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4/30/2005

ID marks for Bullets

Washington State Election Fraud

More and more comes out on the 129 vote victory that Democrat Christine Gregoire had last fall over Republican Dean Rossi. Beyond the 10,000 provisional ballots that were discovered in King County, as well as the 94 new uncounted ballots were discovered just last month, here are a few additional points:

-- some 700 felons voted illegally in King County, given the 90 percent rate that felons vote for Democrats, this is by itself made the difference in the race.
-- illegal votes were also likely cast when 700 provisional ballots were fed into voting machines before officials had determined their validity.

Ridiculous coverage of Florida's new self defense law

Alphecca has a link to how international news coverage is inaccurately misreporting Florida's new self defense law.

GREG DREWES: That's him, that's Mark. That's about three weeks before it happened.

LEIGH SALES: Mark and his mates were out one night, playing doorknocking pranks. Jay Levin was one of their targets. He was home alone and heard noises outside, imagining it was a burglar. He opened his front door, gun in hand, just as Mark was running away. In panic, Jay Levin shot Mark Drewes in the back, killing him.

Mr Levin was charged with manslaughter because under Florida's old laws, that level of force was considered excessive.

But this week, the law changed, and today, Mr Levin would be innocent of any wrongdoing.


The coverage is outrageous and I doubt that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will bother getting their story correct, but in any case I sent an email to them at currentaffairs@your.abc.net.au:

Dear Sir:

Your story on "Florida widens right to use deadly force" was extremely inaccurate and completely misstated Florida's law on self defense. There is still a "reasonable person" standard for whether a reasonable person would view themselves as being in danger. You can only engage in responses that are commensurate to the danger that you face. Shooting someone in the back who was running away would not be viewed as a reasonable response. Someone has to be actively threatened to use a gun in self defense. For example, is the attacker pointing a weapon at you or charging you. What the new Florida law changed was whether you must also first retreat between you may use self defense.

Sincerely,

John R. Lott, Jr.
Resident Scholar
American Enterprise Institute

More on the Breast Implant Scare

Steve Milloy enters in again on the breast implant debate.

Despite the absence of science indicating that silicone breast implants cause the alleged harms, the trial lawyers were greatly aided by a bungling FDA that decided very publicly in 1992 to restrict silicone breast implants availability to U.S. women who elected to have reconstructive surgery follow mastectomy. Silicone breast implants have continued to be available without restriction to women in other countries.

The media compounded the FDA goof by reporting the agency action as a scary “ban” -- and the lawyers were off to the races. Manufacturers were hit with thousands of lawsuits, eventually deciding to settle class action claims as a matter of business and not because there was a factual basis for genuine liability.


I am not sure that I would classify this as a "goof." Given the rest of Milloy's arguments, it seems more likely that the original ban was much more a political decision than a scientific one.

4/29/2005

The External Benefit from Hunting

Rush Limbaugh's Take on Florida's New Self Defense Law

Rush nails some media bias on guns. This is pretty blatant.

Listen to this sound bite. This is a guy from Good Morning America today; this is the correspondent from ABC, Jeffrey Kofman and his report on Florida's new gun law.

KOFMAN: What was it Clint Eastwood said, "Go ahead, make my day?" Well, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has done just that for gun owners here in Florida. It's going to be a lot easier to shoot and kill someone in the name of self-defense. Under the old law, people had to feel trapped before responding with deadly force, not anymore.

RUSH: Can you believe this? People had to feel trapped before responding, now you don't have to feel trapped, you just have to be acting in self-defense. See, this is great stuff. I mean we're illustrating exactly who these people are, but in the past, Florida residents outside their homes had a so-called "duty to retreat" when confronted with potential for violence. They had to retreat. They had to back up. They had to get out of there. But now they can meet force with force. Ho-ho-ho, and the left fit to be tied over this, ladies and gentlemen, as I say, a great illustration of who these people really are, despite their rhetoric.

4/28/2005

Armed Pilot Program Still Moving Slowly

I don't have the link for this, but the entire article is worth reading.

Guns in Cockpits Program Still Half Cocked, Some Say

By Caitlin Harrington
CQ Homeland Security Daily
April 27. 2005

Two years after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a program to train pilots to carry guns in the cockpit, critics say lingering problems with the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program still discourage pilots from participating.

Since the program's inception in 2003, pilots groups have expressed frustration with TSA policies on gun storage and identification. The policies, they say, put the safety of deputized pilots at risk and run contrary to the intent of Congress, which wanted as many pilots as possible to participate.

"They've created a program that is so unfriendly that tens of thousands of pilots have changed their mind about volunteering," said David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance (APSA), a group formed after the Sept. 11 attacks to lobby for the arming of pilots. . . .

APSA estimates that only about 4,000 pilots have been trained and deputized - a fraction of the approximately 95,000 commercial pilots in the country. APSA estimates about 50,000 pilots who were initially interested in the program changed their minds after learning about certain TSA policies. . . .

What a difference a year of experience makes

Minnesota's Right-to-carry law is going to have to be re-passed because of recent court decisions. Yet, even the opponents say that it is going to be passed.

The gun bill is one stop away from a House floor vote, where even opponents concede it will easily pass. In a major development, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson said he intends to hold an up-or-down Senate vote on the bill if it clears the House and not bury it in committee.

"The issue perhaps is not as volatile as we thought last year," said Johnson, DFL-Willmar, who opposed the bill in 2003. "I don't think the problems have played out as predicted." . . .

