Ten Great Second Amendment Books:

In a new article for America's 1st Freedom (a NRA member magazine), I recommend ten of my favorite books on the Second Amendment and firearms policy. Since it's my own personal list, it tends towards law, history, and international issues, which are three of my favorite right to arms sub-topics. I encourage commenters to add recommendations for their own favorite books on firearms law and policy — including "pro-control" books, fiction, or whatever else you would highly recommend. Also feel free to discuss movies or television programs which you would like to recommend. As for movies, I would have to say that I thought "Red Dawn" was wonderful. Please try to stay on the positive side--that is books, movies, or TV shows (from any perspective) which you recommend, rather than things which you did not like.

UPDATE: The PDF file may have been corrupted, and I'm not sure how long it will take me to fix it. In short, my favorites included Cramer, Halbrook, Hardy, Kleck, LaPierre (his latest, on the UN), and Malcolm. In the meantime, just add your own favorites.

UPDATED UPDATE: The PDF file is fixed.

Spartacus (www):
I couldn't upload the article in the link; I'll just have to wait for my subscription.

But definitely, one of my favorites is Unintended Consequences.
2.23.2007 12:04pm
Loki13 (mail):
Bowling for Columbine

No, really. Bear with me a second. Despite some really cringe-inducing moments (was that interview with Moses really needed?), I think BfC did a good job in exploring the essential problem in American society- the fear of the other and the collapse of community.

I think this has resonance for both pro-control and pro-2d forces. Why?

Why do we people want guns? To protect themselves (from crime/the other).

Why do people want gun control? Because they fear the people with guns.

It's all about fear... on both sides. My father told me that when he was a frehman in college (rural Ohio) taking a public speaking class, they were asked to bring in something that would make them feel comfortable, so be brought in his hunting rifle and gave his speech with that on his side. No one batted an eye,

Today? Don't think that would work so well. But now we live in a state of fear of each other.
2.23.2007 12:10pm
Mr. Kopel: This suggestion will take some digging on your part, but for reasons I mention below, you are in a better position to do it than I am. I vividly recall reading, in my uncle's issues of The American Rifleman magazine, a serial novel by (as I remember it) Erle Stanley Gardner, the well known mystery writer (creator of the Perry Mason character), called (again, as I remember it) The Law That Leaked. The installments appeared sometime in (perhaps earlier than) 1956, when I believe I read them (they may have been back issues). The plot involved well-intentioned (of course) legislation to comprehensively register every firearm in the country. Invasion by a foreign power followed (I'm not sure it was explicitly the USSR). The invader then used the registration data to hunt down and confiscate (or imprison) every gun owner. Triumph ensued when enough armed Americans, alerted to what was happening, took to the hills with their weapons, organized and started a rebellion, although I am hazy on that part.

While I had only a dim idea at the time (I was 15) of the Second Amendment and the NRA's role in protecting gunowners' rights, the story was for me a powerful cautionary tale. I'm a reasonably typical, over-educated Northeastern professional, served in the Army, but never came to own guns personally.

A search of Amazon does not indicate that the serial was ever published in book form, or at least not under anything like the title (or author) I remember. Maybe the NRA can help- I've tried, but e-mail queries to the Editor of American Rifleman a few years ago have been unanswered. Thanks and your move.
2.23.2007 12:18pm
blcjr (mail):
"The Law that Leaked" -- I put that into Google, with the quotes. It turned up a couple of hits to ESG biblios. It was serialized in Sports Afield, September-December 1950. But it doesn't look like it is available in any other form. Too bad. Sounds interesting.
2.23.2007 1:10pm
A "pro-control" book worth taking the time to read is James B. Jacobs' "Can gun contol work?" He takes a hard look at many of the proposed control schemes and lays out the real limitations of just about all of them.
Prof. Jacobs is certainly in favor of gun control, but also realistic. He takes the rather unusual position that the essential first step to genuine gun control is either a Supreme Court ruling that defines the 2nd as an individual right or, alternatively a new amendment that reads something like "Every person has the right to keep and bear arms in defense of his life and freedom." He feels that such constitutional protection would overcome slippery slope arguments that the genuine motivation of gun control advocates is a total ban -- and that this protection would make registration, licensing, and other control measures politically feasible.

