If you’ve been reading these pages in the last few months, you’re probably aware that the lefty magazine Mother Jones has been on its own anti-gun jihad of late. Apparently supremely peeved by the lack of anti-RKBA progress — particularly on the national level — in the 18 months since Sandy Hook, the gloves have clearly come off. And, like most members of the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex, pro-gun public enemy number one is, was, and always will be the National Rifle Association and its 5 million members. As seen by Second Amendment foes, the NRA is the 800-pound gorilla of gun rights advocacy, the lobbying colossus that bestrides Capitol Hill striking righteous fear into the hearts of any who would presume to oppose them. Which means they must be struck down at any cost. And that explains MoJo’s article recounting NRA general counsel Robert Dowlut’s 1964 murder conviction . . .
In an article titled ‘The NRA’s Murder Mystery,’ author Dave Gilson provides a clear motive,
As the NRA’s top lawyer, he has been a key architect of the gun lobby’s campaign to define the legal interpretation of the Second Amendment. He helped oversee the NRA’s effort to strike down Chicago’s handgun ban in the 2010 Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago, and he is the longtime secretary of the organization’s Civil Rights Defense Fund, which has spent millions assisting gun owners in court and sponsoring gun rights researchers. Dowlut’s journal articles have been cited by federal judges and are quoted by pro-gun activists. Chris W. Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying operation, has praised him as “a longtime distinguished Second Amendment scholar.” Dowlut’s behind-the-scenes legal work may have done as much to tighten the NRA’s grip on gun policy as its blustery talking heads and provocative PR campaigns.
No, that’s not the motive for the shooting, though Gilson naturally provides that, too. Rather, the above passage describes, very succinctly, the reason for all the digging into the past – why Dowlut must be taken down.
MoJo details Dowlut’s 1963 arrest, including the conflicting stories about how he was treated during 20 hours of attorney-free questioning while in police custody and his subsequent trial and conviction for second degree murder. The story’s a little murky on the outcome of charges of assault and battery with intent to kill stemming from an attempt to rob a pawn shop in which the store owner was wounded earlier the same night of the murder.
Though sentenced to life in prison, Dowlut’s conviction was ultimately overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court based on violations of his right against self incrimination during questioning. That decision left the prosecution with virtually no case due to evidence tainted under what would ultimately come to be known as the exclusionary rule.
The piece spends even more time recounting Dowlut’s subsequent Second Amendment scholarship and the invaluable contributions he’s made to gun rights jurisprudence and the sea change his arguments helped to affect in getting courts to view the 2A as an individual right. Gilson’s glee in recounting some of Dowlut’s own arguments against the background of his history with the criminal justice system fairly drips from the page.
In his 1997 article in the Stanford Law & Policy Review, he wrote, “Historically the police have opposed any extension of constitutional rights to individuals under their control.” In his 1983 article, he cited the Supreme Court’s affirmation inMiranda of “the right to remain silent and have counsel present during a custodial interrogation.” He disapprovingly quoted Justice Byron White’s dissent, which predicted that the ruling “will return a killer, a rapist or other criminal to the streets.”
If the facts of the article are true – and there’s no reason at this point to think otherwise – the relatively low-profile Dowlut’s 50-year-old conviction and eventual release on technical grounds will unquestionably be a black eye for the NRA. It will be an all-too-convenient cudgel for every anti-gunner to use against the gun rights org for the foreseeable future.
But the story is also further evidence of a concerted effort by Mother Jones, Rolling Stone and other opponents of gun rights to use whatever means necessary to damage those who have been most effective in furthering Second Amendment rights and securing American’s natural, civil, constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. They’ve declared all-out war. To others in prominent pro-RKBA positions — particularly those with skeletons in their closets, not matter how old — hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.