Borchardt [head of the state sheriff's association] said the overturned law proved manageable. "The fact is the sky didn't fall," he said. "The fact is it worked pretty seamlessly."


However, some people never give up.

"All of us are at risk when it is so easy for so many people to have guns in so many public places," said Kate Havelin, president of the Twin Cities Million Moms March chapter.


You would think that they would have learned by now that these claims hurt their credibility.

4/27/2005

The Cincinnati Post on the One Year Anniversary of Ohio's Right-to-carry law

5-3 Supreme Court Ruling that Foreign conviction does not deny the right to own a gun

"The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the government may not deny a U.S. citizen gun ownership because of a criminal conviction abroad . . . ."


There is an interesting breakdown of opinions on the court. Breyer wrote the majority opinion (with the normal liberals supporting him) and Thomas dissented joined by Scalia and Kennedy. In other words, the liberals allowed the American citizen to get his gun back because they said that we shouldn't depend upon decisions in foreign courts since they are not based on the same standards as ours. Thomas based his decision solely on the law, and references the fact that the original law was quite broad. I have to say after looking at it, that may be despite my policy preferences in favor of Breyer (and on policy grounds I think that his arguments are sound), Thomas seems to have gotten it right on the law. Here is one case where judicial activism came to a conservative decision, but it was accomplished by liberal judges whom I assume have decisions further down the road in mind with the precedents that they wanted to create.

Thanks to Sonya for mentioning this and making similar points.

"Va. Teacher Accused of Taking Gun To School"

Transcript of Fox News Interview:"Today's big question, Professor Lott, does the Senate really discriminate against smart judges?

4/26/2005

ON Fox News at 5:40 PM EDT today

I will be on Fox News at 5:40 with Judge Napalitano to talk about my work on the judicial confirmation process.

New op-ed on "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act"

How Hillary Clinton seems to have broken the Campaign Finance Laws

Under the arcane rules of the Federal Election Commission at the time, campaigns could use soft money to pay for fund-raising events — provided the gathering's costs came to 40 percent or less of the total of hard money raised. (Soft money was far easier to raise: Donors could give up to $25,000 of soft money, but only $1,000 of hard money).

Hillary's Hollywood gala that raised $1 million in hard money that August. This meant that the campaign could use soft money to pay for all costs up to $400,000. David Rosen conveniently reported to the campaign treasurer that the event did, indeed, cost $400,000, avoiding the necessity of spending any hard money on the affair.

But the federal indictment of Rosen, FBI affidavits and the testimony of the event organizers — Peter Paul and Aaron Tonkin — all confirm that the extravaganza's true cost was at least $1.2 million. Press leaks suggests that the feds may have Rosen on tape acknowledging that he understated the cost of the event on purpose.

Here's why he would have done it: If the real cost of the event were $1.2 million instead of $400,000, the campaign would have had to use hard money to make up the difference. The Hillary Clinton campaign would have had $800,000 less of hard money to spend running TV ads and funding get-out-the-vote operations.

4/25/2005

Violent home invasion stopped

This tells us something about people's values

Amazing, the NY Times concedes that the so-called "Assault Weapons" Ban had no effect

Despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban last September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several metropolitan police departments. . . .

The Fraternal Order of Police has not made a new federal ban a legislative priority, either. Mr. Pasco, the organization's director, said he could not recall a single "inquiry from the field about the reauthorization of the ban - and we have 330,000 members who are very vocal."

"In 1994, I was the principal administration lobbyist on this ban," said Mr. Pasco, who then worked for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "But here we are 10 years later, and these weapons do not appear to pose any more significant threat to law enforcement officers than other weapons of similar caliber and capability."


This is pretty amazing, but I predicted this multiple times. The discussion on state laws is simply silly, but one figures that gun control groups have to try holding on to something. I feel pretty vindicated.

4/23/2005

Fox News Segment on my research on policing and affirmative action

Yet another reason to pass restrictions on law suits against gun makers

The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that gunmakers can be sued for shootings in the District that are carried out with a broad range of automatic weapons. . . .

Courts across the country have rejected nuisance and negligence claims against the gun industry, but the District's Assault Weapon Manufacturing Strict Liability Act added another element to the city's case that is keeping it alive. Passed in 1990, the law makes the manufacturer, dealer or importer of any assault weapon or machine gun strictly liable for the damages arising from injuries or deaths resulting from the firearm's discharge in the District.


The first paragraph makes it appear as if the law only applied to machine guns, but it isn't clear until the fourth paragraph that this includes "assaul weapons." Unfortunately, the reporter and much of his readership may not realize that so-called assault weapons are the equivalent of hunting rifles.

4/22/2005

Steve Jobs lashes out against Environmental Activists

Soros on campaign finance

OpinionJournal.com's Political Diary notes that in Washington yesterday Soros made some comments about campaign finance regulations:

Mr. Soros agreed that McCain-Feingold was imperfect legislation but argued that it had been needed to curb special-interest money in politics. "There will always be loopholes," he added. "People will be imaginative, so I think we have to keep working at it. I think we need a new McCain-Feingold."


I have two questions. It is nice to know that Soros acknowledges that people will find ways around the regulations just has he already has, but how exactly would campaign finance regulations stop him from creating loopholes? For example, Soros can surely buy whatever media outlets that he wants. Also, is Soros considered a special interest?

