“A cultural and artisan event” FBI files on Burning Man

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burningmancov.jpg.1200x400_q85_crop– Burning Man: Permanent Utopian Community

The 29th annual Burning Man 2015 festival kicks off this week in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Among those paying close attention to the festivities will be the FBI’s Special Events Management unit, who have kept files on “burners” since at least 2010.

Burning Man isn’t your usual festival. It’s a city wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the experience.

BM 2015– Burning Man playa

Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock desert, also known as ‘the playa’ to create Black Rock City. They leave one week later, leaving no trace whatsoever.

Burning Man is the largest outdoor arts festival in North America. There are 70 thousands participants this year.

burning-towerr_3425031k– Festival goers gather in front of the Totem of Confessions

Burning man and other similar art and music festivals generally have very peaceful and safe endings.  The most common dangers with any of these events is the fact that police like to target the people who attend them.

In recent years as the drug war police state has escalated, they have become more aggressive with these events, setting up illegal checkpoints, illegally entering onto private property without permission and senselessly using violence or threats of violence against nonviolent people.burning-man-police-state-600x400 Burning Man is one of the most peaceful and long running festivals in the country is under attack by police, with early arrivals experiencing a show of force like they have never seen before.

Aaron Muzslaski, a Burning Man regular made the following post at one of the previous gatherings:

The pigs are here. And uncommonly badge heavy.  Deeply upsetting, outrageous stuff. One DPW member was issued a $275 ticket for urinating on the playa, and threatened with being forced to register as a convicted sex offender. (a note for people not familiar with Burning Man, the “Playa” is what Burning Man attendees or “Burners” call the land that this event is held on.) I suspect this is fallout from the lawsuit BM.ORG won against the BLM earlier gatherings. Whatever the cause, know this: Law enforcement is going to be VERY AGGRESSIVE at Burning Man. Keep your shit as right as you do back in the world. Don’t give them any excuses. Be extremely cautious, and MAKE SURE TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Things are changing.  IF YOU DO GET STOPPED: Make sure to file an incident report with Burning Man. LEARN YOUR RIGHTS.

Be Smart. Don’t Run Afoul of Law Enforcement in BRC.

We don’t want to see participants get cited or arrested by law enforcement as they enter Black Rock City (BRC), nor do you want it to happen to you, right? Right.

burning-ship_3425040kAlso, be prepared to be pulled over for any infraction that draws attention, and tighten up your ship before you get here. evidence on suspects. Wiretaps, drones, infrared vision that can see through walls, undercover stings, hidden cameras, sniffer dogs. So what techniques could be so secret that they have to be classified?

police-art-car– In 2013 a whistleblower revealed that this art car was used by undercover cops at Burning Man.

Meanwhile, even children’s cartoon shows like The Simpsons depict drug exploration at Burning Man, while political figures like Grover Norquist and celebrity commentators like John Oliver and Jon Stewart make jokes about it to their mainstream audiences. This seems to be a double standard. “Oh we’re trying to keep drugs out of Burning Man”…really? You sure the whole thing wasn’t actually created specifically for the LSD/magic mushroom/ DMT crowd? Anyway, where did that stuff originate from in the first place?

marge-iron-wrinklesIt seems like FOIA requests are about the only way we can get information out of the new, improved, “clean well-lighted suite of rooms” of transparency that is Burning Man 2.0. Things that used to be released publicly every year like crime statistics, are now kept quiet. Good luck trying to get them, either from Burning Man, Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, or BLM officials.

burning-promise_3425032k– Light is reflected from the Temple of Promise

Here’s a previous FOIA request that shows that the FBI are also active at Burning Man, running intelligence operations. It also contains many redaction’s and page deletions. One thing that is mentioned is a company that who were contracted to provide a security threat assessment in 2010 – wonder if there was any specific concerns that led to that? Perhaps ISIS will have an art car this year – hopefully one without too many flamethrowers.

In response to a 2012 Freedom of Information Act request by Inkoo Kang, the FBI released a 16-page file regarding the 2010 festival – which it erroneously identifies as the 14th, rather than 24th, iteration.

The file repeatedly states that Burning Man is considered “a cultural and artisan event, which promotes free expression by the participants,” and notes that the biggest safety concerns are crowd control and illegal drug use.

As is often the case, the most interesting parts of the file are the most heavily redacted.

First is this note early on that due to mysterious “past events,” the festival would be used as a sort of “test case” scenario …

Which may or may not be related to this tantalizingly redacted piece of equipment or personnel which the Burning Man Special Events Management Unit (SEMU) is going to be providing.

Who or what was provided is a matter of conjecture, but personally, I’d be curious to see how the FBI’s cell phone tracking technology would fare up against Black Rock City’s notoriously bad cellular reception.

BM 2015

 

Second item of interest is this paragraph, which could potentially imply that some burners were actually undercover police – sparking the debate over whether the term “plainclothes” applies in this situation.

In addition to the FBI files, requests were made for arrest reports and fines. Either surprisingly or unsurprisingly, there’s not a lot in them – but if you were wondering just what it is you’d have to do to get arrested at Burning Man, the answer is physically assaulting a police officer.

Related Requests

2 files

Arrest Log for 2013 Burning Man Festival

Allan Lasser sent this request to the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada State Office on August 22, 2014

3 files

FBI files on Burning Man

Inkoo Kang sent this request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on August 27, 2012

 

scary animated GIF

Burning Man 2015

Connect Online

The Voices of  Burning Man
The Voices of Burning Man features articles and discussion about Burning Man and Burning Man culture in the world. We maintain an open comment policy there, allowing for a spirited dialog amongst readers around the thoughts, commentary and issues brought up in the blog posts.

ePlaya

burning-wide_3425027k– The Man dominates the Playa

If you enjoy connecting with folks through online bulletin board systems, check out the Burning Man ePlaya. The ePlaya community is a group of dedicated Burners who’ve been communicating in that space for years now, so it’s a good idea to poke around and get the lay of the land before jumping in.

BURN2
If virtual worlds are your thing, there’s a bustling and vibrant Burner community that emerged from the virtual world of Second Life, including an annual BURN2 event and even a “Decompression.”

Flickr
Search for Burning Man on Flickr, and you’re sure to find not only a ton of great photographs, but the photographers behind them.

Tribe
The most robust tribes on the Tribe.net social networking service are those relating to Burning Man and Burning Man culture. As with the ePlaya, it’s good to get the lay of the land before venturing into the fray.

Facebook
The Burning Man Facebook Page is a great place for Burners to connect with each other and share their thoughts, ideas, photos, videos, local events, and more.

Twitter
Burning Man maintains a Twitter Account @burningman that feeds out information about Burning Man and our culture throughout the year. It’s pretty low-traffic, so don’t worry, it won’t blow out your Twitter feed. We also maintain @blackrockcity, which focuses on activities and announcements concerning the Burning Man event itself. It stays pretty quiet over the course of the year, and picks up prior to, during, and after the event.

Resources:

Burning Man

Burning Man 2015

MuckRock • FBI files on Burning Man

DEA Activity at Burning Man? Sorry, That’s Classified …

Police Crack Down On Burning Man, Unprecedented Show …

Anything goes: Dusty, DIY, bizarre Burning Man in Black Rock Desert, Nev.

Evolution of Black Rock City | Burning Man

2015 Black Rock City Map | Burning Man

Burning Man Begins: Images From Black Rock City and …

What’s In A Name? | Burners

This year’s Burning Man festival has a frightening theme

The Burning Man bugs are gone — here’s why they probably disappeared

 Dispatch from Black Rock City: “The pigs are here” at Burning Man

Busting Man: RIOT Calls for General Strike at Burning Man

Full text of “Responsive Documents” – Internet Archive

Burning Man 2012-2016 Final Environmental Assessment

Feds defend request for special housing during Burning Man

Elon Musk Is Right, Burning Man Is Silicon Valley

burning man cartoons

80 visitors to Rootwire Music Festival charged

Burning Man 2015: Revellers gather for week-long party in the desert, in pictures – Telegraph

Will Burning Man Become a Permanent Community

Dancetronauts: Too Loud For Burning Man? Part 1 [Updates …

The Techno Ghetto – the History of Dance Music at Burning …

Plans to massively rebuild the disintegrating delta

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Mississippi Delta– An image from 2001 of the active delta front before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed much of it in 2005. Credit: NASA

Mississippi River Mouth Must Be Abandoned to Save New Orleans from Next Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans 10 years ago. Huge earthen levees dissolved and concrete floodwalls toppled over. But the real culprit when the tropical cyclone made landfall was outside the city. Thousands of square miles of wetland marshes and swamps that had once provided a buffer between the city’s coastline and the ocean had been badly tattered from decades of human damage. Thick, robust wetlands would have absorbed much of the surge of water that Katrina pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico. But levees had starved the wetlands of needed nutrients, making plants weak, and thousands of miles of man-made canals had torn the vegetation apart, allowing Katrina’s onrushing storm surge to flow right into New Orleans.

Extensive studies done after Katrina verified what lifelong residents of southeastern Louisiana already knew: Unless the rapidly disappearing wetlands are made healthy again, restoring the natural defense, New Orleans will soon lay naked against the sea.

There is widespread recognition of the need to restore the delta, but doing so will require innovative technology, billions of dollars, and a national commitment. In the face of these challenges, many have asked whether it is even possible to restore the delta. Others have wondered whether doing so should be a national priority. With so many other needs throughout our country, the thinking goes, we need compelling evidence of both feasibility and merit if we are to put the Mississippi River Delta at the top of the list.

So, how does one re-engineer the entire Mississippi River delta—one of the largest in the world—on which New Orleans lies, but is it the right thing to do?

Here is the latest innovation in question for one of America’s greatest natural resources:

Three international engineering and design teams have reached a startling answer: leave the mouth of the Mississippi River to die. Let the badly failing wetlands there completely wither away, becoming open water, so that the upper parts of the delta closer to the city can be saved. The teams, winners of the Changing Course Design Competition, revealed their detailed plans on August 20. Graphics from each plan are below.

Scientists worldwide agree that the delta’s wetlands disintegrated because we humans built long levees—high, continuous ridges of earth covered by grass or rocks—along the entire length of the lower Mississippi River. The leveed river rims the southern boundary of New Orleans and continues another 40 serpentine miles until it reaches the gulf. The levees, erected almost exclusively by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, prevented regular floods from harming farms, industries and towns along the river’s course. However those floods also would have supplied the brackish marshes with massive quantities of silt and freshwater, which are necessary for their survival.

Timeline:

These maps show a history of wetland loss as the marshes convert to open waters (green sections changing to light blue).

Silt carries nutrients that grasses and mangroves need to stay lush, and it provides new material to build up the soft substrate beneath those plants, which subsides naturally under its own weight. Incoming freshwater mixes with the delta’s saltwater to create the reduced salinity required by the region’s vegetation. This soup also prevents pure ocean water from intruding further inland, which kills grasses and trees from the roots up.

Instead, hundreds of miles of navigation channels, cut by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more than half a century through the wetlands have torn the wetlands apart from within. So have thousands more miles cut by industry during the same period to build and maintain oil and gas pipelines running in from the Gulf.

The studies done by university experts, engineering firms and the Corps itself since Katrina concur that the only realistic way to reconstitute healthy wetlands is to make cuts in the levees, install gates, and open those gates periodically to allow sediment and freshwater to once again flow into the marshes. The three winning design teams rely heavily on that strategy, yet they also differ in where and how to use the so-called diversion structures.

The river nowadays only carries perhaps half of the sediment it used to, because communities on its banks for hundreds of miles siphon off water for irrigation, industry and many other uses. There is simply not enough sediment to rebuild the entire delta, according to the winning teams, which operated independently. Rather than try that and fail, the teams found it is better to essentially end the river many miles north of the current mouth, where much sediment is sent like a shot out into the deep ocean and lost. Then engineers could redirect all the sediment to portions of the delta closer to New Orleans. “Capture every grain (i.e $),” is one team’s slogan.

The need to let the end of the delta, known as the bird’s foot because of its shape, die is also assumed in the official Louisiana Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, although not necessarily called out in detail. The plan took seven years to develop, after significant political wrangling among state, federal and local authorities.*

Louisiana wetlandsThe master plan would tap about half the river’s sediment for diversions, and try to restore as much of the delta as possible. Founders of the Changing Course competition, led by the Van Alen Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund, and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Shell Global, and other large institutions, saw that approach as a weakness, and announced the competition to seek alternative ideas.

The competition also encouraged a 100-year outlook for the delta, instead of the 50 years outlined in the master plan. In the end, the three winning blueprints, chosen from 21 entrants, complement the state plan well, says Steve Cochran, director for Mississippi River Delta Restoration at the Environmental Defense Fund, who oversaw the competition.

Cochran also hopes the winning designs will prove valuable to other delta regions around the world: “Every place is different, but the kinds of innovations needed are similar.”

To realize these projects, the Plan projects a funding need of roughly $50 billion, evenly dividing the allocation of proposed funds between restoration projects and structural and non-structural flood protection projects.

Only one of the three groups, the Baird Team, included a cost estimate: between $4.3 billion and $5.7 billion. But it also cited savings of up to $2 billion in eliminating the need to replace certain aging flood control structures now on the river. The other two plans are larger in scope and would likely be more expensive. Cochran says his committee did not require cost estimates “because the state and the Corps would decide which aspects of the plans to implement, and do their own estimates.”

Lower Mississippi River Delta – Vimeo

The winning teams received neither prize money nor other rewards. The teams got involved primarily to gain notoriety for potential large contracts in the future. “The coming work in southeastern Louisiana is huge, even on a global scale,” Cochran notes. The real goal for Changing Course was to educate the state, the Corps and other industries and authorities that will be involved in re-engineering the region about how to best exploit the Mississippi River to save the region. “The teams have been explaining their ideas to all these people along the way,” Cochran says.

Louisiana loses a football field of land every hour to the ocean.

Losing GroundFunding for implementation of the plan is enhanced by the bipartisan RESTORE Act, which directs a sizable share of BP oil spill settlement penalties to Gulf restoration.

An independent effort led by local and national leaders, Changing Course will contribute additional innovation, competition, and private sector engagement in time to inform Louisiana’s next coastal 2017 Coastal Master Plan and other official planning processes.

Additional details of the three plans are shown below. The full set of designs can be obtained online from Changing Course.

The Louisiana Comprehensive Master Plan

Louisiana Comprehensive Master Plan– A satellite image of the lower Mississippi River (winding dark line) shows that south of New Orleans (white, at center) the wetlands (green) are severely tattered, allowing hurricanes and other storms to push surges of water from the surrounding Gulf of Mexico right into the city, largely unimpeded.
Credit: USGS and NASA.

Mississippi Delta Changing Course– A map included in the revitalization plan by the Baird Team shows the hard truth: the Mississippi River (blue) no longer carries enough sediment to rebuild the entire delta. The river should be cut off (north of the number 5) to better save wetlands closer to the city (red “Sustainable” line), and the rest must be left to wither away, becoming open water (brown “Historic” line). New Orleans is indicated by the symbol near the center.

Mississippi River delta– In a plan from the Moffatt & Nichol team, a greatly expanded Port Sulphur (white area at lower right, #7) would mark the end of the enhanced wetlands region, and a larger, deeper navigation channel (green line) from there south into the Gulf of Mexico (bottom) would be used. The rest of the Mississippi River delta (off to the bottom right, not shown) would be abandoned. New Orleans is the white area at the top.

Mississippi Delta Changing Course– The STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI team plan, the most detailed and extensive, would attempt to save the entire delta (all green colors) with numerous cuts in the levees. It would also rebuild the barrier islands (outer ring at bottom and right) and add new bay islands (dots behind the barriers) to break down the surge of water driven in by hurricanes. But the potential cost, which the team did not estimate, could be extremely high.

Head for the hills!

venice_gif

Considerations about the Mississippi River Delta

Knowing when to hold them and when to fold them is not something our government is good at but the handwriting is on the wall.

With most of the city substantially under sea level–losing land on the Mississippi Delta at a rate of 25 to 30 square miles per year, that’s two acres per hour that are sinking below sea level, it simply won’t be tenable to continue shoring up the city with levees, etc.

The city will be completely surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico just 80 years from now. In the long run New Orleans is doomed to the fate of Atlantis.

“We should be thinking about a gradual pullout of New Orleans, and starting to rebuild people’s homes, businesses and industry in places that can last more than 80 years,” says Tim Kusky, a professor of earth sciences at St. Louis University.

Composition of the River and Lake Waters of the United States

watersheds– A map of the watersheds and monitoring stations reported in Clarke (1924).

The river is not the same river it used to be back when it was helping build land, there are now lots of constituents in river water with the potential to harm existing coastal marshes, especially peat-based marshes (see Scientific Investigations Report 2005 – USGS) and (A century of land use and water quality in watersheds).

Sea-level rise and wide-scale subsidence more than levees are probably more the culprits for Louisiana wetlands loss, although hydromodification due to canal construction probably plays some role, along with river diversions (see more here:‘Tidal wetland stability in the face of human impacts and sea-level rise’http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v504/n7478/pdf/nature12856.pdf, and ‘Influence of the Houma Navigation Canal on Salinity Patterns and Landscape Configuration in Coastal Louisiana’http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1127/pdf/OF08-1127_508.pdf).

WetlandsMost of coastal Louisiana’s remaining wetlands are keeping pace with relative sea-level rise despite being far removed from river diversions, through vertical accretion. The river isn’t just some magical sediment fire hose like diversion proponents often seem to suppose: their sphere of influence via physical routing of river sediment is very limited, but their sphere of water quality and hydrological influence can be rather large (look at Caernarvon Diversion for example). They can actually do a lot of damage, or do very little of anything, if not sited and designed correctly. Back in the 1800s, a guy named Cubit cut a gap in the river levee and a very large sub-delta was effortlessly created (see Wetland loss and the subdelta life cycle’ at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0272771487900291). Now, we have multi-billion dollar projects targeting the same desired end result, in a time when land building generally just isn’t going to happen and when there are water quality concerns for routing river water into coastal existing wetlands.

One last reference for good measure: ‘Time and the River: Coastal Restoration as Climate Change Denial ‘ – http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cphl/slides/Tulane_Presentation.pdf.

Coastal Restoration

Related:

Changing Course

Changing Course | Van Alen Institute

Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Changing Course Design Competition

Greater New Orleans Foundation

Mississippi River Mouth Must Be Abandoned

Environmental Defense Fund

As Louisiana Sinks And Sea Levels Rise

How to Save a Sinking Coast? Katrina Created a Laboratory ..

New Orleans Sinking Faster Than Thought, Satellites Find

Landscapes of Control: River Infrastructure in the …

Scientific Investigations Report 2005 – USGS

Losing Ground – Data – ProPublica

Louisiana: The First 300 Years

louisiana coastal zone erosion – Recent Proceedings

Federalism in Wetlands Regulation: A Consideration of …

Mississippi Wetlands – Quinta Scott’s Weblog – WordPress.com

Losing Louisiana

A century of land use and water quality in watersheds of the

10 Fundamental Questions about the Mississippi River Delta

Michael S. Kearney, J. C. Riter & R. Eugene Turner …

Bobby Jindal Insists We Ignore Climate Change, New …

Nature’s Revenge: Louisiana’s Vanishing Wetlands

New Orleans: An Environmental History of Disaster – Springe

The Washington Post

Hurricane Katrina: Complete Coverage

Bombshell Report Reveals That The Kochs Profited From …

Could Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?

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robert-a-heinlein- armed societyWhile there is a great deal of controversy about the defensive use of firearms, it is a misleading controversy in which anti‐gun advocatesʹ deep ethical or moral objections to civilian self‐defense are presented in the guise of empirical argument.

The empirical evidence unquestionably establishes that gun ownership by prospective victims not only allows them to resist criminal attack, but also deters violent criminals from attacking them in the first place.

Harvard Report Crushes Gun Ban Lies

A Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy report “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” comes to some very interesting conclusions that should be a must read for the gun banning crowd.

The far-left have been pushing the idea that more guns means more deaths and fewer guns means less deaths.  But according to the Harvard study, “to bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more deaths and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence or suicide.  But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.”

Using crime data from European countries for comparison, the report concludes that countries with higher gun ownership often have lower murder rates so there is no evidence that the availability of guns contribute to a higher murder rate.  The majority of guns are owned for self-defense so it stands to reason that if guns are banned, victims of crimes are left defenseless.

The argument that the availability of guns leads to higher rates of suicide is also nonsense.   The report could find no relationship between the extend of suicide and gun ownership.  People do not commit suicide because guns are available.  Banning guns would only reduce the number of suicides by firearms.

The report (below) is well worth a read.

A REVIEW OF  INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC EVIDENCE

International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths.[1] Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative. It may be useful to begin with a few examples. here is a compound assertion that (a) guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why (b) the United States has by far the highest murder rate. Though this has been endlessly repeated (b) is, in fact, false and (a) substantially so.

Since at least 1965, the false assertion that the United States. has the industrialized world’s highest murder rate has been an artifact of politically motivated Soviet minimization designed to hide the true homicide rates.[2] Since well before that date, the Soviet Union possessed extremely stringent gun controls[3] that were effectuated by a police state apparatus providing stringent enforcement.[4] So successful was that regime that few Russian civilians now have firearms and very few murders involve them.[5] Yet, manifest success in keeping its people disarmed did not prevent the Soviet Union from having far and away the highest murder rate in the developed world.[6] In the 1960s and early 1970s, the gun-less Soviet Union’s murder rates paralleled or generally exceeded those of gun-ridden America. While American rates stabilized and then steeply declined, however, Russian murder increased so drastically that by the early 1990s the Russian rate was three times higher than that of the United States. Between 1998-2004 (the latest figure available for Russia), Russian murder rates were nearly four times higher than American rates. Similar murder rates also characterize the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and various other now-independent European nations of the former U.S.S.R.[7] Thus, in the United States and the former Soviet Union transitioning into current-day Russia, “homicide results suggest that where guns are scarce other weapons are substituted in killings.”[8] While American gun ownership is quite high, Table 1, infra, shows many other developed nations (e.g., Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Denmark) with high rates of gun ownership. These countries, however, have murder rates as low or lower than many developed nations in which gun ownership is much rarer. For example, Luxembourg, where handguns are totally banned and ownership of any kind of gun is minimal, had a murder rate nine times higher than Germany in 2002.[9]

Gun ownership(Notes: This table covers all the Continental European nations for which
the two data sets given are both available)

The same pattern appears when comparisons of violence to gun ownership are made within nations. Indeed, “data on firearms ownership by constabulary area in England” show “a negative correlation,”[10] i.e. “where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest” (quoting a description of what American data have also consistently shown).[11] Many different data sets from various kinds of sources are summarized as follows by the leading text:

There is no consistent significant positive association between gun ownership levels and violence rates: across (1) time within the United States, (2) U.S. cities, (3) counties within Illinois, (4) country-sized areas like England, U.S. states, (5) regions of the United States, (6) nations, or (7) population subgroups . . . .[12]

A second misconception about the relationship between firearms and violence attributes Europe’s generally low homicide rates to stringent gun control. That attribution cannot be accurate since murder in Europe was at an all-time low before the gun controls were introduced.[13] For instance, virtually the only English gun control during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the practice that police patrolled without guns.

Guns-in-other-countries-U.K-Violent-Crime-and-Firearm-Ownership-TrendlineDuring this period gun control prevailed far less in England or Europe than in certain American states which nevertheless had—and continue to have—murder rates that were and are comparatively very high.[14]

In this connection, two recent studies are pertinent. In 2004, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released its evaluation from a review of 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some original empirical research. It failed to identify any gun control that had reduced violent crime, suicide, or gun accidents.[15] The same conclusion was reached in 2003 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s review of then-extant studies.[16]

Stringent gun controls were not adopted in England and Western Europe until after World War I. Consistent with the outcomes of the recent American studies just mentioned, these strict controls did not stem the general trend of ever-growing violent crime throughout the post-WWII industrialized world including the United States and Russia. Professor Malcolm’s study of English gun law and violent crime summarizes that nation’s nineteenth and twentieth century experience as follows:

The peacefulness England used to enjoy was not the result of strict gun laws. When it had no firearms restrictions [nineteenth and early twentieth century] England had little violent crime, while the present extraordinarily stringent gun controls have not stopped the increase in violence or even the increase in armed violence.[17]

Armed crime, never a problem in England, has now become one. Handguns are banned but the kingdom has millions of illegal firearms. Criminals have no trouble finding them and exhibit a new willingness to use them. In the decade after 1957, the use of guns in serious crime increased a hundredfold.[18]

In the late 1990s, England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban of all handguns and many types of long guns. Hundreds of thousands of guns were confiscated from those owners law-abiding enough to turn them in to authorities. Without suggesting this caused violence, the ban’s ineffectiveness was such that by the year 2000 violent crime had so increased that England and Wales had Europe’s highest violent crime rate, far surpassing even the United States[19] Today, English news media headline violence in terms redolent of the doleful, melodramatic language that for so long characterized American news reports.[20] One aspect of England’s recent experience deserves note, given how often and favorably advocates have compared English gun policy to its American counterpart over the past 35 years.[21] A generally unstated issue in this notoriously emotional debate was the effect of the Warren Court and later restrictions on police powers on American gun policy. Critics of these decisions pointed to soaring American crime rates and argued simplistically that such decisions caused, or at least hampered, police in suppressing crime. But to some supporters of these judicial decisions, the example of England argued that the solution to crime was to restrict guns not civil liberties. To gun control advocates, England, the cradle of our liberties, was a nation made so peaceful by strict gun control that its police did not even need to carry guns. The Unit States, it was argued, could attain such a desirable situation by radically reducing gun ownership, preferably by banning and confiscating handguns.

The results discussed earlier contradict those expectations. On the one hand, despite constant and substantially increasing gun ownership, the United States saw progressive and dramatic reductions in criminal violence in the 1990s. On the other hand, the same time period in the United Kingdom saw a constant and dramatic increase in violent crime to which England’s response was ever-more drastic gun control including, eventually, banning and confiscating all handguns and many types of long guns.[22] Nevertheless, criminal violence rampantly increased so that by 2000 England surpassed the United States to become one of the developed world’s most violence-ridden nations.

To conserve the resources of the inundated criminal justice system, English police no longer investigate burglary and “minor assaults.”[23] As of 2006, if the police catch a mugger, robber, or burglar, or other “minor” criminal in the act, the policy is to release them with a warning rather than to arrest and prosecute them.[24] It used to be that English police vehemently opposed the idea of armed policing. Today ever more police are being armed. Justifying the assignment of armed squads to block roads and carry out random car searches, a police commander asserts: “It is a massive deterrent to gunmen if they think that there are going to be armed police.”[25] How far is that from the rationale on which 40 American states have enacted laws giving qualified, trained citizens the right to carry concealed guns? Indeed, news media editorials have appeared in England arguing that civilians should be allowed guns for defense. There is currently a vigorous controversy over proposals (which the Blair government first endorsed but now opposes) to amend the law of self-defense to protect victims from prosecution for using deadly force against burglars.[26]

The divergence between the United States and the British Commonwealth became especially pronounced during the 1980s and 1990s. During these two decades, while Britain and the Commonwealth were making lawful firearm ownership increasingly difficult, more than 25 states in the United States passed laws allowing responsible citizens to carry concealed handguns. There are now 40 states where qualified citizens can obtain such a handgun permit.[27] As a result, the number of Americans allowed to carry concealed handguns in shopping malls, on the street, and in their cars has grown to 3.5 million men and women.[28] Economists John Lott and David Mustard have suggested that these new laws contributed to the drop in homicide and violent crime rates. Based on 25 years of correlated statistics from all of the more than 3,000 American counties Lott and Mustard conclude that adoption of these statutes has so deterred criminals from confrontation crime and caused murder and violent crime to fall faster in states that adopted this policy than in states that did not.[29]

Suing the Gun IndustryAs indicated in the preceding footnote, the notion that more guns reduce crime is highly controversial. What the controversy has obscured from view is the corrosive effect of the Lott and Mustard work on the faith that more guns equals more murder. As previously stated, adoption of state laws allowing millions of qualified citizens to carry guns has not resulted in more murder or violent crime in these states. Rather, adoption of these statutes has been followed by very significant reductions in murder and violence in these states.

To determine whether this expansion of gun availability caused reductions in violent crime requires taking account of various other factors that might also have contributed to the decline. For instance, two of Lott’s major critics, Donohue and Levitt, attribute much of the drop in violent crime that started in 1990s to the legalization of abortion in the 1970s, which they argue resulted in the non-birth of vast numbers of children who would have been disproportionately involved in violent crime had they existed in the 1990s.[30]

The Lott-Mustard studies did not address the Donohue-Levitt thesis. Lott and Mustard did account, however, for two peculiarly American phenomena which many people believed may have been responsible for the 1990s crime reduction: the dramatic increase of the United States prison population and the number of executions. The prison population in the United States tripled during this time period, jumping from approximately 100 prisoners per 100,000 in the late 1970s to more than 300 per 100,000 people in the general population in the early 1990s.[31] In addition, executions in the United States soared from approximately 5 per year in the early 1980s to more than 27 per year in the early 1990s.[32] Neither of these trends is reflected in Commonwealth countries.

