Prior to the American revolution an English general was overheard to say,
"You can not pull the wool over the eyes of those Americans; they are all a bunch of
lawyers." Book stores in London at that time sold more law books in the American
colonies than any book except the Holy Bible. The American revolution and the American
Republic were rooted in a climate of knowledge. Americans knew their law! They also knew
their Bible, upon which the principles of the English common law are based. Thomas
Jefferson said, in effect, that a people who wished to remain ignorant and to be free,
desired something that never had been and never would be.
The N.R.A. has launched a grass-roots campaign to help its members, their families, and
friends become informed activists in the fight to keep and regain our God-given rights,
including those protected by the second amendment.
In the fight to regain our rights, most of our effort is, and has to be, in the
political arena, however, in addition to political action, there is another area in which
NRA members, their families, and friends can be effective in stopping the government dead
in its tracks, whenever it attempts to infringe upon our rights, IF THEY HAVE KNOWLEDGE!
Any Citizen when serving on a jury, if he KNOWS his rights and duties as a juror, can
in the case he is on, stop the government cold if he believes the statute to be
unconstitutional or unfair simply by voting not guilty. When juries find a defendant not
guilty in cases where the defendant did in fact violate the statute, it nullifies the
statute in that particular case. Repeated and continuous JURY NULLIFICATION of a law makes
it impossible for the government to enforce it and will lead to repeal of that law.
The power of the jury to nullify was first exercised in a seventeenth century English
court and was discussed in an article by Godfrey Lehman in the November 1988 issue of The
"The ordeal suffered by twelve anonymous jurors in London over 300 years ago is
recorded obscurely in history under the colorless, non-descriptive title of
"Bushell's Case." Its 20th century oblivion belies the respect it commanded in
the 18th, and conceals its enduring multiple influences upon our Constitutional republic.
Fully understood, it can be appreciated as one of the most influential single events in
the entire history of our imperfect species because of its impact upon the writers of our Declaration of
Independence and Constitution.
Most significantly it was spontaneous, unlike any other great charter of liberty.
"It was accomplished without deliberate, conscious planning; without great public
agitation, and did not require the signing of a formal document. It did not involve any
highly-placed persons. It arose directly from the people.
It is the story of the trial of William Penn, who had committed no more serious offense
than preach Quakerism in spite of an official "law," known as the Conventicle
Act, intended to proscribe all religions except the Church of England. The jurors suffered
up to nine weeks of torture to stand by the principle that every person has a right to
worship according to his own conscience. Because they did not waver, they finally won.
"The Conventicle Act fell before these twelve inconsequential "bumble
heads" – these twelve "simple-witted cockneys" without rank nor
position in the government. There were no further prosecutions under that act. It was not
necessary to importune vote-seeking legislators to pass repealing legislation. The entire
government was humbled before them. They gained no material benefits for themselves, they
blended back into their pre-trial anonymity.
"By nullifying, the jury corrects governmental abuses and usurpations one at a
time without violence, within the arena of the courtroom, preventing the formation of a
long chain, which unchecked, could lead to revolution, as it did in 1776. The jury should
be highly respected and honored."
The right of juries to judge the justice of laws was eloquently discussed in 1852 by
author Lysander Spooner in his, Essay In The
Trial By Jury.
"For more than six hundred years — that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 —
there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that,
in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the
facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also
their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and
to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all
persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.
"Unless such be the right and duty of jurors, it is plain that, instead of juries
being a "palladium of liberty" — a barrier against the tyranny and
oppression of the government — they are really mere tools in its hands, for carrying
into execution any injustice and oppression it may desire to have executed.
"That the rights and duties of jurors must necessarily be such as are here claimed
for them, will be evident when it is considered what the trial by jury is, and what is its
"The trial by jury," then, is a "trial by the country" — that
is, by the people — as distinguished from a trial by the government. It was anciently
called "trial per pais" — that is, "trial by the country."
"The object of this trial "by the country," or by the people, in
preference to a trial by the government, is to guard against every species of oppression
by the government. In order to effect this end, it is indispensable that the people, or
"the country," judge of and determine their own liberties against the
government; instead of the government's judging of and determining its own powers over the
people. How is it possible that juries can do anything to protect the liberties of the
people against the government , if they are not allowed to determine what those liberties
"To secure this right of the people to judge of their own liberties against the
government, the jurors are taken from the body of the people, by lot, or by some process
that precludes any previous knowledge, choice, or selection of them, on the part of the
government. This is done to prevent the government's constituting a jury of its own
partisans or friends. In other words, to prevent the government's packing a jury, with a
view to maintain its own laws, and accomplish its own purpose."
Things have come a long way since 1852. I'm sure that Mr. Spooner would cringe if he
were to witness jury selection today. Both sides try to stack the jury. If you were to
serve on a jury on a gun case it is not unrealistic to expect the government to ask if
there are any gun owners, or maybe even NRA members, in the jury pool. Sometimes jurors
are asked to answer questions by raising their hands. In that situation it is possible to
not volunteer an answer by not raising ones hand. Quoting further from Mr. Lehman's Justice
"Almost universally, judges would extricate from jurors the false oath to
"Take the law as I dictate it to you, no matter how you feel about it." Judges
who do this are acting criminally as they are violating their own sacred Constitutional
oaths. They would dominate the jury. Principled jurors refusing to take the oath are
forcibly removed from the panel (also illegal).
"My position as a juror is to take the oath but, if the law is repugnant, to
repudiate it in the jury room. Since to insist upon the oath is duress, and since it
demands yielding inherent, Constitutionally guaranteed rights and powers, it is a lie from
the beginning. It is not valid. It is the gun to your head and the offer you can't refuse.
Jurors who have ostensibly sworn to the oath have remained on juries to prevent what would
have been miscarriages of justice.
"The intense inquisition of jurors before trial is also to destroy jury
independence by attempting to stack the jury with only compliant non- questioning jurors.
The Constitution does not permit the court to invade the private lives of jurors with
these outrageous inquisitions.
"That all of this is done in defiance of the Constitution is only partial
demonstration of the extent we have progressed toward judicial oligarchy - despite those
repeated Constitutional guarantees. The most valuable lesson we can learn from the ordeal
of the Bushell jurors is that we do not require legislation nor other official act to save
this grand bulwark of liberty, and liberty itself. We require only ourselves,
knowledgeable and refusing to submit.
"And because our liberty depends principally upon the honesty of jurors, we the
people, can overcome the oligarchy by doing nothing else than following, as jurors, the
Bushell example of acting on conscience and principle."
Knowledgeable grass-roots political activity is absolutely necessary if we are to keep
and regain our unalienable rights, protected by constitutional prohibitions on government.
However, by serving on juries, when given the opportunity, with knowledge, acting on
conscience and principle we can, once again, make the jury (at least the one we serve on)
a "palladium of liberty."
It is my hope that all N.R.A. members will become informed regarding the power of
juries and that they will share their knowledge with family, friends, and neighbors. It is
far easier to stop the enemies of liberty in the jury box than it is at Concord's bridge
(shot heard around the world).