Legal History
A look at the research into the number of guns in America and who owns them. Why the state so desperately wants to shutdown real research into gun ownership and use.
(2800 words)

In 2008, the Supreme Court established the Heller methodology for handling Second Amendment challenges.

The methodology is: Does the proposed conduct implicate the Second Amendment? If so, the burden shifts to the government to establish a history and tradition of analogous arms regulations.

The rogue inferior courts immediately took this to heart. They found that almost all modern-day arms infringements were presumptively unconstitutional. They did this by assuming, without finding. That is to say, the did a “for the sake of argument, we will assume the infringement is unconstitutional”

Once they had made that decision, they then went to a second step, was the government need/want of more importance than the right of the individuals. In other words, was the rape hard enough to be important?

This called “means-end” balancing. The courts would first decide on the level of scrutiny, then they would determine if the state met the level of scrutiny they were using. This meant, that in the rogue courts, The People always lost.

The Heller Court also did a complete analysis of the history and tradition of gun bans in the founding era. They found that there were no analogous regulations. Since the Heller question was regarding a gun ban, that is what they looked at.

They found that there were NO analogous regulations from the founding era. Since there were no such regulations, the modern infringement was unconstitutional.

They expressed this by saying that an arm in common use for lawful purposes could not be banned.

The Supreme Court needed no outside experts, nor did they need briefings on “in common use for lawful purposes.” They used Judicial Notice.

Judicial Notice

IT is a fundamental concept of the law of evidence that proof must be adduced in order to establish the existence of a fact. There are, however, a number of ways in which facts can be established by means other than formal proof, One such way is via the doctrine of judicial notice.
Colin Manchester, Judicial Notice and Personal Knowledge, 42 The Modern Law Review 22–28 (1979)

Consider the case of a murder. The state comes before the court and says “He murdered his wife, his hands were covered in blood, the knife had his fingerprints on it. You must find him guilty!”

Just because the state says all these things, it does not mean that those are the facts. To prove those facts, evidence must be given. The jury must weigh the evidence that is presented, the person who presented it, the totality of what is happening to determine if the evidence presented proves a fact.

The first step is to look at what facts are in evidence and what facts are needed to prove who committed the crime, if indeed a crime has been committed.

We’ll only cover one fact. Was there blood on his hands?

The prosecution must present evidence that there was blood on his hands, at the time it was claimed that it was.

Witness one says, “I saw him running down the street, his hands were red with blood!”

This is not proof!

The prosecution must establish that the witness was in a position to observe what they claim to have observed. They have to establish that the person they observed was indeed the accused. They have to establish that what they saw on the observed could have been blood.

This is why most trials are boring and long. Everything has to be proven.

Well almost.

The concept of judicial notice is, then, that the judge can make use of his general knowledge where some fact has to be established and take notice of the existence of that fact without requiring it to be formally proved. In fact, it is evident that judges frequently do make use of their general knowledge. Indeed, as Thayer quite rightly points out, “in conducting a process of judicial reasoning, as of other reasoning not a step can be taken without assuming something which has not been proved.” However, neither judge nor jury can make use of their personal knowledge.

When I post a design draft and somebody says, “you need good tolerances,” they are using their general knowledge. If they were on a jury, and they observed that a blueprint did not have the correct GD&T markings, and they know it should, they can use that general knowledge in assessing the level of proof that blueprint provides.

If, on the other hand, they know the person who made that blueprint, and they know the person is a hack, they can’t assume that the blueprint is also bad.

General knowledge is acceptable to use, personal knowledge is not.

The Supreme Court used Judicial Notice, their general knowledge, to make their finds in Heller. They did not need somebody to present evidence to prove that handguns are in common use for lawful purposes.

In Common Use

The state of Massachusetts doesn’t like armed citizens. They have laws against many arms. They used to have a law against tasers and stun guns.

The courts in Massachusetts and the First Circuit court have a history of finding for the state over The People in Second Amendment challenges.

