Research and Writing Projects

 

Mass Murder

The applicant is writing a book entitled Mass Murderers: Who? How? Why? The gun prohibitionists are inaccurately blaming guns for mass murders. The applicant’s book addresses the question of whether gun ownership—and specifically ownership of “assault weapons”—causes acts of mass murder. The applicant will also address mass murders across the world, including mass murders in countries that have restrictive firearms laws. The book will also address the use of explosives and other non-firearm weapons. The applicant will discuss the causal factors related to mass murders and show that there is no correlation between access to firearms and mass murders.

Many people are unaware that almost ¼ of current American mass murders do not involve guns. So far (and I have not yet completed the 20th and 21st centuries), I have identified 529 mass murders in U.S. history with a total of 6,959 deaths. Of those, 291 involved a single weapon type (many of the others involve multiple weapons: ax, knife, and blunt objects being a common combination): 141 incidents involved a firearm, and 154 were non-firearm incidents. Where a single weapon type is used, non-firearm mass murders are usually much larger death tolls (many dozens dead from arson mass murders, thousands dead from airplane mass murders, dozens to hundreds dead from explosives mass murders).

[T]he common factors in most mass murders worldwide are severe mental illness, followed by political terrorism. So far (and I have not yet completed the 20th, and 21st centuries), 24% of incidents have mental illness as a proximate cause; 4% with mental illness likely, 18% are robbery, 4% are acts of terrorism, with a fairly odd mix of other causes.

One chapter of the book is especially suited to a law review article countering the gun prohibitionists’ argument that certain classes of firearms make the Unites States exceptional in regard to mass murder problems. The title: “Mass Murder: American Unexceptionalism.” The applicant is submitting it to law reviews. It is currently available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3055877 and at https://thecrimereport.org/2017/11/16/is-mass-murder-exceptionally-american/.

[M]ass murder is hardly a modern problem: mass murder in America was a problem throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, yet it did not prevent ratification of the broad guarantee recognized in DC v. Heller, incorporated to limit the states in McDonald v. Chicago, and the numerous state constitutional guarantees.

In April, 2018, the applicant participated in a 10th anniversary Heller symposium at Southern Illinois University School of Law. He presented a paper titled, “Mass Murder: American Unexceptionalism, D.C. v. Heller, and ‘Reasonableness’” which will appear in a subsequent Southern Illinois University Law Journal. In September 2018, the applicant gave a presentation at a Texas Bar legal seminar. The applicant gave a presentation at a Second Amendment symposium at Lincoln Memorial University Law School in Knoxville, Tennessee, in January 2019. The applicant has written a paper entitled “Would the authors of the Second have been so expansive in its protections had they known about our mass murder problem?”

The applicant has also answered media queries concerning the relationship between mass murder and mental illness. The applicant gave an interview with a Wall Street Journal reporter in February 2019 and was a guest at a talk show on WURD in Philadelphia. The applicant was a speaker local NPR station town hall meeting about gun control in which he addressed the issue of mass murder.

More recently, the applicant has finished his research to 1930. “American population grew fast at the end of the 19th century; mass murders also seem to increase per capita; and therefore mass murders grew more quickly … . There is evidence that mass murders declined in the 1940s and 1950s. … I will stop gathering data in 2003, because the very complete USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder data base starts in 2004. The two databases will make a very comprehensive collection for criminologists to use.”

Research and Writing Projects

The applicant is currently working on a number of research and writing projects, including the following:

Supreme Court Justices Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Thomas interpret the Second Amendment according to its “text, history and tradition,” without using standards of review or other balancing tests. If a form of gun control does not accord with the text, history and tradition of the Amendment, it is unconstitutional, even if it would pass strict scrutiny or intermediate review. Under this test, almost all arms restrictions are unconstitutional.

The applicant is researching and writing articles addressing early American firearms regulations and the Second Amendment’s test, history and tradition. The applicant is compiling a history of arms restrictions in Britain and America, including the common law history in Britain, laws in the colonies, and in the early states.

… [H]andgun registration is a creature of the early 20th century, and long arm registration is one of the 1960s. The same is true of requiring permits for open carry of handguns. Even today, I can likely prove that all these are present in a distinct minority of states. Almost all other requirements date from the 1970s and 1980s. “Assault weapon” restrictions of course spring from some Violence Policy Center propaganda in the 1990s. I’d also have to examine such restrictions as did exist in the framing era (the Statute of Northampton, powder storage requirements in cities, etc.) and show why modern laws cannot be validly analogized to these.

Thus far, I’ve found the only arms restrictions that date back to the Founding periods of 1791 and 1868 are concealed weapons restrictions, and even they were rare. New York and New Jersey had no concealed weapons restrictions until the 1890s. I will also have a section asking, in assessing text, history and tradition, with the assumption that the antiquity of restrictions sheds light on a constitutional guarantee, how widespread should the restrictions be before they are considered? James Madison actually wrote a fair amount on this, and his answer was quite narrow. A restriction should only count if it was passed despite the constitutional issue having been raised, and became so widespread that both sides agreed it was permissible.

[W]hat relevance do legislative enactments have to the interpretation of the expanse of the Second Amendment? I suggest that for pre-ratification enactments, relevance is determined by whether the ratifying generations of 1789-91 and 1866-68 would have had the limitation in mind when they chose to ratify, in the way they would have had limitations on defamation and obscenity in mind when they approved guarantees of “freedom of speech and of the press.”

The relevance of a statutory limitation would thus be determined by its timeframe and the degree to which it was widely enacted. Timeframe would likely exclude measures that antedate the English Civil War, when arms confiscations first began and the duty to bear arms became seen as a right to bear arms. The requirement that a measure be sufficiently widespread that it would have been in the minds of the framing generation excludes measures that were limited or obscure.

 

 

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