To be completely clear, I am NOT recommending this book because I agree with Prof. Jacobs. (For example, he advocates repeal of "shall-issue" concealed carry laws.) I'm recommending it because he makes reasoned observations that you rarely hear in this debate. Also, the book deteriorates in the last section where he makes the arguments for some of the measures he advocates.
2.23.2007 1:11pm
BLCJr- Thanks! Nothing like looking for something in the wrong place! Hope Mr. Kopel can hunt it down. As I recall it, the "book" (appears it never became one?) was a powerful sort of "unintended consequences" argument indeed.
2.23.2007 1:15pm
sjalterego (mail):
While certainly not as educational as an actual BOOK, there is a really fun Graphic Novel, that is being republished in serialized fashion on the Web. The Graphic Novel is titled The Probability Broach, by L. Neil Smith and Scott Bieser and it can be found at

The story is really a Libertarian fairy tale but it has lots of pro-2nd Amendment elements in it.
2.23.2007 1:21pm
John_R (mail):
From the world of music, there's Aerosmith's Janey got a Gun.
2.23.2007 1:34pm
Well pretty much any "post-apocalyptic" movie/book is going to lend itself to a favorable depiction of firearms as an essential tool to protect the hero from the dangers of a world without social order. Think of "Road Warrior" or even junk like "The Postman."

I love "Omega Man," [although the source book "I Am Legend" was better - despite the absence of a trigger happy Charlton Heston]. Or you could go with "Army of Darkness" and Ash's declaration that "this.. is my boom stick."

The "Turner Diaries" was something I had to read in a course on 20th Century American Radicalism. It had some interesting takes on gun control (e.g., the supremacists hiding their guns inside door jambs when the gun police came collecting).
2.23.2007 1:39pm
Larry Elder's documentary "Michael and Me", which is basically a response to Michael Moore's "Bowling For Columbine."

Larry's movie is not quite as slick or stylish as Moore's, but it makes it's points quite well.
2.23.2007 1:58pm
More guns, Less Crime by Lott.

Freakonomics by Levitt.

Separate but relevant: I've wondered whether behavioral economic analyses that examine the benefits of owing a gun (principally for safety or deterrence) take into account the costs of owner death by suicide and accidental discharge.

Anyone know of any behavioral economic analysis that examines these factors?
2.23.2007 1:59pm
Having now seen "Red Dawn" mentioned favorably on the VC, my week is now complete.

2.23.2007 1:59pm
uh clem (mail):
The collected works of Mary Rosh.
2.23.2007 2:03pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Having now seen "Red Dawn" mentioned favorably on the VC, my week is now complete.

Yeah, it just confirms what I always suspected. That DK is so obsessed with the power of guns, he lives in a complete fantasy world where a completely ludicrous, fantastical and implausible movie like 'Red Dawn' is "wonderful".

Even ignoring the plot holes, the sheer incompetence of Russians, and the seeming superhuman powers of the 'Wolverines'; perhaps most disturbing is the apparent differentiation between the bad (Russian) Communists and the Good (Cuban) Communists. The message of the whole film seems to be, as long as your belief is genuine, violent revolution supporting your cause is justifiable.
2.23.2007 2:33pm
Mark Symms (mail):
Loki13 -
I think your assessment of why people own guns, is too simplistic. I own 7. While I do and would use them for protection, I also hunt. Two of the guns were handed down to me by my grandfather. I would never fire them again, because they are now collector's items. I do have my conceal carry license and carry as often as I can. Yes, that is for protection (fear of others). But there are other reasons for owning.
2.23.2007 2:36pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
More guns, Less Crime by Lott.