Although the reason is thus obscured, the undeniable result is that violent crime, and homicide in particular, has plummeted in the United States over the past 15 years.[33] The fall in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world. In 18 of the 25 countries surveyed by the British Home Office, violent crime increased during the 1990s.[34] This contrast should induce thoughtful people to wonder what happened in those nations, and to question policies based on the notion that introducing increasingly more restrictive firearm ownership laws reduces violent crime. Perhaps the United States is doing something right in promoting firearms for law-abiding responsible adults. Or perhaps the United States’ success in lowering its violent crime rate relates to increasing its prison population or its death sentences (Several recent studies by economists calculate that each execution deters the commission of 19 murders.[35]). Further research is required to identify more precisely which elements of the United States’ approach are the most important, or whether all three elements acting in concert were necessary to reduce violent crimes.

I. VIOLENCE: THE DECISIVENESS OF SOCIAL FACTORS

One reason the extent of gun ownership in a society does not spur the murder rate is that murderers are not spread evenly throughout the population. Analysis of perpetrator studies shows that violent criminals—especially murderers—“almost uniformly have a long history of involvement in criminal behavior.”[36] So it would not appreciably raise violence if all law-abiding, responsible people had firearms because they are not the ones who rape, rob, or murder.[37] By the same token, violent crime would not fall if guns were totally banned to civilians. As the respective examples of Luxembourg and Russia suggest,[38] individuals who commit violent crimes will either find guns despite severe controls or will find other weapons to use. [39]

Startling as the foregoing may seem, it represents the cross-national norm, not some bizarre departure from it. If the mantra “more guns equals more death and fewer guns equals less death” were true, broad based cross-national comparisons should show that nations with higher gun ownership per capita consistently have more death. Nations with higher gun ownership rates, however, do not have higher murder or suicide rates than those with lower gun ownership. Indeed many high gun ownership nations have much lower murder rates. Consider, for example, the wide divergence in murder rates among Continental European nations with widely divergent gun ownership rates.

The noncorrelation between gun ownership and murder is reinforced by examination of statistics from larger numbers of nations across the developed world. Comparison of “homicide and suicide mortality data for thirty-six nations (including the United States) for the period 1990–1995” to gun ownership levels showed “no significant (at the 5% level) association between gun ownership levels and the total homicide rate.”[40] Consistent with this is a later European study of data from 21 nations in which “no significant correlations [of gun ownership levels] with total suicide or homicide rates were found.”[41]

II. ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION

However unintentionally, the irrelevance of focusing on weaponry is highlighted by the most common theme in the more guns equals more death argument. Epitomizing this theme is a World Health Organization (WHO) report asserting, “The easy availability of firearms has been associated with higher firearm mortality rates.”[42] The authors, in noting that the presence of a gun in a home corresponds to a higher risk of suicide, apparently assume that if denied firearms, potential suicides will decide to live rather than turning to the numerous other available suicide mechanisms. The evidence, however, indicates that denying one particular means to people who are motivated to commit suicide by social, economic, cultural, or other circumstances simply pushes them to some other means.[43] Thus, it is not just the murder rate in gun-less Russia that is four times higher than the American rate; the Russian suicide rate is also about four times higher than the American rate.[44]

Gun Violence In AmericaThere is no social benefit in decreasing the availability of guns if the result is only to increase the use of other means of suicide and murder, resulting in more or less the same amount of death. Elementary as this point is, proponents of the more guns equals more death mantra seem oblivious to it. One study asserts that Americans are more likely to be shot to death than people in the world’s other 35 wealthier nations.[45] While this is literally true, it is irrelevant—except, perhaps to people terrified not of death per se but just death by gunshot. A fact that should be of greater concern—but which the study fails to mention—is that per capita murder overall is only half as frequent in the United States as in several other nations where gun murder is rarer, but murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent.[46]

Table 2: Murder Rates of European Nations that Ban
Handguns as Compared to Their Neighbors that Allow Handguns
(rates are per 100,000 persons)

Gun ownership(Notes: This table covers all the European nations for which the information
given is available. As in Table 1, the homicide rate data comes
from an annually published report, Canadian Centre for International Justice).

Of course, it may be speculated that murder rates around the world would be higher if guns were more available. But there is simply no accurate evidence to support this. Like any speculation, it is not subject to conclusive disproof: but the European data in Table 1 and the studies across 36 and 21 nations already discussed show no correlation of high gun ownership nations and greater murder per capita or lower gun ownership nations and less murder per capita.[47]

To reiterate, the determinants of murder and suicide are basic social, economic, and cultural factors, not the prevalence of some form of deadly mechanism. In this connection, recall that the American jurisdictions which have the highest violent crime rates are precisely those with the most stringent gun controls.[48] This correlation does not necessarily prove gun advocates’ assertion that gun controls actually encourage crime by depriving victims of the means of self-defense. The explanation of this correlation may be political rather than criminological: jurisdictions afflicted with violent crime tend to severely restrict gun ownership. This, however, does not suppress the crime, for banning guns cannot alleviate the socio-cultural and economic factors that are the real determinants of violence and crime rates. [49]

STATISTICS, HOMICIDE IN CANADA, JURISTAT.

Firearms ControlOnce again, we are not arguing that the data in Table 2 shows that gun control causes nations to have much higher murder rates than neighboring nations that permit handgun ownership. Rather, we assert a political causation for the observed correlation that nations with stringent gun controls tend to have much higher murder rates than nations that allow guns. The political causation is that nations which have violence problems tend to adopt severe gun controls, but these do not reduce violence, which is determined by basic socio-cultural and economic factors.

The point is exemplified by the conclusions of the premier study of English gun control. Done by a senior English police official as his thesis at the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology and later published as a book, it found (as of the early 1970s), “Half a century of strict controls . . . has ended, perversely, with a far greater use of [handguns] in crime than ever before.” [50] The study also states that:

No matter how one approaches the figures, one is forced to the rather startling conclusion that the use of firearms in crime was very much less [in England before 1920] when there were no controls of any sort and when anyone, convicted criminal or lunatic, could buy any type of firearm without restriction.[51]

Of course the point of this analysis is not that the law should allow lunatics and criminals to own guns. The point is that violence will be rare when the basic socio-cultural and economic determinants so dictate; and conversely, crime will rise in response to changes in those determinants—without much regard to the mere availability of some particular weaponry or the severity of laws against it.

III. Do Ordinary People Murder?

The “more guns equals more death” mantra seems plausible only when viewed through the rubric that murders mostly involving ordinary people who kill because they have access to a firearm when they get angry. If this were true, murder might well increase where people have ready access to firearms, but the available data provides no such correlation. Nations and areas with more guns per capita do not have higher murder rates than those with fewer guns per capita.[52]

Nevertheless, critics of gun ownership often argue that a “gun in the closet to protect against burglars will most likely be used to shoot a spouse in a moment of rage . . . . The problem is you and me—law-abiding folks”[53]: that banning handgun possession only for those with criminal records will “fail to protect us from the most likely source of handgun murder: ordinary citizens”[54]; that “most gun-related homicides . . . are the result of impulsive actions taken by individuals who have little or no criminal background or who are known to the victims;” [55] that “the majority of firearm homicide[s occur] . . . not as the result of criminal activity, but because of arguments between people who know each other;”[56] that each year there are thousands of gun murders “by law-abiding citizens who might have stayed law-abiding if they had not possessed firearms.”[57]

These comments appear to rest on no evidence and actually contradict facts that have so uniformly been established by homicide studies dating back to the 1890s that they have become “criminological axioms.”[58] Insofar as studies focus on perpetrators, they show that neither a majority, nor many, nor virtually any murderers are ordinary “law-abiding citizens.”[59] Rather, almost all murderers are extremely aberrant individuals with life histories of violence, psychopathology, substance abuse, and other dangerous behaviors. “The vast majority of persons involved in life-threatening violence have a long criminal record with many prior contacts with the justice system.”[60] “Thus homicide—[whether] of a stranger or [of] someone known to the offender—‘is usually part of a pattern of violence, engaged in by people who are known . . . as violence prone.’”[61] Though only 15% of Americans over the age of 15 have arrest records,[62] approximately 90 percent of “adult murderers have adult records, with an average adult criminal career [involving crimes committed as an adult rather than a child] of six or more years, including four major adult felony arrests.”[63] These national statistics dovetail with data from local nineteenth and twentieth century studies. For example: victims as well as offenders [in 1950s and 1960s Philadelphia murders] . . . tended to be people with prior police records, usually for violent crimes such as assault.”[64] “The great majority of both perpetrators and victims of [1970s Harlem] assaults and murders had previous [adult] arrests, probably over 80% or more.”[65] Boston police and probation officers in the 1990s agreed that of those juvenile-perpetrated murders where all the facts were known, virtually all were committed by gang members, though the killing was not necessarily gang-directed. [66] One example would be a gang member who stabs his girlfriend to death in a fit of anger.[67] Regardless of their arrests for other crimes, 80% of 1997 Atlanta murder arrestees had at least one earlier drug offense with 70% having 3 or more prior drug offenses.[68] A New York Times study of the 1,662 murders committed in that city in the years 2003–2005 found that “More than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records.”[69] Baltimore police figures show that “92 percent of murder suspects had [prior] criminal records in 2006.”[70] Several of the more recent homicide studies just reviewed were done at the Kennedy School at Harvard and found almost all arrested murderers to have earlier arrests.[71]

That murderers are not ordinary, law-abiding responsible adults is further documented in other sources. Psychological studies of juvenile murderers variously find that at least 80%, if not all, are psychotic or have psychotic symptoms.[72] Of Massachusetts domestic murderers in the years 1991–1995, 73.7% had a “prior [adult] criminal history,” 16.5% had an active restraining order registered against them at the time of the homicide, and 46.3% of the violent perpetrators had had a restraining order taken out against them sometime before their crime.[73]

This last study is one of many exposing the false argument that a significant number of murders involve ordinary people killing spouses in a moment of rage. Although there are many domestic homicides, such murders do not occur in ordinary families, nor are the murderers ordinary, law-abiding adults. “The day-to-day reality is that most family murders are prefaced by a long history of assaults.”[74] One study of such murders found that “a history of domestic violence was present in 95.8%” of cases.[75] These findings are a routine feature of domestic homicide studies: “[domestic] partner homicide is most often the final outcome of chronic women battering”;[76] based on a study from Kansas City, 90% of all the family homicides were preceded by previous disturbances at the same address, with a median of 5 calls per address.”[77]

The only kind of evidence cited to support the mythology that most murderers are ordinary people is that many murders arise from arguments or occur in homes and between acquaintances.[78] These bare facts are only relevant if one assumes that criminals do not have acquaintances or homes or arguments. Of the many studies belying this, the broadest analyzed a year’s national data on gun murders occurring in homes and between acquaintances. It found “the most common victim-offender relationship” was “where both parties . . . knew one another because of prior illegal transactions.”[79]

Thus the term “acquaintance homicide” does not refer solely to murders between ordinary acquaintances. Rather it encompasses, for example: drug dealers killed by competitors or customers; gang members killed by members of the same or rival gangs; and women killed by stalkers or abusers who have brutalized them on earlier occasions, all individuals for whom Federal and state laws already prohibit gun possession.[80]

Obviously there are certain people who should not be allowed to own any deadly instrument. Reasonable as such prohibitions are, it is unrealistic to think those people will comply with such restrictions any more readily than they do with laws against violent crime.[81] In any even, studies analyzing acquaintance homicide suggest there is no reason for laws prohibiting gun possession by ordinary, law-abiding responsible adults because such people virtually never murder. If one accepts that such adults are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than to commit it, disarming them becomes not just unproductive but counter-productive.[82]

IV. More Guns, Less Crime?

Anti-gun activists are not alone in their faith that widespread firearm ownership substantially affects violent crime rates. The same belief also characterizes many pro-gun activists. Of course, their faith leads them to the opposite conclusion: that widespread firearm ownership reduces violence by deterring criminals from confrontation crimes and making more attractive such non-confrontation crimes as theft from unoccupied commercial or residential premises. Superficially, the evidence for this belief seems persuasive. Table 1, for instance, shows that Denmark has roughly half the gun ownership rate of Norway, but a 50% higher murder rate, while Russia has only one-ninth Norway’s gun ownership rate but a murder rate 2400% higher. Looking at Tables 1–3 it is easy to find nations in which very high gun ownership rates correlate with very low murder rates, while other nations with very low gun ownership rates have much higher murder rates. Moreover, there is not insubstantial evidence that in the United States widespread gun availability has helped reduce murder and other violent crime rates. On closer analysis, however, this evidence appears uniquely applicable to the United States.

More than 100 million handguns are owned in the United States [83] primarily for self-defense,[84] and 3.5 million people have permits to carry concealed handguns for protection.[85] Recent analysis reveals “a great deal of self-defensive use of firearms” in the United States, “in fact, more defensive gun uses [by victims] than crimes committed with firearms.”[86] It is little wonder that the

National Institute of Justice surveys among prison inmates find that large percentages report that their fear that a victim might be armed deterred them from confrontation crimes. ‘The felons most frightened “about confronting an armed victim” were those from states with the greatest relative number of privately owned firearms.’ Conversely, robbery is highest in states that most restrict gun ownership.[87]

Concomitantly, a series of studies by John Lott and his coauthor David Mustard conclude that the issuance of millions of permits to carry concealed handguns is associated with drastic declines in American homicide rates.[88]

Obama gun controlIronically, to detail the American evidence for widespread defensive gun ownership’s deterrent value is also to raise questions about how applicable that evidence would be even to the other nations that have widespread gun ownership but low violence. There are no data for foreign nations comparable to the American data just discussed. Without such data, we cannot know whether millions of Norwegians own handguns and carry them for protection, thereby deterring Norwegian criminals from committing violent crimes. Or whether guns are commonly kept for defense in German homes and stores, thus preventing German criminals from robbing them.

Moreover, if the deterrent effect of gun ownership accounts for low violence rates in high gun ownership nations other than the United States, one has to wonder why that deterrent effect is so much greater there. Even with the drop in United States. murder rates that Lott and Mustard attribute to the massive increase in gun carry licensing, the United States murder rate is still eight times higher than Norway’s—even though the U.S. has an almost 300% higher rate of gun ownership. That is consistent with the points made above. Murder rates are determined by socio-economic and cultural factors. In the United States, those factors include that the number of civilian-owned guns nearly equals the population—triple the ownership rate in even the highest European gun-ownership nations—and that vast numbers of guns are kept for personal defense. That is not a factor in other nations with comparatively high firearm ownership. High gun ownership may well be a factor in the recent drastic decline in American homicide. But even so, American homicide is driven by socio-economic and cultural factors that keep it far higher than in most European nations.

In sum, though many nations with widespread gun ownership have much lower murder rates than nations that severely restrict gun ownership, it would be simplistic to assume that at all times and in all places widespread gun ownership depresses violence by deterring many criminals into non-confrontation crime. There is evidence that it does so in the United States, where defensive gun ownership is a substantial socio-cultural phenomenon. But the more plausible explanation for many nations having widespread gun ownership with low violence is that these nations never had high murder and violence rates and so never had occasion to enact severe anti-gun laws. On the other hand, in nations that have experienced high and rising violent crime rates, the legislative reaction has generally been to enact increasingly severe anti-gun laws. This is futile, for reducing gun ownership by the law-abiding citizenry—the only ones who obey gun laws—does not reduce violence or murder. The result is that high crime nations that ban guns to reduce crime end up having both high crime and stringent gun laws, while it appears that low crime nations that do not significantly restrict guns continue to have low violence rates.

Thus both sides of the gun prohibition debate are wrong in viewing the availability of guns as a major factor in the incidence of murder in any particular society. Though many people may still cling to that belief, the historical, geographic, and demographic evidence explored in this Article provides a clear admonishment. Whether gun availability is viewed as a cause or as a mere coincidence, the long term macro-cosmic evidence is that gun ownership spread widely throughout societies consistently correlates with stable or declining murder rates. This pattern simply cannot be squared with the mantra that more guns equals more death and fewer guns equals less. Whether causative or not, the consistent international pattern is that more guns equals less murder and other violent crime. Even if one is inclined to think that gun availability is an important factor, the available international data cannot be squared with the mantra that more guns equals more death and fewer guns equals less. Rather, if firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show that the way it matters is that more guns equals less violent crime.

V. Geographic, Historical and Demographic Patterns

If more guns equals more death and fewer guns equals less death, it should follow, all things being equal, (1) that geographic areas with higher gun ownership should have more murder than those with less gun ownership; (2) that demographic groups with higher gun ownership should be more prone to murder than those with less ownership; and (3) that historical eras in which gun ownership is widespread should have more murder than those in which guns were fewer or less widespread. As discussed earlier, these effects are not present. Historical eras, demographic groups, and geographic areas with more guns do not have more murders than those with fewer guns. Indeed, those with more guns often, or even generally, have fewer murders.

Of course, all other things may not be equal. Obviously, many factors other than guns may promote or reduce the number of murders in any given place or time or among particular groups. And it may be impossible even to identify these factors, much less to take account of them all. Thus any conclusions drawn from the kinds of evidence presented earlier in this paper must necessarily be tentative.

Acknowledging this does not, however, blunt the force of two crucial points. The first regards the burden of proof. Those who assert the mantra, and urge that public policy be based on it, bear the burden of proving that more guns do equals more death and fewer guns equals less death. But they cannot bear that burden because there simply is no large number of cases in which the widespread prevalence of guns among the general population has led to more murder. By the same token, but even more importantly, it cannot be shown that in many cases a reduction in the number of guns available to the general population has led to fewer deaths. Nor is the burden borne by speculating that the reason such cases do not appear is that other factors always intervene so it turns out that more guns do not mean more death and that fewer do not mean less.

The second issue, allied to the burden of proof, regards plausibility. On their face, the following facts from Tables 1 and 2 suggest that gun ownership is irrelevant, or has little relevance, to murder: France and neighboring Germany have exactly the same, comparatively high rate of gun ownership, yet the French murder rate is nearly twice the German; France has infinitely more gun ownership than Luxembourg, which nevertheless has a murder rate five times greater, though handguns are illegal and other kinds of guns sparse; Germany has almost double the gun ownership rate of neighboring Austria yet a similarly very low murder rate; the Norwegian gun ownership rate is over twice the Austrian rate, yet the murder rates are almost identical.

And then there is Table 3, which shows Slovenia, with 66% more gun ownership than Slovakia, nevertheless has roughly one-third less murder per capita; Hungary has more than 6 times the gun ownership rate of neighboring Romania but a lower murder rate; the Czech Republic’s gun ownership rate is more than 3 times that of neighboring Poland but its murder rate is lower; Poland and neighboring Slovenia have exactly the same murder rate, though Slovenia has over triple the gun ownership per capita.

        Table 3: Eastern Europe Gun Ownership and Murder Rates                 (rates given are per 100,000 people and in descending order)

Nation Murder Rate Rate of Gun Ownership
Russia 20.54* [2002] 4,000
Moldova 08.13** [2000] 1,000
Slovakia 02.65** [2000] 3,000
Romania 02.50** [2000] 300
Macedonia 02.31** [2000] 16,000
Hungary 02.22 [2003] 2,000
Finland 01.98 [2004] 39,000
Poland 01.79 [2003] 1,500
Slovenia 01.81** [2000] 5,000
Cz. Republic 01.69** [2000] 5,000
Greece 01.12 [2003] 11,000

(Notes: This table covers all the Eastern European nations for which we have data regarding both gun ownership and murder rates. Gun ownership data comes from Graduate Institute of International Studies, Small Arms Survey (2003).

On their face, Tables 1, 2, and 3, and the comparisons gleaned from them suggest that gun ownership is irrelevant, or has little relevance, to murder. Historical and demographic comparisons offer further evidence. Again, all the data may be misleading. It is conceivable that more guns do equals more murder, but that this causation does not appear because some unidentifiable extraneous factor always intervenes. That is conceivable, but ultimately unlikely. As Hans Toch, a senior American criminologist who 35 years ago endorsed handgun prohibition and confiscation, but then recanted based on later research, argues “it is hard to explain that where firearms are most dense, violent crime rates are lowest and where guns are least dense, violent crime rates are highest.”[89]

A. Demographic Patterns

Contrary to what should be the case if more guns equals more death, there are no “consistent indications of a link between gun ownership and criminal or violent behavior by owners”; in fact, gun ownership is “higher among whites than among blacks, higher among middle-aged people than among young people, higher among married than among unmarried people, higher among richer people than poor”—all “patterns that are the reverse of the way in which criminal behavior is distributed.”[90]

These conclusions are reinforced by focusing on patterns of African-American homicide. Per capita, African-American murder rates are much higher than the murder rate for whites.[91] If more guns equals more death, and fewer guns equals less, one might assume gun ownership is higher among African-Americans than among whites, but in fact African-American gun ownership is markedly lower than white gun ownership.[92]

Particularly corrosive to the mantra are the facts as to rural African-Americans gun ownership. Per capita, rural African-Americans are much more likely to have firearms than are urban African-Americans’.[93] Yet, despite their greater access to guns, the firearm murder rate of young rural black males is a small fraction of the firearm murder rate of young urban black males.[94]

These facts are only anomalous in relation to the mantra more guns equals more death, fewer guns equals less. In contrast, these facts accord with the earlier point regarding the aberrance (departing from the right, normal, or usual course) of murderers. Whatever their race, ordinary people simply do not murder. Thus preventing law-abiding, responsible African-Americans from owning guns does nothing at all to reduce murderers, because they are not the ones who are doing the killing. The murderers are a small minority of extreme antisocial aberrants who manage to get guns whatever the level of gun ownership in the black community.

Indeed, murderers generally fall into a group some criminologists have called “violent predators,” sharply differentiating them not only from the overall population but from other criminals as well.[95] Surveys of imprisoned felons indicate that while on the outside the ordinary felon averages perhaps 12 crimes per year.[96] In contrast, “violent predators” spend much or most of their time committing crimes, averaging at least 5 assaults, 63 robberies, and 172 burglaries annually.[97] A National Institute of Justice survey of 2,000 felons in 10 state prisons, which focused on gun crime, said of these types of respondents:

The men we have labeled Predators were clearly omnibus felons . . .  [committing] more or less any crime they had the opportunity to commit . . . . The Predators (handgun and shotgun combined) . . . amounted to about 22% of the sample and yet accounted for 51% of the total crime [admitted by the 2,000 felons] . . . . Thus, when we talk about “controlling crime” in the United States today, we are talking largely about controlling the behavior of these men.[98]

The point is not just that demographic patterns of homicide and gun ownership in the African-American community do not support the more guns equals more death mantra. More importantly those patterns refute the logic of fewer guns equals less death. The reason fewer guns among ordinary African-Americans does not lead to fewer murders is because does not translate to fewer guns for the aberrant minority who do murder. The correlation of very high murder rates with low gun ownership in African-American communities simply does not bear out the notion that disarming the populace as a whole will disarm and prevent murder by potential murderers.

B. Macro-historical Evidence: From the
Middle Ages to the 20th Century

Notoriously, the Middle Ages were a time of brutal and endemic warfare. They also experienced rates of ordinary murder about double those of the U.S. at its worst.[99] But Middle Age homicide “cannot be explained in terms of the availability of firearms, which had not yet been invented.”[100] The invention provides some test of the mantra. If it is true that more guns equals more murder and fewer guns equals less death, murder should have risen with the invention of firearms, their increased efficiency, and the greater availability of them across the population.

Yet, using England as an example, murder rates seem to have fallen sharply as guns became progressively more efficient and widely owned during the five centuries after the invention of firearms.[101] During much of this period, because the entire adult male population of England was deemed to constitute a militia, every military age male was required to possess arms for use in militia training and service.[102]

The same requirement was true in America during the period of colonial and post-colonial settlement. Indeed, the basic English militia laws were superceded by the colonies’ even more specific and demanding legal requirements of universal gun ownership. Under those laws, virtually all colonists and every home were required to have guns. Depending on the colony’s laws, male youths were deemed of military age at 16, 17, or 18, and every military age man, except for the insane, infirm, and criminals, had to have arms. They were subject to being called for inspection, militia drill, or service, all of which legally required them to bring and present their guns. To arm those too poor to afford guns, the laws required that guns be purchased for them and that they make installment payments to pay back the cost.[103]

It bears emphasis that these gun ownership requirements were not limited to those subject to militia service. Women, seamen, clergy, and some public officials were automatically exempt from militia call up, as were men over the upper military age, which varied from 45 to 60, depending on the colony. But every household was required to have a gun, even if all its occupants were otherwise exempt from militia service, to deter criminals and other attackers. Likewise, all respectable men were theoretically required to carry arms when out and abroad.[104]

These laws may not have been fully enforced (except in times of danger) in areas that had been long-settled and peaceful. Nevertheless, “by the eighteenth century, colonial Americans were the most heavily armed people in the world.”[105] Yet, far from more guns equaling more death, murders in the New England colonies were “rare,” and “few” murderers in all the colonies involved guns “despite their wide availability.”[106]

America remained very well armed yet homicide remained quite low for over two hundred years, from the earliest settlements through the entire colonial period and early years of the United States. Homicide in more settled areas only began rising markedly in the two decades before the Civil War.[107] By that time the universal militia was inoperative and the universality of American gun ownership had disappeared as many people in long-settled peaceful areas did not hunt and had no other need for a firearm.[108]

The Civil War acquainted vast numbers of men with modern rapid-fire guns, and, in its aftermath, provided a unique opportunity to acquire them. Before the Civil War, reliable multi-shot rifles or shotguns did not exist and revolvers (though they had been invented in the 1830s) were so expensive they were effectively out of reach for most of the American populace.[109] The Civil War changed all that. Officers on both sides had to buy their own revolvers, while sidearms were issued to non-commissioned officers generally, as well as those ordinary soldiers who were in the artillery, cavalry, and dragoons.[110] The fact that over two million men served in the Union Army at various times while the Confederates had over half that number suggests the number of revolvers involved.[111]

At war’s end, the U.S. Army and Navy were left with vast numbers of surplus revolvers, both those they had purchased and those captured from Confederate forces. As the Army plummeted to slightly over 11,000 men,[112] hundreds of thousands of military surplus revolvers were sold at very low prices. In addition, when their enlistments were up, or when they were mustered out at war’s end, former officers and soldiers retained hundreds of thousands of both revolvers and rifles. These commandeered arms included many of the new repeating rifles the Union had bought (over the fervent objections of short-sighted military procurement officers) at the command of President Lincoln, who had tested the Spencer rifle himself. After his death the Army reverted to the single-shot rifle, disposing of all its multi-shots at surplus and thereby ruining Spencer by glutting the market.[113]

Thus over the immediate post-Civil War years “the country was awash with military pistols” and rifles of the most modern design.[114] The final three decades of the century saw the introduction and marketing of the “two dollar pistol,” which were very cheap handguns manufactured largely out of pot metal.[115] In addition to being sold locally, such “suicide specials” were marketed nationwide through Montgomery Ward catalogs starting in 1872 and by Sears from 1886.[116] They were priced as low as $1.69, and were marketed under names like the “Little Giant” and the “Tramp’s Terror.”[117]

Thus, the period between 1866 and 1900 saw a vast diffusion of commercial and military surplus revolvers and lever action rifles throughout the American populace. Yet, far from rising, homicide seems to have fallen off sharply during these thirty years.

