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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 51 12/20/2002


On Monday, D.C. Superior Court Justice Cheryl M. Long dismissed another reckless lawsuit—this one filed by the Washington, D.C., government and several crime victims, and supported by the gun-ban lobby—against several law-abiding gun manufacturers. In her decision, Justice Long indicated the case never stood a chance of passing legal muster, writing, "This is not a close question." She also said the case was "burdened with many layers of legal deficiencies," and that the D.C. government went beyond the scope of nuisance and other laws.

This decision comes only two weeks after Wilmington, Delaware’s own reckless lawsuit—also promoted by the gun-ban lobby—was thrown out of court. These politically-motivated lawsuits, designed to crush the firearms industry under the burden of frivolous litigation, are being consistently rejected by judges. NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre praised Justice Long’s ruling, calling it "a big victory for the integrity of our legal system." He went on to refer to these reckless lawsuits as "a flagrant abuse" of our judicial process.

Thirty-one states have responded to this "flagrant abuse" by passing laws prohibiting predatory lawsuits that attempt to hold law-abiding gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their lawful products. Mississippi was the most recent to do so. At the federal level, NRA helped generate a tremendous amount of support in Congress for a national prohibition. Although we were able to secure a clear majority of bill co-sponsors in the House, and a near-majority in the Senate, Congress adjourned before final action could be taken. When the 108th Congress convenes in January, however, NRA will continue with its efforts to pass this critical reform.


Last week, in our story discussing the outrageous anti-Second Amendment ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, we mentioned that Columbia University had recently revoked the Bancroft Prize that had been given to "historian" Michael Bellesiles—author of the highly-criticized "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture." The decision, voted on by Columbia’s trustees on December 13, was the first time the honor had ever been revoked since it was first awarded in 1948. And, to add insult to injury, Bellesiles has been asked to return the $4,000 cash prize that came with the award. But this is just one of many blows suffered by the beleaguered Bellesiles.

Bellesiles gained instant notoriety when, in "Arming America," he attempted to promulgate the absurd notion that firearms ownership was not widespread in America before 1840. And although his work was immediately embraced by anti-gun extremists and praised by the anti-gun media (the New York Times actually gave the book high marks before it was ever released), Bellesiles and his book were quickly engulfed in a firestorm of controversy. Respected scholars and researchers began to question the author’s "research," and when it became apparent Bellesiles could not effectively defend his work, accusations of research misconduct began to be leveled at the professor, who also taught at Emory University. Eventually, the Atlanta private school told Bellesiles to defend his work, a demand that was followed by the university’s own investigation of Bellesiles’s "research," which then led to another investigation by an independent committee of distinguished scholars.

The independent committee found, among other problems, that in important areas, Bellesiles was "guilty of unprofessional and misleading work." The committee also wrote, "We are seriously troubled by Professor Bellesiles’s scholarly conduct," and, "the failure to clearly identify his sources moves into the realm of falsification." With the release of this damning review on October 25 came the announcement that Emory University had accepted Bellesiles’s resignation. And now comes the revocation of the Bancroft Prize.

But last week’s decision by Columbia may not be the end of Bellesiles’s troubles. Now that "Arming America" has been widely discredited, Bellesiles has quit, and Columbia has asked for its prize and money back, a movement may be building to have "Arming America" removed from the shelves of libraries around America. NRA member George Rogero has posted information to the website of the Orange County NY Shooters (OCS) about his successful efforts to have "Arming America" removed from the shelves of the Goshen Public Library in Goshen, N.Y. For an account of Mr. Rogero’s efforts, click here. Even HCI—the gun-ban lobby that now calls itself the Brady Campaign—has removed any mention of Bellesiles and his book from its website. The book was once prominently displayed on the front page of its website, so if HCI is embarrassed enough to remove a book that supports its anti-gun agenda because it has been so thoroughly discredited, then it should be an easy decision for any conscientious librarian. A serious problem, historians have found, is that so long as a discredited book remains in libraries, with the discreditation hidden in articles and newspapers, students will continue to rely upon the book for their research. If nothing else, perhaps Bellesiles’s work can be moved to the Fiction section of the library!

If you would like documentation to show why this book should not be included as a source for research, just use our "Search" tool. Type in "Bellesiles" as your Keyword, and you should find all the information you need.




George Soros

, an anti-gun billionaire who has funneled millions of dollars into promoting the gun-ban agenda, has been convicted in France of insider trading, and ordered to pay a 2.2 million euro fine. And while Soros was not in court when the verdict was handed down, his testimony from November included the statement, "I have been in business all my life, and I think I know what is insider trading and what isn’t." It seems the court disagreed. This kind of elitist attitude begs the question: Do anti-gun extremists think they are above the laws and rules that apply to ordinary citizens? If you add the Soros conviction to a growing list of trouble experienced by supporters of the anti-gun movement, there is a considerable trend that would support an answer in the affirmative.

There is the continuing controversy regarding Michael Bellesiles, of course, who seems to think he can reinvent history and ignore the rules most researchers follow. And in the past, we have reported on anti-gun lawmakers such as U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and ex-U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) being under investigation for questions about contributions to their campaigns. Torricelli’s problems became so severe, in fact, that he abandoned his re-election campaign after it became evident he would probably suffer an embarrassing defeat. Then there is Robert E. Brennan, the former penny-stock tycoon who gained fame with the anti-gun "Deathclock" billboard he erected in Times Square. Last year, Brennan was convicted in federal court of bankruptcy fraud.

Perhaps one of the most tragic example of an anti-gunner running afoul of the law, however, is the case of Barbara Graham. Graham was convicted last year of shooting a man she felt was responsible for the shooting death of her own son. Graham’s victim was left paralyzed, and prosecutors indicated he wasn’t even responsible for the death of her son. And while Barbara Graham’s name may not be familiar to everyone involved in the debate over firearms, she was a speaker at the march on Washington, D.C., held on Mother’s Day 2000.

While we have grown regrettably accustomed to anti-gun extremists getting away with spreading misinformation or outright lies when promoting their gun-ban agenda, it’s refreshing to see that justice does catch up to them from time to time.




Last week, theMichigan State Legislature passedHouse Bill 6337,the NRA-backed Right to Carry (RTC) reform legislation benefiting carry permit holders. This bill eliminates the classification of most restaurants that serve alcohol as"gun-free zones," extends the permit from three to five years, and removes non-violent misdemeanors as disqualifiers under the permitting process. NRA-ILA’s success in passing RTC legislation just 16 months after Michigan’s"shall-issue" law went into effect is a testament to the overall success of this new permit system.HB 6337 now heads to the GovernorÆs desk and is expected to be signed byGovernor Engler (R) by the end of December.




Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.