremely tight and I was receiving financial help from my parents. There were a number of issues between us, but my lack of employment in my profession — and stress on our relationship due to lack of money — were certainly big ones. I was still in love with Kate and asked for us to attend marital counseling, which we did for the next few months. I have always believed if I’d gotten the LA Law writing job I might have been able to save my marriage. As it was, we were divorced in 1992 and raised our daughter living at two different addresses.)

On January 1, 1992, my first Op-Ed sale to the Los Angeles Times was published. It was titled “A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About.” It’s reprinted in my 1993 book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns — currently being serialized on my blog J. Neil Schulman @ Rational Review.

That afternoon — Wednesday, January 1, 1992 — Alan Brennert was holding a New Year’s celebration at his house. I attended along with many of Alan’s other friends, and this included producers and writing staff from LA Law. Many of them had read my Op-Ed in that day’s Los Angeles Times, and many of them wanted to argue with me about it, whether or not I wanted to. But I was on the spot and some of them wanted to cut me a new asshole.

A couple of weeks went by and I’d been eagerly awaiting a call from Alan to come in to the LA Law offices for the meeting he’d told me they wanted to have with me. When the call never came I phoned Alan. Alan told me that they’d decided to go in another direction with the show, and wouldn’t be needing “A” courtroom stories, so there was no reason for me to come in.

That was the last I ever heard about it from Alan; but I will also say that after that January 1, 1992 party I was never again invited to Alan’s house for another social occasion with any of his other friends and industry colleagues — and Alan never again made any attempt to hire me on any show he worked staff on.

I concluded that I’d been blacklisted but I had no proof until I briefly told this story (omitting the name of the TV show and Alan’s name) at the Liberty Film Festival where Dan Gifford was on the Blacklisting panel, and came up to me afterwards to ask me if the show I was talking about was LA Law.”

—–

And that is the way it passive aggressively goes when faded to Hollywood noir.

There’s no place to go in Tinseltown for proof of a blacklisting, as Gary Graham noted, unless you happen to be connected to the whisper network. I was for a time before committing crimes of political impertinence and still know stories I may yet tell when given permission. But for now, I must deduce new evidence of blacklisting like the rest of the disconnected from the stymied and broken careers of talented people who openly question or somehow run afoul of our dominant liberal litany.

–Dan Gifford


Addendum by J. Neil Schulman:

So, reluctantly, I emailed Dan’s article today to Alan Brennert.

Alan told me he doesn’t believe I was blacklisted, doesn’t remember reading my LA Times Op-Ed, doesn’t remember the argument about my Op-Ed at his party, and doesn’t remember telling me in December 1991 that the L.A. Law producing staff — who were desperate for “A” stories — new courtroom stories — loved my story ideas and that I’d be brought for a script assignment on one of the stories in the New Year.

Alan’s recollection — conveyed to me in emails yesterday — was that L.A. Law executive producer Patricia Green told him in January that she didn’t like any of my ideas, didn’t want to bring in any free-lancers, and that’s all there was to it. Oh, yeah. I stopped getting invited to his house for parties with other writers and producers because his wife felt like an outsider at these parties, so they stopped throwing them.

Here’s what I emailed Alan in reply:

Look, I don’t blame you for not having as clear a memory of these events as I do. It was 18 years ago. But I assure you I have a crystal clear memory of these events because at the time they were the most important things going on in my life. My career was at stake. My marriage was at stake. I was hanging on every word you said to me. I hadn’t had a job in TV since a movie treatment sold to McDermott Entertainment in 1987 that died during the WGA strike; a script sale to L.A. Law would have changed my life. So I’m not going to forget your phone call to me in December 1991 when you told me how much the producing staff liked my story ideas. I have it burned into my memory for life that you told me you were out of “A” stories and I was saving your ass. There’s no way on earth that I would make a mistake about your telling me that I would be brought in to the offices in January to discuss what you told me at the time would be a script assignment on one of these stories.

And I’m damn well not going to forget three of the L.A. Law writers (no I don’t remember their names) chewing me out loudly at your January 1, 1992 party about my LA Times Op-Ed published that same day — “A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About” that apparently everyone at your party, including you, had read, hated, and wanted to give me shit about. …

But rely on these facts. In December 1991 you told me “the staff” loved my ideas. I don’t know whether that included Pat Green or not. But you told me they all wanted me to come in after the 1st of the new year.

Then I waited, and waited, and waited, and you never called me to come in — and when I finally called you around the middle of January you told me LA Law didn’t need A stories any more and the show was going “in another direction.”

You never told me there was any problem with bringing in free-lance writers; quite to the contrary, you told me the producers were desperate for a free-lancer to bring in fresh A-story ideas — courtroom ideas.

Do I consider that you were part of a conspiracy to blacklist me? No, sir.

Did I know what you knew and when you knew it? Not a clue.

Did I think you were my friend trying to do the best for me that you could? Absolutely.

So I have my recollection and Alan Brennert has his.

Why does any of this matter, almost two decades later? Why is a story of a free-lance TV writer with only one produced script even worth bothering about?

It matters to me, because I haven’t sold a script to television or to a movie production company since 1985, and I know it has nothing to do with my not being a good enough writer.

It matters still more to me because I’m still trying to get my movie scripts produced and my already-produced movie distributed, and I’m still running into brick walls.

It matters to writers and producers who, like me, are out of the business because the people doing the hiring don’t like our politics.

It matters to you because you don’t know what you’re missing, and if you don’t like the political spin of the stories you see in network TV and studio movies, testimony like mine gives you the reason.

If you haven’t seen a TV series where big businessmen are good guys, now you know why.

If you haven’t seen an episode of a TV series, or a movie, where a private citizen with a gun stops a terrorist cell, now you know why.

If you haven’t seen a movie where Osama bin Laden is the bad guy and Americans are the good guys, now you know why.

If you haven’t seen a movie or TV series where Mao Ze Dong or Fidel Castro or Che Guevara were shown as the mass-murdering scumbags they were, or a movie about the Vietnam War (I like to call it the SovietNam War) where the baby-killers worked for Ho Chi Minh, now you know why.

If you haven’t seen a TV show or studio movie about how the scientists claiming global warming falsified their data in collusion with power-hungry politicians to create a multi-trillion-dollar economy-crippling scam that makes Bernie Madoff look like a pickpocket by comparison, now you know why.

If you have a hard time finding a movie where there are even clearly defined good guys and bad guys, now you know why.

–JNS, May 17, 2010, edited May 18, 2010


Update May 18, 2010: I phoned Roger Lowenstein today to get his recollections of these events. He has none. When I emailed him a link to Dan’s article, Lowenstein posted the following comment:

dan gifford has a wild imagination. nothing of what he said ever occurred. roger lowenstein

To which I posted the following comment immediately following:

Here’s what I know.

In December 1991 Alan Brennert told me the L.A. Law producers loved my story ideas and that I’d be brought in after the first of the new year for a script assignment.

On January 1, 1992 the Los Angeles Times published my Op-Ed article “A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About,” which told of a private citizen with a license to carry a concealed handgun saving a Shoney’s Restaurant full of people in Alabama from armed robbers (one of whom had already committed a murder) several months after the massacre of unarmed patrons at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas.

At a party at Alan Brennert’s on January 1, 1992, L.A. Law writing/producing staff argued with me about my Op-Ed.

Alan Brennert never called me to come in to L.A. Law for a meeting and when I phoned him he told me they’d decided to go “in another direction.”

We jump forward to a panel on Blacklisting at the Liberty Film Festival, where during Q&A I told this story for the first time without mentioning the name of the show or any of the personnel involved. At the end of the panel Dan Gifford came up to me and asked me if the show I was talking about was L.A. Law.

This means that Dan Gifford had an independent source other than me for knowing about these events.

Both Alan Brennert and Roger Lowenstein deny these events ever happened.

But if that’s the case, how did Dan Gifford know about them?

J. Neil Schulman

Alan Brennert phoned me today, to clarify his recollections. He told me that in January, 1992, executive producer Patricia Green left L.A. Law, and the show’s co-creator, Steven Bocho, took over as showrunner for the remainder of the season. So I wasn’t brought in because no new freelancers were being brought in.

Plausible — but only assuming that all three scripts with free-lance credits on them that aired for the remainder of L.A. Law Season 6 — through May 21, 1992 — were assigned to free-lancers before Pat Green left the show in January 1992.

Alan also theorized that someone at his party said something to Roger Lowenstein about my being a “gun nut,” and Lowenstein misinterpreted it as the reason I didn’t get the writing assignment — and simply doesn’t remember having what would have been trivial party gossip with Dan Gifford.

It’s also plausible. Figuring out who said what to whom eighteen years ago is trying to unearth a very cold case.

But since I know there were people in the business who liked my script for The Twilight Zone, that leaves me with just one more question:

Why was I never again given the chance to pitch to network television? — JNS

#


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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Some Notes and Discussion on the Second Amendment


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Read the previous chapter The Unabridged Second Amendment


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Some Notes and Discussion on the Second Amendment



The Meaning of the “Well-Regulated Militia”

“A well-regulated militia” in the preamble to the Second Amendment means “civilians who are trained how to use arms,” as opposed to army regulars. In essence, the Second Amendment means, “Since it is necessary for the security of a free society that civilians know how to use arms, the right of the people to own and carry arms shall not be abridged.” While Professor Copperud was technically correct that the meanings of the words haven’t changed in 200 years – the definition of “militia” in the dictionary and on the law books hasn’t changed – the public understanding of the word “militia” has been corrupted so most people today believe that the “militia” is a military unit rather than a civilian concept. This is precisely the “war is peace and freedom is slavery” corruption of language that George Orwell warned us against in Nineteen eighty four.