Whether or not guns were the cause, homicide steadily declined over a period of five centuries coincident with the invention of guns and their diffusion throughout the continent. In America, from the seventeenth century through the early nineteenth century murder was rare and rarely involved guns, though gun ownership was universal by law and “colonial Americans were the most heavily armed people in the world.”[118] By the 1840s, gun ownership had declined but homicide began a spectacular rise through the early 1860s. From the end of the Civil War to the turn of the twentieth century, however, America in general, and urban areas in particular, such as New York, experienced a tremendous spurt in ownership of higher capacity revolvers and rifles than had ever existed before, but the number of murders sharply declined.[119]

In sum, the notion that more guns equals more death is not borne out by the historical evidence available for the period between the Middle Ages and the twentieth century. Yet this conclusion must be viewed with caution. While one may describe broad general trends in murder rates and in the availability of firearms, it is not possible to do so with exactitude before recent times. Not until the late 1800s in England, and the mid-1900s in the United States were there detailed data on homicide. Information about the distribution of firearms is even more sparse. For instance, Lane’s generalizations about the rarity of gun murders and low American murder rates in general are subject to some dispute because Professor Randolph Roth has shown that early American murder rates and the extent to which guns were used in murder varied greatly between differing areas and time periods.[120]

C. Later and More Specific Macro-Historical Evidence

Malcolm presents reliable trend data on both gun ownership and crime in England for the period between 1871 and 1964. Significantly, these trend data do not at all correlate as the mantra would predict: Violent crime did not increase with increased gun ownership nor did it decline in periods in which gun ownership was lower.[121]

In the United States, the murder rate doubled in the ten-year span between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. Since this rise coincided with vastly increasing gun sales was viewed by many as proof positive that more guns equals more death. That conclusion, however, does not follow. It is at least equally possible that the causation was reversed: that is, the decade’s spectacular increases in murder, burglary, and all kinds of violent crimes caused fearful people to buy guns.[122] The dubiousness of assuming that the gun sales caused the rise in murder rather than the reverse might have been clearer had it been known in this period that virtually the same murder rate increase was occurring in gun-less Russia.[123] Clearly there is little basis to assume guns were the reason for the American murder rate rise when the Russian murder rate exhibited the same increase without any involvement of guns.

Reliable information on both gun ownership and murder rates in the United States is available only for the period commencing at the end of World War II. Significantly, the decade from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s is a unique exception to the general pattern that, decade-by-decade, the number of guns owned by civilians has risen steadily and dramatically but murder rates nevertheless have remained stable or even declined. As for the second half of the Twentieth Century, and especially its last quarter, a study comparing the number of guns to murder rates found that over the 25-year period from 1973 to 1997, the number of handguns owned by Americans increased 160% while the number of all firearms rose 103%. Yet over that period, the murder rate declined 27.7%.[124] It continued to decline in the years 1998, 1999, and 2000, despite the addition in each year of two to three million handguns and approximately five million firearms of all kinds. By the end of 2000 the total American gunstock stood at well over 260 million—951.1 guns for every 1,000 Americans—but the murder rate had returned to the comparatively low level prior to the increases of the mid-1960s to mid-1970s period.[125]

In sum, the data for the decades since the end of World War II are further evidence failing to bear out the more guns equals more death mantra. The per capita accumulated stock of guns has increased, yet there has been no correspondingly consistent increase in either total violence or gun violence. The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that gun possession levels do not have any impact on violence rates.[126]

D. Geographic Patterns within Nations

Once again, if more guns equals more death and fewer guns equals less death, areas within nations with higher gun ownership should in general have more murders than those with less gun ownership in a similar area. But, in fact, the reverse pattern prevails in Canada,[127] “England, America, and Switzerland, [where the areas] with the highest rates of gun ownership were in fact those with the lowest rates of violence.”[128] A recent study of all counties in the United States has again demonstrated the lack of relationship between the prevalence of firearms and homicide.[129]

This inverse correlation is one of several that seems to contradict more guns equals more death. For decades the gun lobby has emphasized that, in general, the American jurisdictions where guns are most restricted have consistently had the highest violent crime rates and those with the fewest restrictions have the lowest violent crime rates.[130] For instance, robbery is highest in jurisdictions which are most restrictive of gun ownership.[131]As to one specific control, the ban on carrying concealed weapons (CCW) for protection, “violent-crime rates were highest in states [that flatly ban carrying concealed weapons], next highest in those that allowed local authorities discretion [to deny] permits, and lowest in states with nondiscretionary” concealed weapons laws under which police are legally required to license every qualified applicant.[132] Also of interest are the extensive opinion surveys of incarcerated felons, both juvenile and adult, in which large percentages of the felons replied that they often feared potential victims might be armed and aborted violent crimes because of that fear.[133] The felons most frightened about confronting an armed victim were those “from states with the greatest relative number of privately owned firearms.”[134]

E. Geographic Comparisons:
European Gun Ownership and Murder Rates

This topic has already been addressed at some length in connection with Tables 1–3, which contain the latest data available. Tables 4–6, contain further, and somewhat more comprehensive, data from the early and mid-1990s.[135] These statistics reinforce the point that murder rates are determined by basic socio-cultural and economic factors rather than mere availability of some particular form of weaponry. Consider Norway and its neighbors Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Norway has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%) but also its lowest murder rate. The Netherlands has the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe (1.9%) and Sweden lies midway between (15.1%) the Netherlands and Norway. Yet the Dutch gun murder rate is higher than the Norwegian, and the Swedish rate is even higher, though only slightly.[136]

Table 4: Intentional Deaths: United States vs.
Continental Europe Rates

In order of highest combined rate; nations having higher rates than the United States are indicated by asterisk (suicide rate) or + sign (murder rate).

Nation Suicide Murder Combined rates
Russia 41.2* 30.6+ 71.8
Estonia 40.1* 22.2+ 62.3
Latvia 40.7* 18.2+ 58.9
Lithuania 45.6* 11.7+ 57.3
Belarus 27.9* 10.4+ 38.3
Hungary 32.9* 3.5 36.4
Ukraine 22.5* 11.3+ 33.8
Slovenia 28.4* 2.4 30.4
Finland 27.2* 2.9 30.1
Denmark 22.3* 4.9 27.2
Croatia 22.8* 3.3 26.1
Austria 22.2* 1.0 23.2
Bulgaria 17.3* 5.1 22.4
France 20.8* 1.1 21.9
Switzerland 21.4* 1.1 24.1
Belgium 18.7* 1.7 20.4
United States 11.6 7.8 19.4
Poland 14.2* 2.8 17.0
Germany 15.8* 1.1 16.9
Romania 12.3* 4.1 16.4
Sweden 15.3* 1.0 16.3
Norway 12.3* 0.8 13.1
Holland 9.8 1.2 11.0
Italy 8.2 1.7 9.9
Portugal 8.2 1.7 9.9
Spain 8.1 0.9 9.0
Greece 3.3 1.3 4.6

(Notes: Data based in general on U.N. Demographic Yearbook (1998) as reported in David C. Stolinsky, America: The Most Violent Nation?)

On their face, Tables 1, 2, and 3, and the comparisons gleaned from them suggest that gun ownership is irrelevant, or has little relevance, to murder. Historical and demographic comparisons offer further evidence. Again, all the data may be misleading. It is conceivable that more guns do equals more murder, but that this causation does not appear because some unidentifiable extraneous factor always intervenes. That is conceivable, but ultimately unlikely. As Hans Toch, a senior American criminologist who 35 years ago endorsed handgun prohibition and confiscation, but then recanted based on later research, argues “it is hard to explain that where firearms are most dense, violent crime rates are lowest and where guns are least dense, violent crime rates are highest.”[89]

homicide-suicide-ratesThe thought of violent death both fascinates and terrifies us, so it is understandable that homicide and suicide are the subjects of voluminous commentary. Regrettably, much of this commentary is based on emotion rather than reason, and it is propped up by incorrect “facts” that have been repeated so often that they have become widely accepted.

Examples of these “facts” include the following: Violence has reached “epidemic proportions.” America is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of violence, with the highest homicide rate in our history, or in the industrialized world. Homicide and suicide rose in the 1980s in response to callous social policies of the Reagan administration. Homicide and suicide rise when leaders are “macho” but fall when the government is “caring.” Homicide and suicide rise after wars, because veterans are “unstable” and bring home violent habits. Homicide rates show no relation to the death penalty. Homicide and suicide rise when guns are easily available but fall in response to gun-control laws. Homicide and suicide rise and fall together, showing that they are subject to the same influences.

These statements all seem reasonable because we have heard them so often, especially from those who blame America for the ills of the world. They are so widely accepted that attempts to refute them are met with amused disbelief, or even anger. But they are all false.

The wide acceptance of these statements is in part due to the difficulty of obtaining the facts needed to refute them. The purpose of this article is to supply these facts. Figure 1 shows rates of suicide and homicide in the United States for the years 1900 through 1998. Rates are per 100,000 population and come from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).(1-3) Homicide rates usually quoted are from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, which began yielding nationwide data in 1960. Data from earlier in the century are available only from the NCHS. The NCHS homicide rates parallel the FBI rates but tend to be slightly higher. Only NCHS data are used here for uniformity.

Homicide and Suicide in AmericaMortality data have been reported by all states since 1933. In 1900 only eleven states did so.(1) Figures from early in the century are thus incomplete. It has been claimed4 that the sharp rise in homicide in the early 1900s was an artifact due to adding states with higher rates to the data set, and that the national rate was actually between two- and six-fold higher than stated.

A. Demographic Patterns

Contrary to what should be the case if more guns equals more death, there are no “consistent indications of a link between gun ownership and criminal or violent behavior by owners;” in fact, gun ownership is “higher among whites than among blacks, higher among middle-aged people than among young people, higher among married than among unmarried people, higher among richer people than poor”—all “patterns that are the reverse of the way in which criminal behavior is distributed.”[90]

Homicide and Suicide in America.gifThese conclusions are reinforced by focusing on patterns of African-American homicide. Per capita, African-American murder rates are much higher than the murder rate for whites.[91] If more guns equals more death, and fewer guns equals less, one might assume gun ownership is higher among African-Americans than among whites, but in fact African-American gun ownership is markedly lower than white gun ownership.[92]

Particularly corrosive to the mantra are the facts as to rural African-Americans gun ownership. Per capita, rural African-Americans are much more likely to have firearms than are urban African-Americans’.[93] Yet, despite their greater access to guns, the firearm murder rate of young rural black males is a small fraction of the firearm murder rate of young urban black males.[94]

These facts are only anomalous in relation to the mantra more guns equals more death, fewer guns equals less. In contrast, these facts accord with the earlier point regarding the aberrance (departing from the right, normal, or usual course) of murderers. Whatever their race, ordinary people simply do not murder. Thus preventing law-abiding, responsible African-Americans from owning guns does nothing at all to reduce murderers, because they are not the ones who are doing the killing. The murderers are a small minority of extreme antisocial aberrants who manage to get guns whatever the level of gun ownership in the black community.

Indeed, murderers generally fall into a group some criminologists have called “violent predators,” sharply differentiating them not only from the overall population but from other criminals as well.[95] Surveys of imprisoned felons indicate that while on the outside the ordinary felon averages perhaps 12 crimes per year.[96] In contrast, “violent predators” spend much or most of their time committing crimes, averaging at least 5 assaults, 63 robberies, and 172 burglaries annually.[97] A National Institute of Justice survey of 2,000 felons in 10 state prisons, which focused on gun crime, said of these types of respondents:

[T]he men we have labeled Predators were clearly omnibus felons . . .  [committing] more or less any crime they had the opportunity to commit . . . . The Predators (handgun and shotgun combined) . . . amounted to about 22% of the sample and yet accounted for 51% of the total crime [admitted by the 2,000 felons] . . . . Thus, when we talk about “controlling crime” in the United States today, we are talking largely about controlling the behavior of these men.[98]

The point is not just that demographic patterns of homicide and gun ownership in the African-American community do not support the more guns equals more death mantra. More importantly those patterns refute the logic of fewer guns equals less death. The reason fewer guns among ordinary African-Americans does not lead to fewer murders is because does not translate to fewer guns for the aberrant minority who do murder. The correlation of very high murder rates with low gun ownership in African-American communities simply does not bear out the notion that disarming the populace as a whole will disarm and prevent murder by potential murderers.

B. Macro-historical Evidence: From the
Middle Ages to the 20th Century

Notoriously, the Middle Ages were a time of brutal and endemic warfare. They also experienced rates of ordinary murder about double those of the U.S. at its worst.[99] But Middle Age homicide “cannot be explained in terms of the availability of firearms, which had not yet been invented.”[100] The invention provides some test of the mantra. If it is true that more guns equals more murder and fewer guns equals less death, murder should have risen with the invention of firearms, their increased efficiency, and the greater availability of them across the population.

Yet, using England as an example, murder rates seem to have fallen sharply as guns became progressively more efficient and widely owned during the five centuries after the invention of firearms.[101] During much of this period, because the entire adult male population of England was deemed to constitute a militia, every military age male was required to possess arms for use in militia training and service.[102]

The same requirement was true in America during the period of colonial and post-colonial settlement. Indeed, the basic English militia laws were superceded by the colonies’ even more specific and demanding legal requirements of universal gun ownership. Under those laws, virtually all colonists and every home were required to have guns. Depending on the colony’s laws, male youths were deemed of military age at 16, 17, or 18, and every military age man, except for the insane, infirm, and criminals, had to have arms. They were subject to being called for inspection, militia drill, or service, all of which legally required them to bring and present their guns. To arm those too poor to afford guns, the laws required that guns be purchased for them and that they make installment payments to pay back the cost.[103]

It bears emphasis that these gun ownership requirements were not limited to those subject to militia service. Women, seamen, clergy, and some public officials were automatically exempt from militia call up, as were men over the upper military age, which varied from 45 to 60, depending on the colony. But every household was required to have a gun, even if all its occupants were otherwise exempt from militia service, to deter criminals and other attackers. Likewise, all respectable men were theoretically required to carry arms when out and abroad.[104]

These laws may not have been fully enforced (except in times of danger) in areas that had been long-settled and peaceful. Nevertheless, “by the eighteenth century, colonial Americans were the most heavily armed people in the world.”[105] Yet, far from more guns equaling more death, murders in the New England colonies were “rare,” and “few” murderers in all the colonies involved guns “despite their wide availability.”[106]

America remained very well armed yet homicide remained quite low for over two hundred years, from the earliest settlements through the entire colonial period and early years of the United States. Homicide in more settled areas only began rising markedly in the two decades before the Civil War.[107] By that time the universal militia was inoperative and the universality of American gun ownership had disappeared as many people in long-settled peaceful areas did not hunt and had no other need for a firearm.[108]

The Civil War acquainted vast numbers of men with modern rapid-fire guns, and, in its aftermath, provided a unique opportunity to acquire them. Before the Civil War, reliable multi-shot rifles or shotguns did not exist and revolvers (though they had been invented in the 1830s) were so expensive they were effectively out of reach for most of the American populace.[109] The Civil War changed all that. Officers on both sides had to buy their own revolvers, while sidearms were issued to noncommissioned officers generally, as well as those ordinary soldiers who were in the artillery, cavalry, and dragoons.[110] The fact that over two million men served in the Union Army at various times while the Confederates had over half that number suggests the number of revolvers involved.[111]

At war’s end, the U.S. Army and Navy were left with vast numbers of surplus revolvers, both those they had purchased and those captured from Confederate forces. As the Army plummeted to slightly over 11,000 men,[112] hundreds of thousands of military surplus revolvers were sold at very low prices. In addition, when their enlistments were up, or when they were mustered out at war’s end, former officers and soldiers retained hundreds of thousands of both revolvers and rifles. These commandeered arms included many of the new repeating rifles the Union had bought (over the fervent objections of short-sighted military procurement officers) at the command of President Lincoln, who had tested the Spencer rifle himself. After his death the Army reverted to the single-shot rifle, disposing of all its multi-shots at surplus and thereby ruining Spencer by glutting the market.[113]

Thus over the immediate post-Civil War years “the country was awash with military pistols” and rifles of the most modern design.[114] The final three decades of the century saw the introduction and marketing of the “two dollar pistol,” which were very cheap handguns manufactured largely out of pot metal.[115] In addition to being sold locally, such “suicide specials” were marketed nationwide through Montgomery Ward catalogs starting in 1872 and by Sears from 1886.[116] They were priced as low as $1.69, and were marketed under names like the “Little Giant” and the “Tramp’s Terror.”[117]

Thus, the period between 1866 and 1900 saw a vast diffusion of commercial and military surplus revolvers and lever action rifles throughout the American populace. Yet, far from rising, homicide seems to have fallen off sharply during these thirty years.

Whether or not guns were the cause, homicide steadily declined over a period of five centuries coincident with the invention of guns and their diffusion throughout the continent. In America, from the seventeenth century through the early nineteenth century murder was rare and rarely involved guns, though gun ownership was universal by law and “colonial Americans were the most heavily armed people in the world.”[118] By the 1840s, gun ownership had declined but homicide began a spectacular rise through the early 1860s. From the end of the Civil War to the turn of the twentieth century, however, America in general, and urban areas in particular, such as New York, experienced a tremendous spurt in ownership of higher capacity revolvers and rifles than had ever existed before, but the number of murders sharply declined.[119]

In sum, the notion that more guns equals more death is not borne out by the historical evidence available for the period between the Middle Ages and the twentieth century. Yet this conclusion must be viewed with caution. While one may describe broad general trends in murder rates and in the availability of firearms, it is not possible to do so with exactitude before recent times. Not until the late 1800s in England, and the mid-1900s in the United States were there detailed data on homicide. Information about the distribution of firearms is even more sparse. For instance, Lane’s generalizations about the rarity of gun murders and low American murder rates in general are subject to some dispute because Professor Randolph Roth has shown that early American murder rates and the extent to which guns were used in murder varied greatly between differing areas and time periods.[120]

C. Later and More Specific Macro-Historical Evidence

Malcolm presents reliable trend data on both gun ownership and crime in England for the period between 1871 and 1964. Significantly, these trend data do not at all correlate as the mantra would predict: Violent crime did not increase with increased gun ownership nor did it decline in periods in which gun ownership was lower.[121]

In the United States, the murder rate doubled in the ten-year span between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. Since this rise coincided with vastly increasing gun sales was viewed by many as proof positive that more guns equals more death. That conclusion, however, does not follow. It is at least equally possible that the causation was reversed: that is, the decade’s spectacular increases in murder, burglary, and all kinds of violent crimes caused fearful people to buy guns.[122] The dubiousness of assuming that the gun sales caused the rise in murder rather than the reverse might have been clearer had it been known in this period that virtually the same murder rate increase was occurring in gun-less Russia.[123] Clearly there is little basis to assume guns were the reason for the American murder rate rise when the Russian murder rate exhibited the same increase without any involvement of guns.

Reliable information on both gun ownership and murder rates in the United States is available only for the period commencing at the end of World War II. Significantly, the decade from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s is a unique exception to the general pattern that, decade-by-decade, the number of guns owned by civilians has risen steadily and dramatically but murder rates nevertheless have remained stable or even declined. As for the second half of the Twentieth Century, and especially its last quarter, a study comparing the number of guns to murder rates found that over the 25-year period from 1973 to 1997, the number of handguns owned by Americans increased 160% while the number of all firearms rose 103%. Yet over that period, the murder rate declined 27.7%.[124] It continued to decline in the years 1998, 1999, and 2000, despite the addition in each year of two to three million handguns and approximately five million firearms of all kinds. By the end of 2000 the total American gunstock stood at well over 260 million—951.1 guns for every 1,000 Americans—but the murder rate had returned to the comparatively low level prior to the increases of the mid-1960s to mid-1970s period.[125]

In sum, the data for the decades since the end of World War II are further evidence failing to bear out the more guns equals more death mantra. The per capita accumulated stock of guns has increased, yet there has been no correspondingly consistent increase in either total violence or gun violence. The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that gun possession levels do not have any impact on violence rates.[126]

D. Geographic Patterns within Nations

Once again, if more guns equals more death and fewer guns equals less death, areas within nations with higher gun ownership should in general have more murders than those with less gun ownership in a similar area. But, in fact, the reverse pattern prevails in Canada,[127] “England, America, and Switzerland, [where the areas] with the highest rates of gun ownership were in fact those with the lowest rates of violence.”[128] A recent study of all counties in the United States has again demonstrated the lack of relationship between the prevalence of firearms and homicide.[129]

This inverse correlation is one of several that seems to contradict more guns equals more death. For decades the gun lobby has emphasized that, in general, the American jurisdictions where guns are most restricted have consistently had the highest violent crime rates and those with the fewest restrictions have the lowest violent crime rates.[130] For instance, robbery is highest in jurisdictions which are most restrictive of gun ownership.[131]As to one specific control, the ban on carrying concealed weapons (CCW) for protection, “violent-crime rates were highest in states [that flatly ban carrying concealed weapons], next highest in those that allowed local authorities discretion [to deny] permits, and lowest in states with non-discretionary” concealed weapons laws under which police are legally required to license every qualified applicant.[132] Also of interest are the extensive opinion surveys of incarcerated felons, both juvenile and adult, in which large percentages of the felons replied that they often feared potential victims might be armed and aborted violent crimes because of that fear.[133] The felons most frightened about confronting an armed victim were those “from states with the greatest relative number of privately owned firearms.”[134]

E. Geographic Comparisons:
European Gun Ownership and Murder Rates

This topic has already been addressed at some length in connection with Tables 1–3, which contain the latest data available. Tables 4–6, contain further, and somewhat more comprehensive, data from the early and mid-1990s.[135] These statistics reinforce the point that murder rates are determined by basic socio-cultural and economic factors rather than mere availability of some particular form of weaponry. Consider Norway and its neighbors Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Norway has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%) but also its lowest murder rate. The Netherlands has the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe (1.9%) and Sweden lies midway between (15.1%) the Netherlands and Norway. Yet the Dutch gun murder rate is higher than the Norwegian, and the Swedish rate is even higher, though only slightly.[136]

N.B. This data should be considered in light of Tables 1 and 3 and the Explanatory Note which precedes Table 3.

 The Swiss homicide figure that Stolinsky reports is an error because it combines attempts with actual murders. We have computed the Swiss murder rate by averaging the 1994 and 1995 Swiss National Police figures for actual murders in those years given in Richard. Munday & Jan A. Stevenson, Guns and Violence: The Debate Before Lord Cullen 268 (1996).

Table 5: European Gun/Handgun Violent Death

Nation Suicide with handgun Murder with handgun Percent of households with guns Percent of households with handguns
Belgium 18.7 1.7 16.6% 6.8%
France 20.8 1.1 22.6% 5.5%
West Germany 15.8 1.1 8.9% 6.7%*
Holland 9.8 1.2 1.9% 1.2%
Italy 8.2 1.7 16.0% 5.5%
Norway 12.3 0.8 32%% 3.8%
Sweden 15.3 1.3 15.1% 1.5%
Switzerland 20.8 1.1** 27.2% 12.2%

Notes: For derivation of the homicide rates, see notes to Table 1. The data on household firearms ownership come from British Home Office figures printed in Richard. Munday & Jan A. Stevenson, Guns and Violence: The Debate Before Lord Cullen 30, 275 (1996)

* Note that the data here are for West Germany and were obtained when that nation still existed as an independent entity. See infra Tables 1 & 4 for later (but differently derived) data for the current nation of Germany.

** Again, the Swiss homicide figure that Stolinsky reports is an error because it combines attempts with actual murders. See notes for Table 4.

Table 6: European Firearms-Violent Deaths

Nation Suicide Suicide with gun Murder Murder with gun Number of guns per 100,000 population
Austria N/A N/A 2.14 0.53 41.02*
Belarus 27.26 N/A 9.86 N/A 16.5
Czech Republic 9.88 1.01 2.80 0.92 27.58
Estonia 39.99 3.63 22.11 6.2 28.56
Finland 27.28 5.78 3.25 0.87 411.20**
Germany 15.80 1.23 1.81 0.21 122.56
Greece 3.54 1.30 1.33 0.55 77.00
Hungary 33.34 0.88 4.07 0.47 15.54
Moldova N/A N/A 17.06 0.63 6.61
Poland 14.23 0.16 2.61 0.27 5.30
Romania N/A N/A 4.32 0.12 2.97
Slovakia 13.24 0.58 2.38 0.36 31.91
Spain 5.92 N/A 1.58 0.19 64.69
Sweden 15.65 1.95 1.35 0.31 246.65

Notes: It bears emphasis that the following data come from a special U.N. report whose data are not fully comparable to those in Tables 1 and 2 because they cover different years and derive from substantially differing sources.[137] This special report is based on data obtained from the governments of the nations set out below, especially data on gun permits or other official indicia of gun ownership in those nations.[138] The data on suicide and murder in those nations also come from their governments as do the similar data in Tables 1 and 2, but for later years, and also include data on the number of firearm homicides and firearm suicides which are not available from the U.N. source used in Tables 1 and 2.

* This may well be an undercount because an Austrian license is not limited to a single firearm but rather allows the licensee to possess multiple guns.

** The source from which Table 2 derives also gives figures for Finland, which we have omitted there because they are earlier and closely similar except in one respect: instead of official ownership figures for guns, they give a survey-based figure for households having a gun: 23.2%

These comparisons are reinforced by Table 6, which gives differently derived (and non-comparable) gun ownership rates, overall murder rates, and rates of gun murder, for a larger set of European nations.[139] Table 6 reveals that even though Sweden has more than double the rate of gun ownership as neighboring Germany as well as more gun murders, it has 25% less murder overall. In turn, Germany, with three times the gun ownership rate of neighboring Austria has a substantially lower murder rate overall and a lower gun murder rate. Likewise, though Greece has over twice the per capita gun ownership rate of the Czech Republic, Greece has substantially less gun murder and less than half as much murder overall. Although Spain has over 12 times more gun ownership than Poland, the latter has almost a third more gun murder and more overall murder than the former. Finally, Finland has 14 times more gun ownership than neighboring Estonia, yet Estonia’s gun murder and overall murder rates are about seven times higher than Finland’s.

F. Geographic Comparisons: Gun-Ownership and Suicide Rates

The mantra more guns equals more death and fewer guns equals less death is also used to argue that “limiting access to firearms could prevent many suicides.”[140] Once again, this assertion is directly contradicted by the studies of 36 and 21 nations (respectively), which find no statistical relationship. Overall suicide rates were no worse in nations with many firearms than in those where firearms were far less widespread.[141]

Consider the data about European nations in Tables 5 and 6. Sweden, with over twice as much gun ownership as neighboring Germany and a third more gun suicide, nevertheless has the lower overall suicide rate. Greece has nearly three times more gun ownership than the Czech Republic and somewhat more gun suicide, yet the overall Czech suicide rate is over 175% higher than the Greek rate. Spain has over 12 times more gun ownership than Poland, yet the latter’s overall suicide rate is more than double the former’s. Tragically, Finland has over 14 times more gun ownership than neighboring Estonia, and a great deal more gun-related suicide. But how tragic is it for Finland, really, when in fact Estonia turns out to have a much higher suicide rate than Finland overall?

There is simply no relationship evident between the extent of suicide and the extent of gun ownership. People do not commit suicide because they have guns available. In the absence of firearms, people who are inclined to suicide just kill themselves some other way.[142] Two examples seem as pertinent as they are poignant. The first concerns the 1980s increase in suicide among young American males, an increase that, although relatively modest, inspired perfervid denunciations of gun ownership.[143] What these denunciations failed to mention was that suicide of teenagers and young adults was increasing throughout the entire industrialized world, regardless of gun availability, and often much more rapidly than in the United States. The only unusual aspect of suicide in the United States was that it involved guns. The irrelevancy of guns to the increase in American suicide is evident because suicide among English youth actually increased 10 times more sharply, with “car exhaust poisoning [being] the method of suicide used most often.”[144] By omitting such facts, the articles blaming guns for increasing American suicide evaded the inconvenience of having to explain exactly what social benefit nations with few guns got from having their youth suicides occur in other ways.

Even more poignant are the suicides of many young Indian women born and raised on the island of Fiji. In general, women are much less likely to commit suicide than are men.[145] This statistic is true of Fijian women overall as well, but not of women in the large part of Fiji’s population that is of Indian ancestry. As children, these Indian women are raised in more-or-less loving and supportive homes. But upon marriage they are dispersed across the island to remote areas where they live with their husbands’ families. These families are not loving to them and are, in fact, often overtly hostile, a situation the husbands do little to mitigate. Indian women on Fiji have a suicide rate nearly as high as that of Indian men, a rate many times greater than that of non-Indian Fijian women.[146] It also bears emphasis that the overall Fijian suicide rate far exceeds that of the United States.

The method of suicide is particularly significant. Fijian women of Indian ancestry commit suicide without using guns, perhaps because guns are unavailable. About three-quarters of these women hang themselves, while virtually all the rest die (in agony) from consuming the agricultural pesticide paraquat. The recommendation of the author whose article chronicles all these suicides is so myopic as to almost caricature the more guns equals more death mindset: To reduce suicide by Indian women, she recommends that the Fijian state stringently control paraquat.[147] Apparently she thinks decreased access to a horribly agonizing means of death will reconcile these women to a life situation they regard as unendurable. At the risk of belaboring what should be all too obvious, restricting paraquat will not improve the lives of these poor women. It will only reorient them towards hanging, drowning, or some other means of suicide.

Guns are just one among numerous available deadly instruments. Thus, banning guns cannot reduce the amount of suicides. Such measures only reduce the number of suicides by firearms. Suicides committed in other ways increase to make up the difference. People do not commit suicide because they have guns available. They kill themselves for reasons they deem sufficient, and in the absence of firearms they just kill themselves in some other way.