Yep, anything with shoddy research, made up statistics and faulty conclusions, as long as it supports your preconceived notions.
2.23.2007 2:37pm
AppSocRes (mail):
I second NRWO. Lott has gotten a lot of bad press and gun control academics came out of the woodwork to seek flaws in his statistical analysis. But even the severest critics had to admit that Lott's data -- the best currently available -- provided no evidence that reducing gun control increased crime, which up until Lott's work was a standard argument of the gun control nuts. And despite methodological carping, the analysis still suggests to rigorous, but disinterested, researchers that reducing gun control DOES have a crime-reducing effect.
2.23.2007 2:40pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And despite methodological carping, the analysis still suggests to rigorous, but disinterested, researchers that reducing gun control DOES have a crime-reducing effect.

It absolutely does not. I will admit that gun control laws (at least in this country) probably do not lower crime rates. But the converse is not true either. There is not a shred of evidence that increased ownership of guns lowers crime rates. If anything, where gun ownership rates are higher, gun crime rates are higher. Gun Crime rates are generally lower in the Northeast and higher in South and southwest, which pretty much matches the pattern of gun ownership in this country. After Lott published his book, great reductions were made in violent crime rates, especially murder rates, in two of the three large cities (New York and Chicago) that have the strictest gun control laws in the country. Even D.C.'s murder rate dropped (although not nearly as much as the other two). None of those cities relaxed their gun laws.
2.23.2007 2:52pm
Loki13 (mail):

This is not a global argument for everyone, nor can it be nuanced in a quick blog post. As I mentioned, my father is a hunter, and I happen to have rifles in my house as heirlooms and for sentimental reasons (unloaded, unused, not for self-defense).

I thought that what BfC pointed out (grandstanding and histrionics aside) was the fear that underlies a lot of modern concern over guns. It was one-sided (pro-control) but I tihink an extension of its central argument can be made for pro-2d as well.

Why are we having the debate about the 2d Am. that we never used to have? Because, fundamentally, we (as a people) fear the 'other', whether the other is a different race, or poor people, or our neighbors, or the safety of our children in school. People who want to own guns want them to protect themselves (from the other or the monolithic Feds), whereas people who want gun control want to be protected from the people with guns.

Most of this debate is driven by fear and trust- we fear the other (feds and neighbors) and we do not trust the other to be responsible (Feds for protecting us for pro-2d or people with guns for pro-control).

Again, this is a quick sketch of a long argument, and it applies to the societal norms instead of individuals. But I think the operative ideas to draw from it are not that these changes in the status of gun ownership are driven by the law, but are a reflection of the dissolution of trust bonds and cohesion within the society.
2.23.2007 2:56pm
Speaking The Obvious:
JF Thomas: "Yep, anything with shoddy research, made up statistics and faulty conclusions, as long as it supports your preconceived notions."

Having read many of JF Thomas' comments on the VC, I'm happy to see his methodology is as I suspected...
2.23.2007 3:00pm
glangston (mail):
Red Planet in the original by Heinlein had a lecture on gun control. He's fairly well know as being against it. I enjoyed Unintended Consequences by John Ross who ironically has the same name as another writer who is controversial in another direction.

J. Neil Shulman (sp) is a prolific author and big defender of the 2nd.

Non fiction I've read includes Lott and Levitt. Bellesiles is another interesting "fiction" writer in this field.
2.23.2007 3:07pm
Random3 (mail):
I was under the impression that Lott's book had pretty well established that shall-issue permit &concealed carry laws resulted in violent crime reductions in counties where the laws had been passed. I've also seen lots of heated denunciations of Lott's arguments - most of them ad-hominem - but I wasn't aware of any analysis showing that his research was shoddy or that he made up his statistics. Now Bellisiles (sp?) - he made up research, and was caught doing so. But I'm not aware that anyone has shown that Lott did so. But maybe there is something out there.
2.23.2007 3:08pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I was under the impression that Lott's book had pretty well established that shall-issue permit &concealed carry laws resulted in violent crime reductions in counties where the laws had been passed.

Well, you're under the wrong impression. Although criticizing Lott does carry with it serious financial risks since he does love to bring frivolous lawsuits against his critics. His research has been shown to be shoddy at best, if not completely fabricated. He also posed as a woman and published glowing reviews of his works on Amazon.

