Secret Gun Policy Forum
Report From The "Gun Policy Forum"
Secret Gun Policy Forum
Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano
Phoenix Police Chief Harold Hurtt
To Discuss Guns in Secret
An open letter
To: Statewide news media and personal contacts
I am the author of Gun Laws of America, The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide,
and an acknowledged expert in many areas concerning "gun violence."
I learned today that I will not be allowed to enter the downtown Phoenix
Public Library where Attorney General Janet Napolitano, and Phoenix
Police Chief Harold Hurtt, will meet to discuss firearms issues, on
Monday, Oct. 2, beginning at 2 p.m.
Apparently, persons with an interest in Second Amendment rights are to
be screened out if identified as such. The organizers refer to this as
a non-political event, but the gathering is part of a nationwide
political effort aimed at gun rights Americans have always possessed and
High public officials are meeting at a public location, under a policy
of discriminatory access. It comes across as a secret meeting with
impact on fundamental civil rights and liberty.
The announcement I saw was open, in addition to others, to members of
the Mom's March group, and Citizens of Arizona to Prevent Gun Violence,
both politically active and known anti-rights groups.
If it is true that members of the Mom's March and anti-rights groups are
invited and the general public is not, and top law enforcement officials
will participate in the discussions, it is preposterous. Just what is
it they do not want the public to hear first hand? Is it proper for the
Attorney General and Chief of Police to participate in such clandestine
events, especially when basic human rights are at stake?
To voice your concerns, or inquire about attending yourself:
Phoenix Police Chief Harold Hurtt's office
can be reached at 602-262-6747.
Attorney General Janet Napolitano's office
can be reached at 602-542-5025.
Citizens of Arizona to Prevent Gun Violence, a sponsor,
can be reached at 602-790-8581.
RSVPs are being handled by Scottsdale-based
"Meetings and More," and they can be reached at
480-998-3992 voice, 480-998-7838 fax.
As of late Wednesday, the event organizers reported that attendance was
light, with only 150 of 299 available seats taken. The announcement I
received (in addition to a faxed brochure which appears to describe a
public event), follows:
Dear MMM Central AZ Chapter in formation members,
Citizens of AZ of Prevent Gun Violence have put together a GUN VIOLENCE
FORUM with Alliance for Justice. It is October 2 at the Nina Mason
Pulliam Auditorium of the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix. Pat
McMahon of KTAR will be moderator. Speakers include: Chief Harold
Hurtt/Phx PD--Carol Kamin of Children's Action Alliance--Attorney Genl,
Janet Napolitano--and many more. The program is CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. As
members of MMM you are invited to reserve a seat for yourself or anyone
you personally know that would like to attend this exciting event.
OBJECTIVES FOR PROGRAM: Define the gun violence problem in AZ (2) Raise
awareness of gun violence issues for professionals and the general
public (3) Generate new and creative ideas to reduce gun violence in AZ
(4) Encourage partnerships among those attending the Forum. IF YOU ARE
INTERESTED IN ATTENDING---Please respond directly to:
firstname.lastname@example.org need these reservations no later than Weds.
The easy way:
The dilemmas described in this message dissolve if the organizers decide
to allow public access, including, as described in their brochure,
"Individuals interested in learning more about gun violence in Arizona."
I will be out of town and unable to answer phone calls or email until
Sunday evening, Oct. 1.
Alan Korwin, Author
"We publish the gun laws"
4848 E. Cactus, #505-440 Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Report From The
"Gun Policy Forum"
by Alan Korwin, Author
The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide
October 5, 2000
Well, we got in.
The dangerously misguided plan to lock out civil rights supporters from
a forum on gun-related issues collapsed in the face of enormous
pressure placed on the organizers and public officials. Thanks to phone
calls and emails from the public, and stunned inquiries from the media,
we were able to attend.