The same people who are very upset that the Supreme Court is hearing the case of Rahimi because he’s a bad man that abuses women, were just as upset that Jaime Caetano brandished a stun gun at her ex-boyfriend, who had a history of beating the crap out of her. It seemed that the multiple restraining orders she had didn’t scare her ex- off. The stun gun did.

Of course, it was illegal for Jaime to even possess a stun gun in the people’s republic of Massachusetts. All violence is reserved to the state and criminals in the peoples’ republic. She was taken to court and lost.

She appealed to the state Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court found that stun guns were not arms under the Second Amendment. Lots of profoundly ignorant reasoning to get there.

Jaime Caetano then appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. They granted her case certiorari. In 2016, they issued their opinion.

The gist of the decision was that Tasers and stun guns are in common use. The important phrase is:

The more relevant statistic is that “[h]undreds of thousands of Tasers and stun guns have been sold to private citizens,” who it appears may lawfully possess them in 45 States. People v. Yanna, 297 Mich.App. 137, 144, 824 N.W.2d 241, 245 (2012) (holding Michigan stun gun ban unconstitutional); see Volokh, Nonlethal Self-Defense, (Almost Entirely) Nonlethal Weapons, and the Rights To Keep and Bear Arms and Defend Life, 62 Stan. L. Rev. 199, 244 (2009) (citing stun gun bans in seven States); Wis. Stat. § 941.295 (Supp. 2015) (amended Wisconsin law permitting stun gun possession); see also Brief in Opposition 11 (acknowledging that “approximately 200,000 civilians owned stun guns” as of 2009). While less popular than handguns, stun guns are widely owned and accepted as a legitimate means of self-defense across the country. Massachusetts’ categorical ban of such weapons therefore violates the Second Amendment.
Caetano v. Massachusetts, 136 S. Ct. 1027, 1032–33 (2016)

This means that the Supreme Court of the United States has found that:

  • Conduct that implicates the Second Amendment is presumptively protected
  • If it is protected, the state must show a history and tradition of matching regulations
  • That there were no bans of arms in common use during the founding era. (No history, no tradition)
  • That if there are at least 200,000 of the type of arm in common use, it cannot be banned
  • If it is not a ban, then the state most show a history and tradition.

Current Status of Cases

Bruen established that there are two steps. Does the proposed conduct implicate the plain text of the Second Amendment? And the state must prove a history and tradition.

The Heller opinion gives us a shortcut, “in common use for lawful purposes”.

The states have been attempting to turn this on its head. They are trying to push the burden on to the plaintiffs in the first stage.

The argument goes something like: We know that if it is protected under the plain text of the Second Amendment, then we have the burden to show history and tradition, which is easy if you will just allow use nuanced comparisons. Before we have that burden, you have to prove that the conduct is protected.

They then claim that if the arm is particularly dangerous, it is not protected unless it is in common use for lawful purposes. This means that the plaintiffs must prove that it is in common use before the burden shifts to the state.

This argument is in direct conflict with the Heller decision as affirmed by Bruen.

“The” Historical Survey

In 1996, the Police Foundation published Guns in America, Results of a Comprehensive National Survey on Firearms Ownership and use The survey was performed in 1994.

This survey was not friendly to The People. The gist was that those people you interact with might be armed and harm you.

The reality of policing in America includes dealing with citizens who possess firearms: there are about 200 million guns in private hands, according to this survey and others. So huge is the domestic arsenal that American police must be aware that a firearm may be at hand in any situation they encounter. Tragically, in thousands of situations each year, the potential for injury or death by firearms is realized

The National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms in the United States (NSPOF) provides the most comprehensive information to-date on America’s private stock of firearms. Topics covered in the NSPOF include: the size, composition, and ownership of the gun stock; how and why firearms are acquired; gun storage and carrying; the defensive use of firearms against criminal attackers; and attitudes toward gun control regulation.

Among other things, the survey found that handgun owners most often gave self-protection as their primary reason for gun ownership, whereas owners of long guns cited hunting or target shooting as their main reason for owning a gun. Furthermore, handguns are much more likely than long guns to be carried in public, and to be kept unlocked and loaded in households.

