Archive for December, 2008

posted by David J. Theroux - President, The Independent Institute on Dec 20

December 15 marks America’s Bill of Rights Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. Beginning on this day, we have created the Second Amendment Book Bomb, a unique and powerful way to communicate the importance of the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment for the protection of liberty. With your help, we can launch constitutional rights to the top of national book bestseller lists, making a loud and clear statement that Second Amendment rights are unalienable!

As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling finally affirmed that the Founders fully intended the Second Amendment to protect an individual right to own and bear arms. The renowned Second Amendment scholar and lawyer Dr. Stephen P. Halbrook, Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, was key to the Heller victory—as well as to three previous gun-rights victories in cases before the Supreme Court. And his definitive defense of the Second Amendment is now available in The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms the first in-depth, book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment and the most readable, comprehensive, and compelling work ever assembled arguing that the right to own a gun is as fundamental under the U.S. Constitution as is freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Yet, even before the ink was dry on the Heller decision, efforts were underway in Washington, D.C., to resume the assault against gun rights. Further, and despite the rhetoric, both President-elect Barack Obama and his choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder, have repeatedly opposed Second Amendment rights, and any new federal judge appointments will likely be similarly biased.

Thus, preserving our constitutional rights will hinge on our ability to educate the American people on the imperative of Second Amendment rights. The Supreme Court’s Heller decision has provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to do this.

And now we have the tool to do so. Fascinating, seminal, and inspiring, The Founders’ Second Amendment is the perfect way both to educate ourselves and to reach friends and family who don’t yet understand Second Amendment rights. Our goal is to reach one million Americans with Steve Halbrook’s book during the Christmas Holiday Season and throughout the New Year ahead. Will you help?

Let’s make the Second Amendment Book Bomb a publishing phenomenon so great that even the mainstream media will have to take notice. Let’s spread The Founders’ Second Amendment so far and wide that Americans across the political spectrum, and all walks of life, will be discussing the Second Amendment in every possible venue.

With your help, we are seeking to make Stephen Halbrook’s book #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. To make this happen, please pledge to buy at least one copy of the book before or on the December 15th Second Amendment Book Bomb date (or even afterward, if this is your only option), and then spread the word to others. Let’s make this the most amazing and explosive event ever on the right to bear arms, and declare in no uncertain terms that the Second Amendment will be around for a very long time to come.

About Stephen P. Halbrook

Stephen P. HalbrookThe winner of three gun-rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (Printz v. United States, United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Company, and Castillo v. United States), Dr. Stephen P. Halbrook is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute. He received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and Ph.D. in social philosophy from Florida State University, and he has taught legal and political philosophy at George Mason University, Howard University, and Tuskegee Institute.

A contributor to numerous scholarly volumes and journals, Dr. Halbrook is the author of eight books, and he has testified before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Subcommittee on Crime of the House Judiciary Committee, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and House Committee on the District of Columbia.

Click here to learn more about Stephen P. Halbrook.

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Dec 19

Eight years of relative peace on the gun-control front under President George W. Bush are coming to an end.  People are clearly aware of this fact as evidenced by near- frenzied buying of guns and ammo at gun shows and elsewhere.  Although the 2008 Presidential Election certainly didn’t turn out as gun owners would have liked, there is no reason to panic.  Plus, panicking won’t help anyway!

So we all need to take a deep breath and go about the business of protecting the Second Amendment they same way we have been for decades.  Although gun owners have not faced the current threats for the last eight years, this is not our first rodeo.  We know what must be done, we know how to do it, so let’s get to work.  But we must also take the initiative to use new approaches to defending our rights.  We must reach out to people who are neither members of the National Rifle Association nor the Brady Campaign [To Ban All Guns].  We need to make a pro-gun ideology truly bipartisan, multi-racial and something upon which both liberals and conservatives agree.

We must also take a very practical approach to showing people that firearms are both useful and fun and while they are to be respected, they need not be feared.  In thirty-five years of firearms training, I have come to know that the single biggest reason some people never own guns is that they harbor an irrational fear of the unknown.  This is true even if these people are not what we would consider “anti-gun.”   On the other hand, many people who own guns don’t use them simply because they are unaware of the shooting activities and locations available in their area.

