Self Defense Gun Use California Style

From the SF Chronicle (2/27/06):

An armed man wearing a black, ninja-style mask was shot to death by a Healdsburg man this morning after he attacked the man's wife outside their home and chased her inside, police said.

The shooting happened about 7:30 a.m. at the end of Sunset Drive, a semi-rural street on the east side of town.

The woman was about to take the couple's two Wheaton terrier dogs for a walk when the masked man jumped her outside her garage, police said. The woman struggled, broke away and ran screaming into the house, with the attacker in pursuit.

Her screams awoke her husband. The man, whom police identified only as a man in his 60s, "grabbed their handgun, probably a .357 ... and fired more than one shot," Police Chief Susan Jones said.

The intruder "had what looked like a firearm in his hand," Jones said. He died at the scene. His identity has not been released.

"The husband is fine. He's uninjured," Jones said. "The wife is being treated for a head injury that she sustained sometime during the struggle, but she's going to be fine." . . .

As Jason Morin, who sent me this link, wrote: "What would the San Fran city councilman have to say about this story?"

Supreme Court hears Vermont Campaign Finance Case

I was the statistical expert for this case when it heard at the lower court in Vermont, so I am particularly interested in seeing what happens. It would be neat to win such a case, and I heard that the arguments went well today.

The U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to rewrite the legal rules for election spending and fund raising in a dispute over the nation's strictest campaign- finance limits.

The justices today will hear arguments in Washington on a 1997 Vermont law, signed by then-Governor Howard Dean, that caps candidate spending and limits contributions to as little as $200 per election cycle for each candidate. A Republican-backed suit says the limits violate constitutional free-speech rights.

The case marks the first major test on the subject for the court's newest members, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. The dispute offers the court a chance to revise its landmark 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which authorized limits only on contributions, not on spending.

``Just limiting contributions leaves untouched one of the core problems, which is the pressure that candidates face when they can never stop fund raising,'' said Brenda Wright, a lawyer for the Boston-based National Voting Rights Institute, which represents voters supporting the law. . . .

`The voters are entitled and need to hear from candidates because they are the ones who ultimately take office,'' said Bopp, general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech in Terre Haute, Indiana. ``When you limit spending by candidates, you limit their opportunities to communicate to the voters.'' . . .


Protests in New Zealand

I have put up a couple of posts about the Green Party anger over my involvement in the firearms conference. Here is one possible threatened protest that never materialized I just found out about.

The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand)

February 24, 2006 Friday


LENGTH: 291 words


. . .

Meanwhile, addresses from American speakers John Lott and Mark Barnes went ahead without any disruption at the seminar yesterday. The possibility of a protest had arisen after Green MP Keith Locke publicly opposed the presence of several of the speakers labelling them pro-gun lobbyists.

Edited letter run in New Scientist: "Liberal road rage New Scientist February 25, 2006"

Edited letter in New Scientist

Liberal road rage New Scientist February 25, 2006

BYLINE: John Lott, Washington DC, US.
American Enterprise Institute


Your magazine did a poor job discussing a recent survey that relates gun possession to road rage (4 February, p 7). The survey asked whether respondents had a gun at least once in their car over the past year and whether they made anobscene gesture or drove aggressively sometime over the same year. But their questions made no attempt to ask whether a gun was in the car at the time the road rage incident occurred. Nor did they attempt to differentiate law-abiding permit holders from those who illegally possessed guns, for example by asking respondents if they have a permit to carry a gun.

Also a single cross-sectional survey tells us nothing about causation. Ironically, the researchers' regression results also show that liberals are much more likely to engage in road rage (both making obscene gestures and driving aggressively) than conservatives, and that the difference is larger than the difference for whether one had carried a gun in the car at least once. This variable is apparently never investigated, but presumably the researchers are also concerned about liberals being allowed to drive cars.

The rest of my letter that wasn't published noted:

Surveys can be a useful first approximation, but there is in fact much more direct evidence available on the behavior of concealed handgun permit holders. Despite almost four million Americans currently having permits to carry concealed handguns and some states having these laws for as long as eighty years, there is only one case in Alabama where a permitted concealed handgun was used to commit road rage.

There is also direct evidence on how law-abiding permit holders are. Many states have kept detailed records on whether and why permits are revoked, and concealed permit holders tend to be extremely law-abiding. They do not harm others with their guns in anyway. In Florida, where 1,114,727 permits were issued between October 1, 1987 and January 31, 2006, 157 permits were revoked for any type of firearms violation, and the vast majority of these involved permit holders accidentally carrying a gun into a restricted area such as an airport. 2,955 permits were revoked for any type of misdemeanor or felony. While the violent and property crime rate in Florida is 4,893 per 100,000 people, the rate at which permit holders lose their permits crimes after licensure is 265 per 100,000 people. Similar low rates exist in state after state.

