The Independence Institute is a public policy research organization that takes a fervent pro- gun rights position, providing a voice for an essentially libertarian perspective on firearms and the criminal justice system. Located in Golden, Colorado, the Institute was founded in 1985 by David S. D'Evelyn and John Andrews. The Institute conducts studies of various public policy issues in such areas as education, health care, transportation, the environment, government reform, and criminal justice and violent crime. Largely through the efforts of its research director, David Kopel, the Institute has focused much of its attention on firearms issues. The organization has a definite free-market, pro-individual freedom perspective and emphasizes private- sector, community-based solutions to policy problems.
The Institute publishes research reports, offering recommendations from a pro-freedom perspective, and distributes to the media a weekly commentary on current events that emphasizes civil liberties and economic freedom. The Institute broadcasts a weekly television program, Independent Thinking, from a Denver television station, along with a public affairs discussion program. The organization sponsors public debates and weekend conferences at the Institute headquarters.
The Institute regards itself as a primary source of research on the right to keep and bear arms. It has published many reports on gun control and solutions to crime that respect civil liberties. People associated with the Institute have treated a number of issues on the gun control agenda, such as the ideological origins of both pro- and anti-gun attitudes in the United States. This study investigates the phenomenon of guns substituting as scapegoats for the actual causes of violence. The entrance of medical professionals into the gun control movement is regarded as an attempt to use professional status to influence the debate. The effort to ban particular types of firearms has come under investigation. Banning of weapons by type, such as assault rifles, is rejected as unconstitutional because banned guns cannot be rationally distinguished from other weapons. The Institute has investigated and rejected the anti- gun claim that firearms should not be kept in the home for self-protection because they are too dangerous.
Institute reports defend state laws permitting carrying concealed handguns, claiming that permit holders are in fact more law-abiding than the general population. Papers defending the Second Amendment have been issued, including an analysis of the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Miller ( 1939), the major twentieth-century decision on the right to keep and bear arms. The view that the Second Amendment involves a collective right granted only to state governments is examined and rejected. Other projects in