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Gun Policy Debate in West L.A. Between Charles Blek (of the Brady Campaign) and Me this Coming Friday, Dec. 5, 12 noon:

The Federalist Society's L.A. Lawyers Chapter and the Libertarian Law Council are putting it on; Judge Kozinski will be moderating. The debate will be at the Spark Wood Fire Grill, 9575 W. Pico Bl., and will give lawyers one hour of MCLE credit; the cost of the lunch and the debate is $38 in advance, $40 at the door, and $15 for "public employees, students and law clerks."

Please send checks (made payable to the Federalist Society) to [Jeremy Rosen] at Horvitz & Levy LLP, 15760 Ventura Boulevard, 18th Floor, Encino, California 91436. Prepayment must be received no later than Wednesday, December 3rd [might be tough given this late post, sorry about that -EV]. You may reserve a place for payment at the door by calling BJ Strand at (818) 995-0800.

Attendance at the luncheon is not restricted to lawyers, and we would be delighted to welcome any of your colleagues or friends who might be interested in attending.

John (mail):
For those of us on the other coast, will a transcript or video be available?
11.29.2008 4:42pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Probably not, I'm afraid.
11.29.2008 5:25pm
Paul Milligan (mail):
Don't forget to bring your gun!!!
11.29.2008 5:26pm
Kirk:
Eugene,

It's not sporting to engage in a shootout with an unarmed man. Go easy on him, will ya?

:-)
11.29.2008 6:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
One would think the control advocates would know better than to debate lawyers like Volokh and Kopel; people who have put in a lot of study, and have written extensively on this subject. It's a little like astrologers debating with astronomers, or alchemists debating atomic physicists. They keep losing, and yet they come back for more. I've seen the same kind of thing in debates about IQ.
11.29.2008 6:47pm
zippypinhead:
One would think the control advocates would know better than to debate lawyers like Volokh and Kopel...
I don't know Charles Blek, but at least I have to give him credit for agreeing to argue the Brady Campaign's positions at an event sponsored by The Federalist Society and the Libertarian Law Council -- with Alex Kozinski as moderator, to boot. Hope he wears his asbestos undies, it may get hot in there. Next stop for Blek: An NRA Convention? Or maybe the Brady Campaign is just getting REALLY desperate to find ANY audiences that will listen to their people?

Sorry to hear there probably won't be a recording or transcript for those of us who live on the Right Coast.
11.29.2008 7:30pm
Confused One:
I dare someone to stand up can call Eugene a "Tyrant" in that crowd.
11.29.2008 8:02pm
Cornellian (mail):
The title of the post is Gun Policy debate. Presumably no one thinks that gun policy is something not subject to debate.

Nice to see these things aren't always just in D.C..
11.29.2008 9:43pm
Kirk:
Cornellian, indeed, no one here thinks "gun policy is something not subject to debate." However, certain preposterous assertions that travel under the general heading of "gun policy"--for example, the claim that the way to reduce crime w/guns is to make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms--really should be past the time for debate.

I hear that it's been a long time since JAMA has run any articles opposing the idea of circulation of the blood, too.
11.29.2008 10:05pm
Cornellian (mail):
I've never heard of Charles Blek and don't know anything about his views on guns, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he has a position that, if not correct, is at least worth debating.
11.29.2008 10:44pm
Kirk:
I've never heard of Blek before, either, but if he does have a position worth debating, that would distinguish him quite sharply from the rest of the Brady Center.
11.30.2008 12:22am
Andrew M:
Well, I would love to be able to attend, but as a new employee I don't have the leave to get off for such events yet. Though as was previously mentioned, it's nice to see that there will be the occasional debate here out west.
11.30.2008 12:30am
Redlands (mail):
I would guess this is the same Mr. Blek. Short article about his participation in another debate on gun control about 6 years ago. Now I understand his motivation.

11.30.2008 12:32am
Cornellian (mail):
I hope the Federalist Society wouldn't be asking for our money unless they thought the guy had a position worth debating.
11.30.2008 12:37am
◄Dave► (mail) (www):
Any chance I could get you to give him a copy of this essay? ◄Dave►
11.30.2008 1:37am
Obvious (mail):
Kirk,

While it's true that JAMA has not for a long time run articles opposing the circulation of the blood, ironically it is also true that they commonly run articles suggesting that strict gun control reduces gun injuries.
11.30.2008 1:53am
Gene Hoffman (mail) (www):
He is billed as "state president" for the Million Mom March as recently as 2002. His motivation in advocating for gun control is evident from this quote, "Blek and his wife, Mary Leigh, have campaigned for gun reform since their son, Matthew, was killed in an armed robbery in New York City in 1995." Quite a sad personal tragedy but of course the assailants were in possession of firearms illegally in the first place. I'd link to both stories but the commenting software is a bit restrictive. One is from St Clements by the Sea and the other is from the New York Times dated July 4, 1994.