Of course since it is liberals that debunked his research, I guess it doesn't count.
2.23.2007 3:26pm
ak47pundit (www):

L. Neil Smith's The Probability Broach originally came out as a (very good) 320-page novel, and the graphic novel is a much later creation.

His book "Pallas" has similar pro-firearms ownership and personal responsibility focus and is likewise a good read.
2.23.2007 3:28pm
Cornellian (mail):
The message of the whole film seems to be, as long as your belief is genuine, violent revolution supporting your cause is justifiable.

I like Sean Penn's statement that the message of movies today is that if you have good abs, you're allowed to kill people.
2.23.2007 3:32pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

"The message of the whole film seems to be, as long as your belief is genuine, violent revolution supporting your cause is justifiable."

Isn't that the premise of the American Revolution? From Common Sense by Thomas Paine:

The Tories dared not have assembled offensively, had they known that their lives, by that act, were forfeited to the laws of the state. A line of distinction should be drawn, between, English soldiers taken in battle, and inhabitants of America taken in arms. The first are prisoners, but the latter traitors. The one forfeits his liberty, the other his head.
2.23.2007 3:36pm
Loki13 (mail):
Ohhhh... Lott (or whould I call him Mary Rosh?)...

Legal Analysis of Lott's Tort Claim Against Levitt

Here's the deal-

Lott's results can't be 'replicated'. What does this mean? This means that scientists are unable to confirm his thesis (he was unable to provide a testable hypothesis that can be repeated). Lott's counterargument is that no one to date has caught him falsifying his data- that is to say, given his exact data, and his exact methodology, his results are accurate.

This is somewhat akin to the following.

I have the data of 1 and 2.
I have the following rule: 1 + 2 = 4.

When other scientists attempt to test my data in a number of different ways, they keep coming up with 3. Nevertheless, I cannot be wrong because my answers can be replicated *given* my data and my methodology.

2.23.2007 3:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

"Yep, anything with shoddy research, made up statistics and faulty conclusions, as long as it supports your preconceived notions."

Could you be more specific? By "made up statistics" do you mean data? Are you saying Lott deliberately left out data, which would have changed his inferences? By "faulty conclusions" do you mean errors in methodology that lead to false inference? BTW have you actually read Lott's book, or are you simply giving us some one else's opinion?

In the social sciences we can't do controlled experiments. We are stuck with making the best we can from observational data. Astronomy also suffers from this hindrance, but they do pretty well because they have natural laws that the social scientists lack. Of course the mystery of dark matter remains unsolved. Let's face it; dark matter is a fix to get the calculations to come out right. As yet we don't know it even exists. But I digress. The social scientists need models to adjust the data and interpret their data. They hope the model is complete enough to make the inference valid. Are you telling us that Lott has some kind of model error, like missing variables? Finally is Lott's analysis really any worse than the typical social science study?
2.23.2007 3:54pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Loki13: I teach criminology and statistics at the graduate school level. I have read Lott. I have read his critics. There are no disputes that his data are among the best currently available for studying his particular research hypothesis: that the introduction of presumptive right to carry laws are associated in a statistically significant way with a subsequent reduction in crime rates.

The first attacks on his research required cherry-picking from Lott's data: eliminating certain data points with a weak, ad hoc explanation as to why this was done. Subsequent analysis of the resulting data showed only that they failed to confirm Lott's original research hypothesis. If his research hypothesis had been that presumptive right to carry laws had no effect on crime, his altered data would have confirmed that hypothesis.

Since then, some very ideologically dedicated, clever, and knowledgable researchers have critiqued Lott's data and methodology. When all is said and done, all they have been able to show is that when the data are appropriately manipulated and analyzed they fail to show that passing right to carry laws reduces crime.

On the other hand, even Lott's critics have failed in using his data -- pretty much still the best available -- to show that passing right to carry laws increases crime. Since this was a universal mantra among gun control nuts before Lott, his research has accomplished a great deal.