Southern Utah University

Normally I don't make a big deal about the talks that I have given at Universities (especially having given a couple of dozen over the past academic year), but the four presentations that I gave at Southern Utah University were quite enjoyable. It is in a very beautiful part of the country and the people at the school were especially nice and enjoyable to talk to. It was a lot of fun, if quite tiring.

4/21/2005

Letter in Thursday's WSJ

My letter on the claims linking abortion and crime can be found here. Obviously in only 250 words or so one is pretty limited on what one can discuss, but at least this makes a start. My work with John Whitley on this topic can be found here.

Additional note: The Federalist Society chapter at the University of Chicago Law School is trying again to set up a debate between myself and either Steve Levitt and/or John Donohue and/or Stephen Dubner on their abortion research discussed in my WSJ letter. Donohue is apparently free on May 25th to do the debate, but it is not clear whether he will show up. John Donohue cancelled our debates that were scheduled at the University of Chicago for December 2 on November 30th last fall and our April 13th debate on April 7th. Hopefully the fact that this debate will be on abortion and not guns as our two previous debates will ensure that one of the two actually show up. It is my understanding this time I will make a presentation sometime during that week whether they show up or not.

4/19/2005

Transcript of my debate with Michael Barnes from the Brady Campaign

Arizona Right-to-carry reform goes to Governor's desk

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackman in a pretty bad light

The late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun ceded so much of his authority to his law clerks during his 24-year tenure that it amounts to "a scandalous abdication of judicial responsibility," Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow asserts in a magazine article out today.

The article in Legal Affairs, based on research done by Garrow in Blackmun's papers released last year at the Library of Congress, recounts numerous cases in which memoranda from clerks and other documents show an outsized influence and assertive tone by clerks that Garrow says is unmatched by other justices whose papers are available. . . .

" In the 1990 Cruzan right-to-die case, Garrow quotes a memo in which a law clerk tells Blackmun she "does not really know" his views -- an indication, says Garrow, that "by the spring of 1990, he was giving his law clerks little explicit direction in the court's most notable cases." . . .

Clerk Stephanie Dangel . . . referred to Justice Antonin Scalia as "evil Nino" and worried that even though Casey would preserve Blackmun's Roe v. Wade decision declaring a woman's right to an abortion, the ruling "may have the effect of removing abortion from the political agenda just long enough to ensure the re-election of President [George H.W.] Bush." . . .

Dangel told Legal Times she had mixed feelings about the release of the memos, which she said she wrote in part to cheer Blackmun up. . . .


This is a very long article and I suggest that you read the whole thing, but some of these quotes are pretty shocking. Dangel's explanation that she made these last statements to 'cheer Blackmun up" are hardly reassuring. New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse's forthcoming book doesn't come off very well.

"Lott to be next speaker at SUU Convocations"

Two appearances on Fox News today

Today I will be on The Big Show with John Gibson at 5:50 PM and the Fox Report with Shepard Smith sometime during the 7 O'clock hour. (Both are EDT.) The first segment will be on my work on the judicial confirmation process while the second is on my noncontroversial work on affirmative action and policing.

UPDATE: With the selection of JOSEPH RATZINGER as the Pope, it looks like that my appearances tonight will be cancelled.

Ohio's Right-to-carry law

4/18/2005

My friend Ted

How quickly those "Watch Lists" can expand

4/16/2005

An "Indecent Interval"?

The Richmond Times Dispatch has an interesting editorial on one of my recent op-eds:

It didn't take long. Minnesota had just begun to mourn after the Red Lake massacre when John Lott wrote a tedious column suggesting concealed-carry laws might have prevented the atrocity. . . . The problem relates to timing. The gun debate will persist for many years. Lott and others will have ample opportunities to press their cases. . . . But please, let the tears dry before launching into a political diatribe.


The op-ed that they are criticizing is here. (The piece covered a spate of recent shootings that had been in the news.) Of course, one could say that gun control groups had already come out on this issue or that papers such as the LA Times had already had an article after the Wisconsin attack, but that is not really a useful response. One reason why everyone talks about this is because they are concerned about what will save lives. There is a second reason: When is the discussion 'newsworthy." If a newspaper, such as the Richmond Times Dispatch is going to publish an article (whether a news story or an op-ed), it has to be near when the event occurred or at least there is some other news peg. The op-ed seems as indecent as the news coverage and the editorializing that often creeps into those news stories. When people hear only about the bad events (not the defensive gun uses) and no context is provided it creates a misimpression of the costs and benefits of guns. Interestingly, I can't find a similar editorial from the Richmond Times Dispatch concerned about gun control advocates.

For another piece from someone in Minnesota that says the same thing see this.

"Florida Great-Great Grandma Shoots Would Be Robber"

On Paul Harvey's radio show today I heard Gill Gross, who was substituting for him, read the following:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.
A man accused of bursting into a convenience store demanding money was in the hospital Friday shot, authorities said, by the great-great-grandmother working behind the counter.

Janet Grammer was filling in for the regular clerk Thursday afternoon when a man entered the store waving a gun and fired two shot at the back wall.

"I think he thought I was an old woman and would just give him the money," Grammer, 64, said Friday. "My life was at stake. I thought he was going to kill me."

So she pulled a pistol out from under the cash register and fired once, hitting the man in the chest. . . .


I am not sure, but this might be the first time that I have heard of a defensive gun use on a national radio news program.

