Enough Is Enough.
End the Gun Violence Crisis at its Source.
What is AEP?
The American Enlightenment Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on ending America’s gun violence crisis. Launched on the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s divided decision in D.C. v. Heller (2008), AEP opened a missing front against the gun crisis that arose after Heller announced a constitutional right to have a gun.
Until 2008, there was no individual right before Heller’s “radical change in the law” (dissenting Justice Stevens). Courts throughout the 20th century held the 2nd Amendment was “meant solely to protect the right of the states to keep and maintain armed militia.” After Heller and its new right, expanded nationwide in McDonald v. Chicago (2010), gun purchases and violence increased and then accelerated to what America suffers today.
AEP approaches this national health epidemic from a different perspective – its source.
- It’s crucial to see Heller’s role and the need to overturn it.
- It’s crucial to know Heller is flagrantly wrong, a house of cards that cannot stand.
- It’s crucial to understand the real 2nd Amendment is no bar to gun reform and ending this crisis.
Many groups advocate for sensible gun reform, and hundreds of millions have been spent to fund their modest “common sense” solutions in legislatures, elections and the courts. So far to little avail. In fact, the epidemic has gotten worse. California recently declared a “full-on state of emergency.” The Washington Post in a 9/11 editorial, “Residents are scared,” urged leaders to “cut the rhetoric and take a rigorous look at what is—and is not—working.”
Despite mounting evidence of Heller’s deadly effects—now impossible to ignore—the gun control community still chooses not to blame the decision that put America in peril, unable to do anything about it.
- Mass shootings now occur at least twice a day (@MassShootingTracker), road-rage shootings every 17 hours (@DefensiveGunUse), and child shootings “EVERY DAMN DAY” (@DomesticGunViolence)
- Destabilizing effects include a society unable to protect itself, schoolchildren and a public living in fear, and soaring health costs, armed resistance, and political violence
The community’s messaging that Heller isn’t the problem is wrong, enables the epidemic, and deflects scrutiny. When the media reports, for example, “There are too many shootings to cover” (Wash Post 7.11.22), and “Little consensus on why gun sales and deaths are surging” (7.10.22), it seldom mentions Heller’s radical change in the law.
Heller’s role finally was recognized after the July 4th Highland Park parade massacre, in “America’s unique, enduring gun problem, explained” (Vox 7.4.22): “The Court has made it impossible to cure America’s gun violence epidemic.” Heller “went much further” than a right to possession, to find a right of self-defense and to handguns, “responsible for far more deaths than any other weapon.” NYSRPA v. Bruen this June makes reform “even harder,” and “the future of firearm regulation looks grim.”
AEP offers a unique approach and solution: the most effective—and really only way—to end this crisis:
First, AEP shows that the last decade’s surge in guns and gun violence stems, at its core, from Heller’s new right to have a gun, being used by Americans of all ages to resolve their disagreements. And that Heller’s “historical understanding” rule for deciding where its right extends, as reaffirmed in Bruen in extending Heller to public carry, now threatens to gut most gun control.
Second, AEP shows that Heller must be overturned.
Third, AEP shows Heller is a fragile series of fatal flaws that cannot survive scrutiny, even in this Court.
Finally, and critically, AEP sheds light on the actual meaning of the 2nd Amendment that long has baffled scholars and the courts. AEP’s insights and discovery of key oversights, never argued or considered in Heller, prove the amendment protects a sovereign right of the states as long understood, not a personal right.
With your help AEP can bring these oversights to the attention of the courts, and help them right the glaring wrongs of Heller before its consequences grow even worse.
Who is AEP?
With its board and advisors, AEP is led by appellate counsel with a record of resolving longtime legal enigmas. After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, AEP founder, Robert Ludwig, began years of in-depth historical and legal research unraveling the mystery of the 2nd Amendment. Undeterred by long-held orthodoxy that the amendment is hopelessly inscrutable, he uncovered the amendment’s forgotten origins and plain meaning, allowing its baffling text finally to be understood and proven.
Finding long-unexamined assumptions and oversights, he applied insights and persistence used, in one case, to end a half-century inability of courts and scholars to explain other vexing text, persuading Justice Scalia who wrote Heller and other justices that “substantial” means “minimum” as an overlooked jurisdictional term of art in the Court’s own case law, and in another, untangling century-long conflicts in a resolution adopted in unanimous Supreme Court aviation decisions by Justices Scalia and Thomas.
His first article, “2nd Amendment Still Undecided, Hiding in Plain View” (Law360 1.11.16), was published weeks after the Gun Epidemic was declared and weeks before Justice Scalia’s death. That and later articles are available on AEP’s website, including “High Court Gun Rights Case Ignores Key Case Law Problem” (Law360 11.5.20).
The American Enlightenment Project was formed to bring to light the true meaning of the 2nd Amendment, and to undertake the necessary legal challenges to overturn Heller.
The Court itself has paved the way. Vindicating AEP’s discovery that the amendment’s command “shall not be infringed” protects a sovereign, not individual right, a near-unanimous Court recently reaffirmed that patent infringement involves a “public,” not “personal right.” That 7-2 decision, correcting a related misconception, is ironically by Justice Thomas, a defender of Heller’s personal right.
This and other key findings upend years of conventional wisdom and futility. Together they enable a return to the longtime reading of the 2nd Amendment, the undoing of Heller, and an end to this crisis.
AEP is dedicated to ending America’s gun violence epidemic by refocusing the gun debate and the courts on Heller and the real 2nd Amendment, specifically by:
- Bringing legal challenges to overturn Heller, a decision so flawed it cannot stand
- Reinstating legislative choices to enact gun reform based on policy judgments that legislatures, not courts, are suited to make
- Educating the public on Heller’s deadly effects and the forgotten meaning of the amendment, which has nothing to do with a personal right
You can make a difference. If you see the critical need to address this crisis at its source – the only way to end it – please support us in any way you can.
We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Gifts to the American Enlightenment Project are tax-deductible.