Conclusion

This Article has reviewed a significant amount of evidence from a wide variety of international sources. Each individual portion of evidence is subject to cavil—at the very least the general objection that the persuasiveness of social scientific evidence cannot remotely approach the persuasiveness of conclusions in the physical sciences. Nevertheless the burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death, fewer guns equals less death mantra, especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra.[148] To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.

Over a decade ago, Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington undertook an extensive, statistically sophisticated study comparing areas in the United States and Canada to determine whether Canada’s more restrictive policies had better contained criminal violence. When he published his results it was with the admonition:

If you are surprised by these findings, so [are we]. [We] did not begin this research with any intent to “exonerate” handguns, but there it is—a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.[149]

Footnotes:

[1]See, e.g., John Godwin, Murder USA: The Ways We Kill Each Other 281 (1978) (“Areas with the highest proportion of gun owners also boast the highest homicide ratios; those with the fewest gun owners have the lowest.”); N. Pete Shields, Guns Don’t Die, People Do 64 (1981) (quoting and endorsing an English academic’s remark: “We cannot help but believe that America ought to share the basic premise of our gun legislation—that the availability of firearms breeds violence.”); Janice Somerville, Gun Control as Immunization, Am. Med. News, Jan. 3, 1994, at 9 (quoting public health activist Katherine Christoffel, M.D.: “Guns are a virus that must be eradicated . . . . Get rid of the guns, get rid of the bullets, and you get rid of the deaths.”); Deane Calhoun, From Controversy to Prevention: Building Effective Firearm Policies, Inj. Protection Network Newsl., Winter 1989–90, at 17 (“[G]uns are not just an inanimate object [sic], but in fact are a social ill.”); see also Wendy Cukier & Victor W. Sidel, The Global Gun Epidemic: From Saturday Night Specials to AK-47s (2006); Susan Baker, Without Guns, Do People Kill People? 75 Am. J. Pub. Health 587 (1985); Paul Cotton, Gun-Associated Violence Increasingly Viewed as Public Health Challenge, 267 J. Am. Med. Ass’n. 1171 (1992); Diane Schetky, Children and Handguns: A Public Health Concern, 139 Am. J. Dis.Child. 229, 230 (1985); Lois A. Fingerhut & Joel C. Kleinman, International and Interstate Comparisons of Homicides Among Young Males, 263 J. Am. Med. Ass’n. 3292, 3295 (1990).

[2]. See William Alex Pridemore, Using Newly Available Homicide Data to Debunk Two Myths About Violence in an International Context: A Research Note, 5 Homicide Stud. 267 (2001).

[3]See George Newton & Franklin Zimring, Firearms & violence in American life: A Staff Report Submitted to the National Commission on the Causes & Prevention of Violence, 119 & n.3 (1970).

[4]. Russian law did and does flatly prohibit civilian possession of handguns and limits long guns to licensed hunters. Id. For more on the stringency of enforcement, see Raymond Kessler, Gun Control and Political Power, 5 Law & Pol’y Q. 381, 389 (1983), and Randy E. Barnett & Don B. Kates, Under Fire: The New Consensus on the Second Amendment, 45 Emory L. J. 1139, 1239 (1996) (noting an unusual further element of Soviet gun policy: the Soviet Army adopted unique firearm calibers so that, even if its soldiers could not be prevented from returning with foreign gun souvenirs from foreign wars, ammunition for them would be unavailable in the Soviet Union).

[5]See Pridemore, supra note 2, at 271.

[6]. Russian homicide data given in this article were kindly supplied us by Professor Pridemore from his research in Russian ministry sources.

[7]. The highest U.S. homicide rate ever reported was 10.5 per 100,000 population in 1980. See Jeffery A. Miron, Violence, Guns, and Drugs: A Cross-Country Analysis, 44 J.L. & Econ. 615, 624–25 tbl.1 (2001). As of 2001 the rate was below 6. Id. The latest rates we have for the Ukraine, Belarus, and other former Soviet nations in Europe come from the mid-1990s when all were well above 10 and most were 50% to 150% higher. Id.

Note that the U.S. rates given above are rates reported by the FBI. There are two different sources of U.S. murder rates. The FBI murder data is based on reports it obtains from police agencies throughout the nation. These data are significantly less complete than the alternative (used in this article unless otherwise explicitly stated) rates of the U.S. Public Health Service, which are derived from data collected from medical examiners’ offices nationwide. Though the latter data are more comprehensive, and the Public Health Service murder rate is slightly higher, they have the disadvantage of being slower to appear than the FBI homicide data.

[8]. Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and their Control 20 (1997) (discussing patterns revealed by studies in the United States).

[9]. Our assertions as to legality of handguns are based on U.N. Econ. & Soc. Council, Comm’n on Crime Prevention & Crim. Justice, United Nations International Study on Firearms Regulation 26, table 2-1 (1997 draft).

[10]. Joyce Lee Malcolm, Guns and Violence: The English Experience 204 (2002).

[11]. Hans Toch & Alan J. Lizotte, Research and Policy: The Case for Gun Control, in Psychology & Social Policy 223, 232 (Peter Suedfeld & Philip E. Tetlock eds., 1992); see also id. at 234 & n.10 (“[T]he fact that national patterns show little violent crime where guns are most dense implies that guns do not elicit aggression in any meaningful way. . . . Quite the contrary, these findings suggest that high saturations of guns in places, or something correlated with that condition, inhibit illegal aggression.”).

Approaching the matter from a different direction, from the earliest data (nineteenth century on), the American jurisdictions with the most stringent gun controls are in general precisely the ones with the highest murder rates. Conversely, American states with homicide rates as low as Western Europe’s have high gun ownership, and no controls designed to deny guns to law-abiding, responsible adults. Many possible reasons may be offered for these two facts. But regardless of their explanation, they do not suggest that gun control reduces murder.

For examination of a wide variety of studies finding little evidence in support of the efficacy of gun controls in reducing violence, see James B. Jacobs, Can Gun Control work? 111–20 (2002); Kleck, supra note 8, at 351–77; John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws 19–20 (1998); James D. Wright et al., Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence in America 307–08 (1983); Matthew R. DeZee, Gun Control Legislation: Impact and Ideology, 5 Law & Pol’y Q. 367, 369–71 (1983).

[12]. Kleck, supra note 8, at 22-23.

[13]. Barnett & Kates, supra note 4, at 138–42.

[14]. In the period between 1900 and 1935, Arkansas, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina adopted laws variously requiring a license to own a handgun or to buy one or banning handgun purchase altogether, and “Saturday Night Special”-type bans existed in Tennessee, Arkansas, and various other Southern states. Don B. Kates, Jr., Toward a History of Handgun Prohibition in the United States, in Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out 7, 14–15 (Don B. Kates, Jr. ed., 1979).

[15]. Charles F. Wellford et al., Nat’l Research Council, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review 6–10 (2004). It is perhaps not amiss to note that the review panel, which was set up during the Clinton Administration, was composed almost entirely of scholars who, to the extent their views were publicly known before their appointments, favored gun control.

[16]. Task Force on Community Preventitive Services, Centers for Disease Control, First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws, 52 Mortality & Morbidity Wkly. Rep. (RR-14 Recommendations & Rep.) 11, 16 (2003), available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ rr5214a2.htm. The CDC is vehemently anti-gun and interpreted its results to show not that the “more guns equals more death” mantra is erroneous but only that the scores of studies it reviewed were inconclusively.

[17]. Malcolm, supra note 10, at 219.

[18]Id. at 209.

[19]See Esther Bouten et al., Criminal Victimization in Seventeen Industrialized Countries, in Crime Victimization in Comparative Perspective: Results from the International Crime Victims Survey, 1989–2000 at 13, 15-16 (Paul Nieuwbeerta ed., 2002). The surveys involved were conducted under the auspices of the governments of each nation and the general supervision of the University of Leiden and the Dutch Ministry of Justice.

[20]See, e.g., Gun Crime Growing “Like Cancer,” BBC News, May 21, 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/England/3043701.stm; David Bamber, Gun Crime Trebles as Weapons and Drugs Flood British Cities, Telegraph Online (London), Feb. 27, 2002, http://www.telegraoh.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/02/24/nguns24.xml; Jason Bennetto, Firearms Amnesty to Tackle Surge in Gun Crime, Independent (London), Dec. 27, 2002, at 1; Ian Burrell, Police Move to Tackle Huge Rise in Gun Crime, Independent (London), Jan. 15, 2001, at 3; Daniel Foggo & Carl Fellstrom, “We Are Reeling with the Murders, We Are in a Crisis with Major Crime,” Sunday Telegraph (London), Mar. 13, 2005, at 4; Johann Hari, The British Become Trigger Happy, New Statesman (London), Nov. 5, 2001, at 35; Philip Johnston, Gun Crime Rises Despite Dunblane Pistol Ban, Daily Telegraph (London), Jul. 17, 2001, at 05; David Leppard & Rachel Dobson, Murder Rate Soars to Highest for a Century, Sunday Times (London), Oct. 13, 2002, at 1; Adam Mitchell, Gun Killings Double as Police Claim Progress, Daily Telegraph (London), Aug. 17, 2001, at 13; John Steele, Police Fear a New Crime Wave as School-Age Muggers Graduate to Guns, Daily Telegraph (London) Jan. 3, 2002, at 04; Jon Ungoed-Thomas, Killings Rise as 3m Illegal Guns Flood Britain, Sunday Times (London), Jan. 16, 2000; Peter Woolrich, Britain’s Tough Gun Control Laws Termed Total Failure: Land of Hope and Gunrunning, Punch Mag., May 3, 2000.

[21]See, e.g., Carl Bakal, The Right to Bear Arms 10–11, 31, 279 (1966); Ramsey Clark, Crime in America 104–05, 109 (1970); Amitai Etzioni & Richard Remp, Technological Shortcuts to Social Change 136 (1973); National Coalition to Ban Handguns, A Shooting Gallery Called America (undated, unpaginated pamphlet); Shields, supra note 1, at 63–64; Irwin Bloch, Gun Control Would Reduce Crime, reprinted in Would Gun Control Reduce Crime 197 (David Bender ed., 1989); Robert S. Drinan, Banning Handguns Would Reduce Crime, reprinted in Guns & Crime 45–46 (Tarara Roleff ed., 1999).

[22]. Malcolm, supra note 10, at 164–216. We should clarify that the twin trends toward more violent crime and more gun control began long before the 1990s, and just culminated then.

[23]. Daniel Foggo, Don’t Bother About Burglary, Police Told. Sunday Telegraph (London), Jan. 12, 2003, at 1 (“Police have been ordered not to bother investigating crimes such as burglary, vandalism and assaults unless evidence pointing to the culprits is easily available, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal. Under new guidelines, officers have been informed that only “serious” crimes, such as murder, rape or so-called hate crimes, should be investigated as a matter of course. In all other cases, unless there is immediate and compelling evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA material, the crime will be listed for no further action.”).

[24]. Steve Doughty, Let Burglars Off With Caution Police Told. Daily Mail (London), Apr. 3, 2006, at 4.

[25]. Matthew Beard, Armed Police to Man Checkpoints in London as Drug-Related Crime Soars, Independent (London), Sept. 7, 2002, at 2.

[26]See Melissa Kite, Tories Launch Bill to Give Householders the Power to Tackle Intruders, Sunday Telegraph (London), Dec. 26, 2004, at 4; see also Renee Lerner, The Worldwide Popular Revolt Against Proportionality in Self-Defense Law, 2 J.L. Econ. & Pol’y (2007).

[27]. In March 2006, Kansas and Nebraska became the 39th and 40th states, respectively, to pass “shall issue” concealed carry legislation. In Kansas, the state legislature voted to overturn the governor’s veto of the bipartisan legislation. Kansas House Overrides Concealed-Guns-Bill Veto, Deseret Morning News, Mar. 24, 2006. In Nebraska, the governor signed the bill as passed by the state legislature. Kevin O’Hanlon, Concealed-Weapons Bill Adopted, Lincoln Journal Star, Mar. 31, 2006.

[28]. Don Kates, The Limited Importance of Gun Control from a Criminological Perspective, in Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts 62, 64 (Timothy D. Lytton ed., 2005).

[29]See John R. Lott Jr. & David B. Mustard, Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns, 26 J. Legal Stud. 1, 1 (1997); see also John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns, Less Crime 19 (2d. ed. 2000). This conclusion is vehemently rejected by anti-gun advocates and academics who oppose armed self-defense. See, e.g., Franklin Zimring & Gordon Hawkins, Concealed Handguns: The Counterfeit Deterrent, Responsive Community, Spring 1997, at 46; Albert W. Alschuler, Two Guns, Four Guns, Six Guns, More Guns: Does Arming the Public Reduce Crime?, 31 Val. U. L. Rev. 365, 366 (1997); Daniel W. Webster, The Claims That Right-to-Carry Laws Reduce Violent Crime Are Unsubstantiated (Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, 1997); Dan A. Black & Daniel S. Nagin, Do Right-to-Carry Laws Deter Violent Crime?, 27 J. Legal Stud. 209, 209 (1998); Ian Ayres & John J. Donohue III, Shooting Down the ‘More Guns, Less Crime’ Hypothesis, 55 Stan. L. Rev. 1193, 1197 (2003).

Several critics have now replicated Lott’s work using additional or different data, additional control variables, or new or different statistical techniques they deem superior to those Lott used. Interestingly, the replications all confirm Lott’s general conclusions; some even find that Lott underestimated the crime-reductive effects of allowing good citizens to carry concealed guns. See Jeffrey A. Miron, Violence, Guns, and Drugs: A Cross-Country Analysis, 44 J.L. & Econ. 615, 615 (2001); David B. Mustard, The Impact of Gun Laws on Police Deaths, 44 J.L. & Econ. 635 (2001); John R. Lott, Jr. & John E. Whitley, Safe-Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and Crime, 44 J.L. & Econ. 659 (2001) Thomas B. Marvell, The Impact of Banning Juvenile Gun Possession, 44 J.L. & Econ. 691 (2001); Jeffrey S. Parker, Guns, Crime, and Academics: Some Reflections on the Gun Control Debate, 44 J.L. & Econ. 715 (2001); Bruce L. Benson & Brent D. Mast, Privately Produced General Deterrence, 44 J.L. & Econ. 725 (2001); David E. Olson & Michael D. Maltz, Right-to-Carry Concealed Weapon Laws and Homicide in Large U.S. Counties: The Effect on Weapon Types, Victim Characteristics, and Victim-Offender Relationships, 44 J.L. & Econ. 747 (2001); Florenz Plassmann & T. Nicolaus Tideman, Does the Right to Carry Concealed Handguns Deter Countable Crimes? Only a Count Analysis Can Say, 44 J.L. & Econ. 771 (2001); and Carlisle E. Moody, Testing for the Effects of Concealed Weapons Laws: Specification Errors and Robustness, 44 J.L. & Econ. 799 (2001); see also Florenz Plassman & John Whitley, Confirming ‘More Guns, Less Crime,’ 55 Stan. L. Rev. 1313, 1316 (2003). In 2003 Lott reiterated and extended his findings, which were subsequently endorsed by three Nobel laureates. See John R. Lott, Jr., The Bias Against Guns (2003).

[30]See John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime, 116 Q. J. Econ. 379 (2001).

[31]See Bureau of Justice Statistics, Key Facts at a Glance: Incarceration Rate, 1980–2004 (Oct. 23, 2005), http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/incrttab.htm, citing Allen Beck & Paige Harrison, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Correctional Populations in the United States 1997, (2000), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cpus97.pdf, and Allen Beck & Paige Harrison, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2004, (2005), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p04.pdf.).

[32]. Thomas Bonczar & Tracy L. Snell, Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, Capital Punishment 2003, (2004), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cp03.pdf.

[33]See generally FBI, Violent Crime, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/
violent_crime/index.html; FBI, Crime in the United States by Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1986–2005, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/data/table_01.html.

[34]See Gordon Barclay et al., International Comparisons of Criminal Justice Statistics 1999, Home Office Stat. Bull. (Research Development and Statistics, U.K. Home Office, London, U.K.), 2001, available at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/
hosb601.pdf.

[35]. Several recent studies by economists calculate that each execution deters the commission of 19 murders. See Cass R. Sunstein & Adrian Vermuele, Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? Acts, Omissions, and Life-Life Tradeoffs, 58 Stanford L. Rev. 703 (2005).

[36]See Delbert S. Elliott, Life-Threatening Violence is Primarily a Crime Problem: A Focus on Prevention, 69 Colo. L. Rev. 1081, 1089 (1998) (emphasis added).

[37]See infra Part III.

[38]See supra notes 3–9 and Table 1.

[39]See supra Table 1 and infra Tables 2–3.

[40]. Kleck, supra note 8, at 254. Though we have quoted the finding as to murder rates, the study also found no correlation to suicide rates. Id.

[41]. Martin Killias et al., Guns, Violent Crime, and Suicide in 21 Countries, 43 Can. J. Criminology & Crim. Just. 429, 430 (2001). It bears emphasis that the authors, who are deeply anti-gun, emphasize the “very strong correlations between the presence of guns in the home and suicide committed with a gun”—as if there were some import to the death being by gun rather than by hanging, poison, or some other means. Id.; see also infra Part III.

[42]. World Health Organization, Small Arms and Global Health, 11 (2001) (emphasis added). This irrelevancy is endlessly repeated. See, e.g., Wendy Cukier, Small Arms and Light Weapons: A Public Health Approach, 9 Brown J. World Aff. 261, 266, 267 (2002) (“Research has shown that rates of small arms death and injury are linked to small arms accessibility . . . . In industrialized countries, studies have shown that accessibility is related to firearm death rates . . . . Other approaches have examined the rates of death from firearms across regions, cities, high income countries, and respondents to victimization surveys.” (emphasis added, internal citations omitted); see also Neil Arya, Confronting the Small Arms Pandemic324 British Med. J. 990 (2002); E.G. Krug et al., Firearm-Related Deaths in the United States and 35 Other High and Upper-Middle-Income Countries, 27 Int’l J. Epidemiology 214 (1988).

[43]See Jacobs, supra note 11, at 120 (“[I]f the Brady Law did have the effect of modestly reducing firearms suicides . . . this effect was completely offset by an increase of the same magnitude in nonfirearm suicide” resulting in the same number of deaths); see also Kleck, supra note 8, at 265–92 (summary and review of studies regarding guns and suicide). Indeed, though without noting the significance, the WHO report states that out of sample of 52 countries, “firearms accounted for only one-fifth of all suicides, just ahead of poisoning . . . . [Self-] strangulation, [i.e. hanging] was the most frequently used method of suicide.” World Health Organization, supra note 42, at 3.

[44]. In 1999, the latest year for which we have Russian data, the American suicide rate was 10.7 per 100,000 people, while the Russian suicide rate was almost 41 per 100,000 people. William Alex Pridemore & Andrew L. Spivak, Patterns of Suicide Mortality in Russia, 33 Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior 132, 133 (2003); Donna L. Hoyert et al.,, Deaths: Final Data for 1999, Nat’l Vital Stat. Rep., Sept. 21, 2001, at 6.

[45]See Krug et al., supra note 42, at 218–19.

[46]Id. at 216. Two of those nations, Brazil and Estonia, had more than twice the overall murder rates of the United States. David C. Stolinsky, America: The Most Violent Nation?, 5 Med. Sentinel 199, 200 (2000). Readers may question the value of comparing the United States to those particular nations; however, this comparison was first suggested by Krug. Krug et al., supra note 42, at 215 (using thirty-six countries, having among the highest GNP per capita as listed in the World Bank’s 1994 World Development Report). All we have done is provide full murder rate information for these comparisons.

[47]. Kleck, supra note 8, at 254; Killias et al., supra note 41, at 430.

[48]See infra notes 127-29 and accompanying text. For at least thirty years gun advocates have echoed in more or less identical terms the observation that twenty percent of American homicide is concentrated in four cities with the nation’s most restrictive gun laws. See Firearms Legislation: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Crime of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 94th Cong. 2394 (1975) (statement of Neal Knox). In October 2000, the head of a gun advocacy group ridiculed a Handgun Control “scorecard” for its misleading attempts to inversely correlate violent crime rates to the extent of the various states’ gun controls. He points out that, in fact, the states with the most restrictive gun laws consistently have higher murder rates than states with less restrictive laws, while those with the least controls had the lowest homicide rates. Larry Pratt, HCI Scorecard (2000), http://gunowners.org/op0042.htm.

[49]. It is noteworthy that the correlation between more gun control and more crime seems to hold true in other nations, though much less strikingly than in the United States. See Miron, supra note 29, at 628.

[50]. Colin Greenwood, Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms Control in England and Wales 243 (1972).

[51]Id.

[52]See supra Tables 1–2 and notes 10–15; see infra Table 3 and notes 125–127.

[53]. David Kairys, A Carnage in the Name of Freedom, Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 12, 1988, at A15 (emphasis added), quoted in Frank J. Vandall, A Preliminary Consideration of Issues Raised in the Firearms Sellers Immunity Bill, 38 Akron L. Rev. 113, 118 n.28.

[54]. Nicholas Dixon, Why We Should Ban Handguns in the United States, 12 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 243, 265–66 (1993) (emphasis added), quoted in Vandall, supra note 53, at 119, n.32.

[55]. Robert J. Spitzer, The Politics of Gun Control 147 (3rd ed. 1995) (emphasis added).

[56]. Violence Policy Center, Who Dies? A Look at Firearms Death and injury in America, http://www.vpc.org/studies/whointro.htm (last visited Nov. 17, 2006).

[57]. National Coalition to Ban Handguns, supra note 21.

[58]See David M. Kennedy & Anthony J. Braga, Homicide in Minneapolis: Research for Problem Solving, 2 Homicide Stud. 263, 267 (1998).

[59]See Elliott, supra note 36, at 1093.

[60]Id.

[61]. Gerald D. Robin, Violent Crime and Gun Control 48 (1991) (quoting Gary Kleck, The Assumptions of Gun Control, in Firearms and Violence 23, 43 (Don B. Kates ed., 1984)).

[62]. Mark Cooney, The Decline of Elite Homicide, 35 Criminology 381, 386 (1997).

[63]. Gary Kleck & Don B. Kates, Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control 20 (2001).

[64]. Roger Lane, Murder in America: A History 259 (1997).

[65]. A. Swerskey & E. Enloe, Homicide in Harlem 17 (1975).

[66]. Anthony A. Braga et al., Youth Homicide in Boston: An Assessment of Supplementary Homicide Report Data, 3 Homicide Studies 277, 283–84 (1999).

[67]See id.

[68]. Dean G. Rojek, The Homicide and Drug Connection, in The Varieties of Homicide and Its Research: Proceedings of the 1999 Meeting of the Homicide Research Working Group 128 (P.H. Blackman et al. eds., 2000) [hereinafter The Varieties of Homicide].

[69]. Jo Craven McGinty, “New York Killers, and Those Killed, by the Numbers,” N.Y. Times, April 28, 2006, at A1.

[70]. Gus G. Sentementes, Patterns Persist in City Killings, Baltimore Sun, Jan. 1, 2007, at A1.

[71]. Anthony A. Braga et al., Understanding and Preventing Gang Violence: Problem Analysis and Response Development in Lowell, Massachusetts, 9 Police Q. 20, 29–31 (2006) (“Some 95% of homicide offenders, 82% of aggravated assault offenders, 65% of homicide victims, and 45% of aggravated gun assault victims were arraigned at least once in Massachusetts courts before they committed their crime or were victimized. Individuals that were previously known to the criminal justice system were involved in a wide variety of offenses and, on average, committed many prior crimes . . . . On average, aggravated gun assault offenders had been arraigned for 12 prior offenses, homicide offenders had been arraigned for 9 prior offenses . . . .”).

[72]. Wade C. Myers & Kerrilyn Scott, Psychotic and Conduct Disorder Symptoms in Juvenile Murderers, 2 Homicide Stud. 160, 161–62 (1998).

[73]. Linda Langford et al., Criminal and Restraining Order Histories of Intimate Partner-Related Homicide Offenders in Massachusetts, 1991-1995, in The Varieties of Homicide, supra note 66, at 51, 55, 59.

[74]. Murray A. Straus, Domestic Violence and Homicide Antecedents, 62 Bull. N.Y. Acad. Med. 446, 454 (1986); see also Murray A. Straus, Medical Care Costs of Intrafamily Assault and Homicide, 62 Bull. N.Y. Acad. Med. 556, 557 (1986).

[75]. Paige Hall Smith et al., Partner Homicide in Context, 2 Homicide Stud. 400, 410 (1998) (reporting cases only where there was sufficient background information on the parties).

[76]Id. at 411.

[77]. Robin, supra note 61, at 47–48. See also Kathryn E. Moracco et al., Femicide in North Carolina, 1991-1993, 2 Homicide Studies 422, 441 (1998).

[78]See, e.g., Spitzer, supra note 55; Jeremiah A. Barondess, Letter to the Editor, Firearm Violence and Public Health, 272 J. Am. Med. Ass’n 1406, 1409 (1994) (responding to criticism of his article, Karl P. Adler et al., Firearm Violence and Public Health: Limiting the Availability of Guns, 271 J. Am. Med. Ass’n 1281 (1994)); Kairys, supra note 52.

[79]. Kleck, supra note 8, at 236 (analyzing the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data on murder defendants being prosecuted in 33 U.S. urban counties).

[80]. Current federal law prohibits gun possession by minors, drug addicts, and persons who have been involuntarily committed to mental institutions or convicted of felonies or domestic violence misdemeanors. 18 U.S.C. §  922(g) (2000). As to state gun laws, see, for example, Cal. Penal Code §§  12021, 12072, 12101, 12551 (Deering 2006). For a summary of the general patterns of federal and state gun laws, see Jacobs, supra note 11, at 19–35.

[81]. See Wright et al., supra note 11, at 137–38 (“[T]here is no good reason to suppose that people intent on arming themselves for criminal purposes would not be able to do so even if the general availability of firearms to the larger population were sharply restricted. Here it may be appropriate to recall the First Law of Economics, a law whose operation has been sharply in evidence in the case of Prohibition, marijuana and other drugs, prostitution, pornography, and a host of other banned articles and substances—namely, that demand creates its own supply. There is no evidence anywhere to show that reducing the availability of firearms in general likewise reduces their availability to persons with criminal intent, or that persons with criminal intent would not be able to arm themselves under any set of general restrictions on firearms.”).

[82]. This article will not discuss the defensive use of firearms beyond making the following observations: while there is a great deal of controversy about the subject, it is a misleading controversy in which anti-gun advocates’ deep ethical or moral objections to civilian self-defense are presented in the guise of empirical argument. The empirical evidence unquestionably establishes that gun ownership by prospective victims not only allows them to resist criminal attack but also deters violent criminals from attacking them in the first place. See Joseph F. Sheley & James D. Wright, In the Line of Fire: Youths, Guns, and Violence in Urban America 63 (1995), and James D. Wright & Peter H. Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms 154 (1986) for a discussion of DOJ-funded surveys of incarcerated adult and juvenile felons. See also Lott, The Bias Against Guns, supra note 29, at 8–11, 227–40; David B. Kopel, Lawyers, Guns, and Burglars, 43 Ariz. L. Rev. 345 (2001); Lawrence Southwick, Jr., Self-Defense with Guns: The Consequences, 28 J. Crim. Just. 351 (2000).

The legitimate question is not whether victim gun possession allows for self-defense and deters criminal violence, but how extensive and important these benefits are. See Kleck & Kates, supra note 63, at 213–342; Lott, supra note 11; Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Defensive Gun Uses: New Evidence from a National Survey, 14 J. Quantitative Criminology 111 (1998); Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms, Nat’l Inst. Just.: Research in Brief (U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Washington, D.C., 1997); Marvin E. Wolfgang, A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed, 86 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 188 (1995).

[83]. Kates, supra note 28, at 63.

[84]. Kleck, supra note 8, at 74 (collecting survey responses).

[85]. Kates, supra note 28, at 64.

[86]. Jacobs, supra note 11, at 14 (collecting studies).

[87]. Kates, supra note 28, at 70 (collecting studies).

[88]. Lott, supra note 11; John R. Lott & David B. Mustard, Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry, 26 J. Legal Stud. 1 (1997); David B. Mustard, Culture Affects Our Beliefs About Firearms, But Data are Also Important, 151 U. Penn. L. Rev. 1387 (2003). These studies are highly controversial. See Kates, supra note 28, at 70–71, for discussion of critics and criticisms.