New Gallup Poll on Guns

The NRA is surprisingly popular, though I am surprised that only 43 percent of people think that courtrooms would be safer places or more dangerous places if judges were armed with guns.

What is your overall opinion of the National Rifle Association, also known as the NRA -- is it very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

...................................Total favorable..............Total unfavorable

2005.Apr.4-7.......................60.................................34
2000.May.23-24..................52.................................39
2000.Apr.7-9.......................51.................................39
1995.Jun.5-6........................42.................................51
1993.Mar.12-14...................55.................................32

When asked "Do you think courtrooms would be safer places or more dangerous places if judges were armed with guns?", the April 4th to 7th poll indicates that while 43 percent think things would be safer, 50 percent think they would be more dangerous. Yet, when asked "Do you think airplanes would be safer places or more dangerous places if pilots were armed with guns?", 62 percent say safer and only 33 percent say more dangerous.

4/15/2005

"What may be behind long nominee battles"

4/14/2005

I feel safer already

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will begin enforcing a ban, beginning today, on all types of lighters from the secure areas of airports and onboard airplanes. . . . This includes, for example, butane, absorbed-fuel, electric/battery-powered and novelty lighters.


Question: What are we going to do to stop matches from getting on planes? Does the TSA understand the amount of scrutiny they would have to give passengers to stop some matches from getting on an airplane?

Response to "Watch-list 'justice'" piece

A letter in today's Washington Times responding to my piece with Sonya on Monday.


HEADLINE: Flawed research on guns and violence

. . . According to the article: "The federal Brady Act has been in effect for 11 years and state background checks even longer. But despite all the academic research that has been done, a recent National Academy of Sciences report could not find any evidence - not a single published academic study - that background checks reduce any type of violent crime. " I actually went to the National Academy of Sciences Web site to find that information.

It appears that the columnists and I reached different conclusions. As I read it, the report on guns and violence said that in spite of much research on the connection between guns and gun control, such as background checks, the research is so flawed that it is essentially useless, and no intelligent conclusions can be drawn. The report also implied that guns are so pervasive, both legally and illegally, that trying to control them is almost impossible.

It seems to me, therefore, that the columnists have constructed a straw man to destroy and have essentially wasted not just their own time, but mine. An intelligent and honest discussion about guns and their effect on this society is long overdue, but so long as individuals on both sides misrepresent the facts, any discussion or argument is a farce.

ANN MUSCHETT
Wayland, Mass.


It is indeed true that the National Academy of Sciences criticized much (note not all) of the research on guns as flawed and that more government money was necessary (a very self serving claim for academics to make and I think that it has more to do with the conclusions of the existing research than anything else). But the point is that despite surveying "253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications" there is not one single study showing that background checks reduce any type of violent crime. With all the decades of study and tens of millions of dollars spent, one would think that there would be one academic study of even questionable worth showing that background checks or other gun control efforts significantly reduced violent crime.

Despite the author's claims to the contrary, the point that "The report also implied that guns are so pervasive, both legally and illegally, that trying to control them is almost impossible" is consistent with our claim that the NAS provided no evidence showing that these laws mattered.

Law Professors Without Perspective

Mark Duggan's More Guns, More Crime Paper's Fundamental Flaws

A couple of problems with Mark Duggan's paper that he knows about:

Conversations with the vice president of Handguns Magazine and Guns&Ammo lead us to believe that Guns&Ammo was severely affected by the magazine's own purchases of its copies. An analysis of state level data for six gun magazines provides additional evidence that Guns&Ammo is a very unique magazine because of these self-purchases. Because Duggan declined to share his data with us, because of the apparent problems with the Guns&Ammo data, and given the costs of acquiring and imputing both county level data sets, we decided to gather those data that are more likely to answer the empirical question on the relationship between gun ownership and crime that we are ultimately interested in. . . .

Skip Johnson, a vice president for Guns&Ammo's and Handguns Magazine's parent company Primedia, told us that between 5 and 20 percent of Guns&Ammo's national sales in a particular year were purchases by his company to meet its guaranteed sales to advertisers. These copies were given away for free to dentists' and doctors' offices. Because the purchases were meant to offset any unexpected national declines in sales, Johnson said that own purchases were very selective and produced very large swings in a relatively small number of counties. More importantly, while a precise breakdown of how these free samples are counted towards the sales in different counties is not available, these self-purchases were apparently related to factors that helped explain why people might purchase guns, and these factors included changing crime rates. Johnson indicated that the issue of self-purchases is particularly important for Guns&Ammo because the magazine had declining sales over part of this period. Handguns Magazine was much newer and experienced appreciable growth.


Duggan (2000, p. 1110): Duggan makes the adjustment for the standard errors in column 2 of table 12. Murder and violent crime show statistically significant drops after the adjustment, but Duggan knows that there are also typos for his rape and assault results. Simply divide the coefficients for rape (=-.052/.0232) and assault (=-.0699/.0277) and you will see that they have t's greater than 2. Thus for all the violent crime categories but robbery the adjustment does not change the conclusion. In addition, there is the issue of looking at before and after averages versus before and after trends, with the symmetry in the changes in trends before and after the before and after averages do not show a big change even though the change in trends is very big, especially for robbery.

About half of his violent crime rate estimates show statistically significant drops in violent crime from right-to-carry laws and none of his results show a statistically significant increase.