Finally, it is very disappointing that the authors of this study (David Hemenway, Mary Vriniotis, and Matthew Miller) are unwilling to provide other researchers with their data, even when the authors have been promised that the data will only be used to evaluate the research that the authors have already published. Once a paper is published and the researchers are discussing their published results in the media, it seems incumbent upon them to make their data public so that a meaningful discussion can take place.

I was disappointed that the letter editor cut out the part of the letter stating that the authors were unwilling to release their data, but I guess that it was just getting too long. The version on Nexis (shown above) was slightly different than the version on their website.

Are Dems or Reps leading in fall races for congress?

 The CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll reported last week that the Democrats led Republicans among registered voters in the generic congressional survey by 50 percent to 43 percent, a seven-point margin that could give Democrats enough victories to take control of the House, if their supporters participate in November's elections.
    But a deeper analysis of these numbers by David W. Moore for the Gallup Poll said, "It is likely many voters will not do so" because turnout among registered voters tends to be lower than that among "likely voters" who say they plan to vote and usually do.
    In his analysis, Mr. Moore writes that Gallup's "experience over the past two midterm elections, in 1998 and 2002, suggests that the [registered voters] numbers tend to overstate the Democratic margin by about 10? percentage points."
    "Given that Democrats currently lead by seven points, that could mean that among people who will definitely vote, Republicans actually lead by three to four points," he said. . . .
Nevertheless, Mr. Anderson said, "If the election were held today, it looks like Democrats will make marginal gains, but their hope of taking the House or Senate is a pretty long shot."

So what is the problem with socialized medicine?

The last sentence quoted below says it all.

Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years in discomfort before receiving treatment.

But no one is about to arrest Dr. Brian Day, who is president and medical director of the center, or any of the 120 doctors who work there. Public hospitals are sending him growing numbers of patients they are too busy to treat, and his center is advertising that patients do not have to wait to replace their aching knees.

The country's publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

Dr. Day, for instance, is planning to open more private hospitals, first in Toronto and Ottawa, then in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario provincial officials are already threatening stiff fines. Dr. Day says he is eager to see them in court.

"We've taken the position that the law is illegal," Dr. Day, 59, says. "This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years." . . .


Appearance on Steve Gruber's "Wildlife" WJR radio show

I will be on WJR from 8:20 to 9 PM this evening (760 AM) talking about gun control.

Scalia on guns


Letters in Baltimore Sun Responding to my Op-ed piece on Letting Felons Voting

An op-ed that I had in the Baltimore Sun has produced several letters criticizing it (see here).

Here are a couple of the arguments and responses:

First, Mr. Lott argues that those in favor of extending the vote to ex-offenders want to "make it easier for convicted murderers, rapists, armed robbers and other violent criminals to vote."

In fact, most people who are in prison and then leave are not violent felony offenders; rather, their crimes usually involve drugs or property offenses.

Fine, then restore voting rights for the crimes that supporters think are reasonable. Don't make it apply to murders and child molesters.

Mr. Lott doesn't want ex-offenders in Maryland to vote because it would enable them to influence state and local budgets, and violent ex-offenders would presumably try to cut funding for police protection and social programs, such as those that assist rape victims.

But is there any evidence that this happens in the overwhelming majority of states that treat ex-offenders less harshly than Maryland?

Moreover, where does this leave most ex-offenders, who were not convicted of a violent crime?

Finally, Mr. Lott says most ex-offenders care more about getting good jobs than being allowed to vote.

So do most people, I suspect, but why does that matter? Why should doing one preclude doing the other?

1) We know that felons behave much differently than other citizens (they committed violent felonies against their fellow citizens) and we know that they vote much differently than other citizens. What evidence does this author have that they do not behave differently?

2) Democrats may claim that they are pushing these legal changes because of their concern for felons, but the reference to good jobs was made because those pushing for felon voting rights seem much more concerned with voting rights to get more Democratic votes than they do with doing those things that the felons view as most important to them. While there are supposedly no difference between felons and non-felons after felons have been released from prison, there are many jobs that it is reasonable to exclude felons from voting because they have indicated that they are not very trustworthy. They have shown that they do not value the same things as non-felons. Possibly you want to treat first time felons differently than second time felons (and some states do that), but the laws being pushed by the Democrats make no such distinctions. At least with second time felons there is even more certainty that these felons are different than other Americans.