While there are enough guns in private hands to provide every adult in America with one, only 25 percent actually own one and those who do usually own several. Middle-aged, college-educated residents of rural areas and small towns are most likely to own guns, according to this survey.

By the year 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of death by injury in the U.S. will be from gunshots. The prevalence of firearm ownership and use is of concern to law enforcement personnel, health officials, educators, policymakers, families, and communities all across America. The impact that guns have o n our lives continues to generate passionate debate. Americans are ambivalent about guns: they fear them and at the same time they feel safer possessing them, as reflected by the growing number of states that have or are considering concealed weapons-“right-to-carry”-laws.

For the nation’s police, the nexus of drugs and guns creates daily and deadly challenges to their ability to control crime and ensure public safety. Civil debate and rational policy about guns require that we arm ourselves with the facts about the extent and nature of gun ownership and use in America. As with all of the work which the Police Foundation has conducted for
over a quarter century, the results of The National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms presented in this report are an effort toward informing the debate.
Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Guns in America: results of a comprehensive national survey on firearms ownership and use xi–x (Police Foundation 1996)

2002-2003 causes of death. Accidents account for 4.4% of all deaths. This includes the following codes: V01–X59,Y85–Y86.

Accidental discharge of firearms is W00-W19, not included. Intentional self-harm by discharge of firearms is X72-X74. Assault (homicide) by discharge of firearms is U01.4,X93-X95. And Discharge of firearms, undetermined intent is Y22-y24.

None of the firearm codes is included in accidents.

The total for all firearm deaths would have to exceed the 4.4% mark to take the top cause of death in 2003. Other numbers put the death by firearm around 30,000 in 2003. The CDC says that there were 109,277 accidental deaths, excluding firearms.

The CDC got it wrong, of course.
Melonie Heron & Betty Smith, Deaths: Leading Causes for 2003, 55 National Vital Statistics Reports (Mar. 2007)

In 1994, they used a telephone survey. 40% of the calls could not be completed or resulted in a refusal. The larger the group of refusers in comparison with cooperators, the larger is the likely magnitude of “nonresponse bias.” The response rate was quite low in the NSPOF, and hence a matter of at 6

The study used 29,917 randomly selected telephone numbers. Of that, only 20,302 were working residential numbers. Of that reduced number, 6,333 contacts were dropped by the survey company because they did not meet some criteria. This left 13,969 that could be used.

Of that, 2,568 interviews were completed.

This means that we have been using that 200,000 million firearm number based on a survey done in 1994 of 2,500 households.

Cook & Ludwig, supra, at 7

The December 1993 Gallup Poll estimated that 49 percent of households possess a gun, a result that affirms one of the seeming constants in American life: the fraction of American households owning a gun has remained at about half since polling on the subject began in 1959 (Kleck 1991). Given this conventional wisdom, it is of considerable concern that the NSPOF data indicate that just 35 percent (plus or minus 1.3 percent) of households owned a (working) gun in 1994. We believe that this estimate may be somewhat off the mark, but not by much. The conventional wisdom appears out of date.
id. at 9

Of course, they have a high opinion of their numbers.

Regardless, there is still a boat load of guns out there, in common use for lawful purposes.

A More Current Survey

I have been looking into the question of why the state is attempting to subpoena William English, PhD. His work was cited in passing in a case in Washington State. The amount of effort the state put into trying to subpoena Professor English didn’t make sense.

I was able to contact somebody who is a bit more knowledgeable about the situation. What I learned makes a great deal of sense.

It appears that Professor English is one of those men of principal. This subpoena was interpreted as an intimidation tactic, designed to intimidate him and others that might want to do research into firearms related facts.

When John Lott started publishing numbers that didn’t support the narrative, he was attacked. The rumors say that some very important people contacted his University to get him fired. It looks like the infringement crowd is recycling that game plan. Professor English ain’t playing that game.

What is so scary about his survey?