As far as the legal standing of the right to keep and bear arms in this country, it’s mixed. The Supreme Court has never made a ruling on the second amendment per se and given the current make-up of the Court, it must make Handgun Control, Inc., very nervous to contemplate what would happen if a Second Amendment case does reach the Supreme Court.


From a Discussion on the GEnie Computer Network

Barry, Message 126: There is no “limiting prefix” in the Second Amendment. Two prominent, impartial linguistic experts – one considered the tops in his field – analyzed the text of the Second Amendment and came to this conclusion. Read Messages 72 and 73 in this topic for the full text of their analyses. On the interpretation of the Constitution. Article 9 of the amendments reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

That is instruction from the framers on how the constitution is to be “construed” – that is, “constructed.”

The Oxford English Dictionary does not give a definition of “well-regulated” but instead gives citations for its use. Here are its citations, which bracket the writing of the Second Amendment:

1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.”

1714: “The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world.”

1812: “The equation of time .. is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.”

1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Major.”

1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.”

1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city.”

Find me “regulation” by an outside authority in any of these uses.

Neil


A Note on the Punctuation of the Second Amendment

I just received the following courtesy of Francis Warin of Oak Harbor, Ohio, in response to my article in Gun Week, “The Unabridged Second Amendment.” Mr. Warin has apparently been distributing this letter since 1978.

THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Congressional Research Service
Washington, D.C. 20540

To: Honorable Paul Findley
Attention: Miss Evans
From: American Law Division
Subject: Punctuation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

This will refer to your request of July 5, 1972 on behalf of Mr. James H. Macklin for information relative to the captioned subject. Mr. Macklin had noted that the punctuation of this amendment varied with the different sources which have reproduced it.

By resolution in 1789, Congress proposed twelve articles to the legislatures of the several states as amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Ten of these articles were ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states by 1791, including the amendment in question which was adopted in this form: “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.” 1 United States Statutes at Large 21, 97.

Information pertaining to the debate on this amendment in the state and Federal legislatures may be found in: Schwartz, Bernard, The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History, 2 volumes, Chelsea House, New York, 1971. This work retains the original spelling, grammar and style of all documentary material.

[signature]
Paul L. Morgan
Legislative Attorney

In other words, according to the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, the text of the Second Amendment ratified by the legislatures contained only one comma, and the comma between “arms” and “shall” which some cite as changing the meaning of the amendment is not in the original text.

– September 18, 1991

#

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Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — The Unabridged Second Amendment


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Read the previous chapter English Usage Expert Interprets 2nd Amendment


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
The Unabridged Second Amendment

The following is reprinted from the September 13, 1991 issue of Gun Week, and also appears under the title “The Text of The Second Amendment” in The Journal on Firearms and Public Policy, Summer 1992, Volume 4, Number 1. The article previously appeared on J. Neil Schulman @ Rational Review, December 31, 2009, in the category “Classic J. Neil.”

If you wanted to know all about the Big Bang, you’d ring up Carl Sagan, right? And if you wanted to know about desert warfare, the man to call would be Norman Schwarzkopf, no question about it. But who would you call if you wanted the top expert on American usage, to tell you the meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution?

That was the question I asked A.C. Brocki, editorial coordinator of the Los Angeles Unified School District and formerly senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Publishers—who himself had been recommended to me as the foremost expert on English usage in the Los Angeles school system. Mr. Brocki told me to get in touch with Roy Copperud, a retired professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and the author of American Usage and Style: The Consensus.

A little research lent support to Brocki’s opinion of Professor Copperud’s expertise.

Roy Copperud was a newspaper writer on major dailies for over three decades before embarking on a distinguished 17-year career teaching journalism at USC. Since 1952, Copperud has been writing a column dealing with the professional aspects of journalism for Editor and Publisher, a weekly magazine focusing on the journalism field.

He’s on the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and Merriam Webster’s Usage Dictionary frequently cites him as an expert. Copperud’s fifth book on usage, American Usage and Style: The Consensus, has been in continuous print from Van Nostrand Reinhold since 1981, and is the winner of the Association of American Publisher’s Humanities Award.

That sounds like an expert to me.

After a brief telephone call to Professor Copperud in which I introduced myself but did not give him any indication of why I was interested, I sent the following letter:

“I am writing you to ask you for your professional opinion as an expert in English usage, to analyze the text of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, and extract the intent from the text.

“The text of the Second Amendment is, ‘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 debate over this amendment has been whether the first part of the sentence, ‘A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,’ is a restrictive clause or a subordinate clause, with respect to the independent clause containing the subject of the sentence, ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’

“I would request that your analysis of this sentence not take into consideration issues of political impact or public policy, but be restricted entirely to a linguistic analysis of its meaning and intent. Further, since your professional analysis will likely become part of litigation regarding the consequences of the Second Amendment, I ask that whatever analysis you make be a professional opinion that you would be willing to stand behind with your reputation, and even be willing to testify under oath to support, if necessary.”

My letter framed several questions about the text of the Second Amendment, then concluded:

“I realize that I am asking you to take on a major responsibility and task with this letter. I am doing so because, as a citizen, I believe it is vitally important to extract the actual meaning of the Second Amendment. While I ask that your analysis not be affected by the political importance of its results, I ask that you do this because of that importance.”

After several more letters and phone calls, in which we discussed terms for his doing such an analysis, but in which we never discussed either of our opinions regarding the Second Amendment, gun control, or any other political subject, Professor Copperud sent me the following analysis (into which I have inserted my questions for the sake of clarity):

[Copperud:] “The words ‘A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,’ contrary to the interpretation cited in your letter of July 26, 1991, constitutes a present participle, rather than a clause. It is used as an adjective, modifying ‘militia,’ which is followed by the main clause of the sentence (subject ‘the right,’ verb ‘shall’). The right to keep and bear arms is asserted as essential for maintaining a militia.

“In reply to your numbered questions:

[Schulman:] “(1) Can the sentence be interpreted to grant the right to keep and bear arms solely to ‘a well-regulated militia’?”

[Copperud:] “(1) The sentence does not restrict the right to keep and bear arms, nor does it state or imply possession of the right elsewhere or by others than the people; it simply makes a positive statement with respect to a right of the people.”

[Schulman:] “(2) Is ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms’ granted by the words of the Second Amendment, or does the Second Amendment assume a pre-existing right of the people to keep and bear arms, and merely state that such right ‘shall not be infringed’?”

[Copperud:] “(2) The right is not granted by the amendment; its existence is assumed. The thrust of the sentence is that the right shall be preserved inviolate for the sake of ensuring a militia.”

[Schulman:] “(3) Is the right of the people to keep and bear arms conditioned upon whether or not a well regulated militia, is, in fact, necessary to the security of a free State, and if that condition is not existing, is the statement ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’ null and void?”

[Copperud:] “(3) No such condition is expressed or implied. The right to keep and bear arms is not said by the amendment to depend on the existence of a militia. No condition is stated or implied as to the relation of the right to keep and bear arms and to the necessity of a well-regulated militia as a requisite to the security of a free state. The right to keep and bear arms is deemed unconditional by the entire sentence.”

[Schulman:] “(4) Does the clause ‘A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,’ grant a right to the government to place conditions on the ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms,’ or is such right deemed unconditional by the meaning of the entire sentence?;”

[Copperud:] “(4) The right is assumed to exist and to be unconditional, as previously stated. It is invoked here specifically for the sake of the militia.”

[Schulman:] “(5) Which of the following does the phrase ‘well-regulated militia’ mean: ‘well-equipped,’ ‘well-organized,’ ‘well-drilled,’ ‘well-educated,’ or ‘subject to regulations of a superior authority’?”

[Copperud:] “(5) The phrase means ‘subject to regulations of a superior authority;’ this accords with the desire of the writers for civilian control over the military.”

[Schulman:] “If at all possible, I would ask you to take into account the changed meanings of words, or usage, since that sentence was written 200 years ago, but not take into account historical interpretations of the intents of the authors, unless those issues can be clearly separated.”

[Copperud:] “To the best of my knowledge, there has been no change in the meaning of words or in usage that would affect the meaning of the amendment. If it were written today, it might be put: ‘Since a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.’ ”

[Schulman:] “As a ‘scientific control’ on this analysis, I would also appreciate it if you could compare your analysis of the text of the Second Amendment to the following sentence:

“ ‘A well-schooled electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed.’

My questions for the usage analysis of this sentence would be:

“(1) Is the grammatical structure and usage of this sentence and the way the words modify each other, identical to the Second Amendment’s sentence?; and

“(2) Could this sentence be interpreted to restrict ‘the right of the people to keep and read Books’ only to ‘a well-educated electorate’—for example, registered voters with a high-school diploma?”

[Copperud:] “(1) Your ‘scientific control’ sentence precisely parallels the amendment in grammatical structure.

“(2) There is nothing in your sentence that either indicates or implies the possibility of a restricted interpretation.”

Professor Copperud had only one additional comment, which he placed in his cover letter: “With well-known human curiosity, I made some speculative efforts to decide how the material might be used, but was unable to reach any conclusion.”

So now we have been told by one of the top experts on American usage what many knew all along: the Constitution of the United States unconditionally protects the people’s right to keep and bear arms, forbidding all governments formed under the Constitution from abridging that right.

As I write this, the attempted coup against constitutional government in the Soviet Union has failed, apparently because the will of the people in that part of the world to be free from capricious tyranny is stronger than the old guard’s desire to maintain a monopoly on dictatorial power.

And here in the United States, elected lawmakers, judges, and appointed officials who are pledged to defend the Constitution of the United States ignore, marginalize, or prevaricate about the Second Amendment routinely. American citizens are put in American prisons for carrying arms, owning arms of forbidden sorts, or failing to satisfy bureaucratic requirements regarding the owning and carrying of firearms—all of which is an abridgement of the unconditional right of the people to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Constitution.

And even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), staunch defender of the rest of the Bill of Rights, stands by and does nothing.

