VIN SUPRYNOWICZ gives Alan Gura a hard time on DC Gun Ban Case

Vin is unfairly tough here on Gura:

In a "move that surprised some observers," the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday, attorney Alan Gura, appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the federal guard who sued the District of Columbia in 2003, claiming he feels unsafe because he's not allowed to keep his guns at home, "appeared to concede large chunks of his argument, moving away from an absolutist position on gun rights."

"He concurred, at one point, with Justice Stephen Breyer that a ban on machine guns or plastic guns" (whatever those are) "would be constitutional because those weren't the kind of arms normally carried by members of state militias in the early days of the United States."

Was it a failure of nerve under pressure, or did somebody get to this guy? . . .
I understand the sensitivity over the issue of machine guns before the Supreme Court. It was clearly a strategic decision. That decision is easier than some of the other statements that were made before the court. Personally, however, I would have said that there are no such things as plastic guns. Personally, when questions were raised about accidental gun deaths involving kids, I would have talked about the small number involved and that most of those involve adult male criminals where gun locks are irrelevant. Personally, I wouldn't have advocated that people use a gun safe (this last one I think was a real mistake). All that said, it is hard being up in front of the Supreme Court for the first time. I think that DC's lawyer actually did a good job given how hard of a case he had to make. The gun lock issue in particular makes me worried that we may win the battle over the individual rights issue, but lose the war regarding either the DC gun ban or the standard involved. If we lose it because of the gun lock question, I will be extremely disappointed. Again, all that said, at this point it doesn't make much sense to spend a lot of time worrying about things. We will know soon enough.

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Blogger Federal Farmer said...

All we really need is the ruling that it is an individual right.

We lost our rights legislatively and we can get them back the same way.

3/27/2008 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lott, I have question about the D.C. gun ban. Opponents to the ban claim that the ban caused the crime rates to rise. If that is true why then is that the overall crime rate in DC fell from 1977 to 2006? According to the Disaster Center (http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm) the overall crime index rate in 1977 was 7,220.4 per 100,000 people compared to 5,875.0 per 100,000 people in 2006. (The stats on the site go to 2006 but the per capita only to to 2005 so I calculated the data for 2006, but I also calculated it for all years and compared and they were all accurate.)

Additionally, from 1977 to 2006, of the 9 other categories that they tracked the rate fell in 5 of the 9, three of which saw an overall decrease of nearly or more than 50%. Only in 4 of the 9 categories did the rates increase. And despite the fact that the number rose steady to a high across the board in roughly 1995-1996 the overall rates for all categories fell from 1997 to 2006. There was some fluctuation but the overall for all categories fell for the last decade of accumulated data.

If the gun ban in D.C. did in fact cause the crime rate to rise (and this cannot be proven because correlation is not causation) then it is also true that the gun ban also caused the crime rate to fall.

3/28/2008 4:18 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Anonymous:

Graph out the crime rates over time. The ban went into effect at the very beginning of 1977. Even better just at the graphs and discussion here for murder which shows a fairly similar change over time compared to violent crime. The immediate change in murder rates after the ban went into effect was to increase them relative to other cities, adjacent states and the rest of the country. If you graphed out DC's violent crime rate relative to other cities, adjacent states or the rest of the US, you would observe a similar pattern.

Dear Fed Farmer:

Possibly you might get them back, but the whole point of a constitution is to restrain the laws, to put restrictions on what the majority can do. Winning the individual rights issue isn't enough if you want the Second Amendment to mean something.

3/28/2008 7:55 AM  

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