Dave Kopel

David B. "Dave" Kopel[1] (born January 7, 1960) is an American author, attorney, political science researcher, gun rights advocate, and contributing editor to several publications.

He is currently research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado, associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute, contributor to the National Review magazine and Volokh Conspiracy legal blog. Previously he was adjunct professor of law, New York University, and former assistant attorney general for Colorado.

Kopel earned a B.A. in history with highest honors from Brown University, and won the National Geographic Society Prize for best history thesis with a biography of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.[2] He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. He was also a contributing editor of the Michigan Law Review.

Kopel is also a life member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences,[3] and, as of 2010, served on the board of directors of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers.[4]

Political Views and Activism

Politically he is a lifelong registered Democrat but a confessed small government libertarian at heart who voted for Ralph Nader.[5] He voted for Ron Paul in 1988.[6]

In 1996, he and former Illinois senator Paul Simon wrote an article published in the National Law Journal criticizing the practice of mandatory minimum sentence.[7]

Kopel opposes gun control and is a benefactor member of the National Rifle Association. His articles on gun control and gun violence have been cited in the Opposing Viewpoints Series.[8] In 2003, Kopel wrote in National Review "Simply put, if not for gun control, Hitler would not have been able to murder 21 million people.[9]" He recently contributed an article to the 59th Volume of the Syracuse Law Review entitled "The Natural Right of Self-Defense: Heller's Lesson for the World."[10] He is a critic of Michael Moore and provided a list of what he characterized as Moore's "deceits".[11][12] He appeared in FahrenHYPE 9/11, a film that disputes the allegations in Fahrenheit 9/11. Kopel's Independence Institute received 1.42 million dollars of funding for its activities by the National Rifle Association.[13][14]

In 2008, Kopel appeared before the United States Supreme Court as part of the team presenting the defense's oral argument in District of Columbia v. Heller. His Heller amicus brief for a law coalition of law enforcement organizations and district attorneys was cited four times in the Court’s Heller opinions. His brief in McDonald v. Chicago (2010) was cited by Justice Alito’s plurality opinion, and twice by Justice Stevens’ dissent. He has also testified numerous times before Congress and state legislatures, including before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the Supreme Court nominations of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.[15]

Kopel testified on January 30, 2013, or six weeks after the Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, before the Senate Judiciary Committee on gun violence as a Denver University law school adjunct professor and the research director of the Independence Institute, a public policy think-tank based in Golden, Colorado.[16]

One month later MSNBC.com revealed that Kopel and the Independence Institute had received $108,000 in grants from the National Rifle Association's Civil Rights Defense Fund, and that another witness at the Senate Judiciary hearing, David T. Hardy, testifying as a private attorney in Tucson, Arizona, had received $67,500 in grants from the same NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund in 2011. 

Kopel was the lead attorney in a May 2013 Federal civil rights lawsuit against the State of Colorado aimed at blocking several "Democratic gun control measures passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper" in March 2013.[17]

The Fox News affiliate station in Denver, Fox31, and correspondent Eli Stokols in May 2013 revealed that Kopel had received $1.39 million in grant money from the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund between 2004 and 2011. Fox31 reported Kopel's NRA funding after the Colorado-based Independence Institute filed suit in Colorado challenging the state's gun laws with Kopel as the lead attorney.[18]

Kopel has long been a prolific author of opinion columns writing on topics including constitutional law, international law, criminal justice, technology, antitrust, media issues, and environmental policy as well as making arguments against gun control in outlets including The Denver Post, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and in law review articles including Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, Michigan Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, SAIS Review, and the Brown Journal on World Affairs, identifying himself as research director of the Independence Institute, associate policy analyst with the Cato Institute, in Washington, D.C., and a Denver University Strum Law School adjunct professor of advanced constitutional law.[19]

The New York Times changed Kopel's author ID for the online opinion piece, "Bloomberg’s Gun Control That Goes Too Far for the Average Citizen," on April 18, 2014, to reveal that that Independence Institute, where Kopel is research director, has "received grant money from the National Rifle Association's Civil Rights Defense Fund."[20] On April 24, 2014, The Progressive reported that Kopel and his Independence Institute "have received over $1.42 million including about $175,000 a year over eight years from the NRA."[21]


  1. Appearances on C-SPAN
  2. The Highbrow in American Politics: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and the Role of the Intellectual in Politics, David B. Kopel, Honors Thesis, May 1982. (available online as a set of PDFs).
  3. "About". Davekopel.org. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  4. Hoover, Tim (27 September 2010). "Colorado Union of Taxpayers: We can't count on Republicans". The Denver Post. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  5. Why I’m Voting for Nader Dave Kopel
  6. Ron's Revolution Dave Kopel
  7. Restore Flexibility to U.S. Sentences Paul Simon and Dave Kopel
  8. James D Torr, Gun violence : opposing viewpoints Greenhaven Press, 2002 ISBN 0-7377-0712-7
  9. http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel052203.asp
  10. The Natural Right of Self-Defense: Heller's Lesson for the World, SSRN
  11. Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11 Archived 2005-06-23 at the Wayback Machine. Dave Kopel
  12. Bowling Truths Dave Kopel
  13. http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/04/187663/times-has-finally-quietly-outed-nra-funded-%E2%80%9Cindependent%E2%80%9D-scholar
  14. https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/04/17/can-bloomberg-take-on-the-nra/bloombergs-gun-control-that-goes-too-far-for-the-average-citizen
  15. University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Faculty and Staff Director, David Kopel, http://www.law.du.edu/index.php/profile/david-kopel
  16. "Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013 (Transcript)," The Washington Post, January 30, 2013
  17. Majority of Colorado sheriffs join lawsuit against gun control laws, KDVR News, May 17, 2013.
  18. "NRA money behind lawsuit challenging new Colo. gun control laws," Fox31, by Eli Stokols, May 29, 2013, http://kdvr.com/2013/05/29/nra-money-behind-lawsuit-challenging-new-colo-gun-control-laws/
  19. University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Faculty & Staff Directory, David Kopel, http://www.law.du.edu/index.php/profile/david-kopel
  20. https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/04/17/can-bloomberg-take-on-the-nra/bloombergs-gun-control-that-goes-too-far-for-the-average-citizen
  21. "The Times Has Finally (Quietly) Outed an NRA-Funded 'Independent” Scholar,'" The Progressive, by Frank Smyth, April 24, 2014, http://progressive.org/dispatches/times-finally-quietly-outed-nra-funded-independent-scholar/
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