It seems it is up to those who believe in the right to keep and bear arms to preserve that right. No one else will. No one else can. Will we beg our elected representatives not to take away our rights, and continue regarding them as representing us if they do? Will we continue obeying judges who decide that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean what it says it means but means whatever they say it means in their Orwellian doublespeak?

Or will we simply keep and bear the arms of our choice, as the Constitution of the United States promises us we can, and pledge that we will defend that promise with our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor?

I was looking at the “View” section of the LA Times from December 18, 1991 – an article on James Michener which my ex-wife Kate had saved for me to read – when the beginning of Jack Smith’s column caught my eye: “Roy Copperud had no sooner died the other day than I had occasion to consult his excellent book, ‘American Usage and Style: The Consensus.’”

Thus I learned of the death of Roy Copperud, the retired USC professor whom I had commissioned to do a grammatical analysis of the Second Amendment. It seems to have been one of the last projects he worked on. It is certainly one of the most important.

Roy Copperud told me afterwards that he, personally, favored gun control, but his analysis of the Second Amendment made clear that its protections of the right of the people to keep and bear arms were unaffected by its reference to militia. This sort of intellectual and professional honesty is sorely lacking in public discourse today.

In my several letters and phone conversations with Professor Copperud, I found him to be a gentleman of the old school.

The planet is a little poorer without him. -JNS

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Some Notes and Discussion on the Second Amendment

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — English Usage Expert Interprets 2nd Amendment


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Read the previous chapter Reply to the Executives of the ACLU of Southern California on the Meaning of the Second Amendment


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
English Usage Expert Interprets 2nd Amendment

The following article appeared in the September, 1991 issue of California Libertarian News, official newsletter of the California Libertarian Party.

I just had a conversation with Mr. A.C. Brocki, Editorial Coordinator for the Office of Instruction of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Mr. Brocki taught Advanced Placement English for several years at Van Nuys High School, as well as having been a senior editor for Houghton Mifflin. I was referred to Mr. Brocki by Sherryl Broyles of the Office of Instruction of the LA Unified School District, who described Mr. Brocki as the foremost expert in grammar in the Los Angeles Unified School District – the person she and others go to when they need a definitive answer on English grammar.

I gave Mr. Brocki my name, told him Sherryl Broyles referred me, then asked him to parse the following sentence:

“A well-schooled electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed.”

Mr. Brocki informed me that the sentence was overpunctuated, but that the meaning could be extracted anyway.

“A well-schooled electorate” is a nominative absolute.

“[B]eing necessary to the security of a free State” is a participial phrase modifying “electorate.”

The subject (a compound subject) of the sentence is “the right of the people.”

“[S]hall not be infringed” is a verb phrase, with “not” as an adverb modifying the verb phrase “shall be infringed.”

“[T]o keep and read books” is an infinitive phrase modifying “right.”

I then asked him if he could rephrase the sentence to make it clearer. Mr. Brocki said, “Because a well-schooled electorate is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.”

I asked: can the sentence be interpreted to restrict the right to keep and read books to a well-schooled electorate – say, registered voters with a high-school diploma?” He said, “No.”

I then identified my purpose in calling him, and read him the Second Amendment in full:

“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.”

He said he thought the sentence had sounded familiar, but that he hadn’t recognized it.

I asked, “Is the structure and meaning of this sentence the same as the sentence I first quoted you?” He said, “yes.” I asked him to rephrase this sentence to make it clearer. He transformed it the same way as the first sentence: “Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

I asked him whether the meaning could have changed in two hundred years. He said, “No.”

I asked him whether this sentence could be interpreted to restrict the right to keep and bear arms to “a well-regulated militia.” He said, “no.” According to Mr. Brocki, the sentence means that the people are the militia, and that the people have the right which is mentioned.

I asked him again to make sure:

Schulman: “Can the sentence be interpreted to mean that the right can be restricted to “a well-regulated militia?”

Brocki: “No, I can’t see that.”

Schulman: “Could another professional in English grammar or linguistics interpret the sentence to mean otherwise?”

Brocki: “I can’t see any grounds for another interpretation.”

I asked Mr. Brocki if he would be willing to stake his professional reputation on this opinion, and be quoted on this. He said, “Yes.”

At no point in the conversation did I ask Mr. Brocki his opinion on the Second Amendment, gun control, or the right to keep and bear arms.

– July 17, 1991

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is The Unabridged Second Amendment

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Reply to the Executives of the ACLU of Southern California on the Meaning of the Second Amendment


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Read the previous chapter The Thrill of My Life


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns


Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman



The Second Amendment and the
Right to Keep and Bear Arms

This section contains my work on establishing that the text of the Second Amendment (“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.”) cannot be interpreted in any other way than as a constitutional protection of the right of the people to keep and bear arms. – JNS


Reply to the Executives
of the ACLU of Southern California
on the Meaning of
the Second Amendment

Original ACLU materials are shown in block quotes, and the replies in standard typeface.

ACLU of Southern California Launches Educational Campaign on Gun Control and the Second Amendment

As the nation’s oldest and most prominent defender of Constitutional Rights, the ACLU of Southern California today launched an educational campaign to eliminate popular myths about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Governor Wilson’s crime summit and other political posturing to ‘get tough on crime’ are not focusing on ways to limit violence in our communities,” said Ramona Ripston, ACLU executive director. “We want to support one positive and obvious tool that will have a direct impact on thousands of lives. And, as an advocate of our freedoms under the U.S. Constitution, the ACLU wants to set the record straight on what our forefathers truly intended about our right to bear arms.”

The Second Amendment was written shortly after the Revolutionary War when Bill of Rights author James Madison and other leaders were still suspicious of any centralized government. In that context, the phrase “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” reflected a vital concern of that time: the ability of states to defend themselves against a possibly tyrannical federal government or outside threats to the Union. Equipment and ammunition were kept in the house of private citizens because the militia of 1792 consisted of part-time citizen-soldiers.

Correct as far as it goes, however it should be noted that the threat of abuse of power by the national government became significant during the Civil War, and has become incrementally greater ever since. The usurpations and abuses of government at all levels in this country has never been greater.

“In four cases in which the Supreme Court addressed the issue, it has consistently held that the Second Amendment does not grant a blanket right of individual gun ownership,” said ACLU attorney Alan Friel. “Despite what is commonly believed, the Amendment does not prohibit rational and effective gun control.”

Both statements are technically true, but misleading. First, the Second Amendment does not grant the right of individual gun ownership, because that right precedes the Bill of Rights; all the Second Amendment does is protect that preexisting right. Second, constitutional law has never been interpreted as granting a “blanket” right to do anything – and that applies to the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments as much as it applies to the Second. However, the ACLU has historically fought for the most extreme protections – and the harshest limitations on exceptions – to constitutional rights, and it is especially pernicious that the ACLU of Southern California is arguing against ACLU’s traditional role of expanding, rather than contracting, the “blanket” protections of the Bill of Rights. As far as whether the Second Amendment prohibits rational and effective gun control, when some is proposed, we’ll see. No gun control law has ever proven to be effective at producing the effects for which it was passed: the reduction of crimes committed with guns, or even the denial of guns to those who most misuse them

As part of the campaign, the civil liberties group has published a new public education brochure and has placed a full-page advertisement in the West Coast edition of today’s New York Times. Public speaking and other educational activities are also planned.

This is entirely contrary to the purposes of the ACLU, which is an organization devoted to the protection of individual civil liberties and rights. In effect, the ACLU of Southern California is becoming an advocate of greater restrictions on individuals and greater police authority in its place.

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This is grandstanding, an attempt to recruit the Framers of the Constitution to a point of view held by the modern authoritarians of the ACLU of Southern California, and entirely antithetical to the actual documented reasons and thoughts of those who wrote the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Second Amendment in particular.

“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 Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

HAVE YOU ever heard someone say gun control is a fine idea – except that the Second Amendment prohibits it?

It’s a popular sentiment. Fortunately, it’s not true.

Get that? “Fortunately” indeed. The ACLU executives’ agenda is exposed here: they wish greater gun control on the basis of personal opinions which have no grounds in ACLU doctrine, and are subverting the organization to their own personal ends. The fabrication of history begins here.

The Second Amendment was never intended as a gun license for the entire American populace. As original drafted – and as consistently interpreted by the courts for more than a century – the Amendment does not grant any blanket right to own a gun nor does it stand in the way of rational, effective gun control.

The executives of the ACLU of Southern California betray their anti-libertarian, authoritarian stance when they equate the Second Amendment to a “license”: they evidently cannot conceive of the Framers’ premise that rights originate with the individual, instead of beginning as grants of privilege or immunity from the government, reducing us all again to subjects of a ruler. That was the purpose of the American Revolution: to free us from that view of the tyrannical relationship between the State and the individual. Again, the Second Amendment does not grant the right to keep and bear arms, nor does it claim to: it merely states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The phrasing itself belies the possible interpretation that the Second Amendment is a grant of rights. The Framers understood that what they were doing was a limitation on the powers of the government they were forging. The ACLU executives are confounded by this thought.

The idea of gun ownership as an American birthright is nothing more than a popular myth.

Throwing the right to keep and bear arms into the memory hole portrayed in Orwell’s Nineteen-eighty-four is worthy of the anti-Semites who claim that the Holocaust never happened. Seventy million Americans own firearms today. The sentiments to restrict the people’s arms were as common at the time of the American Revolution as they are today, by those seeking a monopoly of force for the State. As James Madison, the chief author of the Bill of Rights put it in Federalist Paper No. 46, “The advantage of being armed … the Americans possess over the people of all other nations … Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several Kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

The author of the Bill of Rights was aware that the American people being armed was an exception to the practice everywhere else on Earth (except Switzerland), and that the tendency would be for Americans to revert to the common condition of the rest of mankind if the right to keep and bear arms was not explicitly enshrined in our founding document. If the right to keep and bear arms is nothing more than a popular myth, with no basis in the history of our country, how is it that this right has survived for two centuries so that our civilian population is the best armed in the world?

