For Release: Thursday, August 9, 2001
DOJ Remains Silent on Introduction of Ashcroft NRA Letter in Case – Opposes Introduction of VPC Analysis of Ashcroft NRA Letter
WASHINGTON, DC -The Violence Policy Center (VPC) learned this week that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is opposing an effort by law professors David Yassky and Carl T. Bogus – who are friends-of-the-court in U.S. v. Emerson – to have the recent VPC study, Shot Full of Holes: Deconstructing John Ashcroft’s Second Amendment, considered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Emerson case. The VPC study analyzes Attorney General John Ashcroft’s May letter to the National Rifle Association in which he reverses longstanding Justice Department policy and argues that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. The request by the attorneys came after appellee Timothy Joe Emerson submitted the Ashcroft letter to the court for consideration. Paradoxically, the Department has not voiced opposition to Emerson’s introduction of the Ashcroft letter.
The DOJ calls the VPC study an “unauthorized supplemental brief.” Yet the VPC analysis of the Ashcroft letter introduced by the two attorneys is directly related to Emerson’s submission of the letter and would actually support the Department of Justice’s as opposed to Ashcroft’s position in the case.
VPC Litigation Director and Legislative Counsel Mathew Nosanchuk states, “The Violence Policy Center has said repeatedly that when it comes to the Ashcroft Justice Department and our nation’s gun laws, watch what they do, not what they say. And once again, the Ashcroft Justice Department is saying one thing and doing another. This action clearly benefits domestic abusers like Timothy Joe Emerson and others intent on dismantling our nation’s gun laws.”
Last week the VPC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of Justice for all documents related to the Department’s shift in its position on the Second Amendment. The VPC FOIA request seeks to shed light on how this dramatic shift in which DOJ now states that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms came about.