ICYMI: Judge Benitez Hammers Activist Professor Donohue in Miller v Becerra

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In Miller v. Becerra, Judge Benitez issued a forceful verdict in mid-October 2023, calling out longtime activist Professor Donohue.

John J. Donohue III is an economist and lawyer who has authored numerous articles. A large number of such papers were statistical studies on weapons and crime. He teaches at Stanford Law School. Some of his famous studies challenge John Lott’s findings that increased issuance of carry permits leads to decreased killings.

Professor Donohue’s conclusions have also been called into question. His analysis is based on state-level data, whereas John Lott’s analysis is based on finer-grained county-level data.

Professor Donohue filed a supplemental declaration in support of Becerra and the State of California with the court.

Judge Benitez carefully considered Professor Donohue’s. He finds it has little to do with the California ban on “assault weapons.

From Miller v Becerra, page 69:

John J. Donohue is a professor of law. His supplemental declaration is not particularly helpful. For example, professor Donohue describes a 2018 medical study published on the Jama Network Open about 511 gunshot victims in Boston. He opines that study “applies directly to bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.  Yet the study noted that only one of the 511 victims studied was shot with a rifle caliber round (7.62 x 39 mm.) Why the study applies directly to bans on “assault weapons,” as professor Donohue opines, is not at all obvious. Handgun wounds were the main point of the study. Professor Donohue also opines that the dangers of weapons like the AR-15 will outpace any legitimate crime-reducing benefit the firearms provide, citing the 2017 Sutherland Springs Baptist Church shooting. He picked an ironic example. a neighbor, Stephen Willeford, stopped the mass shooter in that tragedy with four shots from his own AR-15.

Professor Donohue previously commented on the lawful-to-own Ruger Mini-14 rifle wich is similar to the banned rifles. He offered that the Mini-14’s current legality is because the firearm restrictions are to be increased “incrementally.” He concludes with abject conjecture imagining the January 6, 2021 Capitol rally would have turned out like the Kent State University shootings, but for the District of Columbia’s prohibition on “assault weapons”. Professor Donohue’s opinions are entitled to no weight.

Judge Benitez depicts Professor Donohue as emotionally manipulating some shooting victims (shot almost completely with pistols).

When you don’t have a rational argument, you use emotional ploys. It is also a movement for interest balancing, which was prohibited in the Heller and Bruen Supreme Court decisions. The fact that Professor Donohue did not consider the exception for the Mini-14 Rifle important is particularly telling because the gun advocates have not yet banned it. It validates the “slippery slope” thesis.

It demonstrates that at least one famous academic and lawyer frequently cited by those who oppose a strong Second Amendment believes gun limitations should be implemented “incrementally.” It’s similar to the overused boiling frog simile. The unusual hypothetical between the January 6th Capitol Rally and Kent State is especially odd. Kent State occurred in 1970. There were no privately owned weapons involved in this case. The US government would have owned the only “assault weapons” involved. Judge Benitez renders a clear decision.

Those advocating for a disarmed society have found in Judge Benitez a jurist who is knowledgeable about firearms and firearms history, who meticulously does his studies, and who applies the law as the Constitution and the Supreme Court require. Meanwhile, Professor Donohue has been revealed as either a freedom-hating anti-gun fool or simply incompetent to provide declarations to the courts.



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