Archive for April, 2010

J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Do Guns Do More Harm or More Good?

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter 140,000 LA County Gun Owners Have Used Firearms Defensively

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Do Guns Do More Harm or More Good?

One of the greatest problems in determining any sort of social policy is comparing that which is seen, and therefore directly quantifiable, to those effects which are unseen, and therefore must be inferred by other means.

Such is the problem in comparing the number of people killed or wounded by firearms, with the number of times a gun is used to prevent or stop an act of violence.

The number of gun homicides are more or less tracked. Minus those bodies which are encased in cement overshoes and end up at the bottom or the East River or in the foundation of a new office building, most people who die from gunfire end up in a morgue where the homicide is statistically recorded.

Likewise, for non-fatal gunshots, most are treated at hospital emergency rooms which are legally required to report them to police agencies. Often, as the LA Times has reported is the case in Los Angeles, there is no further investigation; nonetheless, the figures can be collected and entered into databases.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday, May 17, 1992, that in Los Angeles County in 1991 there were 1554 firearm-related homicides (no breakdown given between wrongful homicides and those which are either excusable by reason of self-defense or justifiable in the attempt to prevent or stop a violent attack), 489 gun-related suicides, and 32 accidental shooting deaths. Additionally, 8050 firearms wounds were treated in local hospitals in 1991.

Minus the uncounted “excusable” and “justifiable” shootings, fatal or not, this gives us a more-or-less quantifiable database of undesirable shootings.

Suicides we can eliminate from our analysis of gun-effects immediately. 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 by Canada’s handgun ban of 1976 were substituted 100% by suicides using other methods. Therefore, eliminating firearms does not eliminate suicide: it merely shifts the suicide to other causes, and no rational public policy can conclude that the existence or availability of firearms is a causative factor.

Since the quantity of gun suicides to gun homicides is approximately 31%, it’s fair to assume that some significant percentage in non-fatal shootings is likewise an incomplete suicide rather than an incomplete homicide. It would be tempting to assume that 31% of the 8050 gunshot wounds are botched suicides, but this strikes me as counterintuitive: I suspect that most people who choose a firearm for suicide aim at a vital target, and are more-or-less successful at achieving fatality.

This suspicion gains weight from the Time Magazine of July 17, 1989, which says that, “But one study has found that when people use a gun, the rate of death is 92%. Says Tulane University sociologist James Wright: ‘Everyone knows that if you put a loaded .38 in your ear and pull the trigger, you won’t survive.'”

Therefore, for the purpose of this statistical exercise, I will assume that 8% of non-fatal shootings are incomplete suicides rather than incomplete homicides.

As far as quantifying excusable or justifiable shootings and firearm homicides, we are on less certain ground. The FBI Unified Crime Reports for 1990 reported only 215 homicides out of 11,700 to be justifiable. However, the FBI classifies a homicide as justifiable only if it is so ruled in the first police report; if a homicide is later ruled by investigation or judicial procedure to be excusable or justifiable, those figures are not figured in by the FBI’s statistical methods.

We must therefore go to inferential methods. The study by criminologist Gary Kleck, Ph.D., of Florida State University estimates that private citizens account for between 1500 and 2800 excusable and justifiable homicides in a year. If we use Kleck’s figure, we get a ratio of criminal homicides to excusable or justifiable homicides between 7.8: 1 (87.2% criminal to 12.8% excusable or justifiable) and 4.2: 1 (76.2% criminal to 23.8% excusable or justifiable) a year. This would quantify the Los Angeles County homicide figures so that of the 1554 firearm-related homicides reported in 1991, between 198 and 369 were likely excusable by reason of self-defense, or justifiable in the prevention or stopping of a criminal attack.

It is reasonable to assume that a similar ratio would apply to non-fatal shootings, which would mean that of the 8050 gunshot victims treated at Los Angeles hospitals in 1991, between 1030 and 1916 were persons who had been excusably or justifiably shot while they were in the process of committing a crime or other violent attack.

The real problem of comparing criminal use of firearms to defensive use of firearms only really begins at this point, though, because of the unseen deterrence effect of firearms which prevent a criminal attack without even having been fired. According to a Los Angeles Times Poll conducted April 9-15, 1992 of 2619 Southern Californians (878 gun owners and 1741 non-owners), “9% of firearms owners in Southern California say they have used their guns to thwart burglaries, car thefts, or other crimes.” The Times‘ poll question specifically excluded gun defenses in the military or while on the job, which leaves a sizable number of gun defenses in convenience stores, pawnshops, jewelers, banks, etc., uncounted in this data. More problematic for the purposes of comparison is that the Times‘ Poll did not ask how many times the poll respondent had used a firearm in self-defense, or set a time frame within which this defensive act had occurred.

Out of this 9%, in the LA Times‘ poll, only 2% report having fired their weapon in the course of the defense, leaving 98% claiming successful defenses without the necessity of their gun being fired. It would be tempting at this point to assume that we have quantified a 98% passive deterrence rate when a firearm is available for defense, but we run into a problem which makes this figure questionable.

Time Magazine, in its January 29, 1990 issue, published the results of a telephone poll of 605 gun owners for Time/CNN made from December 15-22, 1989 by Yankelovich Clancy Shulman.

In response to the poll question, “Have you ever fired your gun?” 9% of those polled by Yankelovich Clancy Shulman stated that they had done so for “self-protection,” while 7% stated they had fired their gun “to scare someone.”

Either the LA Times‘s sample of gun owners is much more effective at scaring someone away without having to fire their guns than the Yankelovich Clancy Shulman sample – which seems unlikely – or Los Angeles gun owners are afraid to tell of pulling the trigger for fear of later repercussions, or the form of the LA Times‘s question is creating some ambiguity.

Further, accepting the LA Times rate of deterrence without trigger-pulls leads to the absurdity of an estimated number of justifiable or excusable homicides which is greater than the estimated number of times a trigger is pulled to stop or end a criminal attack.

We will therefore leave open the question regarding the rate of passive versus active deterrence.

Both the Time/CNN poll and the LA Times‘ poll data, however, tend to confirm data from a nationwide poll conducted by Peter Hart Research Associates, Inc., for the National Alliance Against Violence, which found that 4% of households reported the use of a handgun in self-defense within the 5 years preceding the survey (including cases when the handgun was only displayed, not fired). The Hart study did not count defenses with shotguns or rifles. Including shotguns and rifles, one can easily, with no fear of overestimation (and a strong suspicion of underestimation), raise the gun-defense figure by 20% to 5% within the preceding five years, which gives us a horseback estimate of 1% of households having a member who uses a firearm – handgun, shotgun, or rifle – for defensive purposes in any given year.

We now have a reasonable percentage for firearm defenses that we can quantify with reference to census, police, and poll data, and compare to known figures for criminal homicides and wrongful non-fatal shootings.

For Los Angeles County in 1991

Firearms homicides: 1554

Number of homicide victims estimated to be excusable or justifiable: 198-369

Mean estimated excusable or justifiable homicides in 1991: 283

Mean estimated wrongful homicides for 1991: 1271

Number of non-fatal gunshot wounds treated in 1991: 8050

Number of gunshot-wound victims estimated to be attempted suicides: 645

Number of gunshot-wound victims estimated to be excusable or justifiable shooting: 1030-1916

Mean number of estimated excusable or justifiable shootings: 1473

Estimated number of non-fatal gunshot victims caused by wrongful attack in Los Angeles in 1991: 5772

Number of wrongful gunshot victims (fatal and nonfatal) in Los Angeles in 1991: 7043

1990 U.S. Census figures for 18-and-older population of Los Angeles County: 6,537,054

Percentage of 18-and-older persons who own a firearm in Los Angeles County according to LA Times: 24%

24% of 6,537,054 = 1,568,893 gun owners in Los Angeles County

1% of Los Angeles County gun owners who are estimated to use a firearm for self defense in a year: 15,689

[Percentage of gun owners whose firearm defense is passive: 98% – LA Times]

[Estimated number of Los Angeles County firearm-defenders in a year who use a gun for defense without the gun having to be fired: 15,375 – derived from LA Times poll data]

[Estimated number of Los Angeles County firearm-defenders in a year who use a gun for defense with the gun having to be fired: 314 – derived from LA Times poll data]

Comparison of wrongful gunshot victims in Los Angeles County to firearm defenders: 7043 to 15,689 or 1: 2.2

Conclusion: For every wrongful gunshot victim in Los Angeles County, it is reasonably estimated that two persons are able to use a firearm to deter a violent crime or attack.

It must also be noted that the percentage of firearms ownership in Los Angeles is considerably lower than the nation as a whole: 24% as compared to 43% nationally. Whatever defensive uses we note in Los Angeles would therefore be considerably amplified elsewhere.

What is clear is that the unseen and unrecorded effect that firearms play in protecting the public from armed criminals is extremely likely to be equal to or greater than the number of victims created by firearms in the hands of criminals.