[89]. Toch & Lizotte, supra note 11, at 232. Professor Toch was a consultant to the 1960s Eisenhower Commission, and until the 1990s he endorsed its conclusions that widespread handgun ownership causes violence and that reducing it would reduce violence. Franklin Zimring, one of the architects of those conclusions, has admitted that they were made speculatively and essentially without an empirical basis. Franklin E. Zimring & Gordon Hawkins, The Citizen’s Guide to Gun Control xi-xii (1987) (“In the 1960s after the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, it [gun control] became a major subject of public passion and controversy . . . [sparking a debate that] has been heated, acrimonious and polarized . . . . It began in a factual vacuum [in which] . . . neither side felt any great need for factual support to buttress foregone conclusions. In the 1960s, there was literally no scholarship on the relationship between guns and violence and the incidence or consequences of interpersonal violence, and no work in progress.”) (emphasis added).

As for the findings of the subsequent body of research, Professor Toch has written:

[W]hen used for protection firearms can seriously inhibit aggression and can provide a psychological buffer against the fear of crime. Furthermore, the fact that national patterns show little violent crime where guns are most dense implies that guns do not elicit aggression in any meaningful way . . . . Quite the contrary, these findings suggest that high saturations of guns in places, or something correlated with that condition, inhibit illegal aggression.

Id. at 234 & n.10.

[90]. Kleck, supra note 8, at 71.

[91]See Malcolm, supra note 10, at 232–33; Alfred Blumstein, Youth Violence, Guns, and the Illicit-Drug Industry, 86 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 10, 21 (1995).

[92]See Lott, supra note 11, at 39 (“[W]hite gun ownership exceed[ed] that for blacks by about 40 in 1996”). See generally Kleck, supra note 8, at 71.

[93]See Lott, supra note 11, at 39. See generally Kleck, supra note 8, at 71.

[94]. The murder rate of young urban African Americans is roughly 600% higher than that of their rural counterparts. See Lois A. Fingerhut et al., Firearm and Nonfirearm Homicide Among Persons 15 Through 19 Years of Age, 267 J. Am. Med. Ass’n 3048, 3049 tbl.1.

[95]. Jan M. Chaiken & Marcia R. Chaiken, Varieties of Criminal Behavior 62–63 (1982).

[96]Id. at 65.

[97]Id. at 123, 125, 219 tbl.A.19 (1982).

[98]. Wright & Rossi, supra note 82, at 76.

[99]. Lane, supra note 64, at 14.

[100]Id. at 151. See generally id. ch. 1.

[101]. Malcolm, supra note 10, at 19–20.

[102]See generally Joyce Lee Malcolm, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right 1–15 (1994); Stephen P. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right 37–53 (1984); Don B. Kates, Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment, 82 Mich. L. Rev. 204, 214–16 (1983) [hereinafter Original Meaning].

[103]. Malcolm, supra note 102, at 138–41; Original Meaning, supra note 102, at 214–16. Typical laws (quoted with original spelling and punctuation) appear from the following sources: Archives of Maryland 77 (William Hand Browne ed., Baltimore, Maryland Historical Society 1883) (“[T]hat every house keeper or housekeepers within this Province shall have ready continually upon all occasions within his her or their house for him or themselves and for every person within his her or their house able to bear armes one Serviceable fixed gunne of bastard muskett boare” along with a pound of gunpowder, four pounds of pistol or musket shot, “match for match locks and of flints for firelocks”); Narratives of Early Virginia 273 (Lyon Gardiner Tyler ed., photo. reprint 1974) (1907) (requiring that everyone attend church on Sunday, further providing that “all suche as beare armes shall bring their pieces swordes, poulder and shotte” with them to church on penalty of a fine.); Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England 84 (Nathaniel B. Shurtleff ed., Boston, William White, 1853) (ordering towns to provide their residents with arms if they could not provide their own “for the present, & after to receive satisfaction for that they disburse when they shall be able”); Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England 79-80, 94 (John Russell Bartlett ed., Providence, A. Crawford Greene & Brother, 1856) (requiring, respectively: “[T]hat every man do come armed unto the meeting upon every sixth day,” and also that militia officers go “to every inhabitant [in Portsmouth and] see whether every one of them has powder” and bullets; and “that noe man shall go two miles from the Towne unarmed, eyther with Gunn or Sword; and that none shall come to any public Meeting without his weapon.”); The Code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut 72 (Hartford, Silas Andrus 1822) (“That all persons that are above the age of sixteene yeares, except magistrates and church officers, shall beare arms . . . and every male person within this jurisdiction, above the said age, shall have in continuall readines, a good muskitt or other gunn, fitt for service, and allowed by the clark of the band.”).

[104]See id. For collections of many of the relevant laws, see Clayton E. Cramer, Gun Control in Colonial New England, (unpublished manuscript, available at http://www.claytoncramer.com/GunControlColonialNewEngland.PDF) (last visited Nov. 19, 2006); Clayton E. Cramer, Gun Control in Colonial New England, Part II (unpublished manuscript, available at http://www.claytoncramer.com/
GunControlColonialNewEngland2.PDF) (last visited Nov. 19, 2006); Clayton E. Cramer, Gun Control in the Middle & Southern Colonies, (unpublished manuscript, available at http://www.claytoncramer.com/MiddleSouthernColonialGunControl.PDF) (last visited Nov. 19, 2006); Clayton E. Cramer, Militia Statutes, http://www.claytoncramer.com/primary.html#MilitiaLaws (last visited Nov. 19, 2006).

[105]. John Morgan Dederer, War in America to 1775, at 116 (1990).

[106]. Lane, supra note 64, at 48, 59–60.

[107]Id. at 344.

[108]. The enthusiasm modern gun advocates express for the ancient militia far exceeds the enthusiasm felt by the Englishmen and Americans who were actually subject to the obligations involved. Guns were expensive items even for those owners who were supplied them by the colonies since they were required to pay the colonies back over time. And the duty of militia drill was a constant source of irritation to men who had little time for leisure and urgent need to devote their time to making a living for themselves and their families. By the turn of the nineteenth century, at the earliest, the universal militia was in desuetude and replaced in the 1840s by colorfully garbed volunteer formations whose activities were more social than military.

[109]. Revolver inventor Samuel Colt’s first business failed in 1840. It revived itself only with sales to officers and the military during the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), and sustained itself through the 1850s with sales to wealthy Americans and Europeans. See generally Joseph G. Bilby, Civil War Firearms 157 (1996); Lee Kennett & James LaVerne Anderson, The Gun in America 90 (1975); Lane, supra note 64, at 109. Colt’s sales flourished as foreign armies adopted his revolver and wide sales took place in the commercial market across Europe, Kennett & Anderson, supra at 90, especially after Colt’s prize-winning exhibit at the 1851 Great Industrial Exhibition in London. See generally Joseph G. Rosa, Colonel Colt London 13–29 (1976).

[110]. See generally Bilby, supra note 109, at 157–72. The revolvers involved were by no means all Colts: “[T]he Federal government also purchased large numbers of Remington, Starr and Whitney revolvers, as well as the guns of other [American] makers, including the bizarre looking Savage, with its second ‘ring trigger’ which cocked the arm, and the sidehammer Joslyn.” Id. at 158. Vast numbers of guns were also purchased in Europe where, in the first 15 months of the war, the Union bought over 738,000 firearms (including long arms as well as revolvers). Allan R. Millett & Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America 216 (1984). Some Union infantry units were issued revolvers and many enlisted infantrymen in other units bought their own. Bilby, supra note 106, at 160.

[111]. These figures are just estimates. While at least somewhat reliable figures exist for how many men served at any one time in the Union Army, see supra note 107, that number is not co-extensive with how many served in total. Some Union soldiers served throughout the war, re-enlisting when their original enlistments were up. Others mustered out and were replaced with new recruits. Still others deserted long before their terms were up, again requiring replacements. Some scoundrels enlisted just for the enlistment bonus, and deserted as soon as they could; some of these went through the enlistment and desertion process multiple times, collecting a new bonus under a new name time after time. The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2006, at 77 (2006) gives figures of 2,128,948 for the Union Army and 84,415 for the Marines and estimates the Confederate Army between 600,000 to 1,500,000.

[112]. Russell F. Weigley, History of the United States Army 262 (1967) (“The names of 1,000,516 officers and men were on the [Union Army’s] rolls on May 10, 1865; by [the end of 1866, the draft had ended and] . . . only 11,043 volunteers remained . . . .”).

[113]. Kennett & Anderson, supra note 107, at 92–93.

[114]. David T. Courtwright, Violent Land: Single Men and Social Disorder from the Frontier to the Inner City 42 (1996).

[115]. Kennett & Anderson, supra note 107, at 99.

[116]Id. at 98–99.

[117]Id. at 98–100. An 1879 issue of Scientific American contains an advertisement for COD purchasing of the $2.75 ”Czar” revolver, presumably an attempt to capitalize on the Smith & Wesson “Russian,” a very high quality weapon that Smith & Wesson manufactured for the Russian government and sold through the 1870s. Sci. Am., June 14, 1879, at 381. The 1884 Price List-Firearms Catalog for N. Curry & Brother, arms dealers of San Francisco, lists prices from $2.00 for the 7 shot “Fashion” and “Blue Jacket” revolvers to $2.50 and $3.50 for the “Kitemaug” and “Ranger” revolvers to various Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers selling at from $15.00 to $17.00.

[118]. Dederer, supra note 103, at 116

[119]See Lane, supra note 63, at 181, 307; Eric H. Monkkonen, Murder in New York City 21, 30–31, 38 (2001).

[120]. Randolph Roth, Guns, Gun Culture, and Homicide: The Relationship Between Firearms, the Uses of Firearms, and Interpersonal Violence, 59 Wm. & Mary Q. 223, 234–40 (2002).

[121]See Malcolm, supra note 10, app. at 258 (appendix). The handgun ownership data cited are tax data and so doubtless fail to count the pistols owned by criminals and others who failed to pay taxes. The extremely low numbers of gun crimes, however, do not support the notion that there were numerous criminal owners of guns, or at least that they used the guns for crime.

[122]. In contrast to the more guns equals more death mantra, studies suggest that crime rate increases fuel gun buying, rather than the other way around. See, e.g., Douglas C. Bice & David D. Hemley, The Market for New Handguns: An Empirical Investigation, 45 J.L. & Econ. 251, 253, 261–262 (2002); Lawrence Southwick, Jr., Do Guns Cause Crime? Does Crime Cause Guns? A Granger Test, 25 Atlantic Econ. J. 256, 256, 272 (1997); Kleck, supra note 8, at 79–81.

[123]. In 1965, the Russian homicide rate stood at 5.9 per 100,000 population while the American rate was 5.4. As of 1975, both Russian and American rates had nearly doubled, the Russian to 10.3 and the American to 9.7. See Pridemore, supra note 2, at 272 fig.2.

[124]. Don B. Kates & Daniel D. Polsby, Long-Term Nonrelationship of Widespread and Increasing Firearm Availability to Homicide in the United States, 4 Homicide Stud. 185, 190–91 (2000).

[125]See communication from Gary Kleck, Professor, Florida State University, to Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser (Feb. 26, 2003) (on file with Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy).

[126]. Kleck, supra note 8, at 17–19.

[127]See Philip C. Stenning, Gun Control: A Critique of Current Policy, Pol’y Options, Oct. 1994, at 13, 15.

[128]. Malcolm, supra note 10, at 204; see also BBC News, Handgun Crime ‘Up’ Despite Ban, July 16, 2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1440764.stm (noting that English areas with very low numbers of firearms have higher than average gun crime while areas with the highest levels of legally held guns do not).

[129]. Tomislav Kovandzic, Mark E. Schaffer, & Gary Kleck, Gun Prevalence, Homicide Rates and Causality: A GMM Approach to Endogeneity Bias 39–40 (Ctr. for Econ. Policy Research, Discussion Paper No. 5357, 2005) available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=878132..

[130]See e.g., National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), More Guns, Less Crime (Sept. 26, 2006), http://www.nraila.org/Issues/
FactSheets/
Read.aspx?idequals206&issueequals007; NRA-ILA, The War Against Handguns (Feb. 15, 2001), www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?idequals17; NRA-ILA, Right-to-Carry 2006 (Oct. 3, 2006), http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/
Read.aspx?idequals18; NRA-ILA, The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Does it Live Up to its Name? (July 28, 1999), http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/
Read.aspx?idequals73.

[131]See, e.g., Philip J. Cook, The Effect of Gun Availability on Robbery and Robbery Murder: A Cross Section Study of Fifty Cities, 3 Pol’y Stud. Rev. Ann. 743, 770 (1979).

[132]. Lott, supra note 11, at 43.

[133]. Wright & Rossi, supra note 81, at 147, 150.

[134]Id. at 151.

[135]. Tables 4–6 were previously published as appendices to Kates, supra note 81, app. at 81 tbl.1, 82 tbl.2, 83 tbl.3.

[136]See infra Table 5.

[137] The data derive from a much more extensive survey of legal firearms ownership in numerous nations which was carried out by researchers provided by the Government of Canada under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in 1997. The entire survey is published as a report to the Secretary General on April 25, 1997 as E/CN.15/1997/4. That report is analysed in some detail in an unpublished paper (“A Cross Sectional Study of the Relationship Between Levels of Gun Ownership and Violent Deaths”) written by the leading English student of firearms regulation, retired Chief Superintendent of English police Colin Greenwood of the Firearms Research and Advisory Service. I am indebted to Chief Superintendent Greenwood for the opportunity to review his paper. Note that in the table which follows I have focused only on European nations.

[138] The gun ownership data in Table 2 derive from a random telephone survey on gun ownership in various nations. Chief Superintendent Greenwood’s paper is contemptuous of such data, inter alia because people may be unwilling to acknowledge owning guns to telephoning pollsters. For similar doubts see Don B. Kates & Daniel D. Polsby, Long Term Non-Relationship of Firearm Availability to Homicide, 4 Homicide Stud. 185–201 (2000). But that was in the context of comparing survey data on the number of guns owned to production and important data that are unquestionably more comprehensive and superior in every way. Chief Superintendent Greenwood himself admits that the special U.N. report data are not necessarily comprehensive and are problematic in various other respects. Even assuming they are clearly superior to the survey data, the latter cover multiple nations that the special U.N. report does not. Given that neither source is indubitable, it seems preferable to have such information on those nations as the survey data reveal, rather than no data at all.

[139]. Table 6 covers different years from Table 5, its comparative gun ownership figures derive from government records rather than survey data, and it gives rates for gun murders, data that are not available in the sources from which Table 5 is taken. See the explanatory note that precedes Table 6.

[140]. Arthur L. Kellermann et al., Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership, 327 New Eng. J. Med. 467, 467, 471–72 (1992); see also Antoon Leenaars, et al., Controlling the Environment to Prevent Suicide: International Perspectives, 45 Can. J. Psychiatry 639 (2000).

[141]See Killias et al., supra note 41, at 430 (study of 21 nations); Krug, supra note 42 (study of 36 nations).

[142]See Kleck, supra note 8, at ch. 8. See also WHO, supra note 42, at 3 (showing that around the world “firearms accounted for only one-fifth of all suicides, just ahead of poisoning . . . . [s]trangulation, i.e. (hanging) was the most frequently used method of suicide”).

[143]See, e.g., Jeffrey H. Boyd & Eve K. Moscicki, Firearms and Youth Suicide, 76 Am. J. Pub. Health 1240 (1986); James A. Mercy et al., Public Health Policy for Preventing Violence, 12 Health Aff. 7 (1993); Daniel W. Webster & Modena E. H. Wilson, Gun Violence Among Youth and the Pediatrician’s Role in Primary Prevention, 94 Pediatrics 617 (1994); Lois A. Fingerhut & Joel C. Kleinman, Firearm Mortality Among Children and Youth, Nat’l Center Health Stat. Advance Data, Nov. 3, 1989, at 1.

[144]. Keith Hawton, By Their Own Young Hand, 304 Brit. Med. J. 1000 (1992); see also Teenage Deaths Increasing Across Europe, Crim. & Just. Int’l, Nov.–Dec. 1991, at 4.

[145]. World Health Organization, Suicide Rates by Country, http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/country_reports/en/
index.html (follow hyperlinks to specific countries) (last visited Jan. 18, 2007). For example, in the United States, suicide rates for males exceed those for females by a 17.9-4.2 margin (2002 data). In Denmark, the margin is 19.2-8.1 (2001 data), in Austria, the margin is 27.0-8.2 (2004 data), and in Belgium, the margin is 31.2-11.4 (1997 data).

[146]See Ruth H. Haynes, Suicide in Fiji: A Preliminary Study, 145 Brit. J. Psychiatry 433 (1984).

[147]Id. at 437. More or less the same situation seems to prevail in the substantially Indian-populated nation of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). It “has one of the highest suicide rates in the world . . . . Suicides are especially frequent among young adults, both male and female. Compared to the U.S., the suicide rate for males ages 15 to 24 years in Sri Lanka is nearly four times greater; the female rate nearly 13 times greater. The Most Common Mode of Suicide is Ingestion of Liquid Pesticides.” Lawrence R. Berger, Suicides and Pesticides in Sri Lanka, 78 Am. J. Pub. Health 826 (1988) (emphasis added).

[148]. (1) Those who propose to change the status quo bear the burden of proving that change is a good idea; (2) those who propose a new policy bear the burden of proving that the policy is a good idea; and (3) in a free society those who propose to abolish a personal liberty passionately valued by missions bear the burden of proving that abolishment is a good idea.

[149]. Brandon S. Centerwall, Author’s Response to “Invited Commentary: Common Wisdom and Plain Truth”, 134 Am. J. Epidemiology 1264, 1264 (1991).

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All NFL Players Are Getting RFID Chips This Season

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RFID NFL PlayersIn terms of size, speed, and strength, NFL football players have always been superhuman. This season, they’re all about to become cyborgs, too.

Last year, the NFL tested out Zebra Technologies MotionWorks RFID system in 18 stadiums to track vector data: A player’s speed, distance, and direction traveled during each game in real-time. This season, that wireless tracking technology will be embedded in every NFL player’s shoulder pads, and viewers at home can see all that data come to life in the redesigned NFL 2015 app for Xbox One and Windows 10.

Next-Gen-Stats-582x327

Using real-time RFID tracking of NFL players, the Next Gen Stats portion of the NFL app for Xbox One and Windows 10 shows a play in detail.

Within the app, there’s a feature called Next Gen Stats that turns each player into an digital avatar for a “Next Gen Replay.” In coordination with a highlight clip posted shortly after it occurs live on the field, Next Gen Replay displays every player’s speed at each moment of a play, lets you toggle between players, and keeps track of the actual yardage a running back has run in a play or in a game.

“We will tie Next Gen Stats into every replay that comes into the Xbox,” says Todd Stevens, Executive Producer at Microsoft. “Replays like a one-yard touchdown run, you don’t really need Next Gen Stats. But some of these plays, like a long pass play, are truly spectacular. We wanted to give them a bit of special sauce.”

To do so, the Next Gen Stats section will also include features that highlight players rather than plays. At launch, which will be in late August, there will be a special section called Afterburner that highlights the speediest players in the NFL over time. More of those player-highlight collections are planned for the future in a section called Top Playmakers.

Tying speed, position, and distance data to 22 separate football players, animating them on a virtual field, and aggregating all their data over time might seem like a process that would take a while to add to each highlight clip. But according to Stevens, as soon as a highlight clip is posted to NFL.com, the Xbox NFL app will have all that stuff ready to go for each video.

“The only thing that keeps us from having it instantaneous is the human element to cutting the highlight,” Stevens says. “If somebody in Culver City for the NFL has to edit the highlight, as soon as it hits NFL.com we get it, and we can tie in the data instantaneously. We have all the data as the game is being played. You could see the little position graphics live. There are complications to showing that, but it’s something I think we’ll end up trying to do in the future.”

Along with the video-game-like presentation of real-world plays, there’s an actual gaming aspect to the Next Gen Replay feature. In a mini-game called “NGS Pick’em,” you choose eight to 10 players you think will run the fastest or travel the farthest in a game.

While Next Gen Stats is innovative, a few more features within the new NFL app for Xbox may be even more compelling for big-time fans. You can basically roll your own sports ticker: You select pop-up notifications for specific games, your favorite teams, and two fantasy teams from NFL.com, CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo. A little alert will pop up from the bottom of the screen to let you know if something notable has happened in tracked games, if someone in your fantasy matchup has scored, or if a new highlight clip from a game is ready. Using the Xbox One’s “Snap” feature, you can then view that clip in a sidebar without interrupting the main game you’re watching on the big screen.

“Our focus was to make this the best gameday experience,” says Stevens. “It’s super-simple to customize and slide in and out of things without missing any of the game. You hit one button and you go into that snap view, another button and I’m back in full screen.”

The new app will be available in late August, just in time for week three of the preseason. The NFL app and the Next Gen Stats features are free to everyone.

 

 

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In Search of the “Real Nixon”

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President Richard Nixon in the Oval office on February 19, 1970 in Washington, D.C.

President Richard Nixon in the Oval office February 19, 1970 in Washington, D.C.

In one sense or another, Richard M. Nixon was always covering up.

Throughout his long tenure on the American political stage, he concealed
his illicit activities, his secret diplomacy, and his inner feelings. Socially
awkward, personally inhibited, lacking in spontaneity, he constantly hid
behind a series of public personae. According to John Herbers, a reporter
who covered him for The New York Times, Nixon was “a distant and
enigmatic figure as seen backwards through a telescope.”1 “Nixon remains
the most enigmatic of American presidents,” agreed his admirer Paul Johnson, a conservative British journalist, “ . . . the inner man is almost totally inaccessible.”2 Adlai Stevenson, the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, said it first and perhaps best: “This is a man of many masks,” he stated, “but who can say they have seen his real face?”3

This elusiveness helped to make Nixon a hotly contested symbol, probably more than any other American politician. Easily our most controversial president, he was viewed in starkly contrasting ways by different groups in society. For fifty years, Nixon relished combat, nourished suspicions, and polarized citizens. No one was more admired (he was the most respected man in America four years in a row, Gallup reported), yet no one more loathed (for six years, he ranked among the world’s most hated men, twice edging out Hitler). The editor Michael Korda called Nixon “the one American president of this century about whom it is absolutely impossible to be indifferent.”4

Nixon’s protean quality, his ability to assume different forms in the eyes of his interpreters, is especially striking given his unparalleled longevity and prominence in post-World War II American politics. For half a century he stood at or near the center of American life, garnering headlines as a congressman, senator, vice-president, president, ex-president, and deceased president. The journalist Theodore H. White ranked him together with Franklin Delano Roosevelt “as the most enduring American politicians of the twentieth century.” He galvanized debates over the Red Scare, negative campaigning, Vietnam, the ‘Great Society,’  the media’s role in politics, and Watergate. After his resignation in 1974, New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis called the years since World War II The Age of Nixon,” a term echoed by other historians.5

nixon1Compounding Nixon’s inscrutability was his dedication to controlling the impression he made on others. His obsession with public relations— pronounced even for politicians—made his true self even harder to identify. Examples of his concern with his appearance are legion. To note but one, Nixon once told his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, that he needed a full-time public relations adviser who could coach him on matters including “how I should stand, where the cameras will be,” and even “whether I should [hold] the phone with my right hand or my left hand.” Given “the millions of dollars that go into one lousy thirty-second spot advertising a deodorant,” he said, it was “unbelievable” that his image didn’t receive equal attention.6 Even the joke that haunted him his whole career—“Would you buy a used car from this man?”—spoke to his relentless yet clumsy efforts at salesmanship.7

1953-Look-24-Feb-3-300Nixon often refashioned his public identity. As early as 1953, journalists wrote about the emergence of a New Nixon.” Apparently coined by an Alabama newspaper, the term would resurface at each stage of Nixon’s career.8 Some of these “new Nixons” gained wide acceptance. In 1960, Nixon resolved to erase his old reputation as a below-the-belt campaigner and wound up losing the presidency to John F. K. by only a whisker. In 1968, Nixon persuaded critics, including the skeptical Walter Lippmann, that he had evolved into “a maturer, mellower man who is no longer clawing his way to the top.”9 But as often as Nixon remade himself, he equally often met failure; his failures ended up directing attention to his attempts at manipulation. Indeed, the transparency of these efforts, their sheer clumsiness, reinforced the long-standing view of him as a chameleon and an opportunist.

Thus, alongside the motif of the “new Nixon,” a related theme runs
through the Nixon literature: the search for the “real Nixon.” With that search came “disturbing speculation,” in the words of his first psychoanalytic biographer, Bruce Mazlish, “about who the ‘real’ Nixon is.” Mazlish’s biography bore the title In Search of Nixon: A Psychohistorical Inquiry;10 others were called The Nixon Nobody Knows, ‘Nixon: The Man Behind The Mask,’ The Real Nixon.11 But many doubted that any real Nixon existed. The historian William Appleman Williams called the search “a shell game without a pea.”12

nixon2

The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.

To study the series of images that Nixon projected from 1946, when
he first ran for Congress, to the present is to tour the social history of
America in the post-World War II era, for each of his personae reveals not
only his qualities but also features of his interpreters.13 More narrowly,
however, it can be instructive to examine how Nixon has been remembered
since his resignation in 1974. For while there has been much talk to the effect that Nixon succeeded in rehabilitating himself, a close study of Nixon’s image in American memory belies such easy conclusions.14 On the contrary, while recent years have witnessed the emergence of various “new Nixons” to challenge his older image as America’s chief villain, none of these new interpretations has earned dominance. Indeed, talk of each “new Nixon” has ultimately served to reinforce the per-durability of Nixon’s persona as an unscrupulous and incorrigible manipulator. Nixon’s Images, 1946–1974.

Nixon celebrates his win in the 1950 senatorial election

Nixon celebrates his win in the 1950 senatorial election.

Before exploring the more recent images of Nixon that have gained currency, it is worth reviewing briefly the parade of Nixons that traversed the national scene between 1946 and 1974. Not every one of those personae is well remembered. For example, at the time of his political debut, Nixon was widely regarded as a kind of populist every man.15 Entrepreneurs and professionals on the make in postwar Southern California rallied around Nixon in 1946, regarding the young candidate as the embodiment of the traditional principles of hard work, family, religion, and patriotism, which they feared were in eclipse under New Deal liberalism.

Southland conservatives

Nixon flashes his famous “V” for Victory sign during a 1968 campaign stop in Philadelphia during his successful campaign to become President of the United States.

Clean-cut Navy veteran, new father, family man, churchgoer—Nixon struck these Southland conservatives as the personification of their time-honored values. Magazine and newspaper profiles fawned over him. “He looks like the boy who lived down the block from all of us,” gushed the Washington Times-Herald; “he’s as typically American as Thanksgiving.”16

Over the next few years, through his efforts to expose Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, he won largely warm words from journalists and even many liberals. Negative portrayals of Nixon are almost entirely absent from the historical record during his first years in Washington.17

By 1952, however, a rival view was emerging. That year’s presidential election catapulted Nixon to fame as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee, and a new image of him crystallized that was practically a photographic negative of his supporters’ middle-class hero.

Many liberals and intellectuals who had closely watched Nixon’s career were already disturbed by his lacerating attacks on all manner of opponents as “soft on communism.” Starting with the Checkers speech—the historic address televised in September 1952 in which Nixon defended himself from charges of financial chicanery—these critics refined a portrait of Nixon as not merely a Red-baiting but an unprincipled opportunist who used the new techniques of television, advertising, and public relations to hoodwink the middle classes into thinking he was one of them. Liberals saw Nixon as a quintessentially inauthentic mid-century man, whose opportunism, when harnessed to his mastery of propaganda, threatened American democracy itself.18

red nixonThese were the origins of “Tricky Dick,” a nickname that stayed with Nixon his whole life.19 But even the negative portraits of Nixon that emerged in the 1950s and then proliferated during his presidency were not monolithic. They varied in nuance and emphasis as new constituencies reinterpreted Nixon in light of their own concerns. The radical young activists of the New Left who had become a political force by the time of Nixon’s presidency saw him as something more nefarious than the Machiavellian opportunist of liberal demonology. For many of these radicals, Nixon embodied the darkest martial and conspiratorial impulses of what they called the “national security state.” His stubborn refusal to end the war in Vietnam and his ramping up of repressive law-enforcement measures at home made him seem like a monarch-in-waiting and a Hitler-like dictator. TIN SOLDIERS AND NIXON COMING,” sang Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young after the killing of Kent State students by National Guardsmen in May 1970, solidifying his link with the American war-making machine.

The pages of underground newspapers and left-wing magazines teemed with scathing parody, vitriolic and obscene rants, and caricatures of Nixon as king or Führer.

