Is the Bush administration backtracking on the Second Amendment?

Saddam's Execution by Hanging Video


A little math can be a dangerous thing: Washington Post on Crime rates

It is one of the least-told stories in American crime-fighting. New York, the safest big city in the nation, achieved its now-legendary 70-percent drop in homicides even as it locked up fewer and fewer of its citizens during the past decade. The number of prisoners in the city has dropped from 21,449 in 1993 to 14,129 this past week. That runs counter to the national trend, in which prison admissions have jumped 72 percent during that time. . . .

If you want to drive down crime, the experience of New York shows that it's ridiculous to spend your first dollar building more prison cells," said Michael Jacobson, who served as New York's correction commissioner for former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and now is president of the Vera Institute of Justice, which studies crime-fighting trends worldwide. . . .

Perhaps as intriguing is the experience in states where officials spent billions of dollars to build prisons. From 1992 to 2002, Idaho's prison population grew by 174 percent. the largest percentage increase in the nation. Yet violent crime in that state rose by 14 percent. . . .

There appears to be a simple explanation for why both prison population and crime can fall in New York. When murders fall by 70 percent, can you really keep on expanding the prison population? Note that the prison population has fallen by a third, but violent crime in the city has fallen by much more than that.

It would have been helpful if they had put the numbers in per capita rates, rather than comparing numbers 10 years apart. For example, I guarantee you that Idaho's population grew by more than 14 percent, though less than 174 percent. Thus it would appear the crime rate did fall as the prison population grew.


The Federal Election Commission now watching car bumper stickers

If this guy was unfunded, it sounds as if he had plenty of empty space on his car. It seems as if the opportunity cost of it was zero.

NASCAR driver is rebuked for Bush sticker

It’s no secret that NASCAR drivers skew Republican, which is fine with the Federal Election Commission, just so long as they don’t display their preferences where anyone can see them.

In a decision announced Tuesday, the FEC sent an “admonishment letter” to Kirk Shelmerdine Racing. Kirk Shelmerdine, a former pit boss for the late Dale Earnhardt, has been an unsuccessful, underfunded and undersponsored driver. He has never finished higher than 26th.

So back in 2004, in a move perhaps designed to draw some attention to his car, he placed a “Bush-Cheney ’04” decal on his rear quarter panel, which was otherwise unencumbered by advertising. Democratic activist Sydnor Thompson complained to the FEC, and the agency found that Shelmerdine “may have made an unreported independent expenditure or a prohibited corporate expenditure.”

Former commissioner Bradley Smith dissented in one of the case’s early votes and blogged about the result this week. He has written that in reference to the FEC’s $250 expenditure limit, “evidence is strong that the market value of Shelmerdine’s rear quarter panel was approximately $0, give or take $249.”


Murder rates up in many cities


Massachusetts: 203,302 Concealed Handgun Permits

All this assumes that the Boston Globe got these numbers correct.

Speak of people carrying concealed handguns rates in Texas or Florida to someone in Massachusetts and I am sure that they would be viewed as examples of the dangerous wild west. So who has more concealed handgun permits per capita? Texas or Massachusetts? Texas has 22.9 million people and 247,345 permits. For Massachusetts, which has 6.4 million people, the numbers are quite high: “In Massachusetts, 203,302 residents were licensed to carry concealed weapons as of August, according to the state Criminal History Systems Board.” Texas would have to have over 726,000 permits to have the same rate of issuance. (Obviously it would be nice to compare only the adult populations, but this fast comparison using total populations will give a useful rough measure.)

How about Florida or Massachusetts? Florida is way up there also with 549,000 permits, but on a per capita rate it would have over 565,000 if it issued permits at the same rate as Massachusetts.

While I am putting this up, for Utah it is 79,353 permits. Utah and Massachusetts have virtually the same rate of issuing permits per capita, but my guess is that Massachusetts' rate is higher among adults.

By the way, the Brady Campaign gives Massachusetts a "B+" for its concealed carry system because police have discretion to grant permits, but it gives Texas a "D" and Florida and Utah an "F"s.