The vast majority of felons are not violent, and the last thing we should worry about is which way they might vote.

Rather, the No. 1 priority should be public safety and getting former offenders into the mainstream and abiding by the laws and paying taxes.

All these writers seem to believe that after felons are released from prison they should not be punished in additional way. OK, do any of them support letting ex-felons get their rights to own guns back? Why not? Not one of the letters mention this point, though I raised it in my piece.

It is surprising to me that Democrats do not seem to be facing more of a political cost for pushing these changes in laws.


Double Standards on Profiling

"If a citizen of the UAE walked into an airport in full burnoose and flowing robes, speaking only Arabic, Democrats would be deeply offended, and might even sue, if the security people were to give him any more scrutiny than they would to my sweet 84-year-old mother. Democrats loudly denounce any thought of racial profiling. But when that same Arab, attired in business suit and MBA, and with a good record running ports in 15 countries, buys P&O, Democrats howl at the very idea of allowing Arabs to run our ports. (Republicans are howling too, but they don't grandstand on the issue of racial profiling)" -- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.

For a discussion on the UAE purchase, see the link here.

Leaving New Zealand today

New Zealand is an amazingly beautiful country, and I have really enjoyed all the couple talks that I gave for the New Zealand police, the talk for the econ dept at the University of Canterbury, and the couple of discussions at the Department of Justice. It was also really interesting to have dinner with the members of parliament on Thursday. Anyway, thanks to Joe Green, Elizabeth Davie, Norman LaRocque, Phil Meguire, and all the others I am forgetting to name for setting all this up. I will be leaving tonight after a half day stay in Auckland.

Elderly woman protects herself with a gun

Alphecca has a nice story on an 87-year-old woman who protected herself with a gun.

Defensive Gun Use

I sometimes put up news stories on defensive gun use, but here is an email that I just received:

I helped someone save their own life. I was one of the instructors with Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation. We gave a handgun class that this young gentleman took to acquire his CPL. He's a very nice guy, currently attending seminary with his sights on becoming a pastor.

Here's the email I received:


 Last night in Eugene three mexicans tried to Rob me... THANKS TO YOU AND ED helping me gety my CHL, I am unharmed, unrobbed and when I drew that sucker they dissapeared so fast! I was pretty shookin up for a while afterward obviously, but I hardly got it out of the holster when they fled.. so I didn't have to harm anyone and I didn't recieve any trouble! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! It happened in the parking lot of Jack in the Box by Target on west 11th ave here in Eugene. A few of my friends even saw the truck that pulled up behind me as they passed by (2 people from Eugene Bible College) as I found out later that night. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks.. nothing bad happened thanks to you guys..."

I tell you, this email made my day.

Ed Dunnigan

Customer Service Rep.
Bushnell Outdoor Products


Right, there is no vote fraud ever alledged in Philadelphia

A danger with Tasers

Dennis Crouch had already slashed himself. And when he refused to drop his knife, Daytona Beach police Officer Betsy Cassidy decided she had no choice.

"Taser! Taser!" Cassidy shouted as she sent a two-pronged wire, packing 50,000 volts, at Crouch's chest. What happened next stunned everyone.

A Taser probe pierced the pocket of his khaki shirt -- and ignited the butane lighter inside. Cassidy's pocket exploded in flames.

"The subject," recounted Sgt. Al Tolley in a subsequent report, "immediately dropped the knife."

Officers grabbed Crouch, threw him to the ground and rolled him around till the flames went out, Tolley said. The Daytona Beach man, 53, was taken to Halifax Medical Center with minor burns and two self-inflicted stab wounds in his stomach and chest. . . .

Credit to the Drudge Report for noticing this story.

Lack of support for SF gun ban


What passes for parlimentary debate in New Zealand

"Firearms Safety Seminar—Police Contribution"

Keith Locke: Does it not undermine and run counter to the main purpose of the seminar as the Minister has just outlined it—that is, firearm safety—to fund keynote speakers such as John Lott, who is the author of a book called More Guns, Less Crime, American National Rifle Association lobbyist Mark Barnes, and Colin Greenwood, who describes the British handgun ban as “a pathetic irrelevance”; and what does the Minister think it achieves when five of the 11 keynote speakers at the conference are extreme pro-gun lobbyists?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The member is compounding the error that I just drew to his attention. He is selectively taking some—five out of 22—presenters and facilitators and saying that he does not agree with their views. I do not happen to agree with their views either, but a range of people are invited to the seminar to debate and, as the programme says—if the member had bothered reading it—to “exchange ideas, concepts, strategies and procedures for firearm safety”. One does not get a debate if one only chooses like-minded people who all say the same thing.