This should be the first proof to the innocent that the executives of the ACLU of Southern California are attempting to deceive them about the actual history of the right to keep and bear arms, and the Second Amendment in particular.

Yet the controversy over gun control and the Second Amendment rages on.

Why, yes. Depriving an entire people of the right which is the practical defense of all their other rights is bound to cause controversy.

AS THE NATION’S oldest and most prominent defender of individual rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) holds the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights in the highest regard.

Indeed. I seriously doubt you could get ACLU’s national executive director, Ira Glasser, or its president, Nadine Strossen, to dismiss the Second Amendment from the Bill of rights so cavalierly. They are more likely to understand that the weakening of any of the Bill of Rights is bound to weaken all the others.

To clear up many misconceptions, here are some questions and answers about the Second Amendment and gun control.

ACLU of Southern California
Questions and Answers
on the Second Amendment

Q Does the Second Amendment in any way guarantee gun rights to individuals?

A No. The weight of historical and legal scholarship clearly shows that the Second Amendment was intended to guarantee that states could maintain armed forces to resist the federal government.

According to Constitutional attorney Don B. Kates, Jr., you will not be able to find this position supported in any major law- review article, while the legal and historical scholarship regarding the Second Amendment’s protection of an individual right to keep and bear private arms is so weighty as to be indisputable.

The historical and legal scholarship is most authoritative in a February, 1982 report issued by the United States Senate’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary, titled “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” To prove that, here are the two prefaces from that report, the first by the Committee Chairman, Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R., Utah) and the second by the Ranking Minority Member, Senator Dennis DeConcini (D., Arizona):

Senator Hatch:

In my studies as an attorney and as a United States Senator, I have constantly been amazed by the indifference or even hostility shown the Second Amendment by courts, legislatures, and commentators. James Madison would be startled to hear that his recognition of a right to keep and bear arms, which passed the House by a voice vote without objection and hardly a debate, has since been construed in but a single, and most ambiguous, Supreme Court decision, whereas his proposals for freedom of religion, which he made reluctantly out of fear that they would be rejected or narrowed beyond use, and those for freedom of assembly, which passed only after a lengthy and bitter debate, are the subject of scores of detailed and favorable decisions. Thomas Jefferson, who kept a veritable armory of pistols, rifles and shotguns at Monticello, and advised his nephew to forsake other sports in favor of hunting, would be astounded to hear supposed civil libertarians claim firearm ownership should be restricted. Samuel Adams, a handgun owner who pressed for an amendment stating that the “Constitution shall never be construed … to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms,” would be shocked to hear that his native state today imposes a year’s sentence, without probation or parole, for carrying a firearm without a police permit.

This is not to imply that courts have totally ignored the impact of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. No fewer than twenty-one decisions by the courts of our states have recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms, and a majority of these have not only recognized the right but invalidated laws or regulations which abridged it. Yet in all too many instances, courts or commentators have sought, for reasons only tangentially related to constitutional history, to construe this right out of existence. They argue that the Second Amendment’s words “right of the people” mean “a right of the state”-apparently overlooking the impact of those same words when used in the First and Fourth Amendments. The “right of the people” to assemble or to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures is not contested as an individual guarantee. Still they ignore consistency and claim that the right to “bear arms” relates only to military uses. This not only violates a consistent constitutional reading of “right of the people” but also ignores that the second amendment protects a right to “keep” arms. These commentators contend instead that the amendment’s preamble regarding the necessity of a “well regulated militia … to a free state” means that the right to keep and bear arms applies only to a National Guard. Such a reading fails to note that the Framers used the term “militia” to relate to every citizen capable of bearing arms, and that Congress has established the present National Guard under its power to raise armies, expressly stating that it was not doing so under its power to organize and arm the militia.

When the first Congress convened for the purpose of drafting a Bill of Rights, it delegated the task to James Madison. Madison did not write upon a blank tablet. Instead, he obtained a pamphlet listing the State proposals for a bill of rights and sought to produce a briefer version incorporating all the vital proposals of these. His purpose was to incorporate, not distinguish by technical changes, proposals such as that of the Pennsylvania minority, Sam Adams, or the New Hampshire delegates. Madison proposed among other rights that “That right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.” In the House, this was initially modified so that the militia clause came before the proposal recognizing the right. The proposals for the Bill of Rights were then trimmed in the interests of brevity. The conscientious objector clause was removed following objections by Elbridge Gerry, who complained that future Congresses might abuse the exemption to excuse everyone from military service.

The proposal finally passed the House in its present form: “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.” In this form it was submitted into the Senate, which passed it the following day. The Senate in the process indicated its intent that the right be an individual one, for private purposes, by rejecting an amendment which would have limited the keeping and bearing of arms to bearing “For the common defense”.

The earliest American constitutional commentators concurred in giving this broad reading to the amendment. When St. George Tucker, later Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, in 1803 published an edition of Blackstone annotated to American law, he followed Blackstone’s citation of the right of the subject “of having arms suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law” with a citation to the Second Amendment, “And this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.” William Rawle’s “View of the Constitution” published in Philadelphia in 1825 noted that under the Second Amendment: “The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by a rule of construction be conceived to give to Congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if in blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.” The Jefferson papers in the Library of Congress show that both Tucker and Rawle were friends of, and corresponded with, Thomas Jefferson. Their views are those of contemporaries of Jefferson, Madison and others, and are entitled to special weight. A few years later, Joseph Story in his “Commentaries on the Constitution” considered the right to keep and bear arms as “the palladium of the liberties of the republic,” which deterred tyranny and enabled the citizenry at large to overthrow it should it come to pass.

Subsequent legislation in the second Congress likewise supports the interpretation of the Second Amendment that creates an individual right. In the Militia Act of 1792, the second Congress defined “militia of the United States” to include almost every free adult male in the United States. These persons were obligated by law to possess a firearm and a minimum supply of ammunition and military equipment. This statute, incidentally, remained in effect into the early years of the present century as a legal requirement of gun ownership for most of the population of the United States. There can be little doubt from this that when the Congress and the people spoke of a “militia”, they had reference to the traditional concept of the entire populace capable of bearing arms, and not to any formal group such as what is today called the National Guard. The purpose was to create an armed citizenry, which the political theorists at the time considered essential to ward off tyranny. From this militia, appropriate measures might create a “well regulated militia” of individuals trained in their duties and responsibilities as citizens and owners of firearms.

If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying-that they must sweep under the rug the southern attempts at gun control in the 1870-1910 period, the northeastern attempts in the 1920-1939 period, the attempts at both Federal and State levels in 1965-1976-establishes the repeated, complete and inevitable failure of gun laws to control serious crime.

Immediately upon assuming chairmanship of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, I sponsored the report which follows as an effort to study, rather than ignore, the history of the controversy over the right to keep and bear arms. Utilizing the research capabilities of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, the resources of the Library of Congress, and the assistance of constitutional scholars such as Mary Kaaren Jolly, Steven [sic] Halbrook, and David T. Hardy, the subcommittee has managed to uncover information on the right to keep and bear arms which documents quite clearly its status as a major individual right of American citizens. We did not guess at the purpose of the British 1689 Declaration of Rights; we located the Journals of the House of Commons and private notes of the Declaration’s sponsors, now dead for two centuries. We did not make suppositions as to colonial interpretations of that Declaration’s right to keep and bear arms; we examined colonial newspapers which discussed it. We did not speculate as to the intent of the framers of the second amendment; we examined James Madison’s drafts for it, his handwritten outlines of speeches upon the Bill of Rights, and discussions of the second amendment by early scholars who were personal friends of Madison, Jefferson, and Washington and wrote while these still lived. What the Subcommittee on the Constitution uncovered was clear-and long-lost-proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms. The summary of our research and findings forms the first portion of this report.

In the interest of fairness and the presentation of a complete picture, we also invited groups which were likely to oppose this recognition of freedoms to submit their views. The statements of two associations who replied are reproduced here following the report of the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee also invited statements by Messr. Halbrook and Hardy, and by the National Rifle Association, whose statements likewise follow our report.

When I became chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, I hoped that I would be able to assist in the protection of the constitutional rights of American citizens, rights which have too often been eroded in the belief that government could be relied upon for quick solutions to difficult problems.

Both as an American citizen and as a United States Senator I repudiate this view. I likewise repudiate the approach of those who believe to solve American problems you simple become something other than American. To my mind, the uniqueness of our free institutions, the fact that an American citizen can boast freedoms unknown in any other land, is all the more reason to resist any erosion of our individual rights. When our ancestors forged a land “conceived in liberty”, they did so with musket and rifle. When they reacted to attempts to dissolve their free institutions, and established their identity as a free nation, they did so as a nation of armed freemen. When they sought to record forever a guarantee of their rights, they devoted one full amendment out of ten to nothing but the protection of their right to keep and bear arms against government interference. Under my chairmanship the Subcommittee on the Constitution will concern itself with a proper recognition of, and respect for, this right most valued by free men.

Orrin G. Hatch,
Chairman,
Subcommittee on the Constitution
January 20, 1982.

Senator DeConcini:

The right to bear arms is a tradition with deep roots in American society. Thomas Jefferson proposed that “no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms,” and Samuel Adams called for an amendment banning any law “to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” The Constitution of the State of Arizona, for example, recognized the “right of an individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State.”