This statistically significant defensive and deterrent effect of firearms in the hands of private citizens must be given a wider hearing in public policy debate on the role of firearms in society.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Q & A on Gun Defenses

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 — 140,000 LA County Gun Owners Have Used Firearms Defensively

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter A Time to Kill

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
140,000 LA County Gun Owners Have Used Firearms Defensively

In new data on defensive use of firearms by private citizens, a Los Angeles Times poll published Sunday, May 17, 1992, indicates that 9% of Southern California gun owners have used a firearm in personal self-defense, resulting in an approximation of between 135,000 to 145,000 gun owners who have personally defended themselves with a gun in Los Angeles County alone. The poll question excluded defensive use of a weapon in the military or while on the job.

Out of those who say they have used a gun in self-defense, only 2% say they actually fired the gun, signifying that the deterrence value of the firearm without being fired was approximately 98%.

The poll, conducted by telephone between April 9-15, 1992, interviewed 2,619 Southern Californians 18 or older — 878 gun owners and 1,741 non-gun-owners, and the Times‘ pollsters, using demographic weighting, estimate the number of gun owners in Southern California as approximately 24% of the population. Because of the size of the sample, the Times‘ pollsters give a 4% margin of error in their results.

The 1990 U.S. Census gives the 18-and-older population of Los Angeles County as 6,537,054.

The Times‘ poll data is particularly useful, inasmuch as it can be directly correlated with other statistical information on crime drawn from the polling.

While 9% of Southern California gun owners report use of their weapon in defense against crime, 13% of Southern Californians report that a member of their household has been a victim of a violent crime or act of violence in the last two years, with 13% also reporting having personally witnessed a crime or act of violence.

This data, when correlated, indicates that among the subset of the population that owns a firearm, the firearm stands a significant chance of preventing a crime or act of violence when it occurs. Just how high the deterrence effect is can not be correlated exactly because the Times‘ poll did not specify that the defense in question needed to be within the last two years, as the crime or act of violence in question was.

Further, the highest rates of victimization are among African-Americans, at 20%, and Latinos, at 17%, while 11% of Anglos and 9% of Asian Americans are victimized. With the exception of the Asian-American community, this victimization rate approximates an inverse proportion to the rate of firearms ownership in each community, with 43% of Anglos having at least one gun in their home or garage, 33% of African-Americans, and 25% of Latinos. The anomaly is the Asian-American community which has a 19% rate of firearms ownership and a relatively low rate of crime and violence.

The Times’ poll data tends to reinforce the findings of the study by Gary Kleck, Ph.D., a criminologist from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, which he summarized at the August 29 through September 1, 1991, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, as follows:

“Each year,” Kleck stated, “about 1500-2800 criminals are lawfully killed by gun-wielding American civilians in justifiable or excusable homicides, far more than are killed by police officers. There are perhaps 600,000 -1 million defensive uses of guns each year… People who use guns for self-protection in robberies and assaults are less likely to have the crime completed against them (in a robbery, this means losing their property), and, contrary to widespread belief, are less likely to be injured, compared to either victims who use other forms of resistance or to victims who do nothing to resist. (Criminals take the gun away from the victim in less than 1% of these incidents.) The evidence does not support the idea that nonresistance is safer than resisting with a gun.”

The Los Angeles Times poll compiled other interesting data relating to firearms ownership:

  • While 75% of all homicides in Los Angeles County are gun-related, 33% of homicides in Los Angeles County are gang-related – either the shooter or the victim is gang-member.
  • The chances of being shot in Los Angeles county: 1/1000 (.1%) – (same odds as getting lung cancer).
  • Over the last five years, California Department of Justice records show 466,543 handguns sold in Los Angeles County.
  • The vast majority of firearms in Los Angeles are owned by ordinary citizens rather than criminals or gang-members.
  • 29% of Southern California homes have guns compared to 43% nationally, however most Southern Californians have guns for self-protection rather than sporting use, compared to opposite elsewhere.
  • Most Southern California gun owners possess more than one gun. 70% own at least one handgun. 70% own a shotgun or rifle.
  • Most firearms owners in Southern California have received formal firearms training, and firearms classes are booming, especially for women.
  • Even though it is a misdemeanor, 25% of gun owners admit to sometimes carrying a loaded gun either in their car or on their person. 20% of gun owners admit to carrying a loaded gun in their car, and 11% admit to carrying a concealed loaded gun on their person.
  • 12-1/2% of Southern California residents are planning to buy a gun in 1992 – 75% for self protection. In a follow-up survey conducted in Los Angeles after the riots, 5% of LA City residents said they will buy a gun as a result of the riots.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Do Guns Do More Harm or More Good?

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 Diary of Anna Francisco

Arizona’s governor just signed two laws in the past few days.

The first removes the requirement that to carry a concealed handgun legally in the state one needs a government permit.

The second authorizes state, county, and local police to ask for papers from anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” is in the country illegally, and makes harboring an illegal immigrant a crime.

I spent years “harboring” a man who was never legally classified a “permanent” resident of the United States. He was like a brother to me.

That he was from north of the border rather than south of the border should only matter to a bigot.

Nonetheless, he never applied for permanent resident status or a “green card.” He never filed income tax returns in the United States. He may have had a Social Security number issued to him when he was in the country legally as a graduate student; if so, I never saw him use it afterwards.

When he was stopped by police on occasion — for jaywalking, or on one occasion because his common-law wife swore out a complaint against him — he showed the police his Canadian passport, which satisfied them.

He crossed freely and repeatedly between Canada and the United States, and only had problems with American authorities once when his Canadian papers weren’t in order.

And he never worked as an employee for any American person or company; anyone who wanted his services had to pay the Canadian-based corporation he owned, which used a British bank with branches in the United States and Canada.

He died in the U.S. having overstayed his student visa by 29 years.

A United States Congressman spoke at his memorial service. So did businessmen who would have been happy to sponsor him for a green card and legal permanent residency.

My friend didn’t do that because, being an anarchist, he did not recognize the moral authority of the government of the United States to license and tax his residency, any more than citizens of the State of Arizona recognize the moral authority of their state to license and tax carrying arms. In both cases the argument is in favor of natural rights.

Now, the United States and Mexico did fight a war between 1846 and 1848, which the history books usually call the Mexican-American War. It was a territorial dispute. The United States military won the conflict and imposed on the Mexican forces in disarray the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That treaty gave residents in the disputed territories a year to decide if they wanted to live in Mexico and be Mexicans or live in the United States and be Americans.

The problem is, the United States was a capitalist society with a tradition of English liberty and a Protestant work ethic and Mexico wasn’t. The country to the north thrived and grew a rich upwardly mobile middle class. The country to the south stayed pretty much as it had been, with peasants and aristocrats.

So the terms of the treaty haven’t held up very well.

The political justification of the second Arizona law just signed is that illegal immigrants are bringing with them criminal violence from Mexico to Arizona.

Today Mexico is a country overrun by gangsters who use violence to control monopolies on who gets the profits from the sale of illegal drugs to the United States. The gangsters even pay Mexican police and soldiers to work for them, so we sometimes have Mexican soldiers crossing into the United States on missions for these gangs. That meets the definition of either an invasion or espionage. The United States could put these Mexican gangs — and this invasion — out of business overnight by the simple expedient of legalizing these drugs and pulling the rug out from under these Mexican cartels.

Another political justification for the second law is that illegal immigrants partake of government or government-mandated services in the United States — schools, welfare, medical services — thus overburdening American taxpayers. Moving these services to the private sector, and removing the government mandates, would relieve American taxpayers of these burdens.

There are other political justifications for the second law. Mexicans who work off the books — not abiding by licensing and other bureaucratic requirements, not paying income taxes or FICA, not being unionized — can work cheaper than American workers burdened by these regulations, taxes, and price supports imposed by the lobbying of organized labor. Eliminating these regulations, taxes, and price supports eliminates the market advantage of working off the books.

So, basically, if illegal immigrants work for a living there’s a political objection to them, and if they don’t work for a living there’s a political objection to them.

This is known as “Heads I win; tails you lose.”

Now, the interesting thing is that the only objection any of the Framers of the American system of government would have been concerned about was the invasion by foreign soldiers. The rest was none of the government’s business.

There was no prohibition of drugs.

There was no welfare.

There was no income tax or Social Security.

The practice of medicine was paid for by a patient paying a doctor.

There were no labor unions.

There was no mandatory public schooling.

There was no minimum wage.

And there were no laws regulating immigration, except the importation of slaves.

There was hardly universal freedom, especally if your skin was black or you were a woman. But if you were a white man, you were free. It would take close to two centuries before blacks and women achieved full equality to white men under the law, but by then they achieved equality with white men who were no longer free.


Here’s a real irony. The Governor of Arizona doesn’t have a clue that by signing the first law she pretty much made the second law superfluous, at least as far as the Founding Fathers’ concerns. By allowing Arizonans to carry arms for self-protection, the Mexican invaders stand a good chance of having someone shoot back. They will find they do much better back in their own land, where the government officially disarms their victims. This alone will act to drive them out.

Many of the immigrants who came through Ellis Island decades ago had as little understanding of what made America special as Mexicans who come here today. All the older immigrants knew was that America’s streets were “paved with gold.” They didn’t understand the principles of free-market economics that made America different from the European and Asian sewers they were escaping from.