Other family congressional family members on payrolls

Outside the Beltway as a nice list of cases where family members are paid for their work on campaigns. I personally don't care and I would leave it up to ones political opponents to make a campaign issue of it if they think that it is important, but it is disappointing that the New York Times could write their original story without listing these cases out. It was hardly a secret. Family members have bills to pay. If they interrupt their lives to work on a campaign, why not provide them win some money so that they can afford to help out. Campaigns would probably get more work per dollar out of a family member anyway.

16th Annual Survey of Police Chiefs and Sheriffs

16th Annual Survey of Police Chiefs and Sheriffs contains such interesting findings as 88.5 percent believe that the death penalty is a deterrent and 94 percent think that any law-abiding citizen should be able to purchase a gun for sport or self-defense.

4/13/2005

11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that Felons do not have a right to vote

No surprise, but other congressmen pay family members for work that they do on campaigns

Despite the attacks on Representative Tom Delay, it turns out that other congressmen also pay family members who take the time to work on the campaigns. Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) is one example who according to the Bennington Banner paid both his wife and step daugther for their work.

FDA turns down silicone breast implants

Thirteen years after most silicone-gel breast implants were banned, federal health advisers on Tuesday narrowly rejected a manufacturer's request to bring them back to the U.S. market, citing lingering questions about safety and durability.


My colleague and friend Sally Satel has a particularly devastating op-ed about the political nature of this decision.
Ever since women began enlarging their breasts with implants, feminists have been upset. So, predictably, when a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel begins hearings today to consider approval of silicone-gel-filled breast implants, feminist health activists will urge them to reject the devices as unsafe. But the data emphatically do not justify their concern.


UPDATE: Of course, the next day the panel voted by 7 to 2 to approve at least one type of silicone-gel breast implant.

4/12/2005

Wisconsin Residents Vote for Hunting Wild Cats

Homeowner protects family against man armed with iron fireplace poker

Father protects handicapped son from criminal (WSOC TV)

An essay on campaign finance regulations

The American Enterprise magazine has a very short essay of mine on the history of federal campaign finance regulations.

4/11/2005

Zogby Poll on Terrorism and Guns

More voting problems in Washington State

The Evergreen State's voting system is so sloppy that you can't tell where incompetence ends and actual fraud might begin. Three Washington counties just discovered 110 uncounted absentee ballots--including 93 from Seattle's King County--in a governor's race that occurred more than five months ago and was decided by only 129 votes. Officials in Seattle's King County admit they may find yet more ballots before a court hearing next month on whether a new election should be called. Last Friday, they reported finding a 111th ballot.

The infamous 2004 governor's race was finally decided seven weeks after the election, after King County officials found new unsecured ballots on nine separate occasions during two statewide recounts. After the new ballots were counted, Democrat Christine Gregoire won a 129-vote victory out of some three million ballots cast. Even as she was sworn in last January, King County election supervisor Dean Logan admitted it had been "a messy process."

He wasn't kidding. During the two recounts, Mr. Logan's office discovered 566 "erroneously rejected" absentee ballots, plus another 150 uncounted ones that turned up in a warehouse. Evidence surfaced that dead people had "exercised their right to vote"; documentation was presented that 900 felons in King County alone had illegally voted and that military ballots were sent out too late to be counted. A total of 700 provisional ballots had been fed into voting machines before officials had determined their validity. In the four previous November elections, King County workers had never mishandled more than nine provisional ballots in a single election. . . .

Some change seen in Canadian Opinion polls from Gomery hearings

Our take on part of the Senate hearings last week to renew the Patriot Act

"Watch-list 'justice'", in the Washington Times, responds to claims by Schumer and Kennedy last week.

OhioCCW one-year anniversary stories blanket newspapers

4/10/2005

Notice of Terms of Use for this website

On Ohio's Right-to-Carry Law's One Year Anniversary Nothing Surprising

Maybe the Liberals used the gun registry program to siphon money to the party because they never really believed in program

So much for competitive bidding. One thing to keep in mind when reading all these news stories is that Paul Martin, the current Prime Minister, was finance minister for eight years. This is how the gun registry contract was awarded:

In yet another major allegation in a scandal that has jolted the country, former Groupaction employee Alain Renaud said he had the ear of Jean Pelletier, Chretien's chief of staff from 1993 to 2001. Renaud also alleged the right-hand man to former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano personally intervened in 2000 to prevent Groupaction from losing $20 million in sponsorship contracts. The inquiry was told Chretien's one-time riding organizer, Michel Beliveau, was the point man between Renaud and Pelletier, a good friend of Chretien, whenever Groupaction sought more contracts. "I saw Mr. Beliveau call Mr. Pelletier directly in his (Beliveau's) office," Renaud said under questioning from chief inquiry counsel Bernard Roy. . . . Renaud said Groupaction landed the lucrative gun registry contract in the mid-1990s because the firm was close to Jacques Corriveau, a graphic designer and friend of the former prime minister.


The tip of the "The iceberg"


If Adscam was the only problem Paul Martin faced, notes Greg Weston, he'd be in trouble. But things may be far, far worse than that ... Investigations by the auditor general and now the Gomery inquiry point to potentially widespread bid-rigging.


