March 18, 2007

"We wanted gender diversity. We wanted racial diversity, economic diversity, age diversity."

Lawyer Robert A. Levy talks about assembling the plaintiffs and putting together the case for the successful attack on the D.C. gun ban:
"No Looney Tunes," Levy said. "You know, you don't want the guy who just signed up for the militia. And no criminal records. You want law-abiding citizens."

..."We called all our contacts in the legal community," Levy said. "We looked at the newspapers: Who was writing on the subject? Who was sending letters to the editor about gun laws?" They scoured the city. "Friends lead you to other friends, and you just keep talking and talking to people, until finally you have your clients."

They found dozens of likely plaintiffs, Levy said. They went with three men and three women, from their mid-20s to early 60s, four of them white and two black. They found a mortgage broker from Georgetown and a neighborhood activist in a crime-scarred area of Northeast Washington. They also lined up a communications lawyer, a government office worker and a courthouse security guard. In their disparate walks of life, the six shared an eagerness to arm themselves.

Levy knew only one of them: Tom G. Palmer, 50, a Cato colleague who is gay. Years ago in California, Palmer said, he brandished a pistol to scare off several men who he feared were about to attack him because of his sexual orientation. He said he wants to be able to legally defend himself in his Washington home.
Read the whole thing. Levy is a libertarian, with no connection to gun rights groups.
"I don't want this portrayed as litigation that the gun community is sponsoring. . . . I don't want to be beholden to anyone. I want to call the shots, with my co-counsel."

34 comments:

Simon said...

"It was [Levy's] idea, his project, his philosophical mission to mount a legal challenge to the city's 'draconian' gun restrictions, which are among the toughest in the nation."

I suppose that challenging gun laws in D.C. also has the advantage that you're dealing with a pure Second Amendment question - challenging a state or sub-state ban would necessarily involve getting into incorporation questions.

LibertyDC said...

Levy is a hero. As a DC resident, I am thankful that there are people like him that are still dedicated to protecting our Constitution.

Maxine Weiss said...

Women with guns don't get raped.

Peace, Maxine

Simon said...

Maxine - I'd like to see some statistical evidence before I bought that argument.

I might buy, just on the face of it, that women who carry guns and have the training, instinct and nerve to use them are substantially less likely to get raped, but that's not quite the same argument. The old saw - "guns don't kill people, bullets do" - covers up an uncomfortable truth: if you can't or won't pull the trigger, a gun won't help you, and I think the average person is substantially more willing to mace a guy than to shoot him in the face. You don't hesitate to injure, but you might hesitate to kill.

hdhouse said...

just out of curiosity...isn't there anything in the legal code of ethics that addresses lawyers going out and assembling a case? something like finding a bunch of people and then finding an auto accident to tramatize them?

and for such a good cause too. more guns....wow. and backed up by the usual assortment of dubious statistics and by the same dubious players.

maxine et al, do you think a rapist considers if or not the victim is "packing" and trained to use it with the mindset that supports it? do you think that is how it works?

so off to the races with another shot at the 2nd amendment. calling lapierre...calling all brownshirts.

Maxine Weiss said...

Statistics?

Overwhelmingly, the women who file rape charges, didn't have guns on them.

Dead men don't rape.

Peace, Maxine

Peter Palladas said...

Overwhelmingly, the women who file rape charges, didn't have guns on them.

That's not statistics. At best it's somewhere between a flaky and a false syllogism.

Didn't really work out for Thelma or Louise now did it?

Simon said...

Peter Palladas said...
"That's not statistics. At best it's somewhere between a flaky and a false syllogism."

I agree, but let's be clear about the scope of my issue with Maxine's comment - she only has to provide evidence to support the the statement, but her statement doesn't have to be true for her to be on the right side of this ruling. The normative question ("does gun control work") is basically irellevant if the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, which of course is the point of this lawsuit. You could have the best policy in the world - BCRA, gun control, you know, whatever - backed up by the very best normative arguments and empirical evidence that they'll work, but if you can't make the case that the Constitution allows it, for better or worse, you ain't got nothing. And a legislator who says "we'll leave that to the courts to figure out" is in violation of their oath of office.

monkeyboy said...

What rapists are looking for is victims. A woman who is carrying a weapon and is prepared to use itis not a victim, or one who may cause an equal or greater amount of pain to the rapist.

Any woman who has gone through the many steps required to get a permit has had the chance to determine whether or not she is willing to to use it. You want to lie back and hope not to get hurt worse, good luck with that, but I'll train my daughter in the proper use of firearms.