Even though the tradition has deep roots, its application to modern America is the subject of intense controversy. Indeed, it is a controversy into which the Congress is beginning, once again, to immerse itself. I have personally been disappointed that so important an issue should have generally been so thinly researched and so minimally debated both in Congress and the courts. Our Supreme Court has but once touched on its meaning at the Federal level and that decision, now nearly a half-century old, is so ambiguous that any school of thought can find some support in it. All Supreme Court decisions on the second amendment’s application to the States came in the last century, when constitutional law was far different that it is today. As ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, I, therefore, welcome the effort which led to this report-a report based not only upon the independent research of the subcommittee staff, but also upon full and fair presentation of the cases by all interested groups and individual scholars.

I personally believe that it is necessary for the Congress to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968. I welcome the opportunity to introduce this discussion of how best these amendments might be made.

The Constitution subcommittee staff has prepared this monograph bringing together proponents of both sides of the debate over the 1968 Act. I believe that the statements contained herein present the arguments fairly and thoroughly. I commend Senator Hatch, chairman of the subcommittee, for having this excellent reference work prepared. I am sure that it will be of great assistance to the Congress as it debates the second amendment and considers legislation to amend the Gun Control Act.

Dennis DeConcini,
Ranking Minority Member,
Subcommittee on the Constitution
January 20, 1982.

Senator DeConcini’s recommendation that Congress needed to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968 was taken up only four years later, when the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives and again controlling the Senate, passed the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, which recognizes “the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms under the second amendment to the United States Constitution.”

You just barely might get away with dismissing the Senate Subcommittee’s report as political opinion – but the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act’s recognition of the Second Amendment is the law of the land passed by Congress and signed by the president.

The question is answered. The executives of the ACLU of Southern California are dead wrong.

Most scholars overwhelmingly concur that the Second Amendment was never intended to guarantee gun ownership rights for individual personal use. Small arms ownership was common when the Bill of Rights was adopted, with many people owning single-shot firearms for hunting in what was then an overwhelmingly rural nation.

What “scholars” concur that the Second Amendment was not intended to make such a guarantee would still have a hard time explaining away the clauses guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms in 45 of the 50 state constitutions today. Why would state constitutions need to guarantee the right to keep and bear arms, if the only meaning of that phrase is to protect state governments from the federal government? And given that the right to keep and bear arms was – as the ACLU executives themselves admit – common at the time of the Bill of Rights’ ratification, the individual right to keep and bear arms would be otherwise guaranteed by the Ninth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

It should also be noted that the ACLU executives, in attempting to portray the right to keep and bear arms as something antiquated and outdated, focus on the technology of the time only having reached the stage of single-shot firearms.

Are they willing to apply that reasoning to the rest of the U.S. Constitution?

The first amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion wouldn’t apply to the Mormons or the Christian Scientists; there were no Mormons or Christian Scientists in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution.

The first amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press wouldn’t apply to anything printed using photography, or computer typesetting or offset printing, nor would the guarantees of freedom of speech apply to the broadcast media, or anything using telephones or telegraphs – none of which existed in the 1790′s.

The fourth amendment’s guarantees of freedom from unreasonable searches wouldn’t apply to electronic wiretapping or the use of laser listening devices; nor satellite or infrared observation – the framers couldn’t have possibly conceived of any of them.

Nor, I suppose, could the United States have an Air Force or spy satellites, since there is no authorization anywhere in the Constitution for anything other than land or naval armed forces.

Why is it that arguments such as this are never brought up with respect to any constitutional issue relating to progress, except when it is to destroy the people’s right to keep and bear arms?

And how can it be that the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is controlled by persons who are so quick to divide the Bill of Rights so to allow authoritarians to conquer it?

Q Does the Second Amendment authorize Americans to possess and own any firearm they feel they may need?

A Clearly, no. The original intent of the Second Amendment was to protect the right of states to maintain state militias.

And who were the militia? According to George Mason, who refused to sign the U.S. Constitution because it did not yet have a Bill of Rights, the militia “consist now of the whole people.”

Private gun ownership that is not necessary to the maintenance of militias is not protected by the Second Amendment.

That is just backwards. The arms that individual militia members own are, by definition, the militia arms.

Q Does the Second Amendment allow government to limit – even prohibit – ownership of guns by individuals?

A Yes. Federal, state and local governments can all regulate guns without violating the Second Amendment.

Repeating this assertion without proof does not change it from false to true. Such proof is impossible because of repeated court decisions over the last two centuries which state just the opposite. While it is true that the Supreme Court of the United States has never enforced the Second Amendment as clearly as gun-rights activists would hope, neither has it ever ruled against the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right to keep and bear arms. Specific citations will follow as the ACLU document brings them up.

State authorities have considerable powers to regulate guns. The federal government can also regulate firearm ownership, although some scholars believe that the federal power may not be as extensive as that of an individual state.

There is no disputing that the right to keep and bear arms is under attack both legislatively and in the courts, and there have, indeed, been some adverse lower-court decisions, allowing infringements on these rights of the people. This does not change either the historical facts of the establishment of the right to keep and bear arms in protections offered by the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions, or the malfeasance of judges who have falsified the precedents in order to advance their personal anti-firearms agendas.

California, for example, has limited the ability of local governments to regulate firearms. While the state has kept its broad regulatory power, cities and counties can only prohibit guns from being carried in public places.

Q How have the courts – particularly the U.S. Supreme Court – interpreted the Second Amendment?

A The Supreme Court has flatly held that the individual’s right to keep and bear arms “is not a right granted by the Constitution.”

The decision in which the Supreme Court “flatly held” this was U.S. v. Cruikshank, referenced below, and the complete quotation from that decision which the ACLU executives deliberately leave out (because it would give away their game) is, “The second and tenth counts are equally defective. The right there specified is that of bearing arms for a lawful purpose. This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.”

What the Court meant is that the right to keep and bear arms preceded the constitution, and therefore was not a right granted by the constitution, such as, for example, the right to vote, which is not a natural right but is a created political right. The Court’s reasoning was that only rights originating in the federal Constitution could be imposed on the states by federal courts. That decision by the Reconstruction-era Supreme Court ignored the intent of the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment to apply the protections of the Bill of Rights – including, explicitly, the Second Amendment – to what they saw as the jurisdiction of state courts. If the Cruikshank decision were applied today, it would strike down almost all federal intervention against state and local governments, because federal courts could not impose any of the Bill of Rights on state or local governments, or on private individuals. States could then revert to segregated schools and restaurants, there could have been no federal trial of the Los Angeles police officers who beat Rodney King, and states could allow the Lord’s Prayer in public schools.

In the Cruikshank case, blacks who had been disarmed and terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan were arguing that the KKK had violated their rights; the Court was ruling that the federal courts had no jurisdiction to prevent the Klansmen from doing so. Is this what the ACLU of Southern California would like to see happen today?

Here are the Court’s words:

The third and eleventh counts are even more objectionable. They charge the intent to have been to deprive the citizens named, they being in Louisiana, “of their respective several lives and liberty of person without due process of law.” This is nothing else than alleging a conspiracy to falsely imprison or murder citizens of the United States, being within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Louisiana.

The rights of life and personal liberty are natural rights of man. “To secure these rights,” says the Declaration of Independence, “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The very highest duty of the States, when they entered into the Union under the Constitution, was to protect all persons within their boundaries in the enjoyment of these “unalienable rights with which they were endowed by their Creator.”

Sovereignty, for this purpose, rests alone with the States. It is no more the duty or within the power of the United States to punish for a conspiracy to falsely imprison or murder within a State, than it would be to punish for false imprisonment or murder itself.

In the four cases in which the high court has addressed the issue, it has consistently held that the Second Amendment does not confer a blanket right of individual gun ownership.

As I’ve demonstrated, in one of the four decisions, that is because the Court held the right existed previously and independently.

The most important Supreme Court Second Amendment case, U.S. v. Miller, was decided in 1939. It involved two men who illegally shipped a sawed-off shotgun from Oklahoma to Arkansas, then claimed the Second Amendment prohibited the federal government from prosecuting them.

The court emphatically disagreed, ruling that the Second Amendment has the “obvious intent” of creating state militias, not of authorizing individual gun ownership. In two earlier rulings in 1876 and 1886, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment affected only the federal government’s power to regulate gun ownership and had no effect on state gun control powers. Those cases, Presser v. U.S. and U.S. v. Cruikshank, formed the basis for the continuing legal decisions that the Second Amendment was not an impediment to rational gun control.

The Presser case, if anything, destroys the “militia” premise the ACLU brochure is arguing; the Court was ruling against Presser that he and other members of a local self-organized militia didn’t have the right to march armed as a group on city streets without a permit from local government. The question of whether the men had the right to carry arms as individuals was explicitly upheld as follows:

It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the States, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the Constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms …

If anything, Presser contradicts Cruikshank in that it explicitly denies the states’ ability to “prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms.”

The Miller case is odd in that the Supreme Court never heard arguments from the defense in overturning the lower-court ruling to dismiss charges on the basis of the defendants’ Second-amendment rights; only a prosecution brief — and one which suffered from the same lack of historical veracity as the ACLU brochure’s. Defendant Jack Miller had been murdered before the case reached the Supreme Court and the other defendant, Frank Layton, was in prison; no attorney argued their Second-amendment case to the Supreme Court.

Here is the meat of what the Supreme Court actually said in U.S. v. Miller: “The Court can not take judicial notice that a shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches long has today any reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia; and therefore can not say that the Second Amendment guarantees to the citizen the right to keep and bear such a weapon.”

The Supreme Court was stating that a weapon, to be protected by the Second Amendment, had to have a military application, specifically one that was useful to a citizen’s militia. Weapons used only by gangsters, such as brass knuckles, would not, in their view, be promoting the framers’ intent of a well-armed citizenry. In the absence of counsel for the defendants to provide evidence to the Court that a sawed-off shotgun had some military application — which would have been easy since short-barreled shotguns were used in World War One – the court could “not take judicial notice” that a sawed-off shotgun was a “militia” weapon, and reversed the lower court’s ruling on that basis and that basis alone.