Another description of how the Canadian government operated with respect to the gun registry:

Mr. Brault's description of the Liberal machine at work in the province — wherein businessmen like him greased the wheels of the party with everything from envelopes of cash to bogus hirings so that party faithful were paid as they worked on election campaigns, to completely fraudulent invoices, and who were in exchange rewarded with lucrative contracts that they promptly inflated to make up for the dough they were pouring into party coffers — suggests the federal organization is less a political party than, as Conservative Peter MacKay said in the House yesterday, a criminal organization. . . .

If what Mr. Brault testified to is true, and the offences he alleged are proven (though let us be clear that he did not consider them to be offences, but rather the normal course of doing business with Ottawa), then the party would surely be a contender for the criminal organization label. . . .

This, of course, is the same Department of Justice that got into advertising for the first time in a big way, Mr. Brault testified, with the advent of the inept and ineffective boondoggle that became the billion-dollar federal gun registry. . . .

By 2001, that same contract was soon due for renewal. “We were at the crossroads,” Mr. Brault said. “There was uncertainty in the air, pressure from other agencies.” By then, happily for him, Mr. Brault had agreed to pay a monthly salary, in cash, for Liberal fundraiser Buryl Wiseman, the first instalment of which he said he handed over to another party fundraiser, Joe Morselli, over lunch in Montreal's Little Italy.

So, a few months later, still fretting about that unresolved gun-registry contract (God forbid it would have been put out for a real tender), he was splendidly positioned to ask Mr. Morselli for a return favour. He told him, he said, that he wanted the contract extended until mid-2002, or, as Mr. Brault put it, “I had suggested $100,000 if the competition was sidelined . . . if it's delayed, it's worth $100,000 to me.” . . .


bold emphasis added.

4/09/2005

More on corruption in Canada's gun registry program

The Edmonton Journal reports in an article by Duncan Thorne (4/9/05, p. A2) that:

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan is staying silent on explosive allegations over how a promotions contract was extended when she ran the gun registry.

Jean Brault, the Montreal executive who ran the now-defunct Groupaction Marketing, told the Gomery inquiry that he lengthened the deal by six months by agreeing to pay a senior Liberal worker $100,000. Brault testified that Quebec Liberal bagman Joe Morselli told him in 2001: "$100,000 cash, your problem is solved."

The Quebec firm was paid to promote the Canada Firearms Centre throughout McLellan's tenure as justice minister. The last contract on her watch was to end in 2001.

But Brault said he got it extended into the spring of 2002 by paying the first $50,000.


Anne McLellan was in a tight race in the last election. If a new election is called soon, this can't be good news for her.

Other related posts can be found here and here.

4/08/2005

Canada's Corruption Scandal Spreading Over to the Gun Registry Program

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Sun
DATE: 2005.04.08
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: 6
BYLINE: CP
DATELINE: MONTREAL
COLUMN: Adscam Inquiry

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'$100,000 CASH, YOUR PROBLEM IS SOLVED'

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A one-time adviser to former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano participated in a scheme with ad man Jean Brault to delay a bidding process related to the gun registry, the sponsorship inquiry has heard.

Brault, president of Groupaction Marketing, told the inquiry he paid $50,000 in cash to Joseph Morselli, a former adviser of Gagliano's. The conspiracy is just one of several allegations to emerge during Brault's six days of testimony at the inquiry. Brault said he was frustrated at repeated demands by top Quebec party executives for large, secret cash donations.

By the summer of 2001, Groupaction had been facing stiff competition from other firms for an upcoming bidding process for the lucrative gun registry contract, he said. The agency had held the contract since 1996 as part of Justice Department contracts worth $35.7 million.

WANTED BIDDING DELAYED

Brault said he phoned Morselli and asked him to delay the bidding process. "I told Mr. Morselli, 'I have done a lot, and you told me you could help me.' " Brault recalled last week. "I said, 'I need for the competition for the (contract) not to happen before the spring (of 2002).' "I proposed $100,000 to Mr. Morselli if the competition was delayed." A few days later, the two men met at Morselli's east-end Montreal office on Sept. 26, 2001, and Morselli's answer was immediate, Brault testified. "He said, '$100,000 cash, your problem is solved.' "

Brault said he and Morselli agreed that Brault would hand over $50,000 by the end of 2001 and another $50,000 the following April on condition the request was granted.

$25GS CASH DELIVERY

The semi-retired ad man said he paid some of the money directly to Morselli in the form of a $25,000 cash delivery, in an envelope, at a Christmas fundraiser in December 2001 that was hosted by Gagliano. Brault eventually paid only $50,000 to keep the contract, but he said Pierre Tremblay, Chuck Guite's successor as the bureaucrat in charge of the sponsorship program, confirmed in a subsequent conversation the bidding process had, in fact, been delayed. It wasn't clear whether Gagliano, Tremblay's and Morselli's boss, had intervened on Brault's behalf.

Brault and Guite face a joint trial, beginning with jury selection on June 6, in relation to alleged fraud worth $2 million, including alleged irregularities involving the gun registry. The Mounties allege a $330,000 contract awarded to Groupaction was entirely bogus and a $150,000 contract was also a vehicle for fraud.

________________

More can be found here and here.

4/07/2005

Debate with John Donohue is again canceled, this time with only six days to go

It seems like we have been through this before. In December, John Donohue cancelled our debate that was scheduled at the University of Chicago for December 2 on November 30th. After what had happened in the Fall, I double checked to make sure everything was confirmed before I turned down another talk that I had the chance to give, and I was assured that the event was set and that I should get my plane ticket. This time our debate that was scheduled at the University of Chicago on April 13th and canceled with just six days to go.