In a still different vein, the members of the Washington press corps who covered Nixon’s White House eschewed such extremism. For them, Nixon’s sinister designs lay in his attempts to control the news. This view was hardly limited to radicals. CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, while accepting the “Broadcaster of the Year” award in 1971, billed Nixon’s anti-press campaign “a grand conspiracy.”20 Ben Bradlee, the editor of the Washington Post, charged on the Dick Cavett show in 1973 that “the First Amendment is in greater danger than any time I’ve seen it.”21 Focusing on their backyard concerns, journalists formed a picture of Nixon as the consummate spin doctor (in the parlance of a later day), draining democracy of its lifeblood through a war on the press.22

Finally, still other critics of Nixon during his presidency drew on the newly fashionable insights of psychoanalysis to sketch a portrait of him as a repressed and insecure narcissist with an insatiable need for love and power—shortcomings, they argued, that contained the seeds of Watergate. When Nixon acted in ways that defied rational explanation—such as the night in May 1970 he stole out of the White House to mingle with student protesters on the Washington Mall—or when confidants reported him to be cracking under Watergate’s strain, these psychoanalytic interpretations, whatever their deficiencies, gained vogue.23

Each of these unflattering views of Nixon had unique aspects. But
Watergate, a scandal of unprecedented dimensions, had the effect of
stressing the commonalities rather than the differences between these
personae. After all, “Watergate” became synonymous with the whole
panoply of unconstitutional abuses of power that pervaded and defined
Nixon’s administration. As revelations mounted—the dirty tricks, the
enemies lists, the burglars and plumbers, the wiretaps, and the tapes—a
large majority of the public came to see him as a liar, a criminal, and a
man without morals. As such, the scandal seemed to end the debate about
Nixon’s identity. The humor columnist Art Buchwald wrote that a high level
White House source (“Deep Toes”) confessed to him, as if it were a
mind-bending revelation, that “there is no New Nixon and there never
was . . . It was the old Nixon with makeup on”;24 after Watergate, no
amount of resourceful image-making seemed able to change the public
perception of the president. Though they seem distinct in retrospect, at
the time the assorted negative views of Nixon commingled in the singular
figure of “Tricky Dick,” a uniquely and criminally dishonest president.

New Nixons nonetheless appeared in the years after his ouster. As
soon as Nixon left the White House, he labored to resurrect himself,
encouraging kinder interpretations and feverishly courting Clio’s favor.
Nixon did not ultimately manage to rehabilitate himself. But he and his
supporters did succeed in introducing competing images of the fallen
president into the public debate that would ensure that he would remain
a subject of controversy for years to come.

Nixon as Victim

Even before Watergate, Nixon enjoyed the support of a minority of
Americans who believed that the president was not a villain but a victim
of liberals, radicals, and the media. Even at Nixon’s nadir, when he resigned
in the summer of 1974, he enjoyed support from 24 percent of
Americans, many of whom insisted his sole error lay in provoking the ire
of powerful liberals and journalists. The linchpin for this view was the
insistence that Nixon’s misdeeds were no worse than any other president’s
but that the press used a “double standard” in judging them.

Having nursed a sense of grievance much of his life, Nixon convinced
himself that Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy had sanctioned burglaries
no different from those at the Watergate. The belief was false, but
undeterred, Nixon responded to the incipient Watergate crisis in June
1972 by pushing the “everybody does it” line. Both in his private conversations
and, later, in his public statements, Nixon constantly sounded
this theme.25

Victor LaskyThe president and his aides aggressively spread this idea. They contacted grassroots pro-Nixon groups, such as the National Citizens’ Committee for Fairness to the Presidency, run by a retired Massachusetts rabbi named Baruch Korff, and brought them into the White House orbit. They planted column ideas with friendly journalists, such as Nixon’s longtime friend Victor Lasky, who had secretly been on the payroll of the Committee to Re-Elect the President.26 They created a “surrogates” program under which Nixon’s friends, family members, and aides agreed to mouth White House-issued talking points.

And there were plenty of citizen defenders, media sympathizers, and
Republican colleagues who needed no direction from the administration
to believe that Nixon was being scapegoated. No one in the White House
had to give marching orders to the Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd
when it sang in its 1974 hit “Sweet Home, Alabama,” the lines “Now
Watergate does not bother me/Does your conscience bother you?” The
reason this view of Nixon held sway over a certain constituency had less
to do with the facts of the Watergate case than with the turmoil of the
1960s. Unreconciled to the revolutionary changes that were transforming
America, Nixon’s loyalists understood the campaign to oust the president
as a metaphor for the cultural displacement of their values of family,
propriety, and patriotism. A member of the Italian-American League of
Canarsie summarized the common sentiment: “Watergate was bullshit,
pure and simple. . . . I don’t care what he did. It’s disgraceful what they
did to the country—the press and Congress and the protesters. . . . I loved
Nixon for loving the country.”27 “Nixon, Now More than Ever” had been
the president’s bumper-sticker slogan during his 1972 campaign; during
Watergate, his diehard supporters invested it with new meaning and
brandished it with redoubled pride. The more he was pilloried, the more
he seemed a victim—the target of a cultural war waged by decadent
liberal élites—and the stronger their affection grew. Over time, thanks to
their efforts, other Americans showed a greater willingness to treat Nixon
as a victim.

At one end of the spectrum of sympathetic feeling for Nixon was a view of him as an essentially pitiable figure. In 1976, singer Neil Young released a bittersweet dirge called “Campaigner” (“Campaigner” lyrics)after watching a TV report about a watery-eyed Nixon shuffling into the hospital to visit his wife Pat, who had suffered a stroke. Originally titled “Requiem for a President,” the song didn’t exactly treat the ex-president as a victim, but it was a far cry from “Ohio.” The new song painted Nixon as pathetic and excessively demonized: “Hospitals have made him cry/But there’s always a freeway in his eye/Though his beach just got too crowded for his stroll/Roads stretch out like healthy veins/And wild gift horses strain the reins/Where even Richard Nixon has got soul.” When the British
television personality David Frost interviewed Nixon in 1978, he sought
to generate a poignant moment by asking Nixon about Pat’s stroke. Although
Nixon’s standing with the public remained abysmal after the broadcast, 44 percent of Americans nonetheless claimed to feel more
compassion for him.28

In contrast to these mild versions of Nixon’s victim persona, a more
angry and extreme form was manifest in fantasies that construed Watergate
as what White House aide Bruce Herschensohn deemed a “coup d’état . . . by a non-elected coalition of power groups.” In far-right (and some far-left) circles, baroque conspiracy theories proliferated. In June 1972, Nixon had concocted a cover story for Watergate that blamed the Central Intelligence Agency for the break-in (he had aides warn the FBI not to delve into the crime too deeply, lest it reveal classified activities).

Although later exposed as lies, such theories about the CIA or other government forces scheming to topple Nixon caught the fancy of assorted loyalists, amateur researchers, and professional conspiracy buffs, some of whom called themselves revisionists.

'Silent Coup'A more accurate label might have been “Watergate Deniers,” since their scenarios dispensed with the whole train of abuses of which the fateful burglary of June 17, 1972, was but a tiny part. In 1991, there appeared a magnum opus of Watergate Denial called ‘Silent Coup,’ which hypothesized a secret counter-history of Watergate centering on successive plots by White House Counsel John W. Dean and Chief of Staff Alexander Haig. Though it was taken seriously by very few historians, the book became a best seller. Its popularity revealed a public appetite for a picture of Nixon as a victim rather than the chief perpetrator of the scandal.29

But if the image of Nixon as Watergate’s main casualty would long retain adherents, it never came close to supplanting the view that his removal from the presidency was warranted—perhaps because it simply did not hold up under scrutiny. Obviously, while an intense liberal hatred toward Nixon had certainly fueled the drive to oust him, that antagonism was hardly decisive; it was only when members of Nixon’s own party, from the moderate Republican Lowell Weicker to the hard-right Barry Goldwater, withdrew their support that Nixon’s presidency finally collapsed. [More importantly, but less know, is how Nixon orchestrated his own devise. See: The ‘Alabama Project’]

mag9

The Alabama Project: Nixon’s Assassination Team

Unlike many of the scandals surrounding other presidents or politicians, Watergate transcended ideology or partisan politics; Americans across the spectrum saw Nixon’s own crimes as the primary source of his undoing.

Nixon as Statesman

In contrast to the victim image, another reading of Nixon flourished in his
last decades, which resonated with a substantially broader swath of the
public: that of an elder statesman who redeemed himself after his resignation
by offering sage commentary on global affairs. Nixon promoted this image even more assiduously than his victim persona. He styled himself “an homme sérieux,” as his speechwriter Ray Price asserted, “a man of large vision who knows the world and whose views carry weight.”30 He served up a raft of books, speeches, op-ed pieces, and dinnertime conversations with foreign-policy hands—not to mention legal efforts to thwart the release of government materials that might further embarrass him—to burnish his new look. At Nixon’s funeral, this image was most commonly hailed as proof of a purported comeback.

By basing his recovery on his international achievements, Nixon was playing to a long-standing strength. During his presidency, Nixon’s foreign policy had been widely judged a success, especially his initiation of diplomatic relations with China and pursuit of détente with the Soviet Union (Vietnam was a major exception).

After resigning, Nixon tried to build upon the respect he enjoyed in the diplomatic realm by styling himself a global thinker. To this end, he received the friendly help of what has often been called the foreign-policy establishment—the journalists,
government officials, and policy hands who came of age during the Cold War and believed that a president’s conduct of foreign affairs should heavily determine his legacy.

Nixon’s first gambit in his campaign to rehabilitate himself—a February
1976 trip to Beijing, the scene of his greatest triumph—brought mostly brickbats. Even the normally dispassionate David Broder of the Washington Post savaged Nixon as willing to do anything “to salvage for himself whatever scrap of significance he can find in the shambles of his life.”31 By 1981, however, Nixon had moved to New York and begun hosting elaborate dinner parties with key players in journalism and foreign- policy circles. Regaling his guests with stories about Mao Zedong and Charles de Gaulle, Nixon would demonstrate his mastery of issues around the globe.32 Publicly, too, he cultivated the statesman aura. He
wrote book after book, as well as op-ed pieces and magazine articles, opining on foreign policy and appearing on the “Today” show or other unconfrontational television programs for additional exposure. He orchestrated public relations stunts—such as the release in 1992 of a memo criticizing President George Bush’s policies toward Russia—to bring himself more attention.33 And he offered his counsel to his successors, whether they wanted it or not.

This multifaceted campaign eventually created an impression that Nixon had regained a modicum of respectability. When Nixon resigned, his friend Clare Boothe Luce had predicted that his place in history books would be marked by the sentence, “He went to China.”34 By the late 1980s, her forecast seemed to be gaining plausibility. The anxiety-provoking militarism of Reagan’s early presidency made many foreign policy hands nostalgic for Nixon’s peace initiatives. Journalists who had plied their craft during the Cold War, such as Theodore H. White and Hugh Sidey, waxed admiring of Nixon, and younger emulators who shared their bias toward foreign policy as preeminent, such as Strobe Talbott of Time, recruited Nixon to comment on world affairs.35

In popular culture, too, references to Nixon as a skilled diplomat joined the familiar jokes about him as a liar and crook. Nixon’s Beijing trip provided the story line for the 1987 opera “Nixon in China,” directed by Peter Sellars, whose choice of topic led some reviewers to charge that he was abetting Nixon’s whitewashing of history. “Nobody trills [an aria called] Watergate,” one sniped.36 In 1986, Nixon’s former aide John Ehrlichman, in his post-prison career as a pulp novelist, wrote a potboiler called The China Card that imagined Zhou Enlai secretly enlisting a young Nixon aide to bring about the reconciliation between the countries.37 And in the 1991 movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, set in the distant future, Mr. Spock of the planet Vulcan tries to convince Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise to make peace with old enemies. “There is an old
Vulcan proverb,” Spock counsels. “‘Only Nixon could go to China.’”38

Praising Nixon’s global expertise did not always mean downplaying Tricky Dick. Many establishment types who championed Nixon’s statesman image were in no hurry to forget Watergate. A common way to reconcile the two personae was to call Nixon a “tragic” figure, to see his life as “the stuff of Shakespeare,” as his former aide David Gergen wrote.39 The stress on the tragic was meant to honor Nixon’s complexity, to suggest that a disaster like Watergate was bound to occur under Nixon since the same white-hot resentment that fueled his rise also led him to abuse his power. But the “tragic” and “Shakespearean” labels, if intended to deepen the understanding of Nixon, ultimately served to simplify his image, reducing deeply embedded traits to surface foibles. Instead of a true “tragic flaw” that was constitutive of Nixon’s character—his amorality, paranoia, vindictiveness, or ambition—his flaw was now seen as some minor shortcoming that just happened to trip him up. Talk of Nixon’s tragic nature thus bolstered the notion of the statesman, giving him more credit than he deserved.

Nonetheless, to conclude that Nixon’s statesman image was triumphant would be an error. Many of these renderings of Nixon’s diplomacy, after all, were far from flattering. The Nixon of Sellars’s opera, for example, was no wise man but another variant of Tricky Dick, bent on swaying history’s judgment. Notably, too, scholarly opinion in these years also grew more critical of Nixon’s diplomacy.40

More to the point, the notion that Nixon had returned to a position of actual influence always rested on a shaky premise. To be sure, the mandarins of the
foreign-policy establishment liked dining with him in his Upper East Side townhouse or his manse in suburban New Jersey, and sitting presidents took his calls. But Nixon was never asked to take on special diplomatic tasks in his twilight years, as Jimmy Carter has been.

Scholars showed scant interest in the content of Nixon’s opinions, which had minuscule impact. His books and articles, though voluminous, never provoked intellectual discussion, as would those of a thinker such as Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, or even Henry Kissinger—only water-cooler chitchat. To the extent that Nixon’s policy pronouncements attracted interest, it had little to do with the pronouncements and almost everything to do with Nixon, who as the most enigmatic leader of recent times exerted a continuing fascination. “We are suckers for a good show,” explained Robert G. Kaiser of The Washington Post ten years after Watergate, calling Nixon’s journey “America’s longest-running soap opera,” filled with “pathos, bathos, intrigue, surprise.”41 People wanted to hear him because he was America’s chief villain, the only president to resign, or (at best) because he was a figure of bewitching inscrutability, but not because they expected—or wanted—him to solve the world’s ills. Nixon himself accepted this fact. Of his audiences, he told Newsweek, “They’re here because they want to hear what I have to say, but they’re [also] here because they say, ‘What makes this guy tick?’”42

What was more, the constant focus on the idea of comeback, ironically,
revealed it to be a will-o’-the-wisp. For in virtually all the stories announcing Nixon’s return, Michael Schudson has written, “rehabilitation, not Richard Nixon, became even more prominently the main subject for public discussion of Nixon.”43 Journalists profiled the former president as an elder statesman often, but just as often they framed these stories as tales of Nixon’s battle to replace Watergate’s legacy with that of China and détente. In such a context, Watergate and the flight from it remained central, if submerged, themes of Nixon’s late career. The president’s rehabilitation drama thus revealed not so much a New Nixon as the pertinacity of the Old Nixon, as keen as ever to win history’s favor.

Nixon realized his efforts achieved limited gains. After he published
In the Arena, his third memoir, in 1990, he groused to his assistant Monica
Crowley that reviewers dwelled exclusively on the material about Watergate.
“None of the other stuff in there, like on the Russians or the other personal stuff, made it into the news or even the reviews,” he sighed. “Watergate—that’s all anyone wants.”44

Nixon as Liberal

A third image of Nixon that challenged his darker identities was one that
neither he nor his critics ever would have predicted in his lifetime: the
notion of Nixon as the last big-government liberal. Decades after his
resignation, many historians who looked back on his policies began to
argue that his real legacy lay not so much in Watergate as in his contribution
to the Great Society: proposing a guaranteed minimum income,
establishing the Environmental Protection Agency, desegregating Southern
schools, embracing Keynesian economics. Indeed, by the twenty-fifth
anniversary of his abdication, this notion had gained a place in the public
discourse.

Nixon-NatAm-button-e1428509787898A Washington Post columnist commemorated Nixon’s departure
from office by noting his progressive environmental record and spending on social services.45 U.S. News & World Report rhapsodized about Nixon’s farsighted policies toward Native Americans, worker safety, and the arts.46 Even Nixon’s old adversary Daniel Schorr saluted “the other Nixon” who fought hunger and bequeathed a legacy of desegregated schools.47

The pundits’ commentary rested on a bed of recent historical scholarship
that delved into Nixon’s domestic policies and judged them surprisingly
substantive. For example, historian Melvin Small published The Presidency of Richard Nixon, which included chapters arguing the case for the president as a reformer. A synthesis of Nixon scholarship, Small’s work capped a decade of other historians’ labors along similar lines, notably that of Joan Hoff and Tom Wicker.48 Quickly, the idea progressed from a challenge to the conventional  wisdom about Nixon—a kind of“man bites dog” story with a mischievously contrarian appeal—to a sound-bite repeated so often that it approximated the conventional wisdom itself.

Yet whatever currency it gained in certain quarters, this picture, too,
failed to gain dominance. The problem wasn’t just that countervailing
instances of Nixon’s conservative policies abounded alongside his liberal
accomplishments. More to the point, the reading of Nixon as a liberal
didn’t reckon with what “liberal” and “conservative” meant circa 1970,
when the political center of gravity in America stood far to the left of
where it would be decades later. Nor did it take into account the majorities
that the Democrats possessed in Congress during Nixon’s presidency,
which forced him to tack leftward for his political survival.

Most fatally to their argument, advocates of the liberal Nixon image
struck from consideration not only contextual facts about the era but also
the very person of Nixon himself. When the biographer Richard Norton
Smith reviewed Hoff’s Nixon Reconsidered, he lamented that “process
crowds out personality,” and that “in pursuing her vision of Nixon without Watergate, Ms. Hoff comes dangerously close to giving us Nixon
without Nixon.”49 The “Nixon as liberal” argument rested on the fallacy
that a president’s true legacy lay in his policies, not his personality. But
as Smith recognized, the ways that people in the past understood the
worlds they inhabited—including what they thought about public figures
such as the president—constitute, as much as the filigree of policy-making,
the proper subjects of history. At a 1987 conference about Nixon that
included much discussion of his purported liberalism, the historian Stanley
Kutler argued, “We are, to some extent, in danger of forgetting—not
forgetting Richard Nixon, but forgetting what he did and what he symbolized
to his contemporaries. History is, after all, not just what the present wishes to make of the past for its own purposes. . . . Historians must judge the past by the standards of that past, not their own.”50 In the end, Kutler need not have feared; the notion of Nixon as a liberal never caught hold because it avoided rather than confronted the emotions and associations that Nixon provoked and that in turn defined him.

The Endurance of Tricky Dick

Thus, although Nixon’s image remained contested at his death, with new
views emerging periodically, his image also remained overwhelmingly  negative. The lasting picture was not terribly different from that of August 1974: a dishonest, vindictive political animal whose hunger for approval and resentment of his perceived foes drove him to violate the Constitution and bring about his own fall. Tricky Dick still predominated.

A range of indicators supported this judgment. In political arguments and writings, book reviews, even private conversation, talk of Nixon’s statesmanship, victimhood, or progressiveness never superseded his reputation for deceit and manipulation. Anniversaries that recalled his life invariably commemorated the Watergate break-in or his resignation, not any positive achievements of his presidency. Politicians rarely claimed his legacy, and no post-resignation or posthumous honors or laurels accrued to his name. The obituaries led with Watergate and his resignation.

In the realm of quantitative measures, survey numbers showed that
most Americans still associated Nixon with corruption and dishonesty.
A Gallup poll of March 2002 showed that 54 percent of Americans still
“disapproved” of Nixon’s performance as president, while 34 percent
“approved.” The data showed an improvement for Nixon over some
previous polls, but he still fared worse than any other president since
Kennedy.51 Polls of historians likewise showed Nixon, despite having
modestly bettered his lot in recent years, registering poorly overall.
Even conservative scholars evaluated him unfavorably compared to other
presidents.52

Cultural indicators pointed in a similar direction. Nixon’s impact on
the language attested to his enduring meaning. “Nixonian” has become a
synonym for Machiavellian. The “-gate” suffix, appended like laundry
tags to the names of new scandals, demonstrates Watergate’s lasting
power as the benchmark of political wrongdoing. Nixon going to China
has also entered the lexicon as shorthand for playing against type to effect
a dramatic political change. But even as it evokes Nixon’s creativity and
bravura in diplomacy, the phrase also calls to mind his trademark political
resourcefulness and untrustworthiness.

Popular culture, too, continues to portray Nixon mostly as a villain,
scoundrel, or failed president. The novelist Philip Roth, whose pitch-perfect
1971 satire Our Gang had President Trick E. Dixon campaign against Satan for president of Hell,53 kept Tricky Dick vividly alive in the 1990s in such novels as American Pastoral and I Married a Communist, in which Nixon represents nothing less than the subversion of American democracy. In the former, the character Lou Levov, watching the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973, figures that if they could just “Get Nixon,” then “America will be America again, without everything loathsome and lawless that’s crept in, without all this violence and malice and madness and hate. . . . Cage the crook!”54 In the latter novel, Murray Ringold, a
survivor of the Red Scare, looses a frenetic tirade against what he calls the
“barely endurable” spectacle of Nixon’s funeral, railing against “the man
who turned a whole country’s morale inside out, the generator of an
enormous national disaster, the first and only president of the United
States of America to have gained from a handpicked successor a full and
unconditional pardon for all the breaking and entering he committed
while in office.”55 Less well-known, Mark Maxwell’s 1998 novel Nixon-
Carver presented Nixon’s life story as if recounted by minimalist shortstory
writer Raymond Carver, using staples from the psycho-biographical
literature on Nixon for satiric and dramatic effect.56

Low culture matched high culture in suggesting that Nixon’s darker
images were the ones that elicited public response. On the prime-time
cartoon show The Simpsons, Nixon appears frequently as an emblem of
political wrongdoing. In one episode, Homer told Bart that Checkers
went to doggy hell; on another, Moe the Bartender used an Enemies List
to plot acts of revenge. “If you would have told me 25 years ago that I’d
be making a living by making fun of Richard Nixon, I would have been
so happy,” said the show’s creator, Matt Groening. The singer James
Taylor, in a song called “Line ’Em Up,” recalled even Nixon’s tearful
resignation speech as a contrived act: “I remember Richard Nixon back in
’74/And the final scene at the White House door/And the staff lined up
to say good-bye/Tiny tear in his shifty little eye.” In film, Oliver Stone’s
1994 movie ‘Nixon’ dredged up the conspiratorial president of New Left iconography,57 Andrew Fleming’s 1999 Dick showed a malevolent, if incompetent, schemer undone by two ditzy teenage girls, and Niels Mueller’s
The Assassination of Richard Nixon used the president to embody all that was bleak and corrupt in 1970s America.58

The Comeback Artist, or the New Nixon as Old Nixon

nixonwarhol

Andy Warhol’s Nixon. To the counterculture, Nixon was the ultimate representation of adult authority in all its square, sweaty, middle-aged glory.

If one conception of Nixon might be said to have carried equal weight to
Tricky Dick in American memory, it is that of the comeback artist. Nixon’s
tenacity in trying to become again a player “in the arena,” as he liked
to say, recurred as a theme throughout both positive and negative portraits.

nixonelvisThe most requested Nixon item from the National Archives, and
the best-selling image at the Nixon Library and souvenir shops, was a photograph of Nixon and Elvis on the occasion of the rock star’s visit to the White House in December 1970 (it even inspired a small corpus of kitsch, including a novel and a made-for-cable-TV movie).59 Apart from its incongruousness, the photograph was compelling because it captured two iconic American comeback artists in full glory.

Like the late-career Elvis, Nixon elicited, along with the easy ridicule, a grudging regard for his perseverance—a recognition that he had made a difference in an era of politicians who seemed small and insignificant.

Indeed, in all the streams of commentary about Nixon after his death,
whether critical of his cynicism or admiring of his grit, a common theme
held that his reinventions showed a determination to stay relevant. In
fact, the blanket awareness of his labors proved not that he had “come
back” but the reverse: that everyone remained acutely aware of his resolve
to control how others would perceive him. The comeback artist, on close inspection, turned out to be a close cousin of the old political manipulator.

Even at his funeral, Nixon was, as New York magazine put it,Spinning from his grave.”60 Again he was trying to refashion his public persona, to fight for rehabilitation, to roll out this year’s model of the new

Nixon. Alas, whether it was new or used, this time around most Americans
weren’t buying.

Notes:

1 John Herbers, No Thank You, Mr. President (New York, 1976), 36.
2 Paul Johnson, “In Praise of Richard Nixon,” Commentary (October 1988): 50.
3 Quoted in Fawn M. Brodie, Richard M. Nixon: The Shaping of His Character (New York, 1981), 306.
4 Robert K. Murray and Tim H. Blessing, “The Presidential Performance Study: A Progress Report,” Journal of American History 70, no. 3 (December 1983): 535–55, 543; Reuven Frank, Out of Thin Air: The Brief Wonderful Life of Network News (New York, 1991), 339; David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace, The Book of Lists (New York, 1977), 1; Michael Korda, Another Life: A Memoir of Other People (New York, 1999), 462.
5 Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1972 (New York, 1973), 18; New York Times, August 19, 1974, 29; Joan Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered (New York, 1994), 346; Herbert Parmet, Richard Nixon and His America (Boston, 1990), 620–46; Melvin Small, The Presidency of Richard Nixon (Lawrence, KS, 1999), 311.
6 Stephen E. Ambrose, Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962–1972 (New York, 1989), 314.
7 Stephen Whitfield, “Richard Nixon as a Comic Figure,” American Quarterly 37, no. 1 (Spring 1985): 116.
8 Earl Mazo, Richard Nixon: A Political and Personal Portrait (New York, 1959), 136.
9 Quoted in Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century (Boston, 1980), 589.
10 Bruce Mazlish, In Search of Nixon (New York, 1972), 74.
11 Henry Spalding, The Nixon Nobody Knows (Middle Village, NJ, 1972); Gary Allen, Richard Nixon: The Man Behind the Mask (Boston, 1971); Bela Kornitzer, The Real Nixon (New York,
1960).
12 William Appleman Williams, “Excelsior!” New York Review of Books 18 (February 24, 1972): 7–12.
13 For this larger study, see my Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image (New York, 2003), from which parts of this essay are derived.
14 See Michael Schudson, Watergate in American Memory (New York, 1992) and Thomas J. Johnson, The Rehabilitation of Richard Nixon: The Media’s Effect on Collective Memory (New York, 1995).
15 See, for example, the works cited by Mazo, Richard Nixon, as well as Eleanor Harris, “The Nixons,” American Weekly, August 24, 1952, 4–5; Lawrence Wright, “Why We Liked Dick,” Washington Monthly, December 1986, 17–20; James Keogh, This Is Nixon (New York, 1956); Ralph de Toledano, Nixon (New York, 1960); and Irwin F. Gellman, The Contender: Richard Nixon, The Congress Years, 1946–1952 (New York, 1999).
16 Washington Times-Herald, January 21, 1947.
17 Exemplifying the liberals’ outlook, William V. Shannon of the New York Post wrote of Nixon in 1955, “The prestige of his participation in the unmasking of Alger Hiss for example is untarnished and not in dispute, but he cannot live on that forever.” Liberal criticism of Nixon’s role in the Hiss case arose mainly after he became vice-president. He scarcely appears in the books on the Hiss case written before then. And although it’s certainly true that Nixon engaged in some nasty Red-baiting during his 1946 congressional race against Jerry Voorhis, most of the accounts of it and the harsh words for Nixon appeared only later after he had already earned the enmity of many critics, who then reexamined his past in
search of the origins of his dark side.
18 See, for example, Richard J. Donovan, “Birth of a Salesman,” The Reporter, October 14, 1952; Richard Rovere, “Nixon: Most Likely to Succeed,” Harper’s, September 1955; Americans for Democratic Action, Nixon: The Second Man (pamphlet), 1956; William Lee Miller, “The Debating Career of Richard M. Nixon,” The Reporter, April 19, 1956; Irving Howe, “Poor Richard Nixon,” The New Republic, May 7, 1956; Gene Marine, “What’s Wrong with Nixon,” Nation, August 18, 1956; August Hecksher, “The Future of ‘The Party of the Future’:
The Nixon Problem Is Not Yet Settled,” The Reporter, September 20, 1956; Morris H. Rubin, “The Trouble With Nixon: A Documented Report,” The Progressive, October 1956; William Costello, The Facts About Nixon: An Unauthorized Biography (New York, 1960); Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Kennedy or Nixon: Does It Make Any Difference? (New York, 1960); and Herbert Block, Herblock Special Report (New York, 1974).
19 The nickname was actually first affixed during his 1950 Senate race against Helen Gahagan Douglas.
20 Quoted in Gary Paul Gates, Air Time: The Inside Story of CBS News (New York, 1979), 320.
21 Quoted in Joseph C. Spear, Presidents and the Press: The Nixon Legacy (Cambridge, MA, 1984), 191.
22 In addition to Spear, see, for example, William L. Rivers, The Adversaries: Politics and the Press (Boston, 1970); Fred Powledge, The Engineering of Restraint: The Nixon Administration and the Press (Washington, DC, 1971); James Aronson, Deadline for the Media: Today’s Challenges to Press, TV and Radio (Indianapolis, 1972); William J. Small, Political Power and the Press (New York, 1972); David Wise, The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy and Power (New York, 1973); Lewis W. Wolfson, ed., The Press Covers Government: The Nixon Years from 1969 to Watergate (Washington, DC, 1973); Timothy Crouse, The Boys on the Bus (New York, 1973); William E. Porter, Assault on the Media (Ann Arbor, MI, 1976); Michael Baruch Grossman and Martha Joynt Kumar, Portraying the President (Baltimore, 1981); Marilyn
Lashner, The Chilling Effect in TV News: Intimidation by the Nixon White House (New York, 1984); and John Anthony Maltese, Spin Control: The White House Office of Communications and the Management of Presidential News (Chapel Hill, NC, 1992).
23 Besides the works cited above by Brodie and Mazlish, see also, for example, Bruce Mazlish, “Towards a Psychohistorical Inquiry: The ‘Real’ Richard Nixon,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 1 (Autumn 1970), reprinted in The Leader, the Led and the Psyche: Essays in Psychohistory (Hanover, NH, 1990), 198–246; Michael Rogin and John Lottier, “The Inner History of Richard Milhous Nixon,” Transaction 9, 1–2 (November-December 1971): 21; James David Barber, The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1972); Arthur Woodstone, Nixon’s Head (New York, 1972); Eli S.
Chesen, President Nixon’s Psychiatric Profile: A Psychodynamic-Genetic Interpretation (New York, 1973); Alan B. Rothenberg, “Why Nixon Taped Himself,” Psychoanalytic Review 62, no. 2 (Summer 1975): 201–23; Leo Rangell, “Lessons from Watergate: A Derivative for Psychoanalysis,”
Psychoanalytic Quarterly 45, no. 1 (1976): 37–61; David Abrahamsen, Nixon vs. Nixon: An Emotional Tragedy (New York, 1977); James W. Hamilton, “Some Reflections on Richard Nixon in the Light of His Resignation and Farewell Speeches,” Journal of Psychohistory 4, no. 4 (Spring 1977): 491–511; Steven R. Brown, “Richard Nixon and the Public Conscience: The Struggle for Authenticity,” Journal of Psychohistory 5, no. 4 (Spring 1978): 93–111; James P. Johnson, “Nixon’s Use of Metaphor: The Real Nixon Tapes,” Psychoanalytic
Review 66, no. 2 (1979): 263–74; Henry W. Lawton, “Milhous Rising,” Journal of Psychohistory 6, no. 4 (Spring 1979): 519–42; Leo Rangell, The Mind of Watergate (New York, 1980); Jules Levey, “Richard Nixon as Elder Statesman,” Journal of Psychohistory 13, no. 4 (Spring 1986): 27–48; Peter Loewenberg, “Nixon, Hitler and Power: An Ego Psychology Study,” Psychoanalytic Inquiry 6, no. 1 (1986): 27–48; Blema S. Steinberg, Shame and Humiliation: Presidential
Decision Making on Vietnam (Pittsburgh, 1996); and Vamik D. Volkan, Norman Itzkowitz, and Andrew W. Dod, Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography (New York, 1997).
24 Washington Post, May 21, 1974.
25 George W. Johnson, ed., The Nixon Presidential Press Conferences (New York, 1978), 340–3.
26 “Is the Press Living by a Double Standard?” U.S. News & World Report, October 10, 1977,
29. 27 Quoted in Jonathan Rieder, Canarsie: The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn Against Liberalism (Cambridge, MA, 1985) 159.
28 Cameron Crowe, “Neil Young: The Last American Hero,” Rolling Stone, February 8, 1979; David Alpern, “Nixon Speaks,” Newsweek, May 9, 1977, 25–39.
29 Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (New York, 1991).
30 Raymond K. Price, “Nixon’s Reassessment Comes Early,” in The Nixon Presidency: Twenty-Two Intimate Perspectives on Richard M. Nixon, ed. Kenneth W. Thompson (Lanham, MD, 1982), 389.
31 Washington Post, February 25, 1976, A15.
32 See, among others, Julie Baumgold, “Nixon’s New Life in New York,” New York, June 9, 1980, 24; Jennifer Allen, “Richard Nixon is Making Something of a Comeback,” Manhattan, January 19, 1981, 1–3; Wall Street Journal, July 2, 1981, 1; Tony Fuller, Morton M. Kondracke, and John J. Lindsay, “The Sage of Saddle River,” Newsweek, May 19, 1986, 32; Michael Beschloss, “How Nixon Came in from the Cold,” Vanity Fair, June 1992, 114ff.; and Korda, 451–62.   33 Marvin Kalb, The Nixon Memo: Political Respectability, Russia, and the Press (Chicago, 1994).
34 Quoted in John Stacks and Strobe Talbott, “Paying the Price,” Time, April 2, 1990.
35 See Russ Witcher, After Watergate: Nixon and the Newsweeklies (Lanham, MD, 2000), and Monica Crowley, Nixon off the Record (New York, 1996), and Nixon in Winter (New York, 1998).
36 Quoted in Thomas Monsell, Nixon on Stage and Screen: The Thirty-Seventh President as Depicted in Films, Television, Plays, and Opera (Jefferson, NC, 1998), 157.
37 John Ehrlichman, The China Card (New York, 1986).
38 Nicholas Meyer, dir., Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Paramount Pictures, 1991.
39 David Gergen, Eyewitness to Power (New York, 2000), 21
40 See, for example, Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered; William P. Bundy, A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency (New York, 1998); Jeffrey P. Kimball, Nixon’s Vietnam War (Lawrence, KS, 1998); and Larry Berman, No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam (New York, 2001).
41 Robert G. Kaiser, “What Power does he Hold over Us?” Washington Post, April 5, 1984, C1.
42 Quoted in Fuller et al., “The Sage of Saddle River,” 33.
43 Schudson, Watergate, 194–6.
44 Quoted in Crowley, Nixon in Winter, 286.
45 Washington Post, August 20, 1999, A35.
46 Michael Barone, “Nixon’s America,” U.S. News & World Report, September 20, 1999, 26.
47 Washington Post, August 7, 1994, C1; Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 1999, 11.
48 Melvin Small, The Presidency of Richard Nixon (Lawrence, KS, 1999); Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered; Tom Wicker, One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream (New York, 1991).
49 Richard Norton Smith, “The Nixon Watch Continues,” New York Times Book Review, October 30, 1994, 9.
50 Stanley I. Kutler, “Watergate Reexamined: Discussant,” in Watergate and Afterward: The Legacy of Richard M. Nixon, ed. Leon Friedman and William Levantrosser (Westport, CT, 1992), 35–6.
51 Gallup poll, March 18–20, 2002. Available from Public Opinion Online at 〈http://www.publicopiniononline.com〉. For Nixon, see accession number 0401463. For other presidents,see accession numbers 0401458–65.
52 On recent surveys of historians, see Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., “The Ultimate Approval Rating,” New York Times Magazine, December 15, 1996, 46; “C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership,” at http://www.americanpresidents.org/surve/historians.overall.asp; Gary L. Gregg, “Liberals, Conservatives and the Presidency,” The Intercollegiate Review (Spring 1998): 26–31; and the Federalist Society poll of November 2000, cited in the Chicago Sun- Times, November 17, 2000, 5.
53 Philip Roth, Our Gang (Starring Tricky and His Friends) (New York, 1971).
54 Philip Roth, American Pastoral (Boston, 1997), 299–300.
55 Philip Roth, I Married a Communist (Boston, 1998), 277–80.
56 Mark Maxwell, NixonCarver: A Novel (New York, 1998).
57 Oliver Stone, dir., Nixon, Buena Vista, 1995.
58 Andrew Fleming, dir., Dick, Columbia Pictures, 1999.
59 Jonathan Lowy, Elvis and Nixon: A Novel (New York, 2001); Alan Arkush, dir., Elvis Meets Nixon, Showtime, 1998.
60 Jacob Weisberg, “Spinning from His Grave,” New York, May 9, 1994, 39.

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stanley kutler on nixon, watergate and the new nixon tapes

100 Percent Is Overrated

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learnAt whatever age smart people develop the idea that they are smart, they also tend to develop vulnerability around relinquishing that label. So the difference between telling a kid “You did a great job” and “You are smart” isn’t subtle. That is, at least, according to one growing movement in education and parenting that advocates for retirement of “the S word.”

The idea is that when we praise kids for being smart, those kids think: Oh good, I’m smart. And then later, when those kids mess up, which they will, they think: Oh no, I’m not smart after all. People will think I’m not smart after all. And that’s the worst. That’s a risk to avoid, they learn.“Smart” kids stand to become especially averse to making mistakes, which are critical to learning and succeeding.
Mistakes grow your brain
“Mistakes grow your brain,” as the professor of mathematics education at Stanford University Jo Boaler put it at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by The Atlantic. I wondered why, then, my brain is not so distended that it spills out of my ears and nose. I should have to stuff it back inside like a sleeping bag, and I should have to carry Q-tips around during social events as stuffing implements.
Boaler notes, more eloquently, that at least a small part of the forebrain called the thalamus can appreciably grow after periods of the sort of cognitive stimulation involved in mistake-making.

 

What matters for improving performance is that a person is challenged, which requires a mindset that is receptive to being challenged—if not actively seeking out challenge and failure. And that may be the most important thing a teacher can impart.

People are born with some innate cognitive differences, but those differences are eclipsed by early achievement, Boaler argues. When people perform well (academically or otherwise) at early ages and are labeled smart or gifted, they become less likely to challenge themselves. They become less likely to make mistakes, because they stay in their comfortable comfort zone and stop growing. And their fixed mindset persists through adulthood. The simple and innocent praising of a smart kid feeds an insidious problem that some researchers track all the way up to gender inequality in STEM careers.

So ending the reign of the S word, as Boaler calls it, is a grand mission. “It’s imperative that we don’t praise kids by telling them they’re smart,” she argued in a Monday lecture to an audience that received her message with many knowing nods. “You can tell kids that they’ve done something fantastic, but don’t label them as smart.”

 

 

 

 

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Abuse of Power: Listening to Nixon

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Abuse of PowerThis program goes behind the scenes of Watergate with UW Professor Emeritus Stanley Kutler.

Over forty years ago in June the Watergate break-in occurred which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. No person was more tuned into this event and chronicled it more substantially than Stanley Kutler, Ph.D., the E. Gordon Fox Professor of American Institutions and History of Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the mid-1990’s, his successful lawsuit against the National Archives and the Nixon Estate forced the release of the suppressed Nixon tapes which are published in his book, Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes.

On this program, Professor Kutler takes us back decades to this remarkable time in our American history and describes how our democracy unfolded as it should. Would the resignation of Richard Nixon occurred without the tapes? Professor Kutler answers this question and gives us new insight into some of the Congressional leaders whose strong commitment to the Constitution helped the Watergate hearings stay on course.

The versions below have been revised and updated by the Presidential Recordings Program.

This collection is by no means comprehensive, and new segments will be added periodically:

  • The Smoking Gun
  • Cancer on the Presidency:  Editors’ Note: Previous versions of this transcript were published as Watergate Prosecutor Transcripts, WTT-EX12, pp.1-8; Stanley Kutler,Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes (New York: Free Press, 1997) pp. 247-49

John Dean: The reason I thought we ought to talk this morning is because in our conversations I have the impression that you don’t know everything I know-

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Dean: -and it makes it very difficult for you to make judgments that only you can make-

President Nixon: That’s right.

Dean: -on some of these things and I thought that-

President Nixon: In other words, I’ve got to know why you would feel that our [unclear] something [unclear]-

Dean: Well, let me-

President Nixon: -unravel something.

Dean: -give you my overall, first.

President Nixon: Your judgment as to where it stands and where we ought to go.

Dean: I think that there’s no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we’ve got. We have a cancer within-close to the presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding. It grows geometrically now, because it compounds itself. That’ll be clear as I explain, you know, some of the details of why it is, and it basically is because (1) we’re being blackmailed; (2) people are going to start perjuring themselves very quickly that have not had to perjure themselves to protect other people and the like. And that is just . . . and there is no assurance-

President Nixon: That it won’t bust.

Dean: That that won’t bust.

President Nixon: True.

Dean: So let me give you the sort of basic facts, talking first about the Watergate, and then about [Donald] Segretti, and about some of the peripheral items that have come up.
First of all, on the Watergate: how did it all start? Where did it start? It started with an instruction to me from Bob Haldema to see if we couldn’t set up a perfectly legitimate campaign intelligence operation over at the Re-Election Committee.1  Not being in this business, I turned to somebody who had been in this business, Jack Caulfield, who is-I don’t know if you remember Jack or not.

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Dean: He was your original bodyguard before they had candidate protection, an old New York City policeman.

President Nixon: Right. I know. I know.

Dean: Jack had worked for John [Ehrlichman] and then was transferred to my office. And I said, “Jack come up with a plan that, you know, is a normal infiltration, I mean, you know, buying information from secretaries and all that sort of thing.” He did. He put together a plan. It was kicked around, and I went to Ehrlichman with it, I went to Mitchell with it, and the consensus was that Caulfield wasn’t the man to do this. In retrospect, that might have been a bad call, [be]cause he is an incredibly cautious person and wouldn’t have put the situation where it is today.

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Dean: Right after rejecting that, they said, “We still need something.” So I was told to look around for somebody that could go over to 1701 [Pennsylvania Avenue, CREEP headquarters] and do this. That’s when I came up with Gordon Liddy, who-they needed a lawyer. Gordon had intelligence background from his FBI service. I was aware of the fact that he had done some extremely sensitive things for the White House [Plumbers unit] while he’d been at the White House, and he had apparently done them well, going out into Ellsberg’s doctor’s office-

President Nixon: Oh, yeah.

Dean: -and things like this. He’d worked with leaks. He, you know, tracked these things down. And so the report that I got from [Egil] Krogh [co-leader of the Plumbers group] was that he was a hell of a good man, and not only that, a good lawyer, and could set up a proper operation. So we talked to Liddy. Liddy was interested in doing it. took Liddy over to meet Mitchell. Mitchell thought highly of him because, apparently, Mitchell was partly involved in his coming to the White House to work for Krogh. Liddy had been at Treasury before that. Then Liddy was told to put together his plan: you know, how he would run an intelligence operation. And this was after he was hired over there at the Committee. Magruder called me in January and said, “I’d like to have you come over and see Liddy’s plan.”

President Nixon: January of ’72?

Dean: January of ’72. “I’d like you to come over to Mitchells’ office and sit in on a meeting where Liddy is going to lay his plan out.” I said, “Well, I don’t really know as I’m the man, but if you want me there I’ll be happy to.” So I came over and Liddy laid out a million-dollar plan that was the most incredible thing I have ever laid my eyes on: all in codes, and involved black bag operations, kidnapping, providing prostitutes to weaken the opposition, bugging, mugging teams. It was just an incredible thing.

 

 

https://archive.org/embed/StanleyKutlerOnNixonWatergateAndTheNewNixonTapes

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Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

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MAPSThe Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization working to develop psychedelics and marijuana into legal prescription drugs. MAPS was founded in 1986 by Rick Doblin, and is now based in Santa Cruz, California.

MAPS helps scientists design, fund, and obtain regulatory approval for studies of the safety and effectiveness of a number of currently controlled substances. MAPS works closely with government regulatory authorities worldwide such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) to ensure that all of its sponsored research protocols conform to ethical and procedural guidelines for clinical drug research. Included in MAPS’ research efforts are MDMA (Ecstasy) for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), LSD and psilocybin for the treatment of anxiety, cluster headaches, and depression associated with end-of-life issues, ibogaine for the treatment of opiate addiction, and alternative delivery systems for medical marijuana such as vaporizers and water pipes. MAPS states that their ultimate goal is to establish a network of clinics where these and other treatments can be provided together with other therapies under the guidance of licensed physicians and therapists.[1]

In addition to its sponsorship of scientific research, MAPS organizes continuing medical education (CME) conferences, sponsors and gives lectures and seminars on the current state of psychedelic and medical marijuana research, participates in community events like music festivals and Burning Man, and publishes a quarterly Bulletin with updates about its ongoing research efforts, legal struggles, and educational initiatives.

MAPS has also published a number of books dealing with the history and culture of psychedelic medicine and psychedelic therapy.[2]

History

MAPSPsychedelics and Psychotherapy

The psychoactive properties of LSD were discovered in 1943 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann when he accidentally ingested a small dose through the skin while studying the compound. Controlled research on human subjects began soon after and Hofmann’s colleague Werner Stoll published his findings about the basic effects of LSD on human subjects in 1947.[3]

After the earliest European and American research efforts investigated whether LSD could reliably induce psychotic disorders, some began to recognize the potential for LSD to assist in traditional Freudian psychotherapy in the 1950s. Studies into the effects of LSD on human creativity and spirituality were also conducted during this period.

Seeking the Magic MushroomThe next major development in the history of psychedelic research was the rediscovery of psilocybin by Western society due to the appearance of an article in a 1957 issue of Life magazine ‘Seeking the Magic Mushroom,’ written by R. Gordon Wasson detailing his experiences ingesting psilocybin mushrooms in a shamanic ceremony in Mexico.[4] European studies into the use of psilocybin as a psychotherapeutic agent (Duche; Delay et al.) were published as early as 1961. An article by Pichot about the basic effects of psilocybin on 137 normal and unhealthy subjects appeared in the medical journal Lancet in the same year.[5]

Old_Concord_Reformatory_at_MCI_Concord_MA

Old Concord Reformatory, Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord (MCI-Concord). Opened in 1878, it is the oldest running state prison for men in Massachusetts. This prison is under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

In the early 1960s, Harvard University was the seat of two landmark experiments involving psilocybin. The first of these was the Concord Prison Experiment which began in 1961 under the supervision of principal researchers Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). The purpose of the experiment was to determine if psilocybin-assisted psychotherapeutic techniques could permanently reverse the criminal and anti-social tendencies of 32 state prisoners nearing parole and prevent them from being incarcerated again. Leary’s team combined the administration of synthetic psilocybin in guided sessions with a variety of tests and support sessions during and after release.(Dr. Leary’s Concord Prison Experiment: A 34 Year Follow-Up Study) (Reflections on the Concord Prison Experiment and the Follow-Up Study).

Harvard professors Timothy Leary, left, and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass),

Harvard professors Timothy Leary, left, and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), “spokesmen for psychedelic research,” 1961. Photo: “Birth of a Psychedelic Culture,” 2011, Synergetic Press, Santa Fe

The ambitious experiment provided important insight into how to conduct psychedelic treatment sessions and helped pioneer the technique of having one of the experimenters undergo the psychedelic experience along with the subjects. The study also yielded anecdotal reports from the subjects which hinted at the therapeutic power of psilocybin and encouraged further research in this area.

The next Harvard experiment with crucial implications for the development of psychedelic research was Walter Pahnke’s Good Friday Experiment of 1962. Pahnke set out to determine if psilocybin could be used to facilitate “mystical” experiences and if these experiences could cause permanent and beneficial personality transformation. In order to do so, he recruited 20 Protestant divinity students, 10 of whom would take synthetic psilocybin and 10 of whom would take a placebo. The experiment took place in a basement chapel in which the audio from a Good Friday service conducted in the main chapel upstairs was broadcast. Pahnke reported greater incidence of mystical experience among the group receiving psilocybin, and like the prisoners in the Concord experiment, they delivered stirring first-hand testimony of their experiences which would help inspire further research (Video: 1962 Good Friday Experiment).

Throughout the short history of LSD research, people unaffiliated or loosely affiliated with the scientific establishment distributed supplies of LSD outside of laboratory settings. Soon the lines between legitimate research and personal experimentation began to blur for some, and as early as 1962 fellow faculty members at Harvard openly criticized Leary and Alpert for abandoning scientific principles and experimenting with LSD outside official research settings. A few months later the university would dismiss both professors for violating university regulations by providing LSD to undergraduates. The controversy at Harvard coincided with greatly increased FDA restrictions on the procurement of LSD for scientific research; although some research did continue, most studies underway before the new FDA restrictions did not. After restricting its manufacture and distribution in 1965, the US government fully criminalized LSD in 1968, after which the European nations which hosted psychedelic research followed suit.[6]

Psychedelics and PsychotherapyIn the United States, legal psychedelic research was reduced to only one program – the studies conducted at the Spring Grove Center in Baltimore which primarily focused on end of life therapy and continued through to 1974. The study, ‘Addiction, Despair, and the Soul: Successful Psychedelic Psychotherapy,’ which eventually came to be headed by Pahnke and Grof, resulted in the treatment of over 100 terminal patients, including 31 in a controlled LSD psychotherapy study. Grof argues that “the results… supported the clinical impressions of the often dramatic effects of LSD psychotherapy on the emotional condition and physical pain of cancer patients.” [7]

The second wave of modern psychedelic research is associated with renewed interest in MDMA. Throughout the 1970s, the main source of information regarding the still legal MDMA came from independent research unaffiliated with traditionally scholarly settings led by the extensive self-experimentation performed by chemist Alexander Shulgin. Shulgin believed that as with LSD, the primary use for MDMA was to serve as an adjunct to psychotherapy, which prompted him to share MDMA with psychiatric practitioners. Shulgin published extensively in scientific journals with respect to the chemical properties of MDMA.[8]

freeing-the-bird-1Results of studies on the effects of MDMA on human subjects began to surface in the 1980s. George R. Greer administered MDMA to 29 patients (1983) and subsequently reported nearly uniform positive mental effects such as feelings of closeness to others and enhanced personal insight, results corroborated by Beck and Seymour’s survey of therapists who used MDMA with their patients. Downing (1985) concluded “one can only say that MDMA, at the doses tested, has remarkably consistent and predictable psychological effects that are… free of clinically apparent major toxicity.”

Throughout the 1980s, MDMA was administered in psychiatric and counseling settings, but recreational use also became increasingly widespread. MDMA research was mostly halted in 1985 by the United States government’s initiation of proceedings to ensure temporary classification of the compound as a Schedule I drug (a classification made permanent in 1988). As psychedelics gained increasing recognition as potential psychotherapuetic agents, so too were they recognized within popular culture for their recreational use.

Founding MAPS

Anticipating that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would move to criminalize MDMA in light of the drug’s increasing popularity in recreational use, Rick Doblin, Alise Agar and Debby Harlow organized a non-profit group called Earth Metabolic Design Laboratories (EMDL) to bolster awareness of the therapeutic use of MDMA. By 1984 the DEA had announced its intention to designate MDMA as a Schedule I substance, a categorization that would greatly restrict and regulate the drug’s availability, as well as indicate that it held no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential.[9]

Noting that at this time a great number of psychiatrists, marriage counselors, and therapists were using MDMA to enhance the therapeutic process, EMDL organized the scientific and medical communities to petition the DEA for a scheduling hearing regarding MDMA. Dr. George Greer, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Professor James B. Bakalar, and Professor Thomas Roberts  contributed to the argument that MDMA belonged in Schedule III, a category that would more readily enable future research and permit the continuation of its use in psychotherapy. Despite such efforts, the DEA pursued emergency scheduling in 1985, citing an imminent risk to public health. Although this move was ruled illegal, the decision to place MDMA within Schedule I was reached in 1988 after the DEA overruled a DEA Administrative Law Judge’s recommendation that it be placed within Schedule III.[9]

As MDMA was now deemed illegal, held in the same category as such substances as heroin, the only way for it to be employed in scientific inquiry would be through the lengthy and expensive FDA approval process. Holding the belief that MDMA had the unique potential both to aid psychotherapy and eventually to become a prescription medicine, Rick Doblin sought to gain incorporation for MAPS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization. The founding of MAPS was a primary step toward the future envisioning of what Doblin has called a “nonprofit psychedelic-pharmaceutical company.”[10] Chartered in 1986, MAPS has since contributed over 12 million dollars towards the scientific study of psychedelics and marijuana in therapeutic applications.[11][12]

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration approves MDMA

DEA MDMAIn March 2015, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved the first clinical trial using MDMA along with psychotherapy to treat anxiety, PTSD and people with life-threatening illnesses.

“The tide has changed for psychedelic research,” said Brad Burge, the communications director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) “Unlike psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, MDMA does not produce hallucinations. MDMA produces in users a sense of calm, trust and confidence,” he added.

MAPS is currently conducting a phase 2 study to assess the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD among veterans of war. The study is taking place in Charleston, SC and is conducting experimental treatment with veterans, both male and female, suffering war-related PTSD. The study will follow a randomized triple-blind protocol and test three different experimental doses.

Canada MDMAOutside of the US, MAPS is pursuing the implementation of MDMA/PTSD studies in Canada, Israel, Jordan, and Switzerland. The Canadian study has full approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and from Health Canada to obtain MDMA Import Permit into Canada. The Israel Study Receives Full Approval from Hospital Ethics Committee. An Israeli Defense Force official has indicated a willingness to refer war affected soldiers suffering from PTSD, thus greatly enabling recruitment for the study. The Jordanian MDMA/PTSD Study is a development with the IRB. A protocol amendment is to be submitted in the near future. MAPS is enrolling both Jordanian nationals as well as Iraqi refugees living in Jordan who are suffering from PTSD.

The Switzerland study has received full approval from SwissMedic and has been submitted and accepted by the FDA in the form of an Investigational New Drug application. The study is currently in progress and nearing completion as MAPS is collecting long-term follow-up data following the experimental treatment of all subjects. The study represents in part MAPS’ clinical plan to develop MDMA as a prescription medication with both FDA and European Medicines Agency (EMEA).[23]

Legalizing Psychedelic TherapyAiding clinicians in their ability to lead more effective MDMA assisted psychotherapy, MAPS has developed a training protocol allowed therapists to take part as subjects in a Phase 1 study on the psychological effects of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy on healthy volunteers. MAPS administered one MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session to the therapists in an effort to offer them training as well as evaluate the effects of MDMA. The study has received approval to proceed by both the US FDA and the IRB. Mithoefer, the primary clinical investigator in this study, has received his Schedule 1 license from the DEA, enabling him to administer MDMA within this study.[23]

LSD and Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy for End-of-Life Anxiety

It is well evidenced that psychoactive mushrooms and a number of other plants containing psychoactive compounds have been valued for millennia by many indigenous tribes across the globe for their spiritual & therapeutic uses.[33]

Discovered by Albert Hofmann in 1938 and 1958 respectively, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and Psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in “Magic” mushrooms, are both well known for their ability to induce deeply spiritual, insightful and often life-changing experiences.[3]

Although early research into the use of LSD and Psilocybin in clinical psychology demonstrated positive results, an explosion of recreational use during the 1960s gained the compounds a great deal of notoriety and ultimately led to their categorization as Schedule I illicit drugs in 1970.[34]

MAPS completed Phase 2 study in 12 subjects found positive trends in the reduction of anxiety following two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions. The study results also indicate that LSD-assisted psychotherapy can be safely administered in these subjects, and justify further research of LSD & Psilocybin psychotherapy in the treatment of patients suffering with the deep anxiety associated with life-threatening illness.

The study took place in Solothurn, Switzerland and is the first study in 35 years to investigate the therapeutic use of LSD in human subjects. The study’s primary focus is assess the safety and effectiveness of conducting LSD-assisted psychotherapy with a population of individuals who are experiencing anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. The study has received approval from the BAG (the equivalent of the DEA in Switzerland), the Ethics Committee (the Swiss IRB), and SwissMedic. Enrolment began in April 2008 and is currently complete.[24]

Treating PTSD with MDMAMAPS has also developed a protocol to study the effectiveness of Psilocybin-assisted Psychotherapy in treating anxiety related to the experience of having a life-threatening illness such as advanced stage cancer. This study wasconducted in the US under the principle investigation of Sameet Kumar, Ph.D.[24]

Ibogaine Treatment for Drug Addiction

IbogaineIbogaine, a psychoactive alkaloid present in the root-bark of the West-African shrub Tabernanthe iboga, has in recent years gained popularity as an effective treatment for severe alcohol and drug dependence.

Traditionally used in healing and initiation ceremonies by followers of the West-African Bwiti religion, the drug has stimulant properties in low doses and can induce a hallucinogenic dream-like state in higher doses. It is the higher-dose hallucinogenic effect which is widely credited with the ability to help users understand and reverse their substance-dependent behavioral patterns.[35]

MAPS is currently collecting observational data from two ibogaine treatment centers in Mexico to study the long-term effects of this treatment on opiate-dependent subjects.

MAPS has released a request for proposals (RFP) to find a research team interested in conducting clinical trials on ibogaine; a $25,000 grant has been made available to help fund such a study.[36]

Medical Marijuana

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) currently holds a monopoly on the supply of marijuana grown for research in the United States, as they fund the only laboratory licensed to grow it. Since NIDA is solely interested in researching the negative aspects of marijuana use and abuse, studies to explore its potential medical benefit are currently impossible within the US.