The talks that I gave today for the New Zealand police and the New Zealand Department of Justice went well.

Several more presentations today

I confess that I was exhausted yesterday after talks for the New Zealand Police and the University of Canterbury, but both groups were fun. The Canterbury people were really a lot of fun, and many good questions. I want to particularly thank John Gibson. Today I again talk to the New Zealand police and then give two talks in Wellington.

Headline in the Australian: Clinton man forced from Harvard helm

A growing rebellion by Harvard dons has toppled Lawrence Summers as president of the oldest and most prestigious university in the US.

Facing a no-confidence vote by the faculty next week, the former Treasury secretary to Bill Clinton announced on Tuesday he would step down at the end of the academic year after five turbulent years at the helm.

The revolt was triggered by his suggestion at an economics seminar that women's "intrinsic aptitude" might explain why so few women became professors of mathematics and science. He later apologised for the remarks.

Mr Summers's resignation ends the briefest tenure of any Harvard president since 1862, when Cornelius Felton died after two years in office.

1) It tells you something when a mainstream liberal Democrat is too conservative for the Harvard faculty.
2) Summers' remarks may have been used as a pretext, but the disagreements were much. much deeper.


"Why are Police hosting international pro-gun lobbyists?"

Of course, the police went to great lengths to make sure that there were an equal number of speakers on both sides of the issue. Three others were mentioned, but I got a nice notice in the Green Party press release.

The New Zealand Police need to explain why they are hosting this country’s largest ever gathering of international pro-gun lobbyists, according to Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke. . . .

· John R. Lott, the world’s most controversial pro-gun researcher, who writes that the solution to school shootings is to arm the teachers, and whose recent book is titled More Guns, Less Crime.

I suppose that I must be doing something right to be "the world’s most controversial" researcher on one of the most controversial topics.

Radio New Zealand's Morning Report is going to have me on at 8:15 their time to discuss this. Their very rough summary can be found here.

For those in New Zealand

Tomorrow afternoon (New Zealand time) (February 22nd) I am giving a talk on media bias to the economics department at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, NZ.

Tourist plug: New Zealand is one heck of a beautiful country. The people are also extremely friendly.


Texas Redistricting before US Supreme Court

This link provides some interesting resources for those interested in the Texas redistricting case that the US Supreme Court will hear next week. This is a very important case and may very well determine whether the Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives next year.


Louisiana Gun Sales Soar After Katrina

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives out of control?

Gov Ed Rendell (Pennsylvania) and corruption issues


"Canadians will be shocked by the true cost"

About 40 percent of American Adults live in households with guns

"Lobbyists have given more to Democrats"

And the winner of the drawing gets

I might have run things differently (and surely explained things differently), but I am sure that they will get people's attention:

A conservative college journal at Clemson is sponsoring a drawing for an AK-47 rifle early next month as a fundraiser and as a way to celebrate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Tiger Town Observer is sponsoring a drawing for the assault-style weapon March 2. The group will take names and donations for the drawing beginning Feb. 27.

Andrew Davis, editor of the Observer, said the group got the idea from a conservative publication at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Davis said the first drawing in Illinois was so successful that the Urbana paper was now holding monthly drawings for a variety of weapons.

Davis said the Observer staff chose the AK-47 because it is a renowned weapon that was once illegal. "Given that the AK-47 is such a high-profile gun, we're expecting to expand to all demographics - not just the hunters and gun fanatics that we have right now," Davis said. . . .

The winner of the drawing will receive a gift certificate for the AK-47, a box of standard ammunition, safety instruction, a trip to the gun range and a book, "The Bias Against Guns," by John Lott.

Banning toy guns?

Mayors in the greater Toronto, Canada area are asked to consider banning toy guns.

Thanks to Bruce Korol for this link.


The Felon Vote

I have a piece today in the Baltimore Sun on the push to let felons vote in Maryland: The criminal constituency. I thought that they had a great title for the piece, though I am disappointed that the term "convict" was changed to "ex-convict" throughout the piece. I changed it back for this posting. Once you have been convicted of a crime, you are convicted of it unless your record has been cleared. These guys may be ex-prisoners, but they are not ex-convicts. Here is the very beginning of the piece:

If you can't win elections, change the rules.