Pennsylvania, Indiana, and South Dakota have the highest rates of issuing permits 6.4, 6.4 and 7.5 percent of adults respectively. There are over 1.1 million permits issued just from Pennsylvania and Florida alone.

Thanks to Maxim Lott for discovering this fact about Massachusetts.

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Weird Crime Fact: Male Rapes

NYT: “Very rarely will an African-American woman work for an African-American boss”?

This piece offers multiple explanations, but here is a possibility: might it be that the reasons given below by the nannies themselves are correct?

Numerous black parents successfully employ nannies, and many sitters say they pay no regard to race. But interviews with dozens of nannies and agencies that employ them in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Houston turned up many nannies — often of African-American or Caribbean descent themselves — who avoid working for families of those backgrounds. Their reasons included accusations of low pay and extra work, fears that employers would look down at them, and suspicion that any neighborhood inhabited by blacks had to be unsafe.

The result is that many black parents do not have the same child care options as their colleagues and neighbors. They must settle for illegal immigrants or non-English speakers instead of more experienced or credentialed nannies, rely on day care or scale back their professional aspirations to spend more time at home.

“Very rarely will an African-American woman work for an African-American boss,” said Pat Cascio, the owner of Morningside Nannies in Houston and the president of the International Nanny Association.

Many of the African-American nannies who make up 40 percent of her work force fear that people of their own color will be “uppity and demanding,” said Ms. Cascio, who is white. After interviews, she said, those nannies “will call us and say, ‘Why didn’t you tell me’ ” the family is black? . . .

Some black sitters, both Caribbean and African-American, said they flat out refused to work for families of those backgrounds, accusing them of demanding more and paying less.

“It seems like our own color looks down on us and takes advantage of us,” said Pansy Scott, a Jamaican immigrant in Brooklyn, basing her conclusions on working for a single black family years ago. Ai-Jen Poo, lead organizer for Domestic Workers United, a labor group, said, “Domestic employees are at the whim of their employers,” good or bad. “If they happen to run into an employer who for whatever reason is not respecting their rights,” she said, they may draw wildly broad conclusions. . . .


Despite legal risks, Fox hunting will still occur in England this coming week


Guns and football players

I was watching HBO's Inside the NFL with Cris Collinsworth this weekend and I saw an amazing attack on people carrying concealed handguns for protection. The attack was basically that those who carried a gun did so because they wanted to feel tough. He gave no consideration to the fact that these players might be very promising targets for criminals who perceive the players as wealthy. I am not sure what the player is supposed to do when he is attacked my multiple assailants. By the way, I came across this recent post:

Pierce on Guns

Paul Pierce will be one of many quoted on ESPN's Outside the Lines Sunday morning on the topic of athletes and guns:

“Because I’m recognized on TV, people want what I have. And, people are jealous of what you have. And, you have to be careful because people out there in the world are very envious of your life.”

Pierce, as you recall survived a brutal multiple stabbing at a Boston nightclub in September 2000. He is now licensed to carry a concealed weapon, but says he leaves his gun at home and hires a bodyguard when he goes out.

Merry Christmas!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas.


Canadian Indians win right to hunt at night

When I went to New Zealand early this year and got some time to talk with the Maori, I got a new found respect for the importance of hunting traditions to native people. Indeed, this desire on their part may end up being important to keep hunting going. It is good to hear about this legal victory in Canada. In this Canadian case though I find it amazing that so-called public safety concerns that are not based on any statistical evidence might possibly outweight treaty obligations. Even if the evidence existed, it is not clear why it should outweigh the treat.

In a split decision, the judges said rights given to Indians in treaties can overrule current Canadian laws.

Native groups are calling it an important victory but critics say the ruling ignores important concerns over public safety.

Hunting in the dark is illegal because it is widely felt to be very dangerous.

Ten years ago, two hunters from the Tsartlip Indian band on Vancouver Island were hunting at night with rifles and electric torches.

But their only catch turned out to be a decoy deer set up in the woods by wildlife officials.