In fact, by the Miller court’s reasoning, full-auto M-16 assault rifles, full-auto AK-47′s, and Uzis would be useful to militia, and therefore their ownership by civilians would be protected by the Second Amendment. Is this an argument that the ACLU of Southern California executives are ready to embrace?

In another case that the Supreme Court declined to review, a federal appeals court in Illinois ruled in 1983 that the Second Amendment could not prevent a municipal government from banning handgun possession. In the case Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, the appeals court held that contemporary handguns couldn’t be considered as weapons relevant to a collective militia.

The Supreme Court simply denied certiorari on the Morton Grove case, which gives it no precedential value outside of the federal district in which the case was resolved by the lower court. If the Supreme Court had actually wished to endorse the lower court’s decision, and endorse the ACLU of Southern California executives’ view of the irrelevancy of the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court could simply have issued a summary affirmation of the lower court’s decision. It did not do so, leaving the question unresolved. Constitutional attorney Stephen Halbrook (mentioned earlier in Senator Hatch’s preface) expressed to me privately in 1993 the thought that the Supreme Court had actually done Second-Amendment advocates a favor in denying cert on the Morton Grove case, since Quilici was both plaintiff and his own attorney, and refused to accept research and advice offered by renowned constitutional attorneys.

Q The National Rifle Association (NRA) says that the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear arms. Has the NRA got it wrong?

A Like any powerful special interest, the NRA works to secure its financial well-being. It insists on a view of the Second Amendment that defies virtually all court decisions and contradicts findings of most legal scholars. In so doing, the NRA actively perpetuates a seemingly endless cycle of gun-related fatalities.

Trust an ideologue to answer a question with an ad hominem attack on the motives of those who disagree with them, not only suggesting that the 3.4 million members of the National Rifle Association are motivated by financial well-being in their view of the purpose of the Second Amendment, but also scapegoating the law-abiding and well-trained NRA gun owners for the actions of the criminally insane few. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, since the ACLU of Southern California is financed by elite Hollywood jetsetters who undoubtedly feel firearms are a special privilege which they should enjoy as exclusively as their limousines and private spas, but also because the ACLU of Southern California is currently battling the public perception that its litigation on behalf of criminal defendants has created a judicial atmosphere in which no effective means remain for removing hardened criminals from society.

NRA intimidates politicians because it is very well financed and, like any wealthy single-issue special interest, can muster considerable pressure and tactics against legislators who oppose it. For decades, the NRA has aggressively promulgated its message.

This is likely envy speaking, since the National Rifle Association has 3.4 million members, while the total national membership of ACLU is reported to be 280,000. Which civil liberties organization is more likely to effectively lobby its views? One with almost 3-1/2 million members, or one slightly over a quarter million?

Other voices have begun to be heard, however, including the public health community, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and groups committed to women’s, children’s, and family rights.

These voices are being heard because they play into the prejudices of the dominant media culture in this country. Meanwhile, none of the three major television networks will even sell commercial time to the NRA, while ostensibly news programs regularly air anti-gun propaganda as straight news.

The NRA implies that the Bill of Rights forces us to accept unlimited gun ownership and tolerate the human tragedies that guns cause in our society. That simply isn’t true.

What isn’t true is that unlimited gun ownership causes human tragedies. Where gun ownership and carrying is the most legally restricted and entangled in bureaucratic impediments – such as Washington D.C. – the crime rates are the highest. In places where gun ownership is free and easy – such as New Hampshire, Vermont, and Arizona – crime is substantially less. Still, the cause-and-effect relationship between gun ownership and crime is mutual, since high crime causes more gun ownership by potential victims at least as much as the reverse.

Q What are the Second Amendment positions of the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Southern California?

A For decades, both the national ACLU and its Southern California affiliate have agreed that the Second Amendment guarantees only the rights of states to maintain militias. The national ACLU has urged caution over gun control laws that, though well-intended, might infringe on other civil liberties.

The ACLU of Southern California believes effective gun control — especially of handguns and assault weapons — is essential to curbing the escalating violence in our society.

This irrelevant, quasi-religious belief by the executives of the ACLU of Southern California not only has nothing whatsoever to do with the purposes of the American Civil Liberties Union as a civil liberties organization, but it is also unfounded and contrary to the latest scientific evidence. The 1993 National Self Defense Survey conducted by professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University found that there are 2.45 million genuine defensive civilian uses of firearms in a year, 1.9 million of them with handguns alone. That is a defensive use of a firearm once every 13 seconds.

Q The Second Amendment says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Doesn’t it mean just that?

A There is more to the Second Amendment than just the last 14 words.

Most of the debate on the Amendment has focused on its final phrase and entirely ignores its first phrase: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the Security of a free State …” And to dissect the Amendment is to destroy its context.

Indeed. And that is precisely what the executives of the ACLU of Southern California are attempting to do. But if you wish a professional opinion on the textual meaning of the Second Amendment, see the analyses by A.C. Brocki and Roy Copperud, following this chapter.

While some scholars have suggested that the Amendment gives individuals the constitutional right to bear arms, still others have argued for discarding the Amendment as irrelevant and out of date.

Yes, and there is popular sentiment for repealing all of the Bill of Rights. Do the executives of the ACLU of Southern California wish to make the existence of all rights inferior to transient public opinion?

However, the vast majority of constitutional experts agree that the right to keep and bear arms was intended to apply only to members of state-run, citizen militias.

Yes? Precisely what experts are those? Certainly not those consulted by the United States Senate, when it issued its report on the question, or the Congress and President of the United States, when they enacted the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act.

Q If it doesn’t guarantee the right to own a gun, why was the Second Amendment included in the Bill of Rights?

A When James Madison (pictured below Thomas Jefferson on the cover) proposed the Bill of Rights in the late 1780′s, people were still suspicious of any centralized federal government. Just 10 years earlier, the British army had been an occupying force in Colonial America – enforcing arbitrary laws decreed from afar. After the Revolutionary War, the states insisted on the constitutional right to defend themselves in case the fledgling U.S. government became tyrannical like the British Crown. The states demanded the right to keep an armed “militia” as a form of insurance.

The executives of the ACLU of Southern California are guilty of something akin to blasphemy, by invoking Jefferson and Madison in support of their Orwellian reversal of history. In effect, we are hearing the sort of argument a spokesman for the Crown might have made to the American colonists that all’s well with the world and there’s no reason to keep firearms to prevent abuse of government power. The authoritarians of the ACLU of California masquerade as identifying with the now safely-entombed leaders of the American Revolution, but they are in fact counterrevolutionary Tories, who wish to restore this continent to European statism.

I’ve already quoted Madison about the value of civilian arms; here are a few choice quotes from Thomas Jefferson on the value of firearms:

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walk.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Encyclopedia of T. Jefferson,
318 (Foley, Ed., reissued 1967)

“What country before ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? … The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
– Thomas Jefferson,
Letter to William Stevens Smith,
November 13, 1787.

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”
– Thomas Jefferson to James Madison,
Dec. 20, 1787, quoted from
“Papers of Jefferson” edited by Boyd et al.

And, most importantly, Jefferson writing in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Does it seem at all likely that Thomas Jefferson would have endorsed the notion that civilians are to be armed only after obtaining permission from government officials?

[Illustration. Caption: "A 1770 Paul Revere etching depicts British soldiers firing on a Boston Crowd."]

What chutzpah.

Q What exactly is a “well regulated militia?”

A Militias in 1792 consisted of part-time citizen-soldiers organized by individual states. Its members were civilians who kept arms, ammunition and other military equipment in their houses and barns – there was no other way to muster a militia with sufficient speed.

Over time, however, the state militias failed to develop as originally anticipated. States found it difficult to organize and finance their militias, and, by the mid-1800′s, they had effectively ceased to exist. Beginning in 1903, Congress began to pass legislation that would eventually transform state militias into what is now the National Guard.

Today, the National Guard – and Army Reserve – are scarcely recognizable as descendants of militias in the 1790′s. The National Guard and Reserve forces, in fact, do not permit personnel to store military weapons at home. And many of today’s weapons – tanks, armored personnel carriers, airplanes, and the like – hardly lend themselves to use by individuals.

As Senator Hatch pointed out, the current National Guards are not “descendants” of the militia at all; they were not organized under the militia clause of the constitution but under Congress’s power to raise an army. The Supreme Court decision in Perpich v. Department of Defense – in which Governor Rudy Perpich of Minnesota was seeking to prevent use of the Minnesota National Guard troops outside of U.S. territory – established that as a legal issue.

Today, soldiers in the National Guards are dual-enlisted in their State Guards, subject to the military authority of the various state governors, and as reservists in the Armed Forces of the United States, subject to call up for active duty. They can be sent to train or even engage in overseas combat.

On the other hand, current United States law (10 USC, 311b) still defines most male adults in this country as members of the reserve militia.

Finally, the executives of the ACLU of Southern California’s call for abandoning the Second Amendment is a prelude toward general restrictions on popular arms, the sort that might be used against ambitious politicians who seek to impose their elite policies on a recalcitrant public against its will. Considering how little popular support there is for many of the extremist positions taken by ultraliberal supporters of the ACLU of Southern California, it is not difficult to see that a well-armed and likely uncooperative citizenry is an impediment to utopian social engineering which requires docile submission by the public to government officials.