Despite warnings from people such as the chairman of Maryland's State Board of Elections that the new rules are inviting voter fraud, the General Assembly has pushed through regulations weakening safeguards on provisional ballots, absentee ballots and a long early voting period.

Not satisfied, the legislature now wants to make it easier for convicted murderers, rapists, armed robbers and other violent criminals to vote. Overall, 150,000 felons would be eligible.

When asked if the felon voting bill was motivated to defeat Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s re-election bid this year, Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, replied, "Of course that's the reason." . . .

I will be on WBAL's Ron Smith radio show this afternoon to discuss this.

Defending Hunters

Lawrence O'Donnell on whether Vice President was drunk on Saturday.

Does any one realize that Secret Service agents are law enforcement officers? Would these law enforcement officers (all of them) cover up the fact that Cheney was drunk? What about the 10 other people in the shooting party? What about the people at the ranch? Or the support staff with Cheney? This sounds like a lot of people to make sure that they kept quite? What would happen to the careers of these law enforcement agents if it came out later that they had lied to protect the vice president? Is any of this even remotely serious.

"How do we know there was no alcohol? Cheney refused to talk to local authorities until the next day. No point in giving him a breathalyzer then. Every lawyer I've talked to assumes Cheney was too drunk to talk to the cops after the shooting. The next question for the White House should be, was Cheney drunk? I have never gone hunting with ultra-rich Republicans on a Saturday afternoon, but I have seen them tailgating at Ivy League football games, so it's hard for me to believe that any of their Saturday lunches are alcohol free." . . .


Scalia goes after arguments for "living Constitution"

In 2005, Scalia made a similar statement:

People who believe the Constitution would break if it didn't change with society are "idiots," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says.

In a speech Monday sponsored by the conservative Federalist Society, Scalia defended his long-held belief in sticking to the plain text of the Constitution "as it was originally written and intended." . . .

There is some shock and outrage over Scalia's language, and AOL has even taken to running a poll that was sent to me and can be found here. His points seem reasonable to me and the large majority of people voting on this online poll.

In 2005, Scalia made a similar statement:

"If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again," Scalia told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. "You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility." . . .

Ontario Crime Rates Highest Where Legal Gun Ownership Lowest

From a nice piece by Lorne Gunter:

Two weeks ago, the very anti-gun, pro-gun-registry Toronto Star probably did more than any other media outlet to undermine the recent call by the Ontario provincial government for a ban on all handguns in the province.

On Jan. 28, the Star ran a map of southern Ontario and cottage country showing the number of legal firearms per district.

Using statistics obtained from the federal firearms registry, the paper showed its readers that in the areas around the town of Orillia, there have been up to 47 firearms licences issued for every 100 households -- the highest rate in the province. Large numbers of licences also have been granted around Durham and Orangeville, Cambridge and Peterborough.

Indeed, that swath of Ontario from Lake Huron in the west to Georgian Bay in the north, around Lake Simcoe through Hastings to Prince Edward County, is veritably bristling with guns.

Niagara County, too, and Simcoe, Oxford and Wellington -- guns everywhere.

Most districts nearer Toronto have between four and 12 registered gun owners per 100 homes. Much of the 905 area has between two and six.

But right down in the centre of Toronto, standing out like a strobe light, were several neighbourhoods with two or fewer firearms licences per 100 households. From Pearson International Airport to the Don Valley Parkway, and between the 407 and the Lake, Ontario is nearly gun-free, according to the Star.

But of course, that is exactly where most gun crimes take place. The conclusion to be drawn from the Star's graphic is obvious: The most sensational shootings and highest number of gun murders in Ontario occur within the area that already has by far the lowest levels of legal firearm ownership.

With this one map, the Star unwittingly proved correct those who argue that a ban on all legal handguns will do nothing to reduce gun crime in Toronto. It also debunked all those, such as the Ontario government, the Liberal Party of Canada and the Star itself, who have made a ban the lynchpin of their crime-reduction strategies.

The simple, inescapable truth is that most firearms crimes being committed in Ontario are not being committed with legal guns, so no ban on legal guns -- whether handguns or shotguns and rifles -- is going to have any impact on crime rates.

Most gun crimes are not being committed by gun owners licensed under Ottawa's registry scheme. So no campaign to make licensed owners surrender their firearms in a mass confiscation is going to have any impact either. . . .


