RESEARCH AND WRITING PROJECTS

To further its mission, NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund awards grants for legal research and education on gun-related issues, including the meaning of the Second Amendment and the nature of the right to keep and bear arms provisions in state constitutions. 

Following are recent writing projects supported by NRA CRDF.

Mass Murderers: Who? How? Why?

The applicant is writing a new book entitled Mass Murderers: Who? How? Why? The gun prohibitionists are inaccurately blaming guns for the mass murders.  The 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 to 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 seemed especially suited to a law review article countering the gun prohibitionists' argument that certain classes of firearms make the U.S. exceptional in mass murder problems.  The title: "Mass Murder: American Unexceptionalism."  It is currently available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3055877.  The applicant is submitting it to law reviews.  It is also available at

https://thecrimereport.org/2017/11/16/is-mass-murder-exceptionally-american/.

 

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 the 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 been answering media queries concerning the relationship between mass murder and mental illness.  The applicant gave an interview with the Wall Street Journal reporter in late 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 will address the issue of mass murder.

The research and writing for the book is well under way: the 17th and 18th Centuries portions have been finished and he is researching and writing about the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries now.

[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.

The applicant participated in a Guns in America town hall meeting put on by a local NPR affiliate, in which his data on this subject played a part.

More recently, the applicant has finished his research to 1913.  "American population grew fast at the end of the 19th century, and therefore mass murders grew as quickly."  The applicant has also verified the 1880's and 1890's data and is compiling more recent data, including a list of all mass murders (not just gun mass murders) for the period of 2006-17.  To date, he has identified 391 mass murders, with 6089 dead.  "Where a single weapon type was used: firearms of all types are a small part of all deaths."

 

Mass Killings:  Myth, Reality, and Solutions.

The applicant has written a book about the nature of mass killings, their perpetrators and potential solutions.  The author has addressed the perpetrators' mental state.  "The biggest contributor to that appears to be narcissistic personal disorder, which is actually worsened by the way schools handle them."

The book uses historical examples to demonstrate how gun control laws do not affect mass slayings.  The book addresses arming teachers and others, and will conclude that arming civilians can prevent mass slayings.

The book outlines reforms for the mental health system, including revisiting decades old Supreme Court cases that restrict commitments.  The applicant worked with a renowned author who is an expert on the mental health system and a psychiatrist.

The book concludes that there is no need to panic as there is no epidemic of such mass shootings as portrayed by the mass media.  There are solutions to the problem, but gun control is the most useless approach because the perpetrators of mass killings plan for months or even years, can pass all background checks, only a few of them use so called "assault rifles," and they carry multiple weapons so magazine sizes are irrelevant.

  1. Mass and school killings are not a uniquely American experience. Our mass killing rate is actually lower than several European countries, even if terrorism is excluded from their rates. The record mass killing came in China, using bombs. The runner-up came in Norway, and third place was in South Korea. Our own record mass killing involved arson (107 dead), and our record school killing (44 deaths) involved dynamite, 90 years ago.
  2. Mass killers and school killers are for the most part driven by extreme narcissism. They long for the Godlike power of life and death over others, and more importantly, they long for celebrity status, they want their names and faces to be exposed to millions. …
  3. They and the mass media have established a symbiotic relationship. They give the media what they want - viewers riveted to TV screen and print media, thereby also watching advertising - and the media gives them what they want, their names and pictures shown worldwide. The Columbine killers debated which big-name director would direct the movie about them. They got their faces on the cover of Time magazine - twice.  …
  4. There are solutions, starting with media self-control. One social scientist believes that mass killings would drop by over a third if the media stopped treating killers as celebrities.  Tell the story, but stop using their names and photographs.  …  If there is one form of crime where gun control can have no effect, it's mass killings. Waiting periods?  The killers plan for months or years. Background checks?  They can pass them.  The Navy Yard killer even had a security clearance. Ban large magazines? Almost all killers carry 2-3 guns. …
  5. One approach that has an impressive record: a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.  I compile a list of cases where intended mass killers were stopped by civilians or out-of-uniform law enforcement.  These haven't received much publicity because the killer was stopped before he became a mass killer, and without a large body count the media treats it as local news.  When we talk of "hardening" school targets, arming some teachers, even just a few, must be part of it.  Mass killers are terrified by the thought of failure; instead of becoming a celebrity, they are dead and forgotten. Armed teachers add to the risk of failure.

The applicant is using the Amazon electronic publishing service, which offers quick releases for books of 10,000 to 30,000 words for $2.00 instant delivery. The book was released in August 2018 as a Kindle e-book.  The book is now also being distributed in paperback format by Amazon. In 2019 and 2020, an additional 1,400 copies have been sold.

Research and Writing Projects.

The applicant reports that his article The Janus-Faced Second Amendment: Looking Backwards to the Renaissance and Forward to the Enlightenment, was published in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy in the summer of 2020.

The applicant is writing an article addressing early American firearms regulations to counter gun prohibitionist arguments.

I want to write an article which would trace the history of various types of gun control. When did the first gun registration systems come into being? (I think in the 1920s). How widespread were they (even today, they appear to be rare, and a lot of those date from the 1960s)? How about regulation of long arms? (Again, I suspect 1960s) How about age restrictions? As far as I can see, age restrictions are almost all 20th century.

…  [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.

…  [M]y next step would be to start on a book, an anthology of the major (mostly law review) articles that would enlighten readers as to how the individuals rights view of the Second Amendment came to be rediscovered in the 1970s and 1980s, decades before Heller and McDonald.

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