The national office of the ACLU is at least aware that armed police power in this country is dangerous to liberty: they have joined with the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation in calling for a commission to investigate abuse of power by authorities in cases such as:

  • The raid on the home of California millionaire Donald Scott, whose Malibu home was invaded – and Scott killed while sleepily trying to defend himself from what he thought was burglars – on a trumped up warrant alleging illegal drugs in an attempt to confiscate his estate under asset forfeiture laws;
  • The entrapment of backwoodsman Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge, Idaho by federal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents attempting to blackmail him into spying for them on fellow white supremacists; they tricked him into sawing off a shotgun past the legal limit. His continued refusal led to an FBI sniper murdering his wife (while she held their infant child) and Weaver’s older son. Weaver was tried and acquitted for shooting back in spite of attempts (established by civil-liberties attorney Gerry Spence in Weaver’s trial) by federal officials to falsify evidence. No charges have yet been filed against any federal officials;
  • The invasion and opening of initial gunfire on the law-abiding Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas by ATF agents attempting to draw attention away from a sexual harassment scandal at the agency, and the subsequent burning down of the Branch Davidian complex by FBI-driven tanks collapsing the structure and causing combustion; 81 men, women, and children died in that fire.

With government out of control, is this the time for a civil liberties organization to advocate disempowering the civilian population by disarming them?

Guns in America:

The Statistics:

  • Firearms were used to kill more than 60,000 people in the last two years. Handguns kill 22,000 per year, 60 each day, including 12 children.

And, according to the National Self Defense Survey, firearms saved five million people from criminals in those same two years. That’s 6,849 lives defended by privately owned firearms per day.

  • U.S. civilians own 211 million guns, including 66.7 million handguns.
  • A new handgun is produced every 20 seconds and is used to shoot someone every two minutes.

Yes, and a handgun prevents a criminal attack every 16 seconds.

  • Every day, handguns are used in 33 rapes, 575 robberies, and 1,116 assaults.

According to data from the National Self Defense Survey, of the 1.9 million handgun defenses in one year, about 8 percent of the defensive uses involved a sexual crime such as an attempted sexual assault – 416 handgun defenses per day, or a dozen handgun defenses for each time a handgun is used by a rapist. Twenty-two percent involved robbery – 1145 handgun defenses per day, or twice as many handgun defenses for each time a handgun is used in a robbery. About 29 percent involved some sort of assault other than sexual assault — 1510 per day, or one-and-a-half times as often as handguns are used in non-sexual assaults. It seems the executives of the ACLU of Southern California, if they got their way and succeeded in further restricting handgun availability to the general public, would be making it easier for rapists than the perpetrators of any other crime.

  • In late 1993, a Time Magazine/CNN poll found that 92% of Americans supported the recently passed Brady Bill, which requires a five-day waiting period to buy a handgun.

And reverts to an NRA-backed instant background check after five years.

  • The same poll found that 60% favor even stronger gun-control laws

Which is meaningless, since most people polled have no idea what the current gun control laws are. If you were to poll most Californians (especially those who don’t own a firearm) whether they favor imposing the Brady Law’s five-day waiting period on California, you’d probably get an overwhelming “yes” — from people who aren’t even aware that there has been a fifteen-day waiting period in California since 1975.

  • More than 600,000 guns are sold each year in California alone.

Obviously being purchased by people who think they have the right to keep and bear firearms. Or should only the opinions of elitist executives of the ACLU of Southern California carry political weight?

  • A Seattle-based study concluded that for each example of a gun used in self-defense to kill an intruder, there were 43.9 other gun fatalities. That includes 2.3 incidents of accidental gun deaths, 4.6 criminal homicides, and 37 suicides.

If one compares the National Self Defense Survey’s estimated 1,728,000 gun defenses in or around a home in one year with a conservatively high estimate of gun-related homicides and fatal gun accidents in the home in a year — at most about 8,000 — one can compute that a gun kept in the home for protection is about 216 times as likely to be used in a defense against a criminal than it is to cause the death of an innocent victim in that household.

  • In 1989, 178 justifiable homicides were reported nationwide, but 1600 accidental killings involving guns.

In fact, the number of justifiable homicides in a year are, according to Gary Kleck, closer to 2,800, since FBI crime reports used by statisticians exclude any justifiable or excusable homicide which isn’t labelled that in the initial police report. But even this is likely also an underestimate, since police are reluctant to classify any homicide as “justifiable,” preferring to classify them as either unsolved or accidental.

As far as firearms accidents are concerned, they are down 40% from ten years ago, and down 80% from 50 years ago.

  • Shooting is the leading cause of death among African-American males ages 15 to 24.

No one questions that African-Americans are the worst victims of crime of all kinds – and even the Reverends Jesse Jackson or Louis Farrakhan could not deny that these crimes are being done by young black males. But is this surprising in a culture whose family structure was destroyed by utopian government programs which created a generation of fatherless boys and inner-city government schools that taught a philosophy of dependency on big government rather than self-reliance? Who is historically more responsible for this state of affairs: the more-conservative NRA or the more-liberal ACLU?

  • The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department recovers 30,000 guns a year during routine criminal investigations of which 6,000 have been legally purchased then stolen.

Are we also going to blame automobile owners when their cars are stolen or carjacked for use in a robbery? Talk about blaming the innocent for the actions of the guilty!

  • Gunshot wounds to children nearly doubled between 1987 and 1990. Firearm murders of young people age 19 and under went up 125% between 1984 and 1990.

This is an odd definition of “children,” which includes 18 and 19 year-old individuals who can serve in the military and on police forces. We must also seriously doubt whether it is firearms that are at fault in the deaths of children who are recruited into criminal gangs even before puberty.

  • Every six hours, a teenager or preteen commits suicide with a gun.

And almost all studies of suicide show no correlation between the availability of any particular means of suicide and the suicide rate. Japan has few guns, yet has twice the U.S. suicide rate. The American Journal of Psychiatry from March, 1990 reported in a study by Rich, Young, Fowler, Wagner, and Black that all gun-suicides which were statistically reduced in the five years following Canada’s handgun restrictions beginning 1976 were substituted 100% by suicides using other methods, mostly jumping off bridges. Therefore, eliminating firearms does not eliminate suicide: it merely shifts the suicide to other causes, and no rational public policy can conclude that the availability of firearms is a causative factor.

  • An estimated 1.2 million elementary school-age latchkey children have access to guns when they are home alone.

Parents who leave their children home alone are morally and legally responsible for what ill befalls their children, whether it is from firearms, or from poison under the sink, or from a box of matches.

  • Most Los Angeles high school students say they could buy a gun on the street in an hour or less if they needed it.

Perhaps they need it. School authorities and police seem singularly unable to protect them from the well-armed gangsters among them.1

  • When firearm suicide and homicide rates in Los Angeles County are combined, the total rate is higher than that for motor vehicle crashes.

And when the suicide and homicide rate in Japan is compared to the United States, it is higher than the combined U.S. rate. Yet Japan has few guns.

[ILLUSTRATION of a shadowy figure holding a handgun menacingly.]

Are the executives of the ACLU of Southern California trying to sell civil liberties, or Argosy Magazine?

  • At least four federal safety standards regulate the manufacture of teddy bears. No federal safety standards apply to the manufacture of guns.

Are they seriously suggesting that guns are inadequately designed to perform their function effectively — which is to fire energy-laden bullets at those who attack the innocent? Firearms are dangerous by necessity. The object is to make them dangerous only to those who need to be, and deserve to be, stopped by them. That is the purpose of firearms safety training — which the NRA was doing fifty years before the ACLU was even formed. I am constantly amazed that people who are afraid to be in the same room with a gun think they know how to tell firearms designers, instructors, and experienced shooters how to make guns safe. The elitist arrogance of those who would run our country seems to be unlimited.

  • In 1993, handguns were used to kill 82 people in Japan, 76 people in Canada, 33 people in great Britain, and 40,000 people in the United States.

End of ACLU materials

Yet, we observe that in the absence of firearms, the Japanese still manage to die at their own hands as often as Americans. As for Canada, its homicide rate compares to that of demographically similar areas of the United States. And each British increase in gun-control has been followed by greater rates of violent crime. Cross-cultural comparisons are largely inappropriate; but when gun control is enacted in a society, there are few if any cases where a lowered crime rate follows locally (as opposed to a general downward trend in a wider area than that affected by the new gun-control law); and there are many cases where increased gun control is followed by increased violent crime. According to Randall Herrst, J.D., of the Firearms Education Institute, this is so well-established that he argues the only case for gun-control laws is as a social measure designed to increase violent crime.

The last paragraph from the ACLU brochure is, incidentally, copied from the literature of Handgun Control, Inc. Are liberal pocketbooks getting so tight that the ACLU of Southern California must compete for contributions against Sarah Brady?

— J.Neil Schulman

Footnote:

1. The Los Angeles Times of February 20, 1994 reports in a story titled “Violence on School Campus Eludes Solutions,” “[The Los Angeles Unified School District] has expelled a record number of students for bringing guns and knives on campus and has begun using metal detectors to search students for weapons. But students continue to bring weapons to school in large numbers. Supt. Sid Thompson acknowledges that school officials remain unable to ensure the safety of the district’s 640,000 students. … The problem has escalated so high that many students believe they must arm themselves for protection and there is little shock at seeing a weapon on campus, said school district police chief Wes Mitchell. ‘It has become an informal social norm that kids need to protect themselves, so why not carry the tools to protect themselves?’ said Mitchell, who added that the district should provide more education about guns and violence.”

Note: The 2008 Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller has been a game-changer in that the decision firmly established the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right, rather than a collective right of state militias. — JNS, May 14, 2010

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is English Usage Expert Interprets 2nd Amendment

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


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The Nobeus News Report — May 13, 2010

Wrap-up of news and opinion from your not-so-humble correspondent.

When Conservatives Can Pass for Communists

Ashley Madison Billboard

Sean Hannity stylizes himself as an American conservative: a defender of individual freedom, capitalism, and American traditions.

Principles are tested by how they’re applied in the real world … and an interview Hannity did on his Fox News show yesterday puts the lie to Hannity’s claim that he’s a true American conservative.

Sean Hannity

Hannity’s guest was Noel Biderman, the attorney and former sports agent who in 2002 founded AshleyMadison.com, a dating site for married people.