HDH You keep using "brownshirts" all the time. I don't think it means what you think it means.

babuilder said...

Don't shoot Maxine! Bore them to death with banal statistical analysis.

Jinnmabe said...

if you can't or won't pull the trigger, a gun won't help you

Now you've gone too broad in the other direction. It would be more accurate to say "if you can't or won't pull the trigger, and your assailant knows that fact, a gun won't help you."

Don't you think there are numerous occasions where the mere sight of a gun has scared someone off, even though, in truth, the woman wouldn't or couldn't have pulled the trigger?

Maxine Weiss said...

Even so...

There's nothing like a good pistol whipping.

Peace, Maxine

Beth said...

I'm gay, feminist and Southern, so I guess I have some conflicting feelings on guns. But I am very much in favor of self defense, and I am armed. Gun ownership, carry permits, and training sessions are all increasing here in New Orleans post-Katrina, but I've been a gun owners for many years. It's part of my family culture, and I like the equalizing effect it offers women (though I think Maxine is overstating things.)

At the same time, I don't like knowing that people can own weapons best suited to the battlefield, that the NRA defends the right to own bullets that can pierce body armor, that lousy sportsmen go into the woods with AK-47s to hunt deer and partridge. I'd never join the NRA for that reason, and I don't go to gun shows because I don't want to associate with people who totemize guns and revel in violence, even if its only in their fantasies. I wish there was a group for those of us who don't idolize guns but do support our right to be armed.

Jonathan said...

"At the same time, I don't like knowing that people can own weapons best suited to the battlefield, "

According to US Vs Miller, those are the most-protected class of weaponry; the SCOTUS saing that since the defense did not show that a sawed-off shotgun had any connection with the militia, banning it was elgal (and then sending the case back for the lower court to decide if there was a connection).

blake said...

I'm gay, feminist and Southern

Elizabeth has to fight for her right to lynch herself.

Kirk Parker said...

Beth,

Well, there's always the Pink Pistols--I've never had any personal contact with any of their members, but what I hear sounds like they're pretty much focussed on self-defense.

However, I also think you seriously misrepresent the NRA, so I wonder how direct your knowledge of them really is? For just one example, pretty much any rifle bullet will pierce soft body armor. You need trauma plates to get better protection, so banning "armor-piercing" bullets would require essentially a complete ban on all hunting. Not gonna fly...

Charlie Eklund said...

In addition to what Kirk Parker said about rifle bullets penetrating bullet proof vest, a steak knife will also penetrate body armor. Ditto a butter knife if it is wielded by a sufficiently strong person.

Also, the Second Amendment is not about hunting so calls for banning AK-style rifles or any other so called assault rifle on account of suitability, or lack thereof, as a hunting arm seems wrong-headed at best.

And, of course, HD, that original brownshirt Adolf Hitler was a gun control practitioner so your use of that term to tar devotees of our Bill of Rights is, to say the least, odd.

Synova said...

I don't own a gun but only because I've never gotten around to getting one. I've done some shooting over the years and enjoy it. I'm even half-way good at it. (Girls often are, for some reason.)

It seems to me that there is a serious lack of training when it comes to firearms and that it is due mostly to people getting all squeemish about them. The result is people with guns who learned all about them by watching movies and television. That's far far more dangerous than showing kids how to fire and clean one and how to handle a weapon safely.

I don't own a gun. (There are none in the house that are owned by anyone else either.) Obviously I'm not a gun-nut. But I will say that my first gut reaction to a gun ban is to buy whatever they're saying I can't have anymore. There is just something wrong, so very wrong, about disarming citizens.

TMink said...

HDH asked: "just out of curiosity...isn't there anything in the legal code of ethics that addresses lawyers going out and assembling a case?"

Interesting question. Ask John Edwards, he would know.

Trey

TMink said...

HDH asked; "maxine et al, do you think a rapist considers if or not the victim is "packing" and trained to use it with the mindset that supports it? do you think that is how it works?"

Actually, we do know something about how people commit crimes of opportunity. Many rapes, almost all stranger rapes, fall into that category.

The rapists choose someone that they believe to be weaker than them and easy to rape. Most do not want a fight, they want an easy rape victim. So body language is very important.

I do not know about you, but I would have different body language is I was carrying, than if I was not.

Trey

Simon said...

Jinnmabe - fair poiint. I'd accept that.

Jeff said...