The two hunters were arrested.

But the pair argued that hunting at night is a traditional practice for their tribe, that a treaty signed back in 1852 specifically mentions it and that grants them the right to carry on doing it. . . .

But the court itself was split over the issue, with several of the judges saying public safety should outweigh all other concerns, even in sensitive aboriginal rights cases. . . .

A couple of defensive gun uses

Norman, Oklahoma -- A man who police say broke into a northeast Norman home was shot to death by the resident late Thursday.

Keith Dewayne Robinson, 23, was pronounced dead at the home on Princeton Circle shortly before midnight. Police said the home’s occupant, Ernest Bernal, 49, arrived at home about 11:30 p.m. Police said Bernal discovered Robinson inside the home.

“A confrontation between the resident and the intruder ensued in which the resident shot the intruder,” according to a police press release. . . . .

Thanks very much to Gus for sending this to me.

Fayetteville — A convenience store clerk turned the tables on two armed robbers Saturday afternoon.

It happened at the Amoco gas station at 1711 Clinton Road in Fayetteville around 3:30.

Fayetteville police said the clerk shot one of the suspects as the robber began to pull out a silver handgun.

The wounded suspect was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. His wound was not life-threatening, police said.

The other suspect ran away, and police were looking for him. . . . .



Do Our Protectionist Sugar Policies Cause People to Get Fatter?

Apparently at least in part because of the government protections increasing the price of sugar, companies have switched to High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to sweeten everything from processed foods to beverages.. Most people apparently consume 63 pounds of HFCS each year. Can we sue the government price support program for the country's higher health care costs?

Your digestive system has two main hormones that control hunger and appetite. Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and increases your appetite. When your stomach's empty, it sends ghrelin out, requesting food. Leptin tells your brain that you're full. HFCS inhibits leptin secretion, so you never get the message that you're full. And HFCS never shuts off ghrelin, so even though you have food in your stomach, you constantly get the message that you're hungry.

That's the physiology behind a theory gaining a lot of ground -- the theory that our increasing consumption of HFCS is one of many elements at play in America's obesity epidemic.

Because it's cheaper than sugar, HFCS is used to sweeten many processed foods and beverages. And although manufacturers may eliminate fat from their products, they make up for its taste with sugar and HFCS. Which means that cutting down on processed foods and sweetened drinks -- even the fat-free kind -- is a good way to reduce your intake.

Will Academics really understand the lesson in the drop in admissions at Duke?

Duke saw a 20 percent drop in applications for early admission. What is obvious to the rest of the country in terms of the abuses the three Lacrosse players have had to suffer are apparently not obvious to the Duke administration? If it were, the administration would remove all penalties against the Lacrosse players pending some resolution to the contrary.

Duke will notify 469 students Dec. 15 of their early acceptances to the Class of 2011, officials announced Thursday.

The number of accepted students is in line with last year's 467, even though the number of early-decision applicants declined by nearly 20 percent.

Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions, said the decline could be attributed to a combination of causes, but cited media coverage of the lacrosse case as a likely contributing factor.

"We all would have been surprised if there had been no effect from any of the publicity," he said.

Guttentag said, however, that the quality of accepted students-based on six factors including standardized test scores, academic performance and letters of recommendation-remains as strong as those accepted early last year.

He added that the admissions office does not aim to fill a certain number of spots in a class through early decision, but instead bases acceptance on applicant quality.

"The fact that we admitted the same number was not by design," Guttentag said. "What we planned to do was just admit the most compelling applicants… and in that respect there's no difference between this year's early-decision admits and last year's early-decision admits."

Guttentag added that he spent more time this year than last year reviewing decisions.

"I wanted to be careful this year with the decisions that we were making," he said. "I wanted to make sure as well as we could that we've gotten all the decisions as right as we could get them." . . . .

I also heard on the radio today that the woman who had accused the players of rape now says that she couldn't testify for certain whether she was raped. After the number of times she said that she had been raped, is this serious? It is good that the rape charges were dropped on Friday, but the