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With each report of violent crime statistics (whether rising or falling) or of the latest firearms outrage, we hear the antiphony of the gun control debate. Advocates of increased federal regulation decry the inadequacies of a regime that permits relatively free access to firearms and argue that the availability of guns is itself a spur to more deadly violence. Advocates of minimal regulation, for their part, condemn measures that, they say, will primarily penalize law-abiding citizens, and instead call for more vigorous enforcement of existing laws, targeting "criminals," not their weapons. When the antiphony intrudes on funerals, the effect can be jarring. But these are time-honored themes, which can be heard as loudly in the debate surrounding the Gun Control Act of 1968 as they can today.

These themes echoed (albeit in muted form) in the 2000 presidential and congressional campaigns, in Attorney General John Ashcroft's confirmation hearings, and will surely be heard in the future. There is one note of virtual unanimity however: The Eastern District of Virginia United States Attorney's Office's Project Exile has been a stupendous success and ought to be replicated (to one degree or another) wherever gun violence threatens the social fabric.


Constitutional Law | Criminal Law | Law


Copyright 2001 by Arizona Board of Regents and Daniel C. Richman. Reprinted with permission of the author and publisher. This article originally appeared in Arizona Law Review, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 369-412.