But they learned the advantages of freedom. If there’s not enough freedom left here for the Mexicans to learn the advantages of it, that’s hardly their fault.

Mexicans know Mexico is broken. They come here because America and Americans have a reputation of being a free and generous people. If we are less free than our reputation — and our government more profligate — whose fault is that?

Let’s fix the problem rather than fix the blame.

Eliminate the bureaucratic laws, market-entry-barriers and taxes that grant undocumented workers market advantage.

Stop punishing free-market hiring of labor on terms acceptable to buyer and seller.

Stop blaming Mexicans for wanting to escape from Hell. Let’s recognize them for what they are: not illegal aliens, but refugees from tyranny.

Mexicans are the new Cubans.

Anne Frank or Anna Francisco?

And if the law says it’s illegal to hide them so they won’t be returned to the tyranny they escaped from, consider that some righteous Americans will hide them in an attic, and future school children will read the Diary of Anna Francisco.


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. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — A Time to Kill

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Read the previous chapter If Gun Laws Work, Why Are We Afraid?

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

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

Some Practical Arguments for an Armed Civilian Population

Most of the time you hear gun owners defending their guns, they’re talking about “the right to keep and bear arms.” That is, of course, an important argument to make, but it’s not the one that will appeal to those among us who are swayed only by arguments regarding social utility.

I’ve never believed there is any great divide between good theoretical arguments and good practical ones. If something is correct in theory, it should necessitate practical consequences. If something works in practice, it should be generalizable into a theory. How can something be moral if it isn’t practical? How can it be practical if it produces destruction?

I’ll focus more on political theory later in this book. But for now, here are some empirical arguments in favor of keeping and bearing arms. — JNS

A Time to Kill

Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but the Star-Spangled Banner has been replaced by the dove of peace. Attorney General Janet Reno and Senator Paul Simon condemn the portrayal of violence on television. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders wants to ban toy guns. The Los Angeles Times wants to ban real guns. The latest Clint Eastwood movie, A Perfect World, is not Dirty Harry ending the career of some maniac, but a buddy movie about a fatherless boy and the sympathetic psychopath who takes him under his wing. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, backed by the American Medical Association, has declared violence to be a national health crisis.

There is without doubt a national crisis when automatic-teller-machine hold-ups, carjackings, and serial rapes are commonplace; when our celebrities are a woman who cuts off her husband’s penis and the husband who sells T-shirts commemorating it; when youth gangs don’t even have the courage to rumble — they just do drive-by shootings.

But it’s not a national health crisis. It’s a national moral crisis.

The King James Bible tells us that the Sixth Commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.” Any biblical scholar will tell you that’s a mistranslation from the original Hebrew. It should instead read, “Thou shalt not murder.”

In Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, Verse 3, the Bible also tells us that there is a time to kill.

We have lost our ability to distinguish between justified and unjustified violence. We no longer feel certain about the difference between good guys and bad guys. We no longer know when it’s time to kill, or whom.

A time to kill would have been when Patrick Purdy walked into a schoolyard in Stockton, California and started shooting at children. But we place our children in the care of defenseless teachers, so there was no one able to kill Patrick Purdy in time.

A time to kill would have been when George Hennard walked into a Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, Texas and began shooting diners. But Texans may no longer legally carry six-shooters on their hips, so there was no one able to kill Hennard in time.

A time to kill would have been when Gian Luigi Ferri walked into a San Francisco law office and began shooting at attorneys, secretaries, and clients. But not one lawyer kept a Smith & Wesson in her desk, so there was no one able to kill Ferri in time.

A time to kill would have been when Colin A. Ferguson began shooting passengers on the Long Island Railroad. There were men on the train with the courage to tackle and capture Ferguson even though they were unarmed — but not before Ferguson had shot dozens of people. If only one person had been armed, innocent people might be alive and Ferguson dead.

A recent article in The Public Interest by Jeffrey Snyder — lauded by George Will in Newsweek — suggests that we have become “a nation of cowards” in our willingness to submit peaceably to crime and rely on police to protect us. But is it courage that we lack, or moral certainty?

We have become a nation of deer facing oncoming headlights, paralyzed with moral ambiguity. Like Clint Eastwood’s stymied Texas Ranger in A Perfect World, we declare, “I don’t know a damn thing anymore.”

The currently fashionable condemnation of violence is based on morally untenable premises, either pacifistic or statist. We civilians are told to be peaceable either because violence does not solve problems, or because only people in uniforms are entitled to use violence.

Certainly violence does not solve all problems. But there is one sort of problem that violence is indispensable to solve: stopping violent evildoers.

Certainly we don’t want to live in a nation of lynch mobs. There is a clear distinction between self-defense and proactive law enforcement. But with the examples of the ATF siege in Waco, the unindicted murder of Randy Weaver’s wife and son by federal agents, and the looming threat of well-armed police enforcing civilian gun bans, isn’t Janet Reno’s condemnation of violence more than a little hypocritical?

Violence is not of itself always wrong. Sometimes committing an act of violence is a right and a moral necessity. When violence is righteous, it is glorious. If we do not understand this and ready ourselves with arms and training for the rightful violence that is necessary to defend the innocent, then the random violence eating away at our nation’s substance is just what we have coming to us.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is 140,000 LA County Gun Owners Have Used Firearms Defensively

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 Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — If Gun Laws Work, Why Are We Afraid?

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Gun Fight at the 4 ‘n 20 Pie Shop

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
If Gun Laws Work, Why Are We Afraid?

The following article appeared in the September, 20, 1993 Los Angeles Times. During a banquet held at the Gun Rights Policy Conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, September 24-26, 1993, the Second Amendment Foundation awarded its James Madison Award to J. Neil Schulman for this article. Three weeks later, beginning October 15, 1993, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Page began a series of weekly half-page editorials called “Taming the Gun Monster.” In these editorials, the Times editors called for a national ban on handguns and any semi-automatic firearm that could be lumped into the undefined category of “assault weapons,” and denied that there were any insuperable legal or constitutional barriers to doing so.

J. Neil Schulman on Concord Bridge
Here is J. Neil Schulman on the old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, in Fall, 1993, holding his James Madison Award from the Second Amendment Foundation.

On April 19, 1775, uniformed peace officers given lawful orders by Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage — a believer in strict gun control — to confiscate a cache of illegal guns being stored by a gang of right-wing extremists, were ambushed on the North Bridge. In an act of premeditated sedition this cabal of dumb rednecks fired on the thin blue line of loyal cops merely trying to preserve law and order.

That’s how the 1993 Los Angeles Times editorial board would have described the event.

Ralph Waldo Emerson memorialized the event somewhat differently in his poem “Concord Hymn”:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Damn! Sure helps to have the media on your side, doesn’t it?

Close up of the James Madison Award
Blow-up of the James Madison Award

It’s almost funny that under existing laws a successful merchant can’t be sure of selling anything legally. If you sell a product for less than your competitors, that’s “cutthroat competition” or “dumping.” If you sell at the same price, it’s “price-fixing.” And if you sell for more, that’s evidence of “monopolistic advantage.”

In olden days, this was called a Mug’s Game.

The pundits who promote gun control, though, have stacked the cards even colder.

If you buy a handgun which is inexpensive, small, and low-caliber, it’s a Saturday Night Special. If you want a handgun which is more expensive, larger, and higher caliber, it’s “the weapon-of-choice of drug dealers.” Whatever qualities a particular handgun has, gun-controllers don’t want it allowed. Heads they win, tails you lose.

If a rifle is magazine-fed and semi-automatic, it’s a deadly “assault weapon.” If a rifle is bolt-action, it’s a “sniper rifle.” Again, all possibilities are covered.

A favorite media practice is to focus only on the bad things firearms are used for. If a handgun is used for murder or mayhem, it’s headline news. If that same handgun is used by a restaurant patron to stop a takeover robbery, the story is buried.

Another gun-controller’s game is to tell us how successful the last gun-control law they got passed is, while simultaneously telling us how “gun violence” is unchecked by current laws.

Examples are California’s 15-day waiting period on firearms, and the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Act. If these laws had reduced violent crime, why would we need new gun-control laws? Since crime continues upward, why should we believe gun-controllers when they say we need more of the same?

Here’s another. New York City has strict gun-control laws and a high rate of violent crime; Virginia less-strict gun laws and a lot less violent crime. Supposedly, criminals were buying guns in Virginia (using fake Virginia ID’s) and smuggling them into New York for black-market sales. Political pressure was placed on Virginia to limit gun purchases to one a month; the law passed over National Rifle Assn. protests that it impacted only honest gun owners, because criminals could obtain black-market ID’s anyway.

So if New York’s laws are so unsuccessful that guns can be smuggled in anyway, what good is New York’s gun control? And if Virginia, with easily-obtainable firearms, has less crime than does New York, why didn’t New York take a lesson from Virginia and loosen its gun laws instead? Do criminals know something about attacking armed people that New York politicians don’t?

But my favorite trick is the one which says that the reason gun owners keep guns around is that they’re paranoid and fearful.