What Canadian Police do to Canadian with Guns

This is pretty scary stuff:

When the Nottawasaga OPP did its public takedown of groundhog hunter Jonathan Login almost three years ago, Insp. Mark Allen claimed his detachment's gung-ho arrest was not over the top -- despite guns being trained at Login's head as he lay face down on his own property in front of his frightened family and despite the gloved-hand anal cavity search which was conducted in full view of passersby.

"The police response was done by the book," Insp. Allen said at the time. "It was a call about a man with a gun."

After a judge's ruling last week, however, it would appear that this particular book can now be tossed in the trash.

Except the cops are not about to give up.

There is, apparently, an appeal in the works.

As reported here on Saturday, provincial court Judge Jon-Jo Douglas minced no words last Friday in delivering his decision to quash charges against Login, ruling in a point-by-point judgment that took almost three hours to finish that the Nottawasaga OPP, with the backup of military cops who also responded to the scene, had gone way too far.

"The police had not a whit of evidence to suggest (Login) was operating a firearm dangerously," said Douglas.

"The arrest was (therefore) illegal and unconstitutional."

The judge also ordered the police to quickly return Login's seized weapons -- even imposing a deadline of this Friday.

Thanks very much to Harvey Pederson for sending this.

Life in Law School

The 14 hour cover-up?

I thought that if you really wanted to hide something you put it out late on Saturday night. That way it can't get into the Sunday paper, but you have essentially a full newscycle by Monday morning. Wasn't that the whole point of the timing of the infamous Saturday Night Massacre? So Cheney puts it out on Sunday morning instead of Saturday night? There are lots of witnesses to what happened, presumably including Harry Whittington, the person who was wounded.

Cheney waited more than 14 hours after the shooting to disclose it publicly.

This is just too bizarre: "GMA Floats Cheney Cover-Up, Doubts Witness Account"


Getting around the one child rule in China

Sarah Brady on Dick Cheney's accidental shooting

Gun stops three robbers

Dick Cheney's accidental shooting incident

Some perspective might be useful. The 2003 number of accidental gun deaths is 730 (CDC). 20 children under 10 died and 56 children under 15 died. Bird shot is going to hurt, but it is unlikely to kill people.


Very close fight expected in adopting right-to-carry in Kansas

A bill that would allow Kansans to carry concealed handguns easily passed the Senate on Thursday, taking a step toward a tug-of-war with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius over gun rights.

The measure passed the Senate 29-11, two votes more than needed to override an expected veto by the governor.

"This isn't a vote about the governor. This isn't a vote about the elections coming up. This is a vote about freedom," said Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, the bill's sponsor.

But a gubernatorial veto seems likely if the measure passes the House, as is expected in the coming weeks. The bill is nearly identical to one Sebelius vetoed two years ago.

"The governor's position is very clear," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

Sebelius hasn't said outright that she would flush the bill. Her spokeswoman, Nicole Corcoran, said Thursday, "It just depends on what gets to her."

Sebelius has been supportive in the past only of legislation that would allow retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed guns.

In the House, it would take 84 votes to override a veto. That could be difficult, supporters admit.

"I think I've got 84 on the nose, and that's on a good day," said Rep. Candy Ruff, D-Leavenworth and the measure's top supporter in the House.

With tax season coming up soon

This is one of my favorite songs and as I start organizing files here are they lyrics to one of my favorite songs that might help put everyone in the proper frame of mind:

The Beatles' Taxman

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me.

A start on budget cuts

Bush's budget proposes to cut public broadcasting by 30 percent. Of course, the president for public televisions "condemned cuts in federal funding." But it is beyond me how anyone can really claim that there is a need for this funding or that it can be justified. What does public broadcasting offer that is not available elsewhere or what does it have that wouldn't be picked up if it were at all valued? Why should the people who listen to "All Things Considered" be subsidized by other normally poorer people? My only complaint is that the cut is only 30 percent.


It is OK to eat fatty food: Another piece of commonly accepted medical advice seriously questioned

Some bad economic advice

Russell Roberts writing at Cafe Hayek has a great piece nailing some financially dangerous economic advice. The point is that just because some randomness caused a bet to pay off in the past doesn't mean it will work in the future. There is a chance that a fair coin will give me 5 heads in a row, but I wouldn't want to take more than a fifty-fifty chance that it will come up heads a sixth time.


Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

For a forthcoming book that I have, I have collected a lot of data on the Supreme Court as well as other federal courts. One thing of some interest is the age of retirement. Justice John Paul Stevens is 85, and only two justices nominated since 1862 have retired past age 85: Oliver W. Holmes, Jr. ( age 90) and Harry A. Blackman (age 86). The average age of retirement was 71 (with a standard deviation of 8.5). For those who have retired after 1980, the average retirement age was 78. Since 1862, there have only been six nominees who served longer than 30 years on the court. Stevens passed the 30 year mark this past December. After this next election this fall, there will only have been four Justices who will have served longer than Stevens.

Illinois Gov Rod Blagojevich in trouble in the polls

A new rasmussen poll shows that Blagojevich unfavorable rating is 49 percent while those approving are at only 40 percent. He is also trailing State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka (R) by 48 to 37 percent. Republicans might have a hard time keeping up their number of governorships, but the Democrats could easily lose Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin.

A confession

I have a confession. Many people will probably view it as a little wierd, but I like just looking through statistical volumes such as "Historical Statistics of the United States." Robert Samuelson's article in today's Washington Post


The ABA Responds to my op-ed in the New York Times

The ABA does not contradict a single one of the facts that I put forward in my New York Times op-ed. They also misinterpret what I wrote. I did not say that Roberts and Alito got ratings that were higher than they deserve. What I wrote was that the ratings for Republican nominees were particularly low relative to Democrats when there was a Republican President and a Democratic Senate.

Federal Court Nominees
New York Times

Published: February 4, 2006
To the Editor:

We dispute the description in "Pulling Rank," by John R. Lott Jr. (Op-Ed, Jan. 25), of what the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary does and what it does not do.

Democrats and Republicans, and Americans, want individuals nominated to the federal bench who are professionally qualified, which is why President Dwight Eisenhower asked the American Bar Association to evaluate the professional qualifications of his prospective judicial nominees. And why Democrats and Republicans since then have looked to our Standing Committee for nonpartisan peer evaluations.

Our only goal is to advance the fair and impartial administration of justice by helping to assure an independent and qualified judiciary. What the committee has never considered is a nominee's ideology. It focuses only on three areas: professional competence, judicial temperament and integrity.

To suggest that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. were given the American Bar Association's highest rating for cynical and tactical reasons is an insult to the judges themselves. They gained the committee's highest rating for one reason only: they earned it.

Michael S. Greco
American Bar Association
Washington, Feb. 2, 2006

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Vote on best gun blog

Well apparently I should thank you all for voting for me as having a good gun blog during the first round of voting. There is now a second round of voting and I would appreciate your continued support by voting here. Thank you.


A note from a law school student

A reader of my website writes:

"I was driving today and I saw a bumper sticker that said "those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither," paraphrasing a Ben Franklin quote. There has also been some press coverage on a protest of some sort where some ladies are holding up a sign saying the same thing, I believe it is in reference to the Patriot Act or the domestic wire tapping. Suddenly it hit me how hypocritical that was coming from liberal America, in light of the recent San Francisco handgun ban and the Wisconsin CCW permit veto. I just thought you may want to point that out in one of your articles."

Law School Student
Florida State University


Research on Guns and Road Rage


There is a new paper that is getting some attention that has just come out in the public health journal "Accident Analysis & Prevention." The paper by David Hemenway, Mary Vriniotix, and Matt Miller is entitled "Is an armed society a polite society? Guns and road rage." The paper is based on a survey of 2,400 drivers that the authors did. The survey asked respondents if they had made an obscene gesture to an opposing driver or whether they had aggressively followed another car. After that a series of descriptive questions were asked: gender, age, income, political views, urban/rural, and whether they have had a gun in their car at least one time over the last year. The authors make a simple comparison between those who have had a gun at least once in their car and those who didn't and say that the respective numbers are 23% and 16%. The authors imply that having a gun makes it more likely that one will engage in road rage.

There are multiple concerns with this analyis. Their questions make no attempt to ask whether a gun was in the car at the time the road rage incident occurred. Nor did they attempt to differentiate law-abiding permit holders from those who illegally possessed guns (e.g., asking respondents if they have a permit to carry a gun). This last point seems particularly important given that they want to make policy conclusions on concealed carry laws.

The paper also has some funny results. For example, Liberals are apparently much more likely to engage in road rage than conservatives and the difference is larger than the difference between those who did and did not have a gun at least one time in their car over the last year. This variable is apparently never investigated, but presumably they are also concerned about liberals being allowed to drive cars.