Now, speaking personally, I didn’t cheat on my wife when I was married. But before I was married I was once the “other man” to a woman who was separated from her alcoholic husband — and we didn’t quit seeing each other for a while after he completed rehab and she decided to give him a second chance. Her children were grown. I was the one who urged her to return to him because she didn’t want any more children and I did want children. Make what you will of my moral compass; I’m comfortable with it.

But Sean Hannity was on the attack. He called Noel Biderman the moral equivalent of a pimp and a crack dealer. He asked him how he can sleep at night knowing that children will suffer because of the marriages his service breaks up. Hannity chided Biderman for making a profit out of breaking up marriages — no communist could have made a stronger attack on the profit motive — and the Roman Catholic inquisitor Sean Hannity wasn’t moved in the slightest when Biderman pointed out that divorce lawyers and Hollywood studios who make movies glorifying affairs also work for profit. If it had been me sitting in Biderman’s chair I would have asked Hannity how many millions he got paid last year, or whether he did his show living off alms.

Hannity was so busy imposing his personal moral standards on his guest that he abandoned all illusion that he’s a media professional and forgot what his job description requires: to interview his television network’s guest. Hannity didn’t ask a single question that elicited any information about what Ashley Madison’s service is, what screening standards they have for people who use their service, and what Noel Biderman’s ethics and principles were as a businessman. He never asked as simple a question as whether secrecy is guaranteed to Ashley Madison’s clients, whether a spouse can inquire whether the other spouse is a member, or whether a subpoena in a divorce case might produce evidence that can be brought into court as evidence of infidelity. These would have made for an actually informative news talk program.

But Hannity wasn’t interested in being a television professional. He wasn’t interested in asking questions his viewing audience might be interested in. All he was interested in doing was sneering and making accusations based on his own beliefs.

Sorry, Sean. You don’t get to spit on free enterprise and be a conservative. You don’t get to set your Catholic moral code as the standard by which to judge everyone else’s. In America the founding principles were that religion is a matter of individual conscience — and those principles protected Roman Catholics from Protestants who preached from the pulpit that your church was the “whore of Babylon.”

So knock it off or prepare for real conservatives to call you on your hypocrisy, your failure to live up to historical American principles, and your bigoted sectarian intolerance.

#

Glenn Beck Again

In my last Nobeus News Report I wrote about conversations I’d had with fellow author Brad Linaweaver questioning the principles of Fox News host, Glenn Beck. Since that time Beck did something that impressed me: he stood up for the Constitution at a moment that it really mattered. Sitting next to Fox News contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano on the May 4 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Glenn Beck unreservedly stood up for the constitutional rights of the accused Times Square attempted bomber, Faisal Shahzad.

Bravo!

#

As long as we’re talking about the Constitution …

James Madison
Author of the Bill of Rights, James Madison

Recently I’ve been involved in a private email exchange with a good friend of mine with whom I’ve worked for many years in defense of the Second Amendment. I’m a strict individualist who believes in a natural moral law; my friend is more of a pragmatist and a utilitarian. But on other than the narrow defense of the right to keep and bear arms, our approaches have diverged widely since 9/11, as he regards Islam and Muslims as an historical movement to create a worldwide caliphate and I more narrowly focus on the specific threats by ideologically committed jihadis. As you can tell from my praise above for Glenn Beck, I think Muslims have exactly the same Constitutional rights as everyone else.

My friend has charged me with making arguments that are “simplistically unequivocal in an incredibly complex and equivocal world.”

My view is that moralists ranging from Moses, to Jesus, to Thomas Paine, to Henry David Thoreau, to C.S. Lewis, to Ayn Rand, to Mohandas Gandhi, to William F. Buckley, Jr., to Martin Luther King, Jr., to Tom Clancy, would have regarded this charge as a rationalization for villainy.

Here are some of the specific points I’ve been making:


###

You and I met because we both wanted to work for the defense of a constitutionally protected right. As far as I’m concerned every Muslim has as much of a right to keep and bear arms as you and I do. They have the same right to remain silent and not to be questioned without an attorney present as you and I do. They have the same right not to be imprisoned without being convicted of a crime in an open and fair trial by a jury of their peers as you and I do. Each Muslim is innocent until proved guilty in a court of law as much as you and I are.

I don’t consider the Constitution of the United States and the federal republic formed under it to be a perfect solution to the problem of maintaining individual human liberty, but its authors were men making an honest attempt and I think their legacy needs to be honored and preserved until we can come up with something which preserves and defends individual human liberty even better.

I’m not willing to sacrifice my liberty, your liberty, or anyone else’s liberty in the pursuit of security against foreign powers, religious zealots, terrorists, or criminals.


###

Will you please tell me the limits of what you advocate in pursuit of your political agenda?

1. Does it exclude torture?

2. Does it exclude arrest without charges and imprisonment without trial?

3. Does it exclude discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, or national origin?

These are not tough questions. You don’t have to be smarter than a fifth grader to answer them.

Torture means inflicting punishing distress on someone. You can tell whether you’re torturing someone because they’re writhing around trying to make it stop. If you do this as a means of questioning someone you’re violating the 8th amendment, which states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Arrest without charges and punishment without trial are forbidden by the 4th through 8th amendments:

Article [IV]

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article [V]

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Article [VI]

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Article [VII]

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article [VIII]

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The attempted shoe bomber, the attempted underpants bomber, the attempted Times Square bomber, were not members of any military force nor were they members of a militia. They were all civilians who were attempting to commit a crime. Their religious reasons for doing so are elements of motive, nothing more. If they were involved in a conspiracy with a foreign government they may be charged with espionage and sabotage. If they were involved in a conspiracy with overseas civilians they may be charged under organized crime or racketeering laws. But if they’re arrested on American soil they get tried by the same rules as apply to all trials in American civilian courts. If they’re American citizens and they serve sentences for the crimes — for which they were tried and convicted — that have them released from prison alive, they are returned to American soil upon their release. If they are foreigners, then following trial and conviction they can be deported, either before or after the completion of their sentences.

But the Sixth Amendment isn’t complex or equivocal about what’s to be done with them if they are captured alive either on American soil, or brought to American soil. (And Gitmo, being an American Naval base, is American soil; if you’re born there you can run for President.) They “shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”


###

When I was writing for The Twilight Zone in the mid 1980′s, I wrote a script called “Colorblind” which was unproduced when CBS cancelled the series. Harlan Ellison — who is of the left — hated the script, calling it “knee-jerk liberal.” This surprised me since I thought my script’s approach to racism was to condemn it for not treating people as individuals, which I consider a traditional American value — even if it took a while for many Americans to apply it consistently.

I’m a stickler on this point. My friend can’t call himself a moral person — much less a conservative, an individualist, a believer in American exceptionalism, a son of the Founding Fathers, an advocate of the Declaration of Independence, or a person pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States — if he doesn’t believe rights adhere to all individuals until that individual is convicted of some criminal act by which he deprives himself of the legal protections for one or more of those rights.

Birth is not enough.

Belief is not enough.

Advocacy is not enough.

Suspicion is not enough.

Location is not enough.

Association is not enough.

You have to do something, and if that act is a crime, you have to be convicted of the crime.

Let’s also be clear that we’re not talking about what happens between belligerents during a war. That’s a discussion for another day.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were the only American civilians — both of them American citizens by birth — to be convicted of espionage and executed.

If American traitors who passed Manhattan Project atom-bomb secrets to the Soviet Union didn’t need to be imprisoned at Gitmo and tried in a military tribunal, then I can’t think of any reason why a pathetic wannabe like Faisal Shahzad must be.

#


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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — The Thrill of My Life


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — How I (and 4 Million Friends) Successfully Fought City Hall


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
The Thrill of My Life
Sunday, September 12, 1993


You know, being a writer is a lonely life. You work isolated at home, send out your work, and then, mostly, what you hear back is silence.

So when the value of one’s work is recognized by the World Out There, it’s a very big deal, and you note it down in the balance ledger of whether it’s worthwhile to keep going or not.

I just had the thrill of my life. I was in front of my TV set, just about to go downstairs and remove my clothes from the dryer, when a commentary by KCBS Los Angeles anchorman Michael Tuck caught my eye.

Tuck started out by postulating a scenario in which other high school students would have been armed when one was shot and killed by a gang member a few days ago. He ranted, and raved, and foamed at the mouth against the “gun nuts” who would have armed the rest of the students, who would then have all pulled out their guns simultaneously, firing wildly in a cacophony not heard since Woodstock.

Mr. Tuck then talked about the lawsuit which I helped instigate, against the Los Angeles Police Department, which resulted in the LAPD once again obeying California law in its requirement that county residents of good moral character who can show good cause shall be issued licenses to carry concealed weapons. He ranted and raved, tossing around the phrase “gun nut” twice per sentence, then quoted me from Scott Harris’s column in the September 6, 1993 Los Angeles Times — identifying me as a “ringleader” of those who filed the law suit — in which I stated, “It is a fundamental error in society to expect an elite group of professionals to provide public safety. In my view, public safety is everybody’s job.”

Then he called me a “gun nut” again, along with all the other gun nuts who think innocent people should be better armed than the criminals.

Wow.

I’ve had some thrills in my life, but this was the best.

It was thrilling when Anthony Burgess and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman lent their endorsements to my first novel.

It was thrilling when Robert Heinlein told me he laughed his ass off at the satirical parts of my second novel.

It was thrilling on two occasions when I twice received the Prometheus Award for my novels.

It was thrilling when the producer who gave Rod Serling his first job in television told me my 1986 Twilight Zone episode, “Profile in Silver,” was in his opinion the only one which would have fit into the original show.

But to be called a ringleader of gun nuts by a news reader on a Sunday evening local broadcast, that has got to be the best.

Thank you, Michael Tuck. You made my day.

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Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Reply to the Executives of the ACLU of Southern California on the Meaning of the Second Amendment

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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