It seems that Mr. Blek is a probate attorney by training.

-Gene
11.30.2008 3:08am
Bill Wiese (mail):
Charles &Mary Leigh Blek lost their son Matthew over a decade ago: he was shot by armed 'youth', in what I believe was during a very late evening stroll in Greenwich Village.

Their attack on RKBA constitutionality will have to be grief-based with a bit of ranting &raving because they won't really have much to offer against Prof. Volokh except the same tired anti arguments.

This prediction is based on a bit of fact: in the last couple of years the Bleks - either singly or in duo - have been kicked out of a significant number of California legislators' offices because of their voluble, threatening performances in CA Senate/Assembly offices... they alienated legislative staffers enough they walked out the door just prior to security driving 'em out.



Bill Wiese
The Calguns Foundation
San Jose, CA
11.30.2008 3:12am
A. Zarkov (mail):
I suspect that Mr. Blek blames guns for the death of his son. As such he thinks that if we could remove guns from society then there would be no gun deaths. To him this seems like ordinary common sense, and he can't understand why so many are blind to this elementary fact. Of course he's right, if somehow we could totally eliminate guns then we would have no gun deaths. But it's virtually impossible to eliminate guns. They already exist and criminals won't give them up. Criminals could get new guns the same way they get illegal drugs: by smuggling. Very strict gun control would probably significantly reduce suicides by guns, but Blek's son didn't commit suicide.

Blek will likely bring up countries with few gun deaths (compared to the US) like Canada and assume the cause is Canada's gun control laws. For example Detroit has far more gun murders than the right-next-door City of Windsor Ontario, which is less than a mile away. But Detroit has far more acts of arson than Windsor, and surely Windsor doesn't ban matches and gasoline. Moreover Detroit has a large black population and Windsor doesn't. Surely this explains the higher murder rate in Detroit better than gun control since blacks have about 8 times the murder rate of whites.

I think Mr. Blek is going to have a very hard time at the debate, and I don't think his obsession with gun control helps him deal with the loss of his son-- a great burden to bear in any case.
11.30.2008 7:53am
Mike Hansberry:

Given his personal story, gentle persuasion and helping Mr. Blek see that honesty is the best policy seems to be in order.

http://www.abanet.org/irr/hr/fall99humanrights/blek.html
His essay of 2A (Our Second Amendemnt, Fall 1999 Human Rights magazine) is not much more than a recitation of the thoroughly dishonest arguments of the anti-individual rights side, along with a plea for still more control.

It ought to be obvious to reasonable people that dishonest arguments such as are repeated in Blek's 1999 essay did more harm to the gun control movement than the NRA could have hoped to do. Blek and others such as the Brady campaign ruined their credibility and gave up claim to the moral high ground, but they blame their losses on the amazing job the of the NRA.

It is high time the gun grabbers look in the mirror and accept that their wounds have been self inflicted. No one forced them to take those extreme positions, no one forced them to play sophmoric words games, and the NRA wasn't even leading the charge in the gun grabbers most recent folly.
11.30.2008 9:17am
Smokey:
I would express total sympathy with the Bleks' loss of their son, which resulted from the illegal use of a firearm during a robbery.

I would also point out that if concealed carry had been a legal option, far less incidents of this type of crime would occur. If criminals knew that many law-abiding citizens might be armed, Mr. and Mrs. Bleck's son might well be alive today.
11.30.2008 9:21am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I would also point out that if concealed carry had been a legal option, far less incidents of this type of crime would occur. If criminals knew that many law-abiding citizens might be armed, Mr. and Mrs. Bleck's son might well be alive today.


Contrary to what the John Lott's of the world would have you believe, there is simply no evidence to support this contention. I am willing to admit that patchwork gun control laws do very little to reduce gun violence, and I am a strong supporter of reasonable gun control laws. Why can't your side admit that ccw does little if anything to reduce violent crime?
11.30.2008 9:35am
pintler:

Contrary to what the John Lott's of the world would have you believe, there is simply no evidence to support this contention. I am willing to admit that patchwork gun control laws do very little to reduce gun violence, and I am a strong supporter of reasonable gun control laws. Why can't your side admit that ccw does little if anything to reduce violent crime?


It can do a great deal to reduce violent crime against the person who is carrying. Society shouldn't be getting in the way of, say, a woman who has been attacked once and says 'Never again'.
11.30.2008 9:51am
Brett Bellmore:

"It ought to be obvious to reasonable people that dishonest arguments such as are repeated in Blek's 1999 essay did more harm to the gun control movement than the NRA could have hoped to do."