Further discussion of Ian Ayres & John Donohue are here.

Update: Here is an email that I received from Joe Cascio:


On Apr 7, 2005, at 3:08 PM, wrote:

Dear Dr. Lott,

I know that you are not going to be happy about this, but unfortunately, Professor Donohue cannot make it on the 13th of April. I am currently trying to work out the 21st (a Thursday with him). This time it really is more my fault. If you think that you could make it on the 21st (if that works out--I will let you know when Professor Donohue has his plane reservations in his hands), then we, of course, will pay for your current ticket and/or any changes that you have to make (or for both your current ticket and a new one if it is unalterable). If, on the other hand, you don't think you might be able to make it on that date or any other later in the quarter, I completely understand (obviously, we will still take care of your current reservation).

You have been the most patient and flexible speaker I could imagine and I feel as though you have been treated rather shabbily. I am really sorry about that. I still really hope that this event works out, if it does, I really feel like it might the best of our entire year. However, if it does not, I have nevertheless enjoyed working with you and I still really appreciate everything that you did for us in the fall at the last minute as well. Thank you very much, and I regret that I, once again, must convey my apologies.

Joe

Notes from me: Bold markings added. Before I bought my plane ticket, I had asked Joe in an email well before this one whether everything had been set up and he confirmed that they had. Unlike the first event being cancelled by Donohue with just two days to go, I have my suspicions about what happened here and I suspect that Joe is falling on his sword to provide cover. I was so mad that Donohue would cancel the first event the way he did, I have my suspicions that Joe is trying to keep things undercontrol by taking the blame "this time."

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Burglar flees armed homeowner in California

HESPERIA, California, April 4, 2005

An intruder trying to burglarize the gun safe of a Grandview Mobile Home Park resident met up with the homeowner outside — and fled after facing the business end of a revolver.

The resident was returning home around 5 p.m. when he heard a loud banging noise coming from inside his mobile home in the 8500 block of C Avenue, said Sgt. Larry Bowman, of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The homeowner grabbed a .38-caliber revolver he had stashed in his car and went to investigate, Bowman said. As he was rounding the kitchen corner he came upon a Hispanic man, about 15 to 20 years old, with a shaved head, wearing a gray sweat shirt, Bowman said. . . .

The intruder dropped his backpack and took off running, Bowman said. The homeowner pulled the trigger, firing several shots in the general direction of the fleeing burglar, he said. Deputies said they do not suspect the intruder was shot.


Thanks to Robert Waters for sending this.

New Mexico's Right-to-carry law becomes less restrictive

4/06/2005

A thought on the silly nature of campaign finance regulations

Apparently the Federal Election Commission is considering extending restrictions on political and politics-related speech to cover bloggers. The recent AdScam inquiry in Canada points to an obvious problem. Their the Canadian government banned newscoverage of explosive testimony that came out during the hearings. There was only one problem American blog sites and even American media can cover the inquiry. What difference does it make where the blog site is located? If our government puts restrictions on American Blog sites, all campaigns need to do is move the sites to foreign countries such as Canada.

What am I missing in these attacks on Congressman Tom Delay?

The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas. . . . Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."


Possibly I am missing something. $500,000 over four years for two people comes to $62,500 per year. Possibly this $62,500 even includes things such as employer social security taxes and other costs that employers have to bear. Probably one of the women got paid more than another, but the magnitudes seem small to me. They surely doesn't seem like an unreasonable compensation for some one working full or even half time.

In related news:

For years, Republican Tom Coburn juggled his duties as a House member and a family physician back in Oklahoma, where he delivered dozens of babies annually.

But since winning a Senate seat last fall, Coburn has clashed with Senate ethics committee members over whether he could continue to do double duty as a lawmaker and an obstetrician. Now, Coburn says, the ethics committee has ruled that his private practice constitutes a potential conflict of interest with his work in Washington, and it has given him until Sept. 30 to close his office in Muskogee, Okla. An outraged Coburn is vowing to fight the ruling, arguing that the panel's decision contradicts the Founding Fathers' desire for lawmakers to retain ties to their communities.


Why not let the constituents decide if they think a particular job is appropriate?

4/05/2005

Deer pose safety hazard in Pittsburgh, officials recommend hunting within city limits

"Would-Be Burglars Met with Homeowner's Gun"

4/04/2005

Is requiring photo IDs for voting really the same as Jim Crow?

It seems like most other countries require photo IDs for voting, but somehow the only motivation for Americans to have this is supposedly racism.

Legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting ballots has touched off fierce debate in three states, with opponents complaining the measures represent a return to the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow.

Lawmakers in Georgia and Indiana walked off the job to protest the proposals, which they say would deprive the poor, the elderly and minorities of the right to vote. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, has already vetoed a similar measure and has vowed to do so again. . . .

Nineteen states require voters to show identification, but only five of those request photo ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those states - Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and South Dakota - also allow voters without a photo ID to present other forms of identification, such as a utility bill, or sign an affidavit of identity.

First baseball player busted under new steroid policy

"Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez was suspended 10 days for violating baseball's new policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the first player publicly identified under the major leagues' tougher rules. The suspension begins Monday when Tampa Bay opens its season against Toronto, the commissioner's office said Sunday."


It is surprising that the first person "caught" using steroids is someone who might have been using an over the counter remedy. In any case, I am concerned that this policy was adopted because of political pressure from politicians and not because the parties really wanted it. For my past perspectives on this issue see here and here.

