My old friend Stephen Halbrook has proven himself to be not only a brilliant trial advocate, but also a brilliant historian of gun laws.  I offer you his latest, a long read but one rich in the history of gun owners’ civil rights in American courts.  If you know anyone who is on the fence on this issue and has an open mind, please forward it to them.

You’ll find it here.


  1. Thanks for sharing Mas, it’s appreciated. I sent the info to friends and family.

    Best to you and yours.

  2. That definitely wasn’t intended for a mass audience. Despite some experience reading appellate court decisions, there were a couple of places where there seemed to be a bit of disconnect. It appeared that the author had a concept that was crystal clear to him and assumed, it didn’t make it onto paper or the editing lost some text. That I don’t grasp the legal point/principle in question might be a factor.

    Did the NYSRPA really make a claim to the effect that “assault rifles” are more often used in crime than handguns?

    I think the concept of attacking certain specific defining features of statute declared “assault weapons” has some merit. However, given the mental/legal gymnastics some courts apply to the issue, I doubt it’d be successful in the long run. The “interests of the state” outweigh mere details.

    • I’m having trouble with the internet again, so I can’t go back and reread the article for specifics. However, one of the areas where I was having trouble was his treatment of Miller vs US. This case was about a short barreled (NFA) shotgun. The decision went against Miller in large part because there was nothing put before the court about the military utility of a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 18 inches and an overall length shorter than 26 inches.

      Fast forward to this century-and the later part of the last-and a short barrel shotgun sees considerable use in the Special Operations community (possibly with SWAT teams) as a universal master key. This is a 12 gauge shotgun with a birds head pistol grip and a barrel just longer than the magazine tube. Examples with possibly shortened magazine tube have been pictured.

  3. First fired an M-16 in the summer of 1971. Man, have the ARS come a long way since then. Have always wondered about filing “boar’s teeth” at the muzzle, as portrayed in Gayle River’s “Five Fingers,” to enhance expansion of the 5.56 ball. Anybody try it? Supposed to cut down trees! By the way, especially to newcomers to volunteering in Southwest border areas, we are now in the summer period when the momma rattlesnakes throw their dozen or so little darling delinquent “babies.” Be-thee-all-ware! One of last year’s body counts of desert migrants was a 227. This year could see thousands.

    • Originating author was Gayle Rivers, not River. His imagination was obviously active, but he did seem to have some genuine experience. He wrote more than one book that had at least some substance. His persona in “The Five Fingers” made substantial use of a DIY 12 gauge “Malaya Load.” Real high dollar on today’s market.

    • I love Gayle Rivers’ books, he’s very switched on as the English say. But I don’t have that one so I’m going to look for a copy!

  4. Most of the readers of this blog will already be familiar with the information in the linked article above. However, it is somewhat useful to have all this information pulled together into a single source. Even if it does make for a “long read”.

    Nevertheless, I am doubtful of its utility as an educational tool. It has been my experience that the general American population can be divided into one of three (3) categories, as follows:

    1) The individual values liberty and our Constitutional Rights. They understand that the 2nd Amendment is a foundational right. That it underpins all other rights. They also understand that suppression of our 2nd Amendment Rights will ultimately lead to loss of all other rights. The result being that the people of America will be reduced from being free citizens to being subjects of an all-powerful, totalitarian State. Therefore, these people are pro-2A even if they do not own firearms or enjoy the shooting sports themselves. These people do not need to read the linked article to understand the value of the 2nd Amendment although reading it may reinforce their views with legal information pertaining to the subject.

    2) The individual has a subconscious, left-wing bias. This facilitates their being brainwashed by decades of left-wing, anti-gun propaganda and indoctrination. These people have been taught to hate and fear firearms. Sometimes to the point of being hoplophobes. Some of them would as soon pick up a live rattlesnake as to handle a firearm. The linked article would make no (zero) impression upon their views since their response is driven by subconscious bias and emotion rather than by reason. These people will always be anti-gun and they would regard the information presented in the linked article as just being more pro-gun lies published by the insidious firearms industry and the evil NRA.

    3) The third group consists of people who have no (zero) interest in firearms one way or the other. Their political views are driven by non-gun issues (abortion, economics, 1st Amendment Rights, etc.,). Unfortunately, these people do not understand the foundational value of the 2nd Amendment. Lacking any interest in the subject, they would not bother to read this long article even if you paid them to do it!

    So, personally, I think the chance of educating someone with this article and “changing their minds” is vanishingly small. Probably 99% of the population falls into one of the above categories. If you are lucky, you might find that one person out of a hundred who would be persuaded to turn pro-2A based upon this article.

    The enemies of the 2nd Amendment have all the tools of the Anti-American Media, Hollywood, and the academic indoctrination system at their disposal. They have global big business and anti-gun billionaires to finance their propaganda efforts. I am afraid that a single article, like this, has no more effect then taking a leak in the Pacific Ocean would have on tidal levels! 🙁

    • @TN_MAN: That’s where I went.

      Halbrook’s piece showed deep research, was a bit lawyer-ish (no surprise), and full of detail.

      Sadly, the people who care can have little effect and the people with the power to affect laws apparently don’t care. Sigh.

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