We’re shown videotape of Rodney King being excessively beaten by Los Angeles police. We read Ventura County Prosecutor Michael Bradbury’s report about how even rich, white Donald Scott was killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff during a drug raid trumped up in an attempt to steal Scott’s Malibu estate using the asset forfeiture laws. We see an acquittal of Randy Weaver for defending himself from the U.S. marshals who killed his wife and son, and see videotape of ATF agents opening fire on David Koresh’s followers in Waco, Texas, with no return fire from the Branch Davidians visible. Then we’re told gun owners are paranoid for not wanting to rely on tainted police authorities for protection against criminals.

Day after day, the news media tell us every time a gun is used in a murder, a carjacking, an ATM robbery, or a drive-by shooting, and we’re told it’s unreasonably fearful to think we’re in enough danger that we need to arm ourselves.

LA Assistant City Attorney Byron Boeckman, in discussing LAPD’s new policy of issuing concealed-carry-weapons licenses for the first time since 1974, tells us that the danger of violence to Los Angeles residents is exaggerated.

Well, which is it? Either America today is so peaceful, well-ordered, and efficiently protected by its police that there is no “gun violence” in the first place, and the rationale for gun control is based on a non-existent problem, or we are surrounded by heavily-armed psychopaths terrorizing our society, in which case being better armed than the criminals is the rational response of decent citizens who wish to preserve their civilization; and our laws should encourage, rather than discourage, civilians to train in, keep, and carry firearms.

Gun-control advocates constantly contradict themselves because gun control has never been shown as an effective solution for reducing violence. And in the absence of a provable case, all they have left in their stage magician’s trunk is old, worn-out tricks.

Which gun owners know better than to fall for.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is A Time to Kill

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 — Gun Fight at the 4 ‘n 20 Pie Shop

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Joining Forces against a Common Foe

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Gun Fight at the 4 ‘n 20 Pie Shop

The following article appeared in the October 27, 1992 Los Angeles Times.

Here’s another story you didn’t see on the network news.

At midnight on Friday, September 18th, 1992, former top-ranked boxer Randy Shields was sitting at his usual table at the 4 n 20 Pie Shop in Studio City, writing a screenplay. Suddenly, two masked robbers burst in with a shotgun blast and handgun fire. Shields dropped to the floor; the robbers immediately shot at him, winging his leg. Dragging himself into the darkened back room, Shields watched as the robbers pistol-whipped a busboy to get him to open the cash register, then shot through his shoe when he couldn’t do it. “Somebody’s gonna die tonight!” one of the robbers yelled, then opened fire toward several customers and waitresses, ordering them to hand over their wallets.

Shields saw his opportunity to fire without endangering bystanders. He pulled out his concealed .380 Walther PPK/S pistol, which he carries licensed as a part-time private bodyguard, and opened fire on the robbers, wounding them. They ran out to the parking lot where their driver was waiting; Shields put a couple of bullets into the getaway car, then ran out of ammunition. The robbers opened fire on him again and he dived back into the restaurant. The robbers squealed out to Laurel Canyon then pulled a U-turn so they could fire a few extra rounds into the restaurant.

Aside from Randy Shields’s minor leg wound, and the busboy’s bruises, none of the restaurant’s employees or customers were hurt. The robbers called an ambulance to treat their gunshot wounds, claiming to be victims of a drive-by shooting. But the bullets Randy Shields put into their getaway car — and a bullet hole Shields had put in a wad of money from two previous robberies they’d committed that night — were enough for police to make an arrest.

Even an advocate of restricting civilian carry of handguns would find it hard to argue against the effects of Randy Shields being armed that night.

But that advocate of handgun restriction will undoubtedly argue that this incident is mere anecdotal evidence, useless in deriving any public-policy conclusions regarding the value of issuing civilians concealed-carry weapons permits to deter crime. Surely, carrying a gun is no guarantee that others will be as brave and clear-headed as Randy Shields when faced with armed criminals. Further, since no criminal justice agency in the United States compiles statistics on anti-crime gun use by civilians, the gun-restrictionist’s objection is difficult to answer.

Difficult but not impossible. Criminologist Gary Kleck, professor at Florida State University, has compiled survey data that American civilians successfully use handguns for defense about 645,000 times each year, without wounding anyone 99% of the time. A 1986 National Institute of Justice survey of 2,000 felons in ten state prisons documents that 34% of felons have been “scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim,” and 57% agreed that “Most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police.” Professor Hans Toch of the State University of New York School of Criminology at Albany concludes, “[F]indings suggest that high saturations of guns … inhibit illegal aggression.”

But even granting possible deterrence against crime, doesn’t the danger of even licensed, concealed firearms in the hands of civilians outweigh the benefits?

No. To begin with, criminologist Don Kates of the Pacific Research Institute said, “Instances of citizens using guns with excessive force or against innocent persons they have misidentified as criminals are negligible.”

And while the California Department of Justice doesn’t compile records on firearms licenses revocations, a few states do. After rigorous tracking, the Florida Department of State reports that of 129,049 licenses issued since October 1, 1987, under that state’s mandatory license issuance to all qualified applicants, it has revoked 222 licenses (1 in 581)) but only 115 for a crime (1 in 1122) and only 17 licenses have had to be revoked for a crime utilizing a firearm: 1 in 7591. Meanwhile, according to FBI crime reports, the homicide rate in Florida dropped 20% between 1986 and 1991, while the U.S. homicide rate increased 14% during that same period.

Indiana, which has 220,623 licenses outstanding, doesn’t break down its reasons for revoking licenses, and reports 349 licenses revoked between 1989 and 1991 (1 in 632), with most revocations being one year for unnecessarily brandishing a firearm.

By comparison, California Department of Motor Vehicles reports a rate of 1 in 368 drivers’ licenses revoked for all causes in 1991 alone – a higher rate of revocation than Florida or Indiana has for firearms licenses.

Any sensible public policy demands that hysteria and demagoguery not bury the facts. Firearms carried by responsible, competent civilians present no danger to the public, and both survey data and dramatic examples such as Randy Shields provide us good reason to believe that they save lives.

If anyone wants more proof than that, then they will have to demand that the criminal justice agencies that track the evil that people do with firearms also track the good that they do as well.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is If Gun Laws Work, Why Are We Afraid?

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 — Joining Forces against a Common Foe

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Joining Forces against a Common Foe

The following article appeared in the June 8, 1992 Los Angeles Times.

There are about 200 million guns in America in the hands of about 60 million Americans. The sale of guns nationwide following the Los Angeles riots has reached record levels, many of them to first-time buyers. Firearms training classes are filled to capacity. The National Rifle Association currently has 2.8 million members – ten times the membership of the American Civil Liberties Union – and expects to exceed 3 million by the end of 1992.

Both advocates of gun control and advocates of gun rights agree that there is an epidemic problem with the criminal use of guns in America. But every time a gun-control advocate points to the latest atrocity committed with a firearm, the gun-rights advocate will surely ask: why was there no armed citizen who could have tried to stop the criminal?

The difference between the advocate of gun control and the advocate of gun rights lies in a perception of the cause of the criminal use of a gun. Those who advocate gun control think the cause is wide and easy availability of guns. The advocates of gun rights think the cause is a legal system which leaves criminals free to prey on a public which is socially discouraged, and often legally forbidden, from using guns for personal defense.

The war over gun control is fought with news reports. Advocates of gun control have no shortage of reports that prove guns in the hands of criminals are a plague on our society. Advocates of gun rights find, however, that the use of firearms to prevent or stop a crime is often left unreported by media which are worried that reporting gun defenses will encourage irresponsible vigilantism.

The war over gun control is fought with statistics. The number of gun attacks in the United States is easy to compile: just count up the thousands of bodies in the morgues, and the hundreds of thousands of gunshot victims treated in hospitals. The number of times a gun is used for defense, however, has a built-in problem: the use of a firearm to deter, prevent, or stop an attack is unrecorded, overwhelmingly because the defense was accomplished without pulling the trigger, and less often, because the person using the gun for self-defense was legally forbidden to be in possession of it at that time or place, and thus did not report it.

The war over gun control is fought with historical debates about the intent of the Second Amendment. Those who advocate gun control say the Second Amendment has no Supreme Court ruling which defines the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms for personal defense. Those who advocate gun rights say that the intent of the authors of the Second Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment which would apply it to the states, is indisputable, and it is a politicized Supreme Court which does not have the courage to enforce it.

It’s likely that the only other issue with such polarized and deeply felt world views is abortion. Oddly, those who advocate the right of choice on abortion are often the same people advocating eliminating the right to choose firearms as a defensive option.

It’s also likely that a final Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment would fail to end the issue. A ruling in favor of an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment would probably coalesce gun-control advocates into a movement to repeal the amendment. A ruling against an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment would alienate and radicalize the millions of Americans who believe in that right as firmly as the advocates of abortion rights believe in theirs.

As long as the advocates of gun control write laws and court rulings that abridge the right of private citizens to buy, own, and carry the firearms they feel are theirs by right to have for defensive and sporting use, gun owners will continue to be alienated and radicalized, and become more and more willing to engage in civil disobedience against such abridgements.