It's also worth noting that Lott made his data, which he generated at his own expense, and details of his methodology readily available to researchers that he knew would criticize him. This is sterling behavior when compared with the behavior of liberal researchers who have made the front pages of national newspapers by going to court to try and deny other researchers with an opposing ideology, access to data that said liberal researcher produced using federal funding.
2.23.2007 4:01pm
No votes for Arming America by Michael Bellesiles?
2.23.2007 4:28pm
NY (mail):
J.F. Thomas, you're awesome!

Even ignoring the plot holes, the sheer incompetence of Russians, and the seeming superhuman powers of the 'Wolverines'; perhaps most disturbing is the apparent differentiation between the bad (Russian) Communists and the Good (Cuban) Communists. The message of the whole film seems to be, as long as your belief is genuine, violent revolution supporting your cause is justifiable.

Plot holes and superhuman powers are the sine qua non of fantasy action movies (we don't need to get the Star Wars nerds riled up); and sheer incompetence of Russians when dealing with guerilla warfare is obvious (see Afghanistan and later Chechnya; I'm still upset at the US Gov't for puffing up the fighting prowess of these frozen Soviet heathen paper tiger for all these years). Assuming your second sentence refers to the treatment of Russian commies vis-a-vis Cuban commies, the answer for the kid-glove treatment of the latter is simple: can't show Hispanics/Latinos on screen being shot by the truckload, that's not cricket (wasn't this the era of the racially diverse inner-city gang?); imagine the outcry, "Fear of the Other! Come see the visualization of the white man's fear of the Other!"
2.23.2007 4:34pm
uh clem (mail):
No votes for Arming America by Michael Bellesiles?

Of course not. He was caught faking data, and was discredited. End of story.

Unlike John Lott, who has also been caught faking data, yet he's still venerated by those who want to believe his conclusions. Why? A combination of intellectual dishonesty and blind faith.


The guy has no more credibility than Bellesiles. And neither does anybody who cites him. Sorry.
2.23.2007 4:42pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Assuming your second sentence refers to the treatment of Russian commies vis-a-vis Cuban commies, the answer for the kid-glove treatment of the latter is simple

It was more than kid-glove treatment. The Cuban was treated as an almost heroic figure who was sympathetic to the Wolverines. There was even a line when all the dead Russians and Cubans were lined up about he was used to being on the "right" side of the fight. As if fighting against the established government (presumably one that was even supported by the U.S. government)--even if you were a dirty stinking communist, was a noble cause.
2.23.2007 5:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
There are a lot of people who seem to believe that if you can google a contrary opinion about something, you have disproved it. I haven't read Lott's book, and I am suspicious of all these social science studies because the data is hard to come by and because we frequently can't do controlled experiments. But it's not enough to come up with a Slate article or a Mother Jones article without saying why you think the argument presented is a compelling rebuttal. I can take any controversial topic, google it and come up with a wide range of critiques. So what. That proves nothing. It leaves you at the mercy of someone else's opinion or analysis. How about the Head Start Program that the government spends so much of our money on? The book Freakonomics says the Head Start Program has no effect on the test scores of elementary school children, and has been "repeatedly" proved "ineffectual in the long run." Others differ. Does this prove the government is wasting our money on an ineffectual program?
2.23.2007 5:08pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Don't forget the classics. Here's something I wrote way back in November 2002, after seeing Beethoven's Fidelio at the Met:

"In the crisis of Fidelio, the evil prison governor Don Pizarro is about to murder his prisoner Florestan with a knife, when Florestan's wife Leonore saves him by pulling a gun. Apparently Don Pizarro had never heard that he shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight.

"Leonore had infiltrated the prison by disguising herself as a young man, calling herself Fidelio, and taking a job as aide to the jailer Rocco. Rocco's daughter Marzelline falls in love with 'Fidelio', leading to much amusement and confusion in Act I. I suppose having a gun in her pocket helps Leonore convince Marzelline that she is a man, and glad to see her, neither of which is true."

Of course, it's possible that the world of Fidelio has strict gun-control, and only prison employees have access to guns. Then again, it's an imaginary world, and I don't believe Beethoven gives us any hints one way or another, so we can imagine it whichever way we want.