Actually the AK-47 will take an amazing amount of abuse and continue to work. I don't know about deer hunting, but rancher out west carry them on their horses and jeeps for predators that might be eating their herds. Beth is assuming too much. I would love for her to name someone who is hunting birds with a AK.

I find it amazing that someone who would love to have the government violate my 2nd amendment rights calling me the brownshirt. If he thinks he is seeing fascists everywhere, he needs to stop looking in mirrors.

Beth said...

Elizabeth has to fight for her right to lynch herself.

Sorry, I don't get the joke. What are you saying?

Cedarford said...

if you can't or won't pull the trigger, a gun won't help you.

Studies by psychologists working for America's military studying WWII battles noted a natural reluctance of soldiers to kill - to freeze, roll up in a ball - which unfortunately made them far more likely to be killed themselves by the enemy. 2/3rds of soldiers had this problem.

They found that with training, soldiers readily could be induced to use lethal force to defend themselves or to achieve the mission.

People getting a gun should have training..not just in the technicalities of gun use or the gun nuts "penetration/stopping power" arguments, but know the legalities of gun use in a variety of scenarios so they will not hesitate to use a gun to save their lives or be raped or fail to protect family..because they fear lawyers will crucify them. States, the NRA, private academies offer classes.

I know that if I had to use a gun in self defense, because of the 2 day civilian training program I took, I would not hesitate. Then again, I knew that from similar military training that was put to actual use in the Gulf War. I attended the civilian class for the schooling in local self defense law and combat training to get a carry permit some years back.

*****************

Beth - I don't like knowing that people can own weapons best suited to the battlefield, that the NRA defends the right to own bullets that can pierce body armor, that lousy sportsmen go into the woods with AK-47s to hunt deer and partridge. I'd never join the NRA for that reason

Since Beth says she is armed, she might want to consider joining the NRA, if for no other reason that she would learn no hunter in existence hunts partridges or any other bird with an AK-47. She would also learn that the Far Left who only wanted government employees to have weapons used the "cop-killing" bullet argument as a cheap sophist ploy to convince soft-headed people utterly ignorant on firearms (especially suburbanite women and inner city gun banners) that since 1990s police vests were only designed to stop handgun rounds all "more powerful, evil bullets" needed banning...or cops would be killed!!
What they didn't say was those "evil bullets" to be banned were used in every civilian centerfire rifle, with rounds like the 30-06 which had been around for and freely sold to tens of millions of law-abiding American sports enthusiasts for 100 years.

And while limitations are in order on what weapons are available to civilians since I don't want that nice family who moved from Yemen to have their own stockpile of C-4, machineguns, missiles used on the battlefield - the Clinton assault ban was largely predicated on the emotionalism of Sen. Diane Feinstein. Who was somehow put in charge of somehow selecting which guns to ban if they were "scarier" to her (being black painted was scary to her, among other things) while she "passed" functionally identical weapons as OK...(till her next ban was readied by the ACLU types and city lawyers).

But to a limited extent, we do want civilians to be able to defeat an army of a Tyrant trying to take over America by establishing that if the military attempted to subjugate the American population by force against their will, that they would face a world of cost and pain in trying it. So those shotguns and centerfire rifle cartridges DO have a role in the Founder's intent.

Kirk Parker said...

Beth,

Don't bother trying to get it, it was just a slur on the South based on stereotypes (if you're gay and/or feminist, you're in danger of a lynching.)

michael a litscher said...

Beth: ...that the NRA defends the right to own bullets that can pierce body armor...

All off-the-shelf rifle rounds, save for the lowly .22, are capable of penetrating the average street cop's body armor.

And depending on the "level" of the body armor we're talking about, many typical off-the-shelf pistol rounds can do the same.

If you did a bit of research into what off-the-shelf rifle and pistol rounds would most likely be banned under Ted Kennedy's "cop-killer" bullet ban, you would probably reconsider your position.

hdhouse said...

Kirk Parker said...(to some extent Michael Litscher added)"Beth,
However, I also think you seriously misrepresent the NRA, so I wonder how direct your knowledge of them really is? For just one example, pretty much any rifle bullet will pierce soft body armor. You need trauma plates to get better protection, so banning "armor-piercing" bullets would require essentially a complete ban on all hunting. Not gonna fly..."

So Bambi wears body armor? Body Armor doesn't work so why do we insist on it in Iraq? Are you nuts?

and to the use of brownshirts/nra/gun control myths -

it is used on purpose. and if you know history and you look past the NRA lies (and yes wayne lapierre lies routinely) and yes the 2nd amendment is subjected to more distortion and historical lies than any other amendment...and yes the brownshirt attribution is cogent as it should be to any group that fabricates out of thin air to push through its world view.