I think you underestimate how much damage the NRA could hope to do to the gun control movement. But I agree, much of the damage to the gun control movement is self-inflicted; If they didn't have the media covering for them so much, and guaranteed sources of funding unconnected to public popularity, they'd have long since self-destructed.

So much of gun control is driven by either ugly motivations, or sheer irrationality, that this is to be expected.
11.30.2008 10:01am
Steve in NH (mail):
Contrary to what the John Lott's of the world would have you believe, there is simply no evidence to support this contention. I am willing to admit that patchwork gun control laws do very little to reduce gun violence, and I am a strong supporter of reasonable gun control laws. Why can't your side admit that ccw does little if anything to reduce violent crime?

For the same reason that "your side" can't admit that CCW doesn't lead to more overall injuries or death. The "Wild West, blood will run in the streets" line of opposition has been proven wrong again and again, each time a state (some two-thirds of them at this point) has legalized shall-issue concealed carry licenses.
11.30.2008 10:17am
autolykos:
Why do public employees get a discount? It's not enough that our society is going to bankrupted by their ridiculously lucrative pensions, now we're going to give them discounts to something as non-germane to their jobs as a debate on gun control?
11.30.2008 10:35am
Brett Bellmore:

Why do public employees get a discount?


Because they're in a better position to do damage as a result of their ignorance than members of the general public, and so it's important to remedy that ignorance?
11.30.2008 10:52am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Because they're in a better position to do damage as a result of their ignorance than members of the general public, and so it's important to remedy that ignorance?"

Give Brett Bellmore ten silver dollars. He wins the thread.
11.30.2008 11:31am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Why can't your side admit that ccw does little if anything to reduce violent crime?

It's hard to count the crimes that don't occur through deterrence. So let's turn the question around. What evidence is there that CCW increases violent crime? We can measure that. Absent evidence to the contrary, CCW is at worst benign. So why not let honest, responsible people have more peace of mind and let them carry?
11.30.2008 11:41am
Tom Perkins (mail):
To take your statements on in reverse order:


Why can't your side admit that ccw does little if anything to reduce violent crime?


Actually, there is evidence that it reduces crime, and certainly a dead burglar or mugger won't be doing more of it, additionally FBI statistics show that persons who resist crime with lethal force are less likely to be injured themselves than persons adopting any other tactic.


I am willing to admit that patchwork gun control laws do very little to reduce gun violence, and I am a strong supporter of reasonable gun control laws.


There are no reasonable gun control laws which prevent or delay the manufacture of, commerce in, and enjoyment of firearms and other equipment covered by the 2nd amendment, if they prevent average adults of good legal standing from doing so at their discretion.


Contrary to what the John Lott's of the world would have you believe, there is simply no evidence to support this contention.


They would have us believe it because it is true:
"Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun" by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz

What's more, even if there were no evidence that respecting the 2nd Amendment thereby embracing the rule of law did not improve the crime statistics, you are simultaneously endorsing the idea that having a law abiding government does no harm--and since gun control laws reduce liberty, they should be abolished because their absence increases liberty, and their existence does no good.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
11.30.2008 11:59am
whit:
as noted, the problem with the stats is that prevented crimes are frequently not reported and.or in some cases not certain.

for example,

years ago, while in boston i was in your basic dark deserted parking lot at about 3:00 am approaching my rather beloved vehicle. i was approached by several youths who were obviously up to no good. i turned to face them and casually displayed my holstered weapon (didn't draw it, just drew my jacket back), and they promptly turned and walked away. needless to say this is not a statistic in any database.

contrarily, when i was working undercover and unarmed, i was approached in a similar situation, having NO gun, i was blocked in by two cars, and a robber attempted to pull me from my vehicle (unsuccessfully). if he had gotten into my car and seen the evidence forms in my glove compartment which would have identified me, i have little doubt he would have killed me. i took several punches to the face, and they made off with my pager and a roll of quarters.

shortly thereafter, they robbed a tourist (german iirc), beat him so badly he had to go to the hospital and was in intensive care iirc and stole his car.

was i pissed off i didn't have a gun? yes.

later research revealed the primary suspect was a meth freak, who had recently taken a shot at his girlfriend with his rifle.

i realize this is anecdotal. my point is that prevented crimes via gun possession, wherein shots are not fired (which is the overwhelmingly vast majority) rarely, if ever make it into databases of "prevented crimes".
11.30.2008 7:17pm
Sagar:
so, who won?
11.30.2008 10:52pm
whit:

so, who won?


the debate is next week.

i'd tell you to consult a fortune teller for the answer to your question, but i don't want to be involved in a scheme to violate anti-fortune-teller laws.

so i won't say that.
11.30.2008 10:56pm
KeaponLaffin (mail):
Gotta agree with Whit, not a cop but had almost the same thing happen to me once. Where the simple display of a firearm prevented violence against me and my friends.
Me and a few buddies were walking thru a park one nite to go camping and get drunk. There were a bunch of gang-types hanging out there. My friend very casually simply displayed that he had a firearm. He did not 'brandish' it or otherwise display it in any remotely threatening manner. This immediately shut down any violent intentions.