Advocates of gun control need to realize that passing laws that honest gun owners will not obey is a self-defeating strategy. Gun owners are not about to surrender their rights or their guns, and only the most foolish of politicians would risk the stability of the government by trying to use the force of the State to disarm the people.

If gun-control advocates do not acknowledge the right of the people to keep and bear arms for individual and civic defense before they attempt to remove guns from the hands of those who abuse them, then sensible gun laws will be out of reach, and the criminal plague of gun victimizing will continue.

Can’t advocates of gun control see the advantage of recruiting gun-rights advocates to a joint cause of eliminating gun tragedies? We can all agree that guns need to be kept out of the hands of the violent criminal and the lunatic. We can agree that the solution to gun accidents is safety training. We can agree that those who own and carry firearms for protection must take responsibility for knowing how to use them safely and appropriately.

Surely, instead of fighting one another, we can join forces to fight our common enemy: the armed criminal?


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Gun Fight at the 4 ‘n 20 Pie Shop

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 — A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Introduction: As American as Guns

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

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

Sorties into Enemy Territory:
the LA Times Op-Eds

Southern California has only one newspaper that is widely distributed throughout the state: the Los Angeles Times. Its editors like to compare themselves only to The New York Times.

In January, 1992, when the Op-Ed page of the Los Angeles Times published the first of four opinion pieces of mine putting forth a defense of civilian firearms, it had probably been over a decade since the last time they had published an article with this viewpoint. The editor of the editorial pages, Thomas Plate, doesn’t believe in the Second Amendment – he has referred to it in a letter to the NRA’s Sacramento lobbyist as a “blip on the Constitution” – but when a subscriber pointed out to him the Times‘s lack of balance on this subject, he felt chastened and promised the subscriber to do something about it.

The Times subscriber was Dafydd ab Hugh, a fellow novelist and firearms-rights activist. I had unsuccessfully submitted three articles to the Times at that point. When Dafydd told me of Mr. Plate’s promise to him, I decided to submit again.

An incident at a Shoney’s Restaurant in Alabama gave me the opportunity to update one of my articles, and I made my first sale to the Times Op-Ed page.

That article got me on two major Los Angeles radio talk shows, and started a friendship with the most-respected talk show host in Los Angeles, KABC’s Dennis Prager. My article was the final straw that convinced Dennis to abandon his opposition to civilian arms, and to embrace a philosophy of citizen self-defense that includes both widespread gun ownership and what he sees as necessary gun regulations.

During the almost-two-years that I was selling articles to the Times Op-Ed page, the Times Editorial Page was calling for what it self-described as only modest gun-control measures.

But on Friday, October 15, 1993, only three weeks after the Second Amendment Foundation gave me their James Madison Award for my fourth Times Op-Ed piece, published on September 20th, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Page began a series of weekly half-page editorials called “Taming the Gun Monster.”

In these editorials, the Times editors called for a national ban on handguns and any semi-automatic firearm that could be lumped into the undefined category of “assault weapons,” and denied that there were any insuperable legal or constitutional barriers to doing so.

I probably didn’t do my career any good when I organized a demonstration against the Los Angeles Times which took place the Monday morning following the first of the editorials. A dozen other firearms-rights activists and I, dressed in business suits, handed out copies of articles in front of the Times offices to anyone going in or out who would take one. The hand-outs included several of my articles – both from the Times Op-Ed page and the Times‘s nearest rival, the conservative Orange County Register – and additional articles refuting the Times editorial contention such as a Times news article from May 20, 1992, titled “Assault Rifles Are Not Heavily Used in Crimes.”

Thomas Plate “balanced” these editorials by running several excellent pieces by pro-firearms criminologists and Second-Amendment scholars on the Op-Ed page.

But I wasn’t invited to be one of the balancers, and my one submission to the Times since the demonstration was rejected. I believe that the Times‘s editor of the Op-Ed page, Bob Berger, likes my articles. I suspect his boss, Mr. Plate, has overruled him.

I can’t say I blame Mr. Plate. I had bit the hand that was feeding me.

But Thomas Plate’s hand was attempting to destroy the most important of the Bill of Rights.

It deserved to be bit. -JNS

The following article appeared in the January 1, 1992 Los Angeles Times.

A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About

This is the story you saw on the evening news:

At lunch hour on Wednesday, Oct. 16, George Jo Hennard of Belton, Tex. smashed his Ford pickup through the plate glass doors of Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, injuring some patrons immediately. While other patrons rushed toward the truck believing the driver was a heart-attack victim, Hennard calmly climbed out of his pickup, took out two 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistols, and started shooting people in the cafeteria’s serving line.

Hennard continued shooting for 10 minutes, reloading five times. One of his pistols jammed repeatedly, causing him to discard it. There would have been plenty of opportunity for any of the cafeteria’s customers or employees to return fire. None did because none of them were armed. Texas law forbids private citizens from carrying firearms out of their home or business. Luby’s employee’s manual forbids employees from carrying firearms.

Police officers were inside Luby’s within minutes. But before they were able to corner Hennard in the cafeteria’s restroom, where he turned his gun fatally on himself, Hennard had killed 15 women and 8 men, wounded 19 and caused at least five more to be injured attempting to flee.

The Killeen massacre was ready-made excitement for the media: a madman with a gun, lots of gruesome pictures. CBS News devoted an entire “48 Hours” Dan Rather report to it. Sarah Brady of Handgun Control Inc. capitalized on it in a nationally published column to call Congress cowardly for voting down more stringent gun laws the next day.

Now here’s a story you probably didn’t see:

Late at night on Tuesday, December 17, two men armed with recently-stolen pistols herded 20 customers and employees of a Shoney’s restaurant in Anniston, Ala., into the walk-in refrigerator, and locked it. Continuing to hold the manager at gunpoint, the men began robbing the restaurant.

Then one of the robbers found a customer who had hidden under a table and pulled a gun on him. The customer, Thomas Glenn Terry, legally armed with a .45 semi-automatic pistol, fired five shots into that robber’s chest and abdomen, killing him instantly.

The other robber, who was holding the manager at gunpoint, opened fire on Terry and grazed him. Terry returned fire, hitting the second robber several times and wounding him critically.

The robbery attempt was over. The Shoney’s customers and employees were freed. No one else was hurt.

Because Terry was armed, and used his gun to stop two armed robbers who had taken a restaurant full of people hostage, there was no drawn-out crisis, no massacre, no victims’ families for Dan Rather to interview. Consequently, the story hasn’t received much coverage.

Among those who rely on national news media for their view of the country, the bloody image of Luby’s Cafeteria is available to lend the unchallenged impression that guns in private hands serve only to kill innocent people. The picture of 20 hostages walking out of Shoney’s refrigerator unharmed, because a private citizen was armed that night, is not.

As we celebrate the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights, it’s worth noting that the Framers wrote the Second Amendment so the people’s defense would be in our own hands, and we wouldn’t have to rely on a “standing army” or “select militia” for our security. Though no police departments existed in America then, there’s no historical doubt that the Framers had considered centralized public defense, and considered it not merely ineffective, but itself dangerous to public safety. Recent vigilante-type police attacks, such as the beating of Rodney King, lend credence.

Yet, it’s fashionable to relegate constitutional protections to the dustbin of history. Judges sworn to defend the Constitution ignore its clear provisions, as do legislators. Virtually every major organ of society – both political parties, the media, the American Bar Assn., the ACLU – urges them to do so.

Today’s “consensus reality” asserts that private firearms play no effective role in the civic defense, and that firearms must be restricted to reduce crime. The media repeat these assertions as a catechism, and treat those who challenge them as heretics.

Yet, we have before us an experiment showing us alternative outcomes. In one case, we have a restaurant full of unarmed people who rely on the police to save them. The result is 23 innocent lives lost, and an equivalent number wounded. In the second case, we have one armed citizen on the scene and not one innocent life lost.

How can the choice our society needs to make be any clearer?

It’s time to rid ourselves of the misbegotten idea that public safety can be achieved by unilateral disarmament of the honest citizen, and realize that the price of public safety is, like liberty, eternal vigilance. We can tire ourselves in futile debates on how to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Or we can decide that innocent lives deserve better than to be cut short, if only we, as a society, will take upon ourselves the civic responsibility of defending our fellow citizens, as Thomas Glenn Terry did in Alabama.

My account of Thomas Glenn Terry’s actions in this article was based on an Alabama newspaper account. I later interviewed Terry for a weekly radio program I was hosting and discovered that the account was mistaken on several points.

Postal clerk Terry was finishing a late-night dinner with his wife when the robbers came in and took over the restaurant. Terry hid his .45 Colt Government Model under his sweater, not seeing any immediate opportunity to use it. Terry’s wife was captured with the other customers and herded off to the cooler, where one of the robbers proceeded to collect wallets and jewelry.