I'm gun free, i believe in the 2nd amendment as written and intended, i hate the idea of a cowboy universe, and more important, i don't think that America is inherently the most violent nation on earth yet our gun death rates are so incredible i think we must be worlds apart OR that our gun laws as proposed by the brownshirt supporters of the NRA (regardless of their agenda) are the death and destruction of this nation.

Peter Palladas said...

It was a hot summer's day in Philadelphia. The Grand Convention had been dragging on for months and delegates were growing hot and weary of the constant, endless, circular debates. ('Much like blogging,' as one of them presciently remarked.)

Throughout, George W. was running a tight and a formal ship. No 'dress down Fridays' for him and woe betide any delegate whose cravat was less than fresh, starched and correctly tied.

The temperature rising over 95, the assembled company pleaded with him to be allow to dispense with top-coats for the day. But budge on this he would not. 'Think of the portraits, guys. History must not find us lacking in sartorial discipline.'

Early afternoon a plot was hatched. Someone was tipped to enter the plenary session and advise George W. that his presence was earnestly requested to deal with a really, really serious matter concerning a cherry tree.

As soon as he was out of the room, the delegates immediately passed a clause in the Constitution to permit all-American informality of dress code.

Voted by acclaim it was duly written down by the attending amanuensis, whose enthusiasm was unlimited but whose literacy skills were sadly not up to scratch.

On returning from sorting the tree thing, George W. glanced at this newly proposed clause at once announcing his full agreement, much to the surprise of all.

'Gentlemen, I believe it is a most wonderful expression of all that we cherish that henceforth everyone should have the right to 'bear arms'. But would you please now roll down your sleeves and put on your top-coats once more. I cannot abide the sight of all those naked limbs.'

History eh! Cleopatra's nose, decent note takers at the right time. On such details so much depends.

Simon said...

Peter, that'd be a lot funnier if the second amendment protected the right to keep and bare arms. Pesky spelling differences! ;)

elliot said...

The only sure thing gun control accomplishes is to make sure the victims, if law-abiding, are never armed.

Peter Palladas said...

...err, Simon I'm afraid that's exactly what the somewhat laboured joke was intended to convey:)

Abraham said...

"So Bambi wears body armor? Body Armor doesn't work so why do we insist on it in Iraq? Are you nuts?"

This proves you know absolutely nothing about firearms or ballistics, not that it stops you from having ingorant opinions.

Are you seriously suggesting that deer-hunting should be done with handguns? Are YOU nuts?

Larger rounds are required for hunting than for self-defense for two reasons: First, because most animals have considerably more body mass than humans, it takes larger rounds to bring them down. Not only that, but larger rounds are desirable to increase the probaility that the animal will be killed quickly and not simply wounded. For most hunters, a shot that merely wounds is worse than no hit at all. Second, hunting (like combat operations) is often done at long ranges, requiring far more powerful cartridges than in a handgun that is effective only at short ranges.

Modern infantry armor is significantly more durable than typical police officers's armor. The combat armor includes such elements as ceramic plates for stopping rifle rounds. It is not very comfortable and designed to be worn only during combat operations. A typical policeman's armor is optimized for comfort so that it can be worn all day, every day, and typically stops pistol rounds only, since officers so rarely encounter rifle fire in the line of duty.

Revenant said...

an uncomfortable truth: if you can't or won't pull the trigger, a gun won't help you

It will if the person you're pointing it at doesn't KNOW you're unwilling to use it. The biggest benefit of a weapon isn't the ability to kill people, but the ability to make people afraid that you'll kill them.

Or course, if you *aren't* really willing to kill them, you should hope they don't call your bluff... but most people won't. The overwhelming majority of criminals won't even break into a house at all if they know the owner is armed.

Kirk Parker said...

hdhouse,

No, I'm not nuts, but you are far more uninformed than you realize. (I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here by assuming you wouldn't intentionally present yourself as clueless in a public forum.)

To add further detail to what Abraham just wrote, here in WA state where I live, it's actually illegal to hunt deer with a .223 rifle--that's right, the very same cartridge our troops use, in rifles that--if equipped with a full-auto mode, are quite illegal for citizens to own in WA--is judged by the Fish and Game folks to be too low-powered to humanely hunt deer with. Of course that .223 cartride will pierce soft body armor.