MAPS is the only organization working to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of botanical marijuana as a prescription medicine to the satisfaction of the FDA. For nearly ten years, MAPS has been involved in lengthy and ongoing legal battles with the DEA to end NIDA’s monopoly on research grade marijuana.[16]

Alternatively, MAPS has received full approval from the FDA to study the effectiveness of marijuana, both smoked and vaporized, in the treatment of individuals experiencing war related PTSD. This marks the first time the FDA has approved an outpatient marijuana study.[37]  (See Medical Marijuana Research News)

Projects

Since 1986, MAPS has distributed over 12 million dollars to fund research and education. These include:

  • Sponsored a Swiss study that sought to examine the effectiveness of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of patients who suffer from anxiety associated with terminal illness.[13]
  • Obtained FDA and IRB approval to study MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Charleston, SC with similar research projects now underway in Switzerland and Israel.[14]
  • Sponsored the first U.S. based study evaluating the therapeutic application of MDMA with treatment resistant PTSD. Results from this study have been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.[15] Also being prepared or conducted are MDMA/PTSD pilot studies in Canada, Israel, Jordan, and Switzerland.
  • Sponsored a Phase 2 pilot study of the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD in veterans of war.
  • Designed a study to examine vaporized or smoked marijuana in the treatment of war related PTSD in veterans, which will evaluate efficacy and safety of multiple strains of herbal marijuana. The study has received FDA approval. MAPS is pursuing the purchase of appropriate strains from the US federal government.[16]
  • Sponsored efforts by Prof. Lyle Craker, Medicinal Plant Program, UMass Amherst Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, to obtain a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration for a marijuana production facility.[17][18]
  • Sponsored pioneering analytical research into the effects of the marijuana vaporizer, leading to the first human study of marijuana vaporizers conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams of the University of California, San Francisco.[19]
  • Opened an FDA Drug Master File for MDMA. This is required before any drug can be researched in FDA-approved human studies.[20]
  • Assisted Dr. Charles Grob to design, obtain approval for and fund the first FDA-approved study in the U.S. to administer MDMA to humans.[21][22]
  • Assisted in the design and is funding the world’s first government-approved scientific study of the therapeutic use of MDMA (Spain).[23]
  • Sponsored studies to analyze the purity and potency of street samples of “Ecstasy” and medical marijuana.[16]
  • Funded the successful efforts of Dr. Donald Abrams to obtain approval for the first human study in 15 years into the therapeutic use of marijuana, along with a $1 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.[16]
  • Obtained Orphan Drug designation from the FDA for smoked marijuana in the treatment of AIDS Wasting Syndrome.[16]
  • Funded the synthesis of psilocybin for the first FDA-approved study in twenty-five years to evaluate psilocybin in a patient population.[24]
  • Supported long-term follow-up studies of pioneering research with LSD and psilocybin originally conducted in the 1950s and 1960s.[24]
  • Sponsoring research by Dr. Evgeny Krupitsky into ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for heroin addiction and alcoholism.[25]
  • Hosted the conference “Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century,” in April 2010. This was the largest conference on the topic of psychedelic science to have occurred in nearly 40 years.[26]
  • Sponsoring programs and services at festivals, community events, churches, and schools that provide psychedelic harm reduction and education.[2]

Currently, MAPS has been given a Schedule I license to conduct research with MDMA on veterans and survivors of physical or sexual assault who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, as well as with advanced-stage cancer patients who are experiencing anxiety associated with this diagnosis, the first licenses the DEA has granted for MDMA psychotherapy research.[23]

On the 19th of July 2010, the peer-reviewed Journal of Psychopharmacology published the results of the MDMA studies pursued by Dr Michael Mithoefer and concludes that this work is very promising. It also states that “this pilot study demonstrates that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy with close follow-up monitoring and support can be used with acceptable and short-lived side effects in a carefully screened group of subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD”.[27]

A clinical study for treating cluster headaches using low doses of the tryptamine psilocybin (found in psilocybe mushrooms) has been developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital in conjunction with MAPS.[24]

Other research projects

MAPS has pursued a number of other research studies examining the effects of psychedelics administered to human subjects. These studies include, but are not limited to, studies of MDE, Ayahuasca, DMT, Ketamine, LSA, Mescaline, Peyote, and Salvia divinorum.

MAPS has also conducted multi-drug studies as well as cross cultural and meta-analysis research.[25]

Multimedia

Title Published Date
Mendocino TV: San Francisco Book Launch and Art Gallery with Stanislav Grof and Rick Doblin July 19, 2015
Global News: Mark Haden on using Ecstasy to Treat PTSD July 14, 2015
Positive Head Podcast: Interview with Rick Doblin July 8, 2015
Lucid Planet Radio, Episode 9: Legalizing Psychedelic Therapy, with Brad Burge from MAPS July 8, 2015
NBC News Bay Area: FDA Approves Experiment to Allow Bay Area Doctor to Use Ecstasy to Treat Patients May 28, 2015
NPR (KQED): FDA Approves Ecstasy-Assisted Psychotherapy in Marin County May 28, 2015
CBS San Francisco: Feds Approve Ecstasy Therapy Study In Marin County May 26, 2015
ABC 5 News Cleveland: MDMA-Assisted Therapy Shows Promise for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans May 15, 2015
Forces TV: MDMA: The Cure for PTSD? April 23, 2015
HuffPost Live: “Brain Games” Host on the Medicinal Use of Psychedelics April 21, 2015
CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta: WEED 3 April 19, 2015
Tink Tink Club Interviews Acid Test author Tom Shroder April 9, 2015
Duncan Trussell Family Hour Podcast: Rick Doblin from MAPS April 2, 2015
Lions of Liberty Podcast: Brad Burge: How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help PTSD Victims March 5, 2015
Bulletproof Executive Radio: Rick Doblin: Psychedelic Healing with Marijuana, MDMA, Psilocybin, & Ayahuasca March 4, 2015
Breaking Convention: An fMRI Investigation into the Acute Effects of MDMA Administration in Chronic Treatment-Resistant PTSD July 30, 2015
MAPS at Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Fare Thee Well Tour July 6, 2015
Zendo Project: Psychedelic Harm Reduction June 23, 2015
MAPS in Silicon Valley: MDMA Biomarker Analysis at Stanford April 29, 2015
MAPS: Psychedelic Science in Silicon Valley February 18, 2015
The New Yorker: Magic Mushrooms and the Healing Trip February 9, 2015
Cyndi Lundeberg: More Vets Turning to Marijuana to Combat PTSD February 5, 2015
Exploring Transpersonal Psychology with Dr. Stanislav Grof in Israel – March 2015 January 30, 2015
MDMA: The Movie – Is MDMA a Psychedelic? January 21, 2015
MDMA: The Movie – Teaser Trailer January 17, 2015

Related:

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies: MAPS

Participate in Research

MDMA-Assisted Psychotherap

LSD-Assisted Psychotherapy

Handbook for the Therapeutic Use of LSD: Individual and Group Procedures (1959)
LSD Psychotherapy by Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D.
The Secret Chief Revealed by Myron Stolaroff

Volunteer

Treating PTSD with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy

Autumn 2004 Vol. 14, No. 2 Rites of Passage: Kids and …

The Role of MDMA (Ecstasy) in Coping with Negative Life …

Download – Monitoring the Future

MAPS Bulletin Special Edition: Psychedelics and Policy

MAPS – YouTube

MAPS Canada

We are the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic …

I am Rick Doblin, Ph.D, founder of the Multidisciplinary …

Psychedelic Studies

Psychedelics and deliriants | Project …

Effects – Psychedelics v.s. dissociatives v.s. deliriants

My 1.3g DPH Experience : Deliriants

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease – LWW Journals

Edgewood Arsenal: Human Experiments

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Edgewood ArsenalEdgewood Arsenal Chemical Agent Exposure Studies

From 1948 to 1975, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps conducted classified human subject research at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. The purpose was to evaluate the impact of chemical warfare agents on military personnel and to test biological and chemical weapons, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines. Some of these studies were directed at psycho-chemical warfare and grouped under the prosaïc title of the “Medical Research Volunteer Program” (1956-1975). The MRVP was also driven by “intelligence requirements” and the need for new and more effective interrogation techniques.

Overall, about 7,000 soldiers took part in these experiments that involved exposures to more than 250 different chemicals, according to the Department of Defense (DoD). Some of the “volunteers” exhibited symptoms at the time of exposure to these agents but long-term follow-up was not planned as part of the DoD studies. The experiments were allegedly terminated by the Army in late 1975 in an atmosphere of scandal and recrimination as lawmakers accused researchers of “questionable ethics.” Many official government reports and civilian lawsuits followed in the wake of the controversy.

The chemical agents tested on volunteers included chemical warfare agents and other related agents:

Background and rationale

human experimentAfter World War II, U.S. military researchers obtained formulas for the three nerve gases developed by the Nazis — tabun, soman, and sarin — and conducted studies on them at the U.S. Army Chemical Center at Edgewood. These studies included a secret human subjects component at least as early as 1948, when “psychological reactions” were documented in Edgewood technicians. Initially, such studies focused solely on the lethality of the gases and its treatment and prevention. A classified report entitled “Psycho-chemical Warfare: A New Concept of War” was produced in 1949 by Luther Wilson Greene, Technical Director of the Chemical and Radiological Laboratories at Edgewood. Greene called for a search for novel psychoactive compounds that would create the same debilitating mental side effects as those produced by nerve gases, but without their lethal effect. In his words,

Throughout recorded history, wars have been characterized by death, human misery, and the destruction of property; each major conflict being more catastrophic than the one preceding it…I am convinced that the techniques of psycho-chemical warfare, is to conquer an enemy without the wholesale killing of his people or the mass destruction of his property.”

Greene also identified over 60 chemical agents that would disable humans mentally / psychology.

Hallucinogenic AgentsHallucinogenic agents (principally LSD) were tested on human subjects primarily at Edgewood Arsenal. The aim of this experimentation was to determine the effects of these chemicals on the nervous systems and mental functions of individuals and to evaluate preventive and therapeutic (treatment) agents to combat these effects.

In the late 1940s and early ’50s, the U.S. Army worked with Harvard anesthesiologist Henry K. Beecher at its interrogation center at Camp King in Germany on the use of psychoactive compounds (mescaline, LSD), including human subject experiments and the debriefing of former Nazi physicians and scientists who had worked along similar lines before the end of the war. In the 1950s, some officials in the U.S. Department of Defense publicly asserted that many “forms of chemical and allied warfare as more ‘humane’ than existing weapons. For example, certain types ofPsycho-chemical warfare‘ make it possible to paralyze temporarily entire population centers without damage to homes and other structures.” Soviet advances in the same field were cited as a special incentive giving impetus to research efforts in this area, according to testimony by Maj. Gen. Marshall Stubbs, the Army’s chief chemical officer.

General William M. Creasy, former chief chemical officer, U.S. Army, testified to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1959 that “provided sufficient emphasis is put behind it, I think the future lies in the psycho-chemicals.” This was alarming enough to a Harvard psychiatrist, E. James Lieberman, that he published an article entitled “Psycho-chemicals as Weapons” in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1962. Lieberman, while acknowledging that “most of the military data” on the research ongoing at the Army Chemical Center was “secret and unpublished,” asserted that “There are moral imponderables, such as whether insanity, temporary or permanent, is a more ‘humane’ military threat than the usual afflictions of war.”

The experiments

Operation DeliriumThe Edgewood Arsenal human experiments took place from approximately 1948 to 1975 at the Medical Research Laboratories — which is now known as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD) — at the Edgewood Area, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The experiments involved at least 254 chemical substances, but focused mainly on midspectrum incapacitants, such as LSD, THC derivatives, benzodiazepines, and BZ. In addition to the 7,000 US military personnel, there was at least 1,000 civilians were test subjects over almost three decades. A concrete result of these experiments was that BZ could be weaponized.

According a DOD FAQ, the Edgewood Arsenal experiments involved the following “rough breakout of volunteer hours against various experimental categories:”

Experimental category Percentage of volunteer hours
Incapacitating compounds 29.9%
Lethal compounds 14.5%
Riot control compounds 14.2%
Protective equipment and clothing 13.2%
Development evaluation and test procedures 12.5%
Effects of drugs and environmental stress on human physiological mechanisms 6.4%
Human factors tests (ability to follow instructions) 2.1%
Other (visual studies, sleep deprivation, etc.) 7.2%

An “Independent Study Course” for continuing medical education produced by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Effects from Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Weapons (October 2003), presents the following summary of the Edgewood Arsenal experiments:

Renewed interest led to renewed human testing by the Department of Defense (DoD), although ultimately on a much smaller scale. Thus, between 1950 and 1975, about 6,720 soldiers took part in experiments involving exposures to 254 different chemicals, conducted at U.S. Army Laboratories at Edgewood Arsenal, MD (NRC 1982, NRC 1984, NAS 1993). Congressional hearings into these experiments in 1974 and 1975 resulted in disclosures, notification of subjects as to the nature of their chemical exposures, and ultimately to compensation for a few families of subjects who had died during the experiments (NAS 1993). These experiments were conducted primarily to learn how various agents would affect humans (NRC 1982). Other agencies including the CIA and the Special Operations Division of the Department of the Army were also reportedly involved in these studies (NAS 1993). Only a small number of all the experiments done during this period involved mustard agents or Lewisite. Records indicate that between 1955 and 1965, of the 6,720 soldiers tested, only 147 human subjects underwent exposure to mustard agent at Edgewood (NRC 1982).

According to the 1984 NRC review, human experiments at DoD’s Edgewood Arsenal involved about 1,500 subjects who were experimentally exposed to irritant and blister agents including:

For example, from 1958 to 1973 at least 1,366 human subjects underwent experimental exposure specifically with the riot-control agent CS at Edgewood Arsenal (NRC 1984). Of those involved in the experiments:

  • 1,073 subjects were exposed to aerosolized CS;
  • 180 subjects were exposed dermally;
  • 82 subjects had both skin applications and aerosol exposures; and finally
  • 31 subjects experienced ocular exposure via direct CS application to their eyes.Human ExperimentsMost of these experiments involved tests of protective equipment and of subjects’ ability to perform military tasks during exposure.

Similarly, cholinesterase reactivators antidotes such as 2-PAM were tested on about 750 subjects. These agents are still used today as antidotes to organophosphorus nerve agent poisoning, including accidental poisoning by organophosphorus pesticides. About 260 subjects were experimentally exposed to various psychochemicals including phencyclidine (PCP), and 10 related synthetic analogs of the active ingredient of cannabis (NRC 1984). The NRC report also mentions human experiments involving exposure of 741 soldiers to LSD (NRC 1984). Finally, from 1962 to 1972, a total of 123 irritant chemicals were tested on only two subjects each exposed using a wind tunnel (NRC 1984). These irritant chemicals were selected for human testing following preliminary animal studies.

The “Independent Study Course” cites mainly a three-volume study by the Institute of Medicine (1982–1985) for its data and conclusions, Possible Long-Term Health Effects of Short-Term Exposure to Chemical Agents. Some additional information in the section cited from the Course was based on a 1993 IOM study, Veterans at Risk: Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite.

A significant omission from the Course summary above is the number of subjects on which BZ and related compounds were tested. According to the memoirs of James Ketchum, who also cites the IOM study for the data, “24 belladonnoid glycolates and related compounds” were “given to 1,800 subjects”. The IOM study also concluded that “available data suggest that long-term toxic effects and/or delayed sequellae are unlikely” for this type of compound.[15]

In the mid-1970s, in the wake of many health claims made regarding exposure to the agents, the U.S. Congress began investigations of possible abuse in experiments and of inadequate informed consent given to the soldiers and civilians involved.

Scandal and termination

In September 1975, the Medical Research Volunteer Program was discontinued and all resident volunteers were removed from the Edgewood installation. The founder and director of the program, Dr Van Murray Sim, was called before Congress and chastized by outraged lawmakers, who questioned the absence of follow-up care for the human volunteers. An Army investigation subsequently found no evidence of serious injuries or deaths associated with the MRVP, but deplored both the recruiting process and the informed consent approach, which they characterized as “suggesting possible coersion.”

Aftermath

Government reports

1982-85 IOM report
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a three-volume report on the Edgewood research in 1982–1985, Possible Long-Term Health Effects of Short-Term Exposure to Chemical Agents.

The three volumes were:

  • Vol. 1, “Anticholinesterases and Anticholinergics” (1982).
  • Vol. 2, “Cholinesterase Reactivators, Psychochemicals and Irritants and Vesicants” (1984)
  • Vol. 3, “Final Report: Current Health Status of Test Subjects” (1985)

The National Academy of Sciences, which oversees the IOM, sent a questionnaire to all of the former volunteers that could be located, approximately 60% of the total. The lack of a detailed record hampered the investigation. The study could not rule out long-term health effects related to exposure to the nerve agents. It concluded that “Whether the subjects at Edgewood incurred these changes [depression, cognitive deficits, tendency to suicide] and to what extent they might now show these effects are not known”. With regard specifically to BZ and related compounds, the IOM study concluded that “available data suggest that long-term toxic effects and/or delayed sequellae are unlikely”.

2004 GAO report
A Government Accounting Office report of May 2004, Chemical and Biological Defense: DOD Needs to Continue to Collect and Provide Information on Tests and Potentially Exposed Personnel (pp. 1, 24), stated:

[In 1993 and 1994] we … reported that the Army Chemical Corps conducted a classified medical research program for developing incapacitating agents. This program involved testing nerve agents, nerve agent antidotes, psycho chemicals, and irritants. The chemicals were given to volunteer service members at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland; Dugway Proving Ground, Utah; and Forts Benning, Bragg, and McClellan. In total, Army documents identified 7,120 Army and Air Force personnel who participated in these tests. Further, GAO concluded that precise information on the scope and the magnitude of tests involving human subjects was not available, and the exact number of human subjects might never be known.[17]

Safety debates

The “official position” of the Department of Defense, based on three-volume set of studies by the Institute of Medicine mentioned above, is that they “did not detect any “significant long-term health effects” on the Edgewood Arsenal “volunteers.” The safety record of the Edgewood Arsenal experiments was also defended in the memoirs of psychiatrist and colonel James Ketchum, a key scientist:

Over a period of 20 years, more than 7,000 volunteers spent an estimated total of 14,000 months at Edgewood Arsenal. To my knowledge, not one of them died or suffered a serious illness or permanent injury. That adds up to 1,167 man-years of survival. Statistically, at least one out of a thousand young soldiers chosen at random might be expected to expire during any one-year period. By this logic, Edgewood was possibly the “safest military place” in the world to spend two months.

Even a book critical of the program, written by Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester, acknowledges that:

Unlike the CIA program, research subjects [at Edgewood] all signed informed consent forms, both a general one and another related to any experiment they were to participate in. Experiments were carried out with “safety of subjects” a principal focus. […] At Edgewood, even at the highest doses it often took an hour or more for incapacitating effects to show, and the end-effects usually did not include full incapacitation, let alone unconsciousness. After all, the Edgewood experimenters were focused on disabling soldiers in combat, where there would be tactical value simply in disabling the enemy.[8

In the 1990s, the law firm Morrison & Foerster agreed to take on a class-action lawsuit against the government related to the Edgewood volunteers. The plaintiffs collectively referred to themselves as the “Test Vets”.

EdgewoodCase_Chemical-Testing-Chamber-300x204In 2009 a lawsuit was filed by veterans rights organizations Vietnam Veterans of America, and Swords to Plowshares, and eight Edgewood veterans or their families against CIA, the U.S. Army, and other agencies. The complaint asked the court to determine that defendants’ actions were illegal and that the defendants have a duty to notify all victims and to provide them with health care. In the suit, Vietnam Veterans of America, et al. v. Central Intelligence Agency, et al. Case No. CV-09-0037-CW, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal. 2009), the plaintiffs did not seek monetary damages. Instead, they sought only declaratory and injunctive relief and redress for what they claimed was several decades of neglect and the U.S. government’s use of them as human guinea pigs in chemical and biological agent testing experiments.

The plaintiffs cited:

  • The use of troops to test nerve gas, psychochemicals, and thousands of other toxic chemical or biological substances.
  • A failure to secure informed consent and other widespread failures to follow the precepts of U.S. and international law regarding the use of human subjects, including the 1953 Wilson Directive and the Nuremberg Code.
  • A refusal to satisfy their legal and moral obligations to locate the victims of experiments or to provide health care or compensation to them
  • A deliberate destruction of evidence and files documenting their illegal actions, actions which were punctuated by fraud, deception, and a callous disregard for the value of human life.

On July 24, 2013, United States District Court Judge Claudia Wilken issued an order granting in part and denying in part plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and granting in part and denying in part defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The court resolved all of the remaining claims in the case and vacated trial.

Psycho Chemicals as WeaponsThe court granted the plaintiffs partial summary judgment concerning the notice claim: summarily adjudicating in plaintiffs’ favor, finding that “the Army has an ongoing duty to warn” and ordering “the Army, through the DVA or otherwise, to provide test subjects with newly acquired information that may affect their well-being that it has learned since its original notification, now and in the future as it becomes available.” The court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to the other claims.

Material Testing Program EA (Edgewood Arsenal) numbers

  • EA 1298 – A mescaline variant
  • EA 1476 – A dimethylheptylpyran variant (“red oil”)
  • EA 1729LSD
  • EA 2233-Adimethylheptylpyran variant
    • Eight individual isomers numbered EA-2233-1 through EA-2233-8
  • EA 2277BZ (“Substance 78” to Soviets)
  • EA 3148 – A “V-series” nerve agent (“Substance 100A” to Soviets)
  • EA 3167 – A BZ variant
  • EA 3443 – A BZ variant
  • EA 3580 – A BZ variant
  • EA 3834 – A BZ variant

See also

Sources:

  • Two autobiographical books from psychiatrists conducting human experiments at Edgewood have been self-published:
    • Men and Poisons: The Edgewood Volunteers and the Army Chemical Warfare Research Program (2005), Xlibris Corporation, 140pp, was written by Malcolm Baker Bowers Jr, who went on to become a prof of psychiatry at Yale. Bowers’ book is a “fictionalized” account with names changed.
    • Chemical Warfare Secrets Almost Forgotten, A Personal Story of Medical Testing of Army Volunteers with Incapacitating Chemical Agents During the Cold War (1955-1975) (2006, 2nd edition 2007), foreword by Alexander Shulgin, ChemBook,Inc., 360 pp, was written by Ketchum who was a key player after 1960 and went on to become a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles.
  • The Vanderbilt University Television News Archive has two videos about the experiments, both from a July 1975 NBC Evening News segment.
    • NBC newsman John Chancellor reported on how Norman Augustine, then-acting Secretary of Army, ordered a probe of Army use of LSD in soldier and civilian experiments.
    • Correspondent Tom Pettit reported on Major General Lloyd Fellenz, from Edgewood Arsenal, who explained how the experiments there were about searching for humane weapons, adding that the use of LSD was unacceptable.
  • Journalist Linda Hunt, citing records from the U.S. National Archives, revealed that eight German scientists worked at Edgewood, under Project Paperclip. Hunt used this finding to assert that in this collaboration, US and former Nazi scientists “used Nazi science as a basis for Dachau-like experiments on over 7,000 U.S. soldiers.”
  • A Washington Post article, dated July 23, 1975, by Bill Richards (“6,940 Took Drugs”) reported that a top civilian drug researcher for the Army said a total of 6,940 servicemen had been involved in Army chemical and drug experiments, and that, furthermore, the tests were proceeding at Edgewood Arsenal as of the date of the article.
  • Two TV documentaries, with different content but confusingly similar titles were broadcast:
    • Bad Trip to Edgewood (1993) on ITV Yorkshire
    • Bad Trip to Edgewood (1994) on A&E Investigative Reports.
  • In 2012, the Edgewood/Aberdeen experiments were featured on CNN and in The New Yorker magazine.

Citations

External links

Targeted Individuals Canada

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non-consensual-mind-control-experiments-3Interview with Walter H. Bowart

Radiation Experiments – “…When I wrote “Operation Mind Control” back in 1978, there were only 25 Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) cases diagnosed, now there are hundreds of thousands. Most of the people I was writing about were called schizophrenic by the doctors … and they weren’t. Of course, they were Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)…You know about the radiation experiments. A lot of the mind control victims were used in the radiation experiments. Many of them have Graves disease, lost their thyroids and because mind control victims don’t talk or they can be stopped from talking. So they were used in that. At the end of the President’s thing on radiation, “Trance on Trial” Alan Scheflin’s book – they don’t believe in hypnosis, you can’t be made to do something against your will in the courts of law. They just don’t recognize anybody who has ever had hypnosis. They are discredited as witnesses. It’s like a bunch of simpletons…” (History of Mind Control).

Radio frequency and other weapons – “…In March 1984, Tyler’s paper, The Electromagnetic Spectrum In Low-Intensity Conflict was written at Maxwell Airforce Base, Alabama. The same year Slammer virus was proposed Network Warfare Operations: Unleashing the Potential to the Defensive Counter-information (DCI) by the Air Force. The CIA raided North’s office and took over mind control operations.

Doctors investigating claims of Greenham radiation cases

The same year Greenham Common women were assaulted with radio frequency and other weapons by brave worriors of the US Air force, General Electric Aerospace and NASA.

womenThe peace campers at Greenham Common England attacked with directed energy weapons beginning in 1984. The DOD uses the DOJ to hide development programs of microwave and radio frequency weapons that include human experimentation on US citizens under the guise of non-lethal weapons and “crowd control”.

They all went into invisible weapons and mind control in a big way. In 84 “Mind Wars” by Ronald Macrae was published. Macrae was a journalist who had previously worked with the Office of Naval Research.

Then later, I believe in 94, ten years later he recanted after a brief stay in a mental institution. ln ’85, Vitaly Yurchenko was kidnapped in Rome by the CIA. Soviet Psychotronic research and operations continued so that “one can program anything into the brain of experimental subjects” it was said…A human being becomes a silent cog in a hellish machine of all devouring fear. An individuals brain can be suppressed, activities curtailed, so that an individual will submit to any wish of the operators” said Emil Fedorovich Bucharin and Molodoya Gvardya. In 1986 CIA director, William J. Casey died suddenly of a brain tumor. The mind control operations went into a holding pattern while the Senate confirmed William Webster as DCI…”

False Memory Experimentation

False Memory“We have a False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a syndrome what they describe a~ False Memory. And the concept of this group is that memories can be implanted in your mind. False memories, untrue things. You will remember untrue things. Now, this is not established very well in law and there is a plus side to this because, in fact, false memories can be implanted. And also, people are inept at hypnosis and various other things so that they will pollute others unintentionally with false memories and things like that. However, the board of this organization is made up of a lot of CIA people, CIA contracts, “spychiatrists”, and pedophiles, child molesters, people that are on the side of pedophilia. They are trying to defend pedophilia. And it is a very litigious, very aggressive organization that has struck terror in the hearts of the psychiatric, psychological and therapeutic community.”

 

***

Urban legend – Bowart was also instrumental in starting a rumour that became one of the great urban legends of the day — that LSD and bananas could create the same chemical reactions in the brain. Banana smoke-ins and mail order banana powder entrepreneurs inevitably ensued, and it was believed that Donovan’s hit Mellow Yellow was a reference to the invented hallucinatory properties of the tropical fruit. After leaving EVO, Bowart started Omen Press in Arizona and published books on metaphysics. He also delved into the dark subject of CIA experiments with mind control. Operation Mind Control (1978) offered Bowart’s take on the Government’s manipulation of human behaviour, and included an introduction by Richard Condon, author of The Manchurian Candidate.

Walter Howard Bowart (May 14, 1939 – December 18, 2007) was an American leader in the counterculture movement of the 1960s, founder and editor of the first underground newspaper in New York City, the East Village Other, and author of the book Operation Mind Control. In the early 1980s, Bowart created and published the Port Townsend Daily News in Port Townsend, Washington, where he met and married Rebecca Fullerton and had his fourth child, Wythe. In the late 1980s, Walter moved to Palm Springs, California to become the editor of Palm Springs Life Magazine where he published articles under the name Thomas Kirby, Tom Kirby, and Tom J. Kirby as well as W.H. Bowart. In Bowart’s later years, he researched and wrote prolifically. He created The Freedom of Thought Foundation; a non-profit dedicated to the education of the public about mind control and was a frequently invited guest speaker at forums and conferences around the country. Bowart died of colon cancer at his sister’s home in Inchelium, Washington on December 18, 2007. At the time of his death, Bowart was working on several screenplays and novels, one entitled, The Other Crusades, about New York City in the early 1960s.

 

 

 

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