Terry did not hide under a table; he had separated himself from the other customers and managed to get to a back door in the Shoney’s to see if it was open so he could escape and call the police. The door was chained shut. At that point one of the robbers discovered him and when the robber drew on him, Terry pulled his own handgun from under his sweater and returned fire, incapacitating this robber, who ultimately survived. The second robber heard the exchange of gunfire and also drew on Terry; it was the gun fight between Terry and this second robber which resulted in the robber running out to the parking lot, where he died from his wounds. It was at this point that Terry told the store manager to phone the police, informing them that an armed customer was present; Terry then proceeded to the cooler and released his wife and the other customers.

Both robbers whom Terry shot had previous armed robberies on their record, and one had murdered a motel clerk just a few days earlier. A third robber escaped as soon as Terry exchanged gunfire with the first robber.

The only national media outlet to cover this incident as news, just two months after the Killeen restaurant massacre, was the Christian Science Monitor. -JNS


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Joining Forces against a Common Foe

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 Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Introduction: As American as Guns

Go to book’s beginning.

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Introduction: As American as Guns

“You know why there’s a second amendment? In case the government doesn’t obey the first one.”
– Rush Limbaugh, August 17, 1993

Advocates of the right to keep and bear arms in the United States usually base their arguments on 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.”

But what if the Second Amendment were repealed? Would the people’s right to keep and bear arms still exist?

If we do not have a basic understanding of the nature and source of rights in general, as did the Framers of the Constitution, then it is near-impossible to discuss whether the people’s right to keep and bear arms exists only as a collective right, or as an individual right; and whether it would disappear if the “well-regulated militia” mentioned in that amendment is ruled to be under state jurisdiction rather than the adult civilian population at large, as it was thought to be at the time of the amendment’s passage.

The answers to both questions must rest on prior examination of what constitutes rights and individual liberty to begin with.

In its most fundamental aspect, the concept of liberty is that of a society organized on the basis of universal individual rights – rights which are equally held by every individual in that society.

What do we mean by a “right”? Here’s a working definition: a right is the moral authority to do something without needing prior permission from another to do it.

In Biblical times, it was assumed that only God has rights, and that He grants them only to a specific chosen few. He liberated the nation of Israel from bondage to the Egyptians by a series of plagues imposed upon the Egyptians. Was God violating the Egyptians’ rights? Not according to the Biblical writers, who viewed the Egyptians as merely God’s property, to do with as He will.

Later, God ordered the Israelites, under the command of Joshua, to evict everyone from Canaan, killing every man, woman, and child among them and take the land for themselves, as His exclusively authorized tenants.

The Biblical writers assumed that God had the rights of a landlord to do so, and the Canaanites had no rights to live there: only the nation of Israel, to whom God granted an exclusive, long-term lease.

Still later in Biblical accounts, the nation of Israel petitioned God to have a king, so they could be like other nations. Reluctantly, God agreed, and thus was born the concept of the divine right of kings. The king appointed by God had an exclusive moral authority to take actions in that society, answerable only to God Himself. Everyone else was under the King’s authority and had no rights of their own – no rights to their own lives, property, or freedom of action. All these were owned by the king, who dispensed them to his favored few.

There were historical variations, of course. Often kings found that they needed to share power with military men in order to keep their turf – thus the birth of aristocracy. The ancient Greeks vested much authority in military leaders, and experimented with popular government without much success. Ancient Rome experimented with a republican form of government, in which certain classes of people had greater rights than others, ranging from the patricians, to the plebeians, to slaves – even women had certain rights. Later, when Rome became an empire, we find one of the oddest reversals of rights being that of the Roman Emperor’s right not only to rule on earth with absolute authority over all that he conquered, but to create new gods as well.

In any event, as history progresses, there is a tendency to disperse rights among larger and larger groups of people. There were a number of forces at work to produce this. One of them was the Reformation’s transfer of biblical interpretation from the Church to the individual. Another was the greater importance of trade making even kings and emperors dependent on private merchants to one extent or another. Still another was the necessity of kings requiring wide dispersal of arms to as many of their subjects as could handle them, to discourage other kings from invading.

Ideas began percolating in the English Leveller’s movement in the 1640’s which by the 18th century, largely due to John Locke’s 1690 “Two Treatises on Government,” started gaining popularity among many Englishmen, particularly those living in America: that rights are not invested by God in a single King, but exist in every single individual.

In Europe, however, the theory of rights took a different road – based on extreme egalitarianism – particularly in the French revolution. Instead of rights being seized from the king and given to the individual, it was given to new collectives of revolutionaries. Thus the idea of revolutionary communism and revolutionary socialism was born. The moral authority to act without permission was shifted from the king to the governing council or party. Because this idea granted the people a moral sense that it was proper to kill the old kings and aristocracies and grab their lands and property, it became popular – popular until it became evident to everyone that all that had happened was the transfer of power from an old aristocracy to a new one called by a different name. The new aristocracy was just as hard to overthrow as the old ones, and it is only well into the 20th century that there has been any success at it.

This history lesson has a point. No matter what the institutions are of a given society, or what names they are called, the fundamental question is whether rights in that society are universally held by all the people, or whether they are reserved to those with the political power to get their own way.

“Getting your own way” can take a number of forms.

One of them is institutional politics. This can take the form of a political party, or a political lobby, or a class of people who are well-organized enough to require those in power to take their desires into account. It can be the ability to convince politicians to grant favors – sometimes by cash payoffs, sometimes merely by a promise that you will support their next campaign for office. Sometimes it can be something as silly as being a popular actor or TV personality whom people are willing to pay attention to.

But underneath all this civilized horse-trading is the question of, when push comes to shove, who has the raw force to win the day?

Historically, the king’s rights meant nothing if his soldiers wouldn’t act on his orders, or if others could overthrow him by force of arms.

What is true for the rights of kings is just as true for the rights of the people. Rights are only as secure as the ability to wield sufficient force to defend them.

In a free society which recognizes the moral authority of individuals to act for their own good – to make decisions about their lives, lifestyles, and property without prior permission from a king, political party, or even their neighbors – individuals are the sovereign, the kings. Whatever compacts such sovereigns make with one another to keep from violating each other’s boundaries only have the moral authority which is first held by the individuals themselves.

America is a culture historically different from any other in the history of the human race, and still largely different from any other elsewhere on this world. What has distinguished American civilization from all others is the doctrine of universal individual sovereign rights. This unique difference made the American civilization superior to any previous or foreign civilization in the known universe.

I carefully said “made” in the previous sentence rather than “makes.” Reactionary forces for the last century have been working hard at eliminating those qualities that made the American civilization unique, and America is a long way on the road back into the quicksand of European and Asian barbarism from which it once freed itself.

In every previous civilization, the individual was finally the servant of the polity, whether that polity was the tribe, the religious order, or embodied in the person of a king or emperor. Even in such decentralized polities as existed in ancient Ireland or Iceland, an individual pledged fealty to a king above himself, regardless of his ability to change his mind and switch kings.

The American civilization, which was born on July 4th, 1776, utterly rejected this doctrine for the first time in human history, in its founding document, 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.

In an historical instant, all previous conception of the relationship between the individual and the polity was reversed. From then on, each individual held sovereignty as a birthright: not a king’s claim to rule others and sit in judgment on them, but a free man’s sovereignty to determine his own destiny, rule his own life, and dispose of his own property as he saw fit. For the first time in human history, a polity declared itself a nation – a single people – by an act of will rather than by an accident of geography or history or religion or language.

It is true that the structural implementation of this doctrine of universal individual sovereignty was decidedly flawed. At the outset, the implementation excluded women, Africans, and native tribes, and favored landed property owners. In practice, rights were held only by white Protestant male property owners. These were hangovers from the Old World way of doing things. But the rhetoric was universalist. The power of this rhetoric of universal rights acted as a moral goad, in the United States, first to rebellion against the King, then later to wider and wider dispersal of rights, until chattel slavery of Africans was abolished and full legal rights accorded to them; property qualifications for franchise were eliminated; and full citizenship rights were granted to women as well.

While the principles propelled the culture to progress toward closer and closer approximations of extending universal rights, reactionary forces were working to destroy the concept of sovereign rights entirely. In the twentieth century we have seen the doctrine of universalism triumph while the doctrine of individual powers is nearly extinguished.

The Constitution of the United States in 1787 was the first attempt in human history to forge a government of individual sovereigns, in which the exercise of individual powers was considered an essential check on governmental power. The Articles of Confederation before it was not: it was merely a confederation of states with varying degrees of individual versus state sovereignty. From the perspective allowed by 207 years of observation, it is clearly an imperfect attempt in that it provided no reliable institutional mechanism, short of revolution, to enforce punishment upon magistrates, legislators, and executives who usurped the people’s rights and powers.

But it did preserve the option of revolution as a final means of enforcement of the people’s rights and powers, and it did that in the Second Amendment to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the Preamble of which declared the Bill of Rights’ purpose: “The conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added …”

The “militia” referred to in the Second Amendment – supported by debates at the time and enabling legislation – was the people as a whole. It was the expectation of the Constitution’s Framers that the people would train to arms and be available both for defense against foreign enemies and as a posse comitatus (Latin for “power of the county”) against domestic enemies. The constitutional debates now known as the Federalist Papers, largely written by Madison and Hamilton, clearly distinguished the militia from both a standing army and “select” militias. The revolutionaries had had experience with both, courtesy of the British, and wanted the people armed and ready as a protection against them.