And thanks to a hardy group of protesters at the library's front door,
and a stalwart group of well dressed and dignified citizens waiting at
the auditorium entrance, they simply couldn't stonewall us away from our
own Attorney General Janet Napolitano and Phoenix Police Chief Harold
The organizers did what they could to make it uncomfortable for us, and
to ostracize us, but in the end, they could hardly refuse access for so
many decent people concerned about "gun violence" issues. A bevy
well armed police attended as well, in uniform, plain clothes, and
Among us were legal experts, a parent of a suicide survivor, politically
aware individuals, even gun owners, who got to participate in an event
billed as the first of its kind, and the beginning of a two-year effort
to wage war on "gun violence."
The library auditorium has a capacity of 299, but seating for only about
150 was set out. We were made to wait until all pre-registrants had
seats, and then if any seating was left, we were allowed to take it.
Only friends of the organizers were allowed to pre-register (restricted
to various anti-rights proponents). We were forced, in a demeaning way,
to stand, wait, and listen to the forum begin from the hallway, and then
press to be seated on a first-come first-served basis. About 20 empty
seats remained after the lot of us gained entry.
What actually transpired?
You see what you want to see and
you hear what you want to hear.
I'm sure the pre-registered guests at the forum saw a wonderful
non-political event that attempted, in a neutral and learned way, to
solve pressing social issues that burden us all.
I came away with a different impression.
Though certainly a few people have experienced it, most of the people
attending and reading this have never, and will never, experience much
serious violence of any kind.
It became evident by the end, that what is billed as "gun violence"
really something very different. Something that could be almost totally
eradicated if the political will were in place. Here are the three main
factors that the crowd heard but apparently failed to recognize. They
focused instead on perceived evils and chilling dangers they believe are
inherent in privately owned firearms.
1. More than half of all the perceived problem is not from guns, it is
from war. War waged by our own government. It is the war on some
that leads to 60% of the hospital emergency room visits for gunshot
wounds, according to the doctors on the panel. This fact was only
revealed after questioning near the end.
In the beginning they gave the impression that the massive
emergency-room traumas come from random citizen occurrences of some
sort, but that's not true. You could end 60% of all gunshot wounds by
ending the war on some drugs. Will they do it? Or does the "gun
violence problem" serve another insidious but useful purpose? Does it
galvanize effort to disarm the general public in the name of safety, and
for the good of all mankind? You decide.
2. Half of the rest of the "gun violence problem" is not
violence of some sort, but suicide and attempted suicide. Most of that
is committed by very old people.
It's widely recognized and I've noted before that problems at the end of
life have no easy resolution. Euthanasia is a subject so hot it cannot
be debated in most public forums. The Hemlock Society is widely
despised even though they address a very real problem that turns out,
surprisingly, to be disguised as "gun violence.".
Martha's been gone for a year now, the physical pain is excruciating,
can't get proper drugs, money's all but spent, no one's left to listen,
what to do? Go out in a field and send yourself to some greener
pasture? If we could but provide better answers another huge chunk of
the "gun violence problem" melts away.
3. Quite commendably, The Arizona Republic, at the risk of being
labeled racist hate-mongering bigots, covered the forum on their front
page by noting that more than half of all gunshot victims in this state
are Hispanic. Other reports nationally have long shown that Blacks
suffer disproportionately from homicides and criminal woundings. The
"gun violence problem" is really some sort of ethnic problem that is
Some insight is gained however, through the open mic testimony of a lone
Hispanic male, who lamented that police efforts to control criminal
miscreants and the war on some drugs has forced astounding crime and
random gunfire problems into his south Phoenix community.
Police Chief Hurtt recognized exactly what the man was saying, and even
had a name for it, the "displacement problem," caused by getting tough
on crime in one area and watching it simply migrate elsewhere.
The dilemma, though, is that the man noted there is basically no police
factor in his neighborhoods. Only gunfire so bad he and his family
sleep in the windowless living room. Shame on the perpetrators of this
travesty, and I don't mean the warring factions, I mean the people who
create a public policy that generates such an affront to civilized
society. Crime containment, not law enforcement, forces this man and
his neighbors to endure violence that truly is outrageous.
