Daniel D. Polsby

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Dean Daniel D. Polsby of George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia is the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for September.
In nominating Polsby for the Award, John M. Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, pointed out that, “Throughout his career, Dan has written a number of scholarly articles and briefs supporting the individual Second Amendment civil right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms. As Dean of George Mason Law School, he has maintained and developed on faculty the most distinguished and high-powered group of law school Second Amendment scholars in the United States. Most recently he joined with a number of other legal scholars and several public interest groups, including CCRKBA, calling for the dismissal of a District of Columbia handgun ban in the Parker v. District of Columbia case.
Dan points out that the entire question about whether the Second Amendment refers to an individual or a collective right is a false one. He says there really is no such thing as a collective right, as right by definition protects the individual in some way from a collectivity of some sort. “Dan’s incisive and succinct reasoning,” comments Snyder, “shows up the ‘collective’ right theory for what it really is – an attempt by restrictive gun control advocates to overcome constitutional protections against their program.”
Dan has been Foundation Professor of Law at George Mason since 1999. He became Acting Dean in 2004, and then Dean. During Dan’s tenure at George Mason, it has been the venue for the annual Firearms Law & Second Amendment Symposium hosted by Law Students for the Second Amendment along with the NRA Foundation and the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.
Polsby was Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Northwestern Universityprior to joining the George Mason faculty. He has held visiting appointments in the law schools of the University of Southern California, University of Michigan, and Cornell University.
Dan has published dozens of articles on such diverse subjects as voting rights, family law, employment rights, and spectrum utilization. He is the author of “The False Promise of Gun Control,” the cover essay of the March 1994 Atlantic Monthly, one of the most widely anthologized essays of recent years.
In that seminal article, Dan wrote that, “Gun control laws don’t work. What is worse, they act perversely. While legitimate users of firearms encounter intense regulations, scrutiny, and bureaucratic control, illicit markets easily adapt to whatever difficulties a free society throws in their way. Also, efforts to curtail the supply of firearms inflict collateral damage on freedom and privacy interests that have long been considered central to American public life.”
He also wrote, “Everyone knows that possessing a handgun makes it easier to intimidate, wound, or kill someone. But the implication of this point for social policy has not been so well understood. It is easy to count the bodies of those who have been killed or wounded with guns, but not easy to count the people who have avoided harm because they had access to weapons. Think about uniformed police officers, who carry handguns in plain view not in order to kill people but simply to daunt potential attackers. And it works. Criminals do not generally single out police officers for opportunistic attack. Though officers can expect to draw their guns from time to time, few even in big-city departments will actually fire a shot (except in target practice) in the course of a year. This observation points to an important truth: people who are armed make comparatively unattractive victims. A criminal might not know if any one civilian is armed, but if it becomes known that a large number of civilians do carry weapons, criminals will become warier.”
Dan received his B.A. from Oakland University and earned his J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1971. Among the subjects he has taught are Family Law, Torts and Criminal Law.