Today, 203 years after the Second Amendment was made part of the Constitution, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is under attack as the final barrier to the triumph of statism’s conquest of America, but two centuries of that right’s existence has left us a living legacy from its authors. In spite of an extreme hostility toward civilian arms from every powerful organized institution in this country, half the homes in this country still maintain a private arsenal, and two-thirds of Americans have said to Louis Harris pollsters that they have no intent of surrendering their arms, even if they are both bribed and threatened by the law.

Gun control, so-called, is a fraud perpetrated by those who are fundamentally opposed to the doctrine of universal individual sovereignty: individual liberty. Its proponents are either philosophical pacifists or statists, or both. Its stated purpose of reducing crime and violence has never succeeded in doing either, no matter how thoroughly it has been tried; as good a case can be made that it disarms only the innocent and increases violent crime overall. While the purposes for which it is proposed are dubious, its function is clearly to deinstitutionalize, once and for all, the doctrine of universal individual sovereignty in this country by depriving the people of their final means of resisting incursions upon their lives, property, and liberty: armed force.

Arms are the power of the sovereign, whether that sovereign is one man or a billion.

If the doctrine of universal individual rights is to triumph on this planet, “the last, best hope of earth” – the United States of America – must preserve the power of its people to defend the rights of its people.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About

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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Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns

Nominated as Freedom Book of the Month
for June 2010
by the Freedom Book Club

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

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

To L. Neil Smith
Who Made Me Ashamed to Be Unarmed

Author’s Acknowledgements

Authors get all the credit, but they usually have help. Considering the many hours in which I have been educated on the subjects of history, liberty, morality and ethics, justice, criminal justice and law enforcement, firearms, and criminology, I would be remiss if I did not pay acknowledgements to the personal instruction I received from the following individuals: Sean Barrett, Alan Brennert, Steve Clar, Culver City Police Chief Ted Cooke, Charles Curley, Robert Durio, Art Eisenson, Harlan Ellison, Dan Feely, Elizabeth and Justin Feffer, Manuel Fernandez, John Ferrero, Dennis Foley, David Friedman, James Gatlin, Alan Gottlieb, Helen Grieco, Stephen Halbrook, Sylvia Hauser, Robert and Virginia Heinlein, Steve Helsley, Randall Herrst, Karl Hess, Ray Hickman, John Hosford, Phill Jackson, Dan Gifford, Sal Grammatico, T.J. Johnston, Don B. Kates, Jr., Keith Kato, Bill Keys, Gary Kleck, Peter Lake, Wayne LaPierre, Robert LeFevre, Rick Lowe, Elodie McKee, Michael McNulty, John Milius, Armando Miranda, Andrew Molchan, Jerry Pournelle, Dennis Prager, Leroy Pyle, Pat O’Malley, Paxton Quigley, Ayn Rand, Robert Ray, Michael D. Robbins, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Fred Romero, Murray Rothbard, Jim Saharek, Randy Shields, Jay Simkin, Culver City Police Lt. Owen Smet, Thomas Glenn Terry, Lance Thomas, Linda Thompson, Cathy Tolley, Luis Tolley, Kent Turnipseed, Jim Waldorf, Aaron Zelman, and, of course, my parents and family.

Additionally, for their direct guidance and help on this book, I’d like to thank Léon Bing, John Douglas, Larry Freundlich, Kent Hastings, Dafydd ab Hugh, Keith Kirts, Neal Knox, Victor Koman, Samuel Edward Konkin III, Richard Kyle, Jared Lobdell, Tanya Metaksa, Kate O’Neal, Ave Pildas and the students of the Otis Design Group at Otis College of Art and Design, Dori Smith, and Albert Yokum.

And, finally, a very special thank you to Brad Linaweaver and Randy Herrst for assistance at the penultimate hour.

I know that some of the people I’m thanking disagree with my views as expressed in this book. Tough. They have my gratitude anyway — JNS

by Don B. Kates, Jr.

While still a student at Yale Law School, Don B. Kates, Jr., did civil rights work in the South, was a law clerk for William Kuntsler, and drafted civil-rights legislation for the House Judiciary Committee. From 1966 to 1975 he held various administrative positions with California Rural Legal Assistance and was deputy director and director of litigation for the San Mateo County Legal Aid Society, providing free legal representation for the poor. He specialized in major constitutional litigation and police misconduct litigation. In 1970 he was denominated the nation’s outstanding legal services lawyer by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. He has also been a member of the California Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission.

Professor Kates has acted as a police legal advisor to departments in California and Missouri and has been a consultant on firearms, firearms legislation, and civil rights legislation to police departments and state and federal legislative committees. His articles on firearms have appeared in police and firearms technical journals; and his articles on firearms laws and “gun control” in general have appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Civil Liberties Review, the Criminal Law Bulletin, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and various law reviews and other publications. He is the author of Guns, Murder, and the Constitution, and books he has edited include Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out and Firearms and Violence.

Professor Kates has taught constitutional and criminal law at St. Louis University and as a criminologist is currently associated with the Pacific Research Institute. He maintains a largely constitutional law practice in San Francisco and has recently been litigating constitutional issues regarding California’s gun laws. — JNS

Most Americans, including most gun owners, support reasonable gun controls. As a criminologist, so do I – with the caveat that even the best controls can only have marginal effects because the real determinants of violence are cultural and socioeconomic. The reason gun control remains a controversy is that the gun “control” movement has no interest in control, and no interest in working with the millions of gun owners who support control. The gun-control movement is dominated, rather, by prohibitionists whose ideologically motivated program obstructs society’s ability actually to control guns.

Exemplifying that obstruction is Washington D.C.’s ban on handgun sales, passed at the urging of Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) and the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (NCBH). This ban just drove the traffic underground, destroying the limited real control-value gun laws can have. When gun sales are legal, they’re concentrated among gun dealers who can be required to register or conduct background checks on buyers, and refuse sales to prohibited persons such as felons and juveniles. Banning guns created a thriving business, with black marketeers obtaining scores of handguns in adjoining states and selling them on D.C.’s streets to anyone with the money to buy.

The situation will be even worse if HCI and NCBH attain their goal of a federal handgun ban. In addition to importing millions of handguns, the black marketeers will produce modern handguns in pot-metal copies. Though such a gun could only fire perhaps 300 shots before exploding, any competent machinist can fabricate one using tooling no more sophisticated than that found in millions of home workshops. Pot-metal guns would actually be less expensive than commercially manufactured guns are today – being produced without safeties, serial numbers, and brand names – by businesses free from costs such as taxes, record keeping, and likelihood of product liability suit. Similarly, “rotgut” sold for less during Prohibition than good liquor had before it.

The issue of licensing good citizens to carry concealed guns further illustrates the anti-gun movement’s indifference to, and retardation of, actual control. Under California law, the police are required to license adults who have good cause and good character. The City of Los Angeles has more population than Connecticut which, as of mid-1993, had 110,000 licenses statewide. Yet at the behest of HCI, NCBH, and their ally the virulently anti-gun Los Angeles Times, as of mid-1993 the City of Los Angeles hadn’t issued a handgun concealed-carry license in 18 years.

Predictably, however, that didn’t mean no one was carrying concealed guns. A May 17, 1992 Los Angeles Times poll found 250,000 people admittedly carrying handguns without a license. Think of that: 250,000 uncontrolled people carrying concealed guns around – their identities, training, and qualifications completely unknown to the police! Now, of course, criminals wouldn’t seek licenses even if they were freely available to good citizens. But the law-abiding would – whereby society would have notice of their identities and the power to condition licensure on training and testing. That is pragmatic gun control. The program of the LA Times, Handgun Control et al. is prohibitionist myopia.

But they don’t care that their program is non-pragmatic and ineffective. Their real goal is a law symbolically affirming their deeply held moral belief that people should depend on the police for defense and never be prepared to defend themselves. Nationally syndicated columnist Garry Wills, a distinguished cultural historian, calls those who own guns for family defense “anti-citizens,” “traitors, enemies of their own patriÆ,” arming “against their own neighbors.” Ramsey Clark calls defensive gun ownership “anarchy, not order under law – a jungle where each relies on himself for survival.” The Washington Post deems “The need that some homeowners and shopkeepers believe they have for weapons to defend themselves” to be among “the worst instincts of the human character.” Likewise, representatives of the Presbyterian Church regularly seek a handgun ban because their church’s “General Assembly has declared in the context of handgun control that it is opposed to ‘the killing of anyone, anywhere, for any reason.'”

The Presbyterians distinguish long guns, which they see as intended for sporting use only, from handguns which they seek to outlaw as primarily intended for self-defense. The National Council to Ban Handguns (of which the Presbyterian Church USA is a charter member) changed its name to Coalition Against Gun Violence to clarify that it seeks prohibition also of long guns that are especially adapted for self-defense rather than sport. That is the real basis of the campaign against so-called assault rifles.