I wonder if someone more knowledgeable about opera than myself could come up with operatic parallels for all of the amendments in the Bill of Rights? The Third would be easy: in The Barber of Seville, the Count of Almaviva gains access to his closely-guarded beloved by falsely claiming to be a soldier with orders to 'quarter' at her house.
2.23.2007 5:14pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Dr. Weevil: Turandot or Tosca would sure cover "cruel and unusual punishment"!
2.23.2007 5:24pm
uh clem (mail):
AppSocRes There are no disputes that his [Lott's] data are among the best currently available for studying his particular research hypothesis.

You mean like the 1997 national telephone survey that he cited in More Guns, Less Crime ?

The one that he supposedly conducted himself, even though there's no evidence that he ever conducted it?
The one whose data was purportedly lost in a hard drive crash? (or was it the dog that ate it)
Is that the data you're talking about?

Look, the guy's been caught red handed fabricating data. You can keep citing him, but it only lowers your own credibility.
2.23.2007 5:25pm
uh clem (mail):
it's not enough to come up with a Slate article or a Mother Jones article without saying why you think the argument presented is a compelling rebuttal.

1. He cited a certain statistic on page 3 of his book.
2. When pressed for a source, he cited unnamed nebulous "national surveys"
3. When asked for specifics, he cited two surveys that didn't actually show that result.
4. Finally, in a last ditch effort to save face, he claims to have done the survey himself, but there's no evidence him ever doing it - he didn't publish the results, and claims that the data was lost in an accident. (The Bellesiles defense)

Is that enough for you? Or do I need to go on? (sockpuppetry, frivilous lawsuits, etc.) He's been caught red-handed faking results. The kind of stuff that would get an undergraduate placed on academic probation or expelled for academic dishonesty.

Look, this kind of shoddy sourcing and dishonesty is common with propaganda books on both sides, but it's not what one expects from an academic researcher. If he wants to hang around with the Ann Coulters and Michael Moores, fine. But this behavior has no place in the academy.
2.23.2007 5:43pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Uh clem:

It's enough if that's actually what happened and absent that data Lott's conclusion becomes invalid.
2.23.2007 6:18pm
Jack (mail) (www):
1 Samuel 13:19-22
"Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears." But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man's plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim[d] for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son."

Also Judges 3:16 where Ehud has to forge his own sword, which suggests that the Moabites were practicing the same sort of arms-control as the Philistines.
2.23.2007 6:19pm
glangston (mail):
While Lott may not win everyone over there is no denial that since 1986 the movement is solidly for Concealed Carry Rights for citizens. 39 states have "shall issue" laws (up from around 9 or 10 in '86). I don't believe there are any significant studies that suggest that the increase in CCW has affected crime in a like manner. It seems the people have spoken. The map below shows the gradual increase in CCW.

2.23.2007 6:38pm
Spartacus (www):
I'll try with a link this time:
2.23.2007 7:03pm
AppSocRes (mail):
There is a real ignorance of Lott's fundamental research showing here. The data set that Lott constructed and analyzed -- the centerpiece of his book -- is a time-series of county-level data for the entire US, that incorporates crime rates, data on gun law legislation, and a variety of control variables. That the critics of Lott in this thread are so completely unaware of the existence of this data -- whose validity has never, to my knowledge been questioned by any of Lott's critics (most in fact have used it in their attempts to refute Lott) -- suggests that they are profoundly ignorant of the entire issue. I'm not going to waste any further of my time battling willful stupidity. I can only suggest that these people read Lott's book or some of the academic critiques of it. On the other hand, based on their comments, I doubt they have the intellectual capacity to follow through on my suggestion.
2.23.2007 8:26pm
Loki13 (mail):

Before hijacking this thread completely with a discussion on Lott or namecalling, why not just let people make up their own minds? Lott's numbers (when done, say, as an econometric analysis) have a lot of problems- as has been pointed out numerous times, when he chaged his data set between publications (adding years) he changed models. If you applied his original model to his original data set you would end up with a 0% correlation between violent crime decrease and carry laws. Some call this adapting your model, others call this results-oriented fudging. It does, however, violate the rule that you use new data to test the validity of your model and then publish, you don't simply alter your model to make the data fit.