Later the next evening, two Hispanic women from neighborhoods most of us
have only heard about and will never actually visit, called Charles
Goyette on KFYI, and identified the source of out-of-whack Hispanic
gunfire. It is caused, they said, by illegal aliens from Mexico. Do
have the political will to address this portion of the "random gunfire
problem," or is the word "passport" now so alien to law
it is never used?
In Mexico, the dictatorship (now the "democratically elected
leadership") is armed and prohibits the citizenry from bearing arms,
terrified that the people might overthrow an oppressive government.
When citizens there escape to our land they find they can obtain guns --
illegally of course since they could never pass a background check --
they get drunk, and they start shooting, these callers said. They
sounded sincerely fearful of a terrifying situation related to "the gun
violence problem." A situation ignored by the well intentioned,
basically upscale participants of the forum.
So there you have it. You can take a monumental bite out of the
violence problem" by:
A - curtailing a war that builds huge bureaucracy and has served mostly
as price supports for a widely desired and widely available product,
B - providing options and support for the elderly who are in desperate
and demoralized straights, and
C- returning to the strict old system of requiring passports for people
who travel to foreign lands.
I got the distinct impression that, left on their own, these courses of
action were not, and never will be, on the agenda at future "gun
Despite insistence to the contrary, the "Gun Violence Forum" was a
predictably political event. Solutions that were alluded to or directly
endorsed by the official participants included (taken from my notes):
Common sense prevention
Agreed upon priorities
Stopping the sale of bullets on a voluntary basis by asking stores to
stop sales prior to unspecified sensitive times of the year
Continuing "gun violence" forums
Requesting BATF assistance
Limiting availability of firearms
Reducing televised and other dramatized violence
Treating guns as disease
Encouraging safe use and storage of firearms
Requiring safe use and storage of firearms
(Registration and licensing might be good for Arizona -Napolitano)
Addressing social, psychological and biological factors in crime
Requiring gun safety classes
Recognizing that criminals will get guns anyway -Hurtt
Remove guns from homes
Have pediatricians inform parents of dangers of guns
Recognize that Eddie Eagle is really an invitation to touch guns
Require "safer" guns
Increase the trigger pressure needed to fire a gun
Regulate guns because they are currently unregulated
Make gun owners responsible for criminal misuse of their guns
Require one-gun-a-month lists and limits
Use the $35 million in Proposition 200 for violence reduction programs
Provide teen activities after school since most teen shootings, the
group most subject to "gun violence" occurs between the hours of 3 and
Have the leadership and political will to take action
This list, and my spreading it to you, is, in my opinion, the real
reason the event organizers didn't want us to attend this non-political
merely educational event.
And do let me point out that "gun violence" is a phony term that
aspersions on the noble and honorable tools which defend our freedom.
The accurate terms are human violence, and aggression. Guns are
neutral. They can be used for great good or great harm. It is their
illegal misuse, and criminal misconduct that the forum is supposed to
address. To attach guns inexhorably to crime in this phrase reflects
the bias and bigotry that poisons the struggle for our rights.
A few more points, and then I ought to get back to work.
The attendees of the forum were not, for the most part, evil people, in
my opinion. Many are simply terrified of guns, apparent sufferers of
hoplophobia (morbid fear of weapons), and as such should have no role
whatsoever in setting gun policy. Many others are simply misinformed,
swayed by pervasive bias in the news media, the rantings of their
politicized associates, or blindly seeking to do good without adequate
information upon which to act. Only a mere few are maliciously
dedicated to disarming the public as an invidious social engineering
agenda, and establishing a disgraceful duocracy in which only the rulers
would be armed.
In the end, we mostly seek the same goals. Reducing violence and strife
is a just and honorable pursuit of all civilized people (a point on
which the NRA and HCI routinely agree). To accomplish this, the onerous
attitude that pro-rights supporters should be locked out of public
debate must change. And efforts at disarming or infringing the rights
of honest people will have to give way to true work at the root causes
of human suffering.
Considering that pediatricians and other doctors are reportedly
responsible for 100,000 unjustifiable deaths year after year, it is
disingenuous at best -- and unethical or worse -- for them to
sanctimoniously campaign against firearms and fundamental rights. It is
an obvious boundary violation, and practice outside their competency,
when they attempt to counsel patients, and misuse the doctor-patient
trust, to encourage defenselessness and treat tools such as household
firearms as germs.