The law NCBH and HCI got Washington D.C. to pass (and which they see as the basic minimum gun control) doesn’t just ban sale of handguns. To preclude the use of any firearm for self-defense, it prohibits householders from keeping even long guns assembled or loaded. NCBH was founded, and is still sponsored, by the Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. Its rationale for gun “control” is explained by the editor of its publication Engage-Social Action, Rev. Allen Brockway. He is so deeply opposed to self-defense that he solemnly informs women that it is their Christian duty to submit to rape rather than do anything that might imperil a rapist’s life. Rhetorically posing the question “Is the Robber My Brother?” Rev. Brockway answers “yes” for, though the burglary victim or the “woman accosted in the park by a rapist is [not] likely to consider the violator to be a neighbor whose safety is of immediate concern … [c]riminals are members of the larger community no less than are others. As such they are our neighbors or, as Jesus put it, our brothers … ”

Theological considerations aside, the Methodist Board and the YWCA condemn the mere possession (not just the unlawful use) of defensive firearms as “vigilantism.” HCI and the other dominant forces in the gun “control” movement (quoted above) concur in condemning gun ownership for self-defense on purely secular moral grounds. As Illinois anti-gun activist and University of Chicago professor Robert Replogle puts it, “The only legitimate use of a handgun that I can understand is for target shooting.” HCI’s Sarah Brady, in an interview from the Tampa Tribune of October 21, 1993, agrees that “the only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes.”

Concomitantly, on August 15, 1993 the New York Times quoted Sarah Brady as saying that HCI proposes federal gun licensing under which self-defense would not be accepted as a ground for gun ownership. Only sportsmen would be allowed to own guns. Of course the Los Angeles Times, in an editorial from October 22, 1993, agrees. So does NCBH, though it also seeks to have all handguns (even target .22s) banned and confiscated. And, again, both HCI and NCBH insist that all firearms be kept unloaded and disassembled to make it impossible to use them for self-defense.

If only to appeal to those who disagree with their anti-self-defense moral premises, HCI and NCBH do avow pseudocriminological arguments for such laws. Thus, when he was HCI Chairman, Pete Shields in his book Guns Don’t Die, People Do advised that women submit to rapists and never physically resist in any way: when attacked by criminals “the best defense against injury is to put up no defense – give them what they want or run.” In fact, however, it is only victims who run away or resist barehanded or with some weapon less than a gun who increase their danger of injury. Though the submissive are only half as likely to be injured by criminals as are victims who resist without a gun, criminological data show victims who submit are still twice as likely to be injured by criminals as are victims who resist with a gun – not to mention that the submissive are much more likely to be raped or robbed.

HCI and NCBH try never to acknowledge or mention these facts, which have been established by the leading American authority on guns and crime, Prof. Gary Kleck of Florida State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kleck also finds that each year handguns are used by good citizens three to four times as often in self-defense as they are misused by criminals in committing crimes. Of course this research has also escaped the notice of the Washington Post, New York and LA Times, and the rest of our ignorant and highly biased media. Fortunately, it has not gone unnoticed by others. It is responsible for changing the minds of many criminologists who started out, as did Kleck, believing that gun ownership even by good citizens promotes crime. In 1993, the American Society of Criminology awarded Kleck’s book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America its coveted Hindelang Award for the most important research in criminology over the past several years.

HCI, NCBH, and gun prohibitionists in general ignore Kleck’s work because, at bottom, their position is not criminological, but rather non-pragmatically “moral” and ideological. Yet that position is morally bankrupt because it can only be urged upon the American people by active and consistent deceit. Consider what I call The Parable of the Fox, the Rabbit, and the Porcupine: While our society is ravaged by foxes, HCI, NCBH, and their allies urge us to disarm and cower in our holes like rabbits. In contrast, gun owners imitate the porcupine. But HCI, NCBH, and their allies obscure the truth by pointing to the slain rabbits and shrieking, “It’s the porcupines’ fault! The porcupines are eating the rabbits!”

Note: Readers wishing more detailed verification for the facts cited above can refer to Kates’ “Bigotry, Symbolism, and Ideology in the Battle Over Gun Control,” 1992 Public Interest Law Journal 31; also his “The Value of Civilian Arms Possession as Deterrent to Crime or Defense Against Crime,” 18 American Journal of Criminal Law 113 (1991); also his “Handgun Banning in Light of the Prohibition Experience” in Firearms and Violence 1984 (Kates is editor); my own interview with Gary Kleck, later in this book; and other sources referenced throughout or recommended at the end of this book – JNS

By J. Neil Schulman

“Buy a gun. Learn to use it safely and appropriately. Carry it with you at all times. Be prepared to defend yourself, your loved ones, and your neighborhoods,”

-J. Neil Schulman on ABC TV World News Tonight, May 2, 1992, during the Los Angeles Riots

Yes, I admit it: the title of this book is a bad pun.

Technically speaking, “stopping power” is a measurement of the ability of a firearm or a round used by a firearm to incapacitate an attacker.

But I also mean it as the ability of an armed citizenry to stop tyrannical power.

This book contains my writings on firearms-related topics, although it expands out from there into issues of criminology, political history, and theories of justice.

I’m not what you’d call a gun nut. When I started writing in defense of firearms, I didn’t even own a gun.

I shot my father’s .22 rifle in the back yard of our house in Natick, Massachusetts once or twice, got an NRA marksmanship certificate with an air rifle when I was 12 or so, and didn’t shoot again for another two decades.

I only bought my first firearm, a .380 Colt Government Model semi-automatic pistol, in late summer, 1991. Since that time I’ve bought two more semi-auto pistols, have taken California police reserve training, and have received a license to carry a concealed firearm in California and Massachusetts. I’ve also become a pretty decent marksman, though not up to competition standards.

The reason I started writing about guns is that I’m interested in justice – not to mention life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and I don’t believe any of these things are possible if the government and criminals are well-armed and the people aren’t.

In this book I’m going to try to explain two things. I hope I’m explaining them to people who have never owned, or even considered owning, a firearm.

The first thing I’m going to try to explain is why 70 million Americans – about half the adults in the United States of America – already own at least one firearm, and many Americans own a veritable arsenal of them.

The second thing I’m going to try to explain is why – despite a barrage of anti-gun propaganda by virtually the entire institutional establishment in this country – these 70 million American gun owners are morally, historically, legally, and politically justified in their choice to be armed.

That is about as far as the National Rifle Association would take you. I’m going to go farther. I’m going to give reasons why the other half of the adult population in the United States – the half who aren’t armed – are the reason this country suffers from the epidemic of violent crime that it does.

This is not a textbook. I’m not a professional historian, nor am I a constitutional lawyer or a criminologist. I’m a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. In other words, I’m a self-appointed pundit.

That should make me at least as qualified to write about guns as other self-appointed pundits such as Sarah Brady of Handgun Control, Inc. Aside from ideology, the emotional difference between Sarah Brady’s and my view of guns is that Sarah Brady’s husband was badly hurt by a gun in an assassination attempt on President Reagan, and my father, a concert violinist, saved his life from muggers several times because he was carrying a gun.

I’m not going to present you with a systematic defense of gun ownership. I’m going to give you a bunch of things I wrote over the last few years. Some were published as newspaper opinion pieces and magazine articles, and others presented as editorial replies, letters, computer bulletin-board arguments, broadsides, speeches, polemics, and proposals. Everything you’re going to read in this book was written in the heat of battle, as I responded to wave after wave of anti-gun hysteria on television and radio, and in prestigious newspapers and journals that should know better.

If you don’t have any interest in what a self-appointed pundit has to say on this subject, and you’re looking for more systematic or academic presentations on the issues I cover in these articles, I include a recommended list for further reading in the back of the book. I’ll forgive you for flipping to the back of the book, writing down some of those other titles, and putting this book back on the shelf. Just don’t let the bookstore clerk catch you.

We live in an age of soundbytes. Maybe you’re not in the mood to read a whole book on this subject. Okay, the next time you get into an argument about guns, here’s all you need to know:

  • Every 13 seconds an American gun owner uses her or his firearm in defense against a criminal. If you’re only counting handguns, it’s every 16 seconds.
  • Women use handguns 416 times each day in defense against rapists, which is a dozen times more often than rapists use a gun in the course of a rape. Handguns are used 1145 times a day against robbers. Handguns are used 1510 times a day in defense against criminal assaults.
  • A gun kept in the home for protection is 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.
  • The U.S. cities with the strictest gun-control laws also have higher homicide rates than U.S. cities with less gun control. Switzerland and Israel both have highly armed civilian populations, and have extremely low rates of gun-related homicides.
  • Gandhi once said, “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of Arms as the blackest.”
  • Hitler once said, “The most foolish mistake we could make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms.” (I like quoting this to people who’ve just seen Schindler’s List.)

And no list of soundbytes would be complete without a bumper sticker: “When guns are outlawed, only liberals won’t have guns.”

This, then, is the case for the civilian population to be better armed than the government.

–J. Neil Schulman, June, 1994


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Introduction: As American as Guns

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 Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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