Of course if, as you suggest, people *just read Lott's book*, they will never realize this. Even if they have your superior intellectual capacity. Because Lott didn't disclose his slight of hand- it took some determined digging to uncover this. However, Lott is completely correct- if you use his numbers, and his models, his results are correct.

How many lights are there? Four?
Wrong! With Lott's model, there are FIVE lights!
2.23.2007 9:50pm
David W. Hess (mail):
I only own two of the books from your list but also have "The Samurai, The Mountie, and the Cowboy" sitting in front of me whose author escapes me at the moment.

I also recommend "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross and, while involving firearms only peripherally, "Kings of the High Frontier" by Victor Koman.

Sure, Red Dawn has a lot of Hollywood cheese in it but at least there was some attempt to be serious with a disillusioned Cuban colonial recognizing his own past in the actions of the Americans who will not surrender to the children turned partisans dedicated to make the occupation as costly as possible and paying the cost. Given the tripe that Hollywood produces regularly I was pleasantly surprised.
2.23.2007 11:12pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I might recommend a certain documentary film on the second amendment, starring Dave Kopel, Gene Volokh, and your humble servant (grin):

If short stories are included, there was a sci-fi I read about 25 yrs ago, entitled "The Swiss Movement."
2.23.2007 11:28pm
The greatest pro-2nd am. popular song has to be "Silent Running" by Mike and the Mechanics.

Take the children and yourself
And hide out in the cellar
By now the fighting will be close at hand
Dont believe the church and state
And everything they tell you
Believe in me, Im with the high command


Theres a gun and ammunition
Just inside the doorway
Use it only in emergency
Better you should pray to god
The father and the spirit
Will guide you and protect from up here

Tom Clancy's novels (at least the old stuff, haven't read anything recently) are all pretty pro-2nd.

As for straight commentary, I've always been partial to "A Nation of Cowards" by Snyder.

Oh, and to J.F. Thomas, who called Red Dawn: "ludicrous, fantastical and implausible", do you know anything about the Soviet war in Afghanistan? If not, the book "Charlie Wilson's War" is a great starting point.

I have a tough time believing anyone familiar with modern guerrilla warfare could be so dismissive of Red Dawn. Yes, it's a fantasy. But similar campaigns, with some soldiers younger than those depicted in Red Dawn, have been successful.
2.24.2007 2:35am
re: Earl Stanley Gardner, he also wrote a book called "cops on campus and crime in the street" published at the height of the student rebellion, with essays based on his experience with different aspects of law enforcement. IIRC there was a chapter on gun control, tho this book doesn't rise to the standard of pertinence of the ones quoted.
2.24.2007 10:30pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
RE 'Red Dawn', that movie seems to act as a Rorschach test for lefties. They see it as some kind of dark moment when Hollywood was briefly taken over by evil gun owners, and/or an echo of McCarthyism. Everyone else sees a campy Cold War-era action flick.

Plus which, it strikes me that it may have been based in part on the serialized novel that an early commenter mentioned.
2.24.2007 11:37pm
Loki13 (mail):

To be honest, judging from this thread and personal experience, the only people who take Red Dawn seriously are not the lefties, but the far-right wing. Most lefties never gave it a second thought- like many Hollywood films of the 80s, it was a bunch of fantasy/action crud with almost no real meaning.

I always ranked it up there with such great works of political cinema as Predator, Commando, and Bloodsport.

I think the surprising thing for some of us now is that people viewed the movie seirously, and can cite it as an example of why the 2d Am. should be extended as a personal liberty. This is good, because now I know that I, alone, can enter Vietnam with some kick-butt exploding arrows and kill 67 guards and rescue all the POWs still trapped there! Right?