There was no doubt of their intentions, if he didn't have that gun we would have been beaten and robbed at the very least. They were already pretty drunk and obviously looking for trouble. We were vastly outnumbered.5 vs 20+. Instead, they simply asked us for a light for a cigarrette and all involved went on their merry way.
And lest you think we were 'camping' in Central Park or some other 'dangerous' place. No, just county public property in the smack dab middle of Middle-Class Suburbia.
Of course, never reported and not part of any statistic.
12.1.2008 6:03am
Smokey:
Brandishing your weapon is rarely smart.

I recall a report about an road altercation, where one driver got out of his car and walked up to the other car. When he got close, he pulled his jacket aside to reveal a holstered gun.

The other driver had a gun in his lap, and shot him dead.

Pull a gun when you're ready to use it, not as a threat to control the situation.


In Soviet Russia -- and in America -- situation controls you.
12.1.2008 7:33am
Melancton Smith:
J F Thomas wrote:

Contrary to what the John Lott's of the world would have you believe, there is simply no evidence to support this contention. I am willing to admit that patchwork gun control laws do very little to reduce gun violence, and I am a strong supporter of reasonable gun control laws. Why can't your side admit that ccw does little if anything to reduce violent crime?


I'm very pro-gun rights but I'm not convinced that the data that whether CCW reduces the rate of violent crime or not is relevant to whether one would be better off if armed when one is confronted with violent crime.

Surely if I am armed (and trained) and confronted with a violent attacker having the option to defend myself with a firearm when possible would make me better off than being disarmed and having no option.

In other words, the decision to carry, in my opinion, is based more upon the positive outcome potential of having the option to use a firearm than on any potential overall reduction in the chances that I will find myself in the position to need to defend myself.

Certainly reducing crime rates are a good thing and perhaps arming law-abiding civilians can affect that. However, for the unlucky few that find themselves a victim, having the means for defending their lives would be a good thing.
12.1.2008 9:47am
Melancton Smith:
This is a problem the pro-gun rights side faces. They can trot out the body of little Timmy who found daddy's handgun and shot himself but we can't trot out all the little Timmy's who were saved because mommy or daddy had a handgun to defend him.
12.1.2008 9:52am
SeaDrive:
I'm sure Prof Volokh isn't guilty of the smug self-satisfaction so evident in the typical anti-gun-control posts, here and elsewhere. At least I hope so. And, I hope that the pro-gun-control can make some kind of sense rather than relying on bathetic anecdotes.

There are some issues for which I would be interested in a mature sort of discussion, e.g. the legitimate Federal interest in gun control. Is there a way to keep the guy in line with me at the bank from having an Uzi under his raincoat that still allows my neighbor to keep his beloved 9mm pistol? Is it more important to regulate body armor than guns? Is not should the assault weapon ban really the "scary-looking weapon ban" ?
12.1.2008 10:32am
John Robinson (mail):
"Is there a way to keep the guy in line with me at the bank from having an Uzi under his raincoat that still allows my neighbor to keep his beloved 9mm pistol?"

A metal detector at the bank?
12.1.2008 11:22am
whit:

Brandishing your weapon is rarely smart.

I recall a report about an road altercation, where one driver got out of his car and walked up to the other car. When he got close, he pulled his jacket aside to reveal a holstered gun


in the situation above, "brandishing" was clearly an aggressive, stupid, and unjustified action.

i think it's pretty easy to distinguish the two types of situations.

i've carried concealed for 20 yrs, and that was the only time i ever displayed it at all off-duty. i've never drawn it from the holster off-duty. these incidents are rare, but you know them when you see them.
12.1.2008 2:39pm
Kirk:
SeaDrive
Is there a way to keep the guy in line with me at the bank from having an Uzi under his raincoat that still allows my neighbor to keep his beloved 9mm pistol?
What, you think your neighbor's pistol isn't up to the task? Why aren't you armed too? Surely the guy with the Uzi is going to think twice when he knows that everyone around him is likely to interfere with his bank-robbery plans.
12.2.2008 8:43pm