"Quotas for cops"

Washington Times quotes my discussion on affirmative action and cops:

"In the furor that followed a daring and allegedly deadly Atlanta courthouse escape March 11, some pointed to the differences in strength and size of the suspect and the female deputy guarding him as a key factor that allowed the man to get a gun.
    "But what has been ignored in the case of Brian Nichols is the role that affirmative action has played in hiring standards for police. ...
    "The problem is that because of large differences in strength and size between men and women, different standards are applied to ensure that there are more female officers. In the Nichols case, the difference was stark: the suspect was 33 years old and 6 feet tall; the female sheriff's deputy guarding him was 51 years old and 5-foot-2. ...
    "While creating a more diverse police force may produce some benefits, we still shouldn't forget the differences between men and women. Just as women officers are better suited for some jobs, there are other jobs that simply call for large men."

4/03/2005

First the LA Times, now the NY Times?

Things have changed a lot since I first wrote my op-ed on gun free zones in the WSJ in early 1997. I was not a very popular person at the time. Now this:

Paul Bucher, the district attorney for the Wisconsin county where a man opened fire in a church service last month, killing seven people and himself, has one answer to the deadly mass shootings around the country in recent weeks: more guns.

"The problems aren't the guns, it's the guns in the wrong hands," said Mr. Bucher, a Republican who recently announced his candidacy for Wisconsin attorney general. "We need to put more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Whether having that would have changed what happened is all speculation, but it would level the playing field. If the person you're fighting has a gun and all you have is your fists, you lose."

Across the country, efforts to expand or establish laws allowing concealed handguns have been fueled by the horrifying shootings in the last month - of the family of a federal judge in Chicago, at the church service in Wisconsin, at courthouses in Atlanta and Tyler, Tex., and the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota.

In Texas and Illinois, the shootings prompted new legislation to allow judges and prosecutors to be armed. Legislators in Nebraska and Wisconsin, which were already considering allowing concealed weapons, say they think the shootings will help their cause. . . .

Instead of calling for new restrictions on guns after the Minnesota shootings, the coalition, which includes 45 groups, simply asked for "a dialogue on the role of firearms in America."


Thanks to Jack Anderson for alerting me to this.

4/02/2005

Talk show host uses gun to wound attackers.

Washington Post claims first time that ballistic fingerprinting was used to solve case.

Although the weapon, a .40-caliber handgun, never was found, county police and prosecutors connected the firearm to Garner through 10 shell casings found at the scene. A handgun leaves unique markings on shell casings each time it is fired, according to firearms experts.

The casings recovered at the murder scene matched a casing that was on file with Maryland State Police, showing that the weapon was purchased by Garner's then-girlfriend (now his wife) in a Forestville store about three weeks before the killing, according to trial testimony.

"That evidence was the cornerstone of our case," said Glenn F. Ivey, the Prince George's state's attorney. "It was powerful evidence. I hope this verdict helps our efforts to have the [ballistics identification database] continued and expanded."


Strangely, while the crime took place on 4/23/04, the testimony before the state legislature on the usefulness of the ballistic fingerprinting system occurred on 3/1/05 and the trial was just completed. Yet, during the legislative testimony it was clear that the Maryland state police did not believe that the ballistic fingerprinting had been useful. During the testimony, Tobin stated that something to the effect that "I don't consider 165th record to be a hit" and that might have been referring to this case. Even in this case there were apparently multiple eye witnesses so there is the issue of what additional role the ballistic fingerprinting played, indeed if the Maryland State Police are wrong and it indeed played any significant role. I have not read the transcript of the trial.

Another op-ed discusses gun free zones

It is nice to see these piece appearing, but it is interesting to see so many use what appear to be almost the exact same words that I have used in my pieces. Here is a piece from the Union Leader (NH):

"What the gun banners, and their media cheerleaders, have rather carefully ignored is that all of these brutal acts occurred in so-called 'gun-free' zones."

The first paragraph of this piece and several other paragraphs are very similar to my earlier piece at Foxnews.com.

You are what you drive?

Porsche owners identified themselves as Republican more often than owners of any other cars, with 59 percent calling themselves Republicans, 27 percent Democrats and the rest either calling themselves independents or declining to answer. Jaguars and Land Rovers also registered as very "Republican" vehicles.

Scarborough also determined that Volvos were the most "Democratic" cars, by 44 to 32 percent, followed by Subarus and Hyundais. But although a lot of old Volvos on the road are driven by Democrats, the customers in Volvo showrooms no longer fit the old stereotype, according to a survey of 163,000 new-car buyers last year that was conducted by CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore.

As Volvo's advertising has stressed performance in addition to safety, more and more Republicans are buying Volvos. The CNW survey last year showed that Democratic buyers of Volvo cars outnumbered Republicans by only 32 percent to 27 percent. . . .

Jeep Grand Cherokee S.U.V. was more than half again as likely to be bought by a Republican than by a Democrat, at 46 percent to 28. Among Hummer buyers, the Republican-to-Democrat ratio was a whopping 52 to 23.

4/01/2005

"Deadly force bill passes House" in Florida

Brief history of Armed Pilot Program after 911

James Bovard's Gun Nuts at 30,000 Feet? has a useful history of the armed pilot program that started after 911. I have written about this many times, but James has a useful take on this.