In sum, about 31.9% of U.S. adults, or 81.4 million Americans, own over 415 million firearms, consisting of approximately 171 million handguns, 146 million rifles, and 98 million shotguns. About 24.6 million individuals have owned a up to 44 million AR-15 and similarly styled rifles, and 39 million individuals have owned up to 542 million magazines that hold over 10 rounds. Approximately a third of gun owners (31.1%) have used a firearm to defend themselves or their property, often on more than one occasion, and guns are used defensively by firearms owners in approximately 1.67 million incidents per year. A majority of gun owners (56.2%) indicate that they carry a handgun for self-defense in at least some circumstances, and about 35% of gun owners report carrying a handgun with some frequency.
William English, 2021 National Firearms Survey: Updated Analysis Including Types of Firearms Owned, SSRN Electronic Journal 35 (2022)

The survey was an online survey conducted by Sentiment. The survey was administered to 54,000 U.S. residents 18 and over. Of that 54,000 respondents, 16,700 were identified as gun owners.

According to my sources, the filtering process was designed to hide that it was a gun survey. Nothing as crude as “Hey, I’m with the government, how many guns do you own? How many of those are Assault Weapons®?”

Have you ever defended yourself or your property with a firearm, even if it was not fired or displayed? Please do not include military service, police work, or work as a security guard, How many times have you defended yourself or your property with a firearm, even if it was not fired or displayed?English, supra

This survey blows up any arguments that the state has that firearms are not in common use. That magazines are not in common use. That Assault Weapons® are in common use. It gives a good example of how often guns are used defensively.

The state wants this survey discredited and gone.

The document demands they gave are invasive and chilling. The demands were so open, that any email requesting remarks about the survey could have been part of the document production request.

According to my source, this survey wasn’t funded by anybody of interest. It was just an academic deciding, “hey, maybe we should get some updated information.”

It isn’t like this is another anti-gun survey, asking loaded questions of people that don’t know what they are being asked, funded by Bloomberg and his harpies.

The Survey is easy to read, take the time to give it a look.


Caetano v. Massachusetts, 136 S. Ct. 1027 (2016)
Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Guns in America: results of a comprehensive national survey on firearms ownership and use (Police Foundation 1996)
William English, 2021 National Firearms Survey: Updated Analysis Including Types of Firearms Owned, SSRN Electronic Journal (2022)
Melonie Heron & Betty Smith, Deaths: Leading Causes for 2003, 55 National Vital Statistics Reports (Mar. 2007)
Colin Manchester, Judicial Notice and Personal Knowledge, 42 The Modern Law Review 22–28 (1979)

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By awa

4 thoughts on “Guns in America”
  1. the average pollsters like to quote is 200 million guns… however, since Dec 2012 there have been 330 plus million NICS checks…figure a small percentage are denied its still a shiiteload of guns..and We the People are private citizens.. some shmo calls us up and asks questions they have no business asking we are gonna lie..
    gubmint doesn’t have the manpower to disarm us… there are people in gun ban states that are armed to the teeth. many with “banned” firearms.. the fuse is there and the match is lit…

  2. So, does anyone know if the good Professor English said FOAD to ‘Bob The Weasel’ (Ferguson) or did he issue some other kind of response?

    Just curious…

    1. My sources indicate that his lawyers said, “Just what is it you want?” And that a bunch of other academia found out about this attempt at intimidation and are livid.

  3. Two Truths, if understood by every US citizen today, would validate today the reasons which were used when the framers of the US Constitution wrote the Second Amendment. One, what percentage of the nation’s criminal element own firearms and other deadly weapons? Two, what percentage of the Non-Criminal US Citizenry would have the ability to defend themselves from the criminal element if there were no guns at all?
    Simple math would suffice to come to a moral conclusion using commonsense reasoning. And that was and still is, that owning a gun shall not be infringed……by anyone. Now ask, which elements of the US Citizenry want guns to be banned? Answer: The criminal element of society and corrupt government personnel, who are essentially secret members of the criminal element of society who fear justice being applied to them by those lawful gun owners determined to not be victims of the criminal class.
    If every citizen of the USA had a gun, the criminal class would be the only demographic to suffer loss, justifiably so.


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