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The American Enlightenment Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, formed to end the gun violence epidemic through legal challenges to the fundamentally flawed Supreme Court decisions that declared a right to guns and triggered it, and a major re-education of the public.

AEP’s groundbreaking work challenges conventional wisdom, shows the tragic link between worsening gun violence and D.C. v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), and reveals Heller as a historic blunder that overlooked constitutional text and founding history. Each makes clear the Second Amendment has nothing to do with an individual right.

Worsening gun proliferation and violence       [rotating bi-level banners]

2008-2010: 310 million guns in U.S.

(Cong. Research Service rep. 2012)

2013: 359 million guns in U.S.

 (“There are now more guns than people in the U.S.,” Wash. Post Oct. 5,2015)  

2017 ___,000,000 guns in U.S.


2008-2010: 31,593-

31,672 dead/year

(U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

2011-2014: 32,351-33,594 dead/year

2015: 36,252 dead

“Gun Epidemic” 5 Feb. historic front-page New York Times editorial

2016: 38,658 dead

“Our Responsibility” historic presidential op-ed: “Every year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns. Suicides. Domestic violence. Gang shoot-outs. Accidents.”

2017: 39,773

Daily mass shootings.

Record massacre in Las Vegas: 58 dead, 851 wounded; month later 5th deadliest massacre in Texas church: 26 dead

2018:  tbd

School shootings every other day – 11th by Jan. 23, 2018: 2 dead, 17 hurt in Kentucky

(in Canada: zero)

Why it’s worsening          [rotating banner]

Heller (2008) “created a new blockbuster right” to guns (extended to the states by McDonald (2010)) “not apparent to the Supreme Court for over two centuries” (Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson)

It’s “profoundly important” to recognize Heller “curtail[s] the government’s power to regulate the use of handguns that contribute to the roughly 88 firearm-related deaths that occur every day.” (Justice John Paul Stevens)

Since Heller opened the floodgates, 300,000 have died with millions injured in escalating gun violence, already half the Civil War carnage sparked by Dred Scott

Tragic miscalculation             [rotating banner]

“Disenfranchising the American people on this life and death subject” is “the gravest and most serious of steps” (Judge Wilkinson)

“We do not wish to be even minutely responsible for some unspeakably tragic act of mayhem because…we miscalculated as to Second Amendment rights” (Judge Wilkinson)

Heller took legislative “policy choices off the table” through guesswork and epic oversights

Countless Americans are paying the price

Epic oversights         [rotating banner]

Heller, construing two thirds of the Amendment up to “keep and bear Arms,” found an oddly-worded right to “handgun possession” and to “carry it in the home,” overlooking the prohibition and verb (“shall not be infringed”) on which it rests. 

Never deciding its meaning, Heller transposed “infringed” to “abridged,” two entirely different words and not even synonyms (like transposing “shall not kill” to “shall not maim”)

Both are terms of art: “infringed” protects the legislative right of states to militia; “abridged” was used to protect individual rights in the First Amendment and in all others for 200 years.

Other epic missteps         [rotating banner]

Heller’s second right to “weapons typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes” rests on the notion weapons used by militias and at home were “one and the same,” taken from a single 1980 case on billy clubs (citing Swords & Blades), not guns

A flimsy billy-club case is the linchpin of a Heller construct applied without question in hundreds of cases. And Heller concedes its invented exception denying citizens military arms leaves the Amendment “completely detached” from its militia purpose.

Heller’s final right to insurrection of “citizen militia” as a “safeguard against tyranny,” the pablum of gun groups, ignores express checks and balances (federal and state governments ensure republican government in each other), and has inspired dangerous insurrectionist activity.

Needless carnage, misguided disputes, and waste                 [rotating banner]

300,000 deaths and counting, another every 15 minutes, due in no small part to Heller

Hundreds of misguided court battles over Heller constructs and exceptions having nothing to do with the Amendment: all angels dancing on the head of a pin

Millions wasted in litigation, lobbying, and campaigns across the country (NRA spent $30 million on the 2016 presidential election alone)

Heller has no binding effect                   [rotating banner]

Heller, not deciding the full text, can have no binding effect. Construing no term in relation to “infringed,” little is left that does not require reconsidera-tion. Nothing prevents courts from considering what Heller never decided, the Amendment’s actual wording.

Justice Scalia, who wrote the Heller majority opinion, himself wrote in 2015 about a case of “judge-invented doctrine” whose “error has grown more glaringly obvious,” counseling it is not for “Congress to clean up a mess that I helped make.”

It’s time for courts to apply that candor to the ill-starred Heller. Today’s “mess” was created by the courts, and cannot be cleaned up by Congress or state legislatures.

It’s also past time to pretend the country can “live with” Heller and its token exceptions for gun regulation, while more and more Americans die from worsening gun violence.