The Arizona Republic provided predictable reporting on the forum. The
Tribune, however, did an outstanding job of conveying the event, with a
head and subhead: "Anti-gun forum draws protest" and "2nd
supporters say they had a right to be at program" (10/3/00).
Congratulations to reporter Dan Nowicki for an excellent job.
Galan Updike, a state representative, pointed out that among the massive
statistics handed out to all attendees, only victims were listed. Where
are the stats on the perpetrators, he wondered. His question remained
unanswered. Both Hurtt and Napolitano admitted that such information
was sketchy at best. The AG had attempted a funded study of the source
of crime guns in 1994, but the results were "inconclusive."
In the past, when murders were mostly committed by people who knew each
other, Hurtt said, they cleared more than 90% of all cases. Now, with
murders largely stranger-on-stranger, or criminals attacking one another
(largely instigated by the federally funded war) the clearance rate is
at or under 50% and dropping.
I have noted many times that The Arizona Republic publishes nearly a
full page of reported crimes each week, by zip code, with no
corresponding page of arrests. The unfortunate conclusion is that there
are no corresponding arrests -- we must simply endure outrageous rates
of crime. Which reminds me of this tidbit adapted from my inquiry in
1998 as to why the police don't arrest all the Brady criminals they find
trying to buy guns (see the whole list under Position Papers at
"-- Because in a perverse way it serves government's purpose to have
crime and disruption, if it increases people's perceived need for
government to fight such things. In other words, sick as it sounds,
it's in government's interest to have crime (and other forms of
disaster, disease and strife). Crime is a main reason you have
government -- look what you would not need if there was no crime -- no
laws against crime, less legislators, no FBI, fewer cops and state
police, no criminal courts, no prisons, no bail bond agents, no
remediation programs, fewer social workers, smaller government at every
Most of you reading this have not, and never will, actually witness
criminal violence. It is contained in designated neighborhoods. It
managed in a government war program. It is a characteristic of old
people you do not know. It is racial and ethnic in nature (The Arizona
Republic's observation, not mine). If you eliminate these
"gun violence," I suspect that America has a lower crime and violence
rate than Sweden. If only the other side would embrace this, but it
would spoil their arguments, deflate their fervor and remove their
The few mainstream tragedies we do experience become horrifically
glorified and part of our popular culture, repeated endlessly to instill
unwarranted fear, gain political advantage of one form or another, or to
push partisan political agendas. It is wrong to use an extremely rare
random accident to demean and disparage fundamental civil rights the
citizenry has always possessed and cherishes.
Every single day 270 people wake up dead because their doctors killed
them, but all you hear about year after year are the same 12 students
from a school a thousand miles away. Imagine how dramatically our
perception and public policy would change if news reports shifted
focus. Look how that horribly distorted focus is destroying our rights
and our way of life.
With this in mind, I'm calling for another forum. A forum to examine
the massive benefits our society experiences from a heavily armed
public, police and military. Benefits that have made us the envy and
linchpin of freedom for the entire world. Benefits we must zealously
guard lest they be ripped asunder and trampled.
The organizers of the "Gun Violence Forum" make a basic,
mistake. For in focusing solely on the costs associated with harm
perpetrated with firearms, they overlook the harm prevented by the use
of firearms. Any conclusion they draw based solely on costs leaves them
open to obvious charges of junk science. It is the net effect, not
solely the cost or benefit, that has validity.
Let's reserve space (The Phoenix Library Auditorium?), and a radio host
(Bob Mohan?), and a panel of distinguished experts (including the AG and
Police Chief?), and examine the benefits our great society gains from
its vigorous efforts to balance power at home and on the rest of the
planet. Who would like to volunteer to lead and help organize this
For Immediate Release
Copyright 2000 Alan Korwin
Permission to circulate is granted.
"We publish the gun laws"
4848 E. Cactus, #505-440 Scottsdale, AZ 85254