How did we agree to attack him?
All at once.
And how did we attack him?
One at a time.
2.25.2007 2:02pm
Actually I never thought of Red Dawn as a political movie until I got on the internet and found all the liberal blogs who stated is was. Just mention Rambo and the left goes crazy on their discussion sites. Most people out there fortunately do not look to Hollywood for their politcal ideas. Not near as much as Hollyoodd thinks they do. Most people laugh at their efforts. They have become so obvious that the only people who think they have any political power are themselves and the left. The award shows for Hollywood are a joke as are any journalism awards. They are so biased they are meaningless. Kinda like sitting through a English or History class in a University. It is a JOKE.
2.25.2007 2:24pm
Oh I forgot. I vote for the book "Unintended Consequences". I have had to buy 6 cause I keep giving the book away!!!!
2.25.2007 2:27pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
Loki13: "I think the surprising thing for some of us now is that people viewed the movie seirously, and can cite it as an example of why the 2d Am. should be extended as a personal liberty."

So maybe it's one of those things where each side thinks the other one is taking it too seriously. I have to agree with therut though. Not that I've heard people sit around arguing about Red Dawn a lot in general, but if someone brings it up, it's typically a gun control fan, and they usually say that the bit with the gun registrations is an example of paranoid rightwing delusions.

And hey, maybe it is. I never cared enough to look into who wrote it and all, I'm just surprised, like you, that it keeps resurfacing. Sometimes a movie is just a movie.
2.25.2007 2:45pm
John M. Perkins (mail):
Being a lunatic fringe leftie, and a "Red Dawn" fan who had the honor of being a John Milius groupie for a weekend [highlighted by his buying a shotgun in southwest Chigagoland] -- who invaded wasn't important. Tying it to the Sunday Lyric, "they" invaded "Our Town." The local guerrillas were the heroes because they were local.

As to the "Bad Commie, Good Commie" split, this is a common Milius split between the professional military versus the citizen soldier. For an unsubtle example, see "Rough Riders."

Milius loves homages, and two elaborate homages were to "The Battle of Algiers." In many ways, Milius saw "Red Dawn" as "The Battle of Calumet."
2.25.2007 5:28pm
Bill Twist:
In regards to "Red Dawn" being unrealistic, well, I don't think those who say that really watched the whole thing. Of the group of kids that start out (plus the two girls), only two of them survive in the end, and they aren't the 'heroic leaders'.

They die pretty quickly, too. The whole movie only spans months, so they are essentially a non-issue to the Russians in less than a year. All of their 'victories' take place in a relatively short span of time, at the beginning.

That doesn't sound like a particularly effective insurgency to me. In fact, the lack of planning almost guarantees that it will end this way: Their first 'encounter' with the Russians (played sympathetically, especially the one radioing for help at the end) since the beginning of the movie is accidental, they just happened to get lucky.

And by the way, there are some Russians who are portrayed in a sympathetic light. Mostly, as young soldiers just trying to meet girls, but the Spetznaz Colonel who is brought in to hunt down the Wolverines isn't portrayed as evil, just motivated. In fact, he points out that reprisals against civilians are counter-productive. Really, the only 'evil' Russian I can recall in that movie is Bratchenko (played ably by Vladek Sheybal).
2.26.2007 9:21am
D_Atch (mail):
On Lott:
I think a number of his critics in this thread are willing to impeach his work while lacking an understanding of the complexity of the issues involved in econometric analysis. I've had something in excess of twenty-five graduate level courses in statistical analysis and econometrics and can speak with some experience regarding how difficult it can be to conduct real world analysis of this sort. If you think these issues are clear-cut and approachable I commend "Introduction to the theory and practice of econometrics", by Judge, Hill, Griffiths, Lutkepohl and Lee to your attention as it provides an excellent introduction to the fundamentals and may prove enlightening. It is far from unusual for academics to argue about how any given data set should be analyzed and just what sort of statistical procedure should be applied. From what I've seen there has been no authoritative refutation of Lotts' overall analysis published to date although I myself take issue with some of his conclusions. Many of the criticisms cited in postings or links in this thread are themselves in gross violation of statistical theory (arbitrarily excluding data in re-analysis anyone?) and do not engender much confidence.
Disclosure: I have quite a few guns, most of them of some historical interest, and I hunt and target shoot frequently.
2.26.2007 12:30pm