Finally, surveys can be a useful first approximation, but there is in fact much more direct evidence available on the behavior of concealed handgun permit holders. Despite almost four million Americans currently having permits to carry concealed handguns and some states having these laws for as long as eighty years, there is only one case in Alabama where a permitted concealed handgun was used to commit road rage. There are also other much more direct mesaures that indicate that people who have concealed handgun permits and who thus carry guns in their cars legally. For example, the fact that permit holders tend to be extremely law-abiding and lose their permit for violating gun regulations occurs for only hundredths or thousandths of one percent of permit holders. If they used their guns in the way that the authors of this study fear, their permits would have been revoked.

I have asked the authors for their data, but we will see when and how quickly I get it.

UPDATE: Hemenway is unwilling to provide the data for me to look at. My response is that if he or his co-authors are making comments to the press as they have, he is under an obligation to give out the data used in this paper. Despite putting together the largest data sets that have been put together on crime, I give out those data sets when the papers get media coverage even when they haven't been published yet. Hemenway's paper has been published. (The accuracy of this update was confirmed with my intern who talked to Hemenway and emailed him about obtaining this data. I had previously emailed one of the authors about obtaining the data, but I didn't receive a response.)

UPDATE 2: After a second telephone call, Hemenway said that while he will not give out the data used in the paper, he may reconsider providing a portion of the data, but that he can't make a decision before talking to his co-authors. He is also very busy and would not say when he would check into even this. (The accuracy of this update was confirmed with my intern who talked to Hemenway about obtaining this data.)

UPDATE 3: Well, it is official. Hemenway is not going to make his data available. This is true even though I have only asked for the data used in the published paper, and I am also happy to promise to use the data to only evaluate the research that the authors have already published. Hemenway complains about the comments that I have made regarding his study and concludes that: "no one on our research team believes that it will advance the science to provide even portions of the dataset semi-exclusively to Dr. Lott at this time." Of course, Hemenway inaccurately implies that I ever wanted the data set "semi-exclusively." I think that they should provide the data to everyone. I am probably just the only person to ask for it. (This update is based an email that Hemenway sent to Chris DeMuth, the president of AEI.)

Frank Main, the crime reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, is the only reporter who has written on this study who mentions criticisms of the Hemenway, Vriniotix, and Miller research.

Clayton Cramer, Say Uncle, Geek with a .45, and The Donovan also have some notes on this research.

Correction: The original note mentioned that only one regression had been run by these authors. In fact, it turns out that four regressions had been run. The points listed above are now correct.


Comment on Broke Back Mountain

Sonya Jones forwarded me the links of some comics inspired by Broke Back Mountain: here, here, and here. I confess that the movie as well as the comics make me uncomfortable, but I wrote to Sonya that at least I would feel somewhat better if they referred to the main characters as sheepherders and not cowboys. Afterall, I seem to have some recollection from the movies that I watched as a kid that cowboys and sheepherders did not get along very well.

Anyway, I will be attending a gun show in Dallas this weekend, and possibly I will get some feedback from some real cowboys.


Canadian MP Garry Breitkreuz has a nice collection of quotes by Canadian police on what they think about the Canadian gun registry. Here is one of the quotes:

GILBERT YARD, RETIRED RCMP SUPERINTENDENT: I am appalled at just how much has been spent to date on the firearms registration process. But perhaps even more disturbing is the misplaced focus on legal firearms. Like many reasonable Canadians, I support programs that address the structural and social situations that give rise to crime. Our first objective should be to promote law-abiding, non-destructive behaviour in as many members of society as possible. There comes a point, however, where punishment and protection of the public must be the focus. In these cases, illegal acts and violent behaviour should be treated with appropriate penalties. From reading my views on gun control and firearms legislation, I suspect that many might feel that I am a "gun nut" with pro-American feelings regarding gun possession. This is just not so. Growing up, my family had limited contact with firearms but we were raised to believe that a gun was a serious tool to be used in appropriate circumstances only. I can understand people who emotionally react to guns as all bad but I am convinced that such emotion can mask the true problem of illegal gun possession and/or usage. During my 37 years of policing I carried a handgun as a tool of my profession. I was also exposed to a wide cross-section of collectors and target shooters who used, stored and transported their weapons in a legal and responsible manner. They are not the problem. The misdirection of time, effort and funding is unforgivable. I believe that Canadians are much too astute to believe that either Bill C-68 or the proposed handgun legislation is anything other than a waste of time, effort and money. Wasting public funds that could really make a difference in acute justice issues, in my view, borders on criminal activity.
SOURCE: THE NORTH SHORE NEWS, “Gun legislation an election issue” published January 11, 2006


Who said that lawsuits weren't out of control?