All this sounds like great theory, but how do we make it a reality?  First, we must diligently work to get all gun owners to join the National Rifle Association and its local affiliates.  In Texas, this would be the Texas State Rifle Association.  This will increase the clout of the NRA in Washington and in state capitols throughout the country.  To this end, a new grassroots membership drive called Project One Million: Texas has been launched with the goal of increasing the number of Texas NRA members to one million.  More information about the project can be found at

To tackle the second prong of reaching people who are neither gun owners nor anti-gun, I have created an education and advocacy organization called Texas CHL Forum, Inc.  This is a membership organization that is unusual in that the “target market” for membership is different than the “target market” for its services.  In short, the Texas CHL Forum, Inc. will focus on providing educational and training opportunities to people who otherwise would likely never be exposed to firearms and legal issues related to their use, at least not in a positive way.  For more information on the mission, goals and activities of Texas CHL Forum, Inc., please click here to read the description in this thread on the  I will also post an article here on the TexasCHLblog in the next few days.

We also need to make a coordinated effort to get inactive gun owners, or people considering buying their first gun, involved in the shooting sports.  While shooting sports includes organized matches shooting under the rules of various sanctioning bodies, it also includes a fun day at the range doing nothing more than “plinking,” or getting self-defense training so one can defend oneself or their family.  Every time someone learns that it is safe and fun to shoot anything with a trigger, whether pistol, rifle or shotgun, we have taken one step further to ensuring the longevity of the Second Amendment.  So while I am primarily a pistol shooter, it is just as important and satisfying to me when I see new shooters arrive at the shotgun ranges at our shooting club, or pull up at the bench-rest range to do some precision shooting.

To promote shooting, both sport shooting and self-defense shooting, a new project is underway to help clubs and ranges throughout the state attract new people into our respective sports and activities.  I can’t give more information at this time, as we will have a planning meeting in January, 2009.  When all of the details are worked out, the new project will be announced here on and on

There is no arguing that gun owners and the Second Amendment face significant challenges in the coming four or more years, but don’t waist your energy panicking.  Take that energy and put it to good use by joining in one or more of the efforts outlined in the preceding paragraphs.  And the very first thing you should do is go to and get involved in that effort.


posted by Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D. on Dec 15

stephen-halbrook1Today is the United States’ Bill of Rights Day, but District of Columbia residents are second-class citizens when it comes to the Second Amendment. President-elect Barack Obama certainly does not support it. When I filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting the respondent in District of Columbia v. Heller on behalf of 55 senators, the senate president, and 250 representatives, Obama declined. And his voting record in the Illinois legislature and the U.S. Congress has been as hostile to American gun owners as King George III was in 1775. What’s in store for Second Amendment rights come January?

Imagine that at Lexington and Concord, British Major John Pitcairn does not shout “Disperse you Rebels—Damn you, throw down your Arms and disperse!” . . . and that the shot heard ‘round the world is not fired. Imagine that instead he reads to the assembled colonists the following decree by British Commander-in-Chief General Thomas Gage, modeled of course after the newly minted 2008 District of Columbia gun law:

  1. Bans “assault weapons,” defined by a long list of various rifles, pistols, and shotguns, and concludes with the catch-all: “Any firearm that the Chief may designate as an assault weapon by rule.” Anyone who disobeys will be imprisoned.
  2. Requires all non-banned firearms to be registered with the Chief, who promises never to confiscate them—unless you forget to register or re-register them, that is—and “registration certificates shall expire three years after the date of issuance unless renewed.”
  3. A non-banned pistol can be registered but only “for use in self-defense within that person’s home.” You cannot defend yourself outside the home. “The Chief shall require any registered pistol to be submitted for a ballistics identification procedure and shall establish a reasonable fee for such procedure.” Oh, and only one pistol can be registered in a thirty-day period.
  4. Within two years—1777 for the colonists, 2010 for D.C. residents—you will go to prison if you have a pistol that is not “microstamp ready” or is an “unsafe pistol” as determined by weirdoes in the futuristic state of California.
  5. Knapsacks with more than ten rounds of ammunition are banned as “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.” Essentially, you will be arrested if you have eleven or more rounds.

Of course the “Chief” is the Chief of Police, and these quotes came directly from the new law. Imagine that the colonists reverently surrendered their “assault weapons” and sought to register their non-banned arms and pay the Chief his “reasonable fee.” Imagine that our founders were sheepish wimps who remained subservient to royal tyranny instead of demanding the American Revolution. Imagine that two centuries later we delegated all power to the California legislature and that in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), D.C. won instead of lost.

Thankfully, that was not the case. The Supreme Court ruled against D.C. and held its handgun ban to be in violation of the Second Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” But with Obama’s recent appointment of Eric Holder as his attorney general and D.C.’s determination to leave its citizens helpless against the criminals the police can’t control, history shows you can’t hold your breath waiting for others to protect your rights. It seems the colonists at Lexington and Concord had it right.

Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., and author of the book, The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, as well as the books, That Every Man Be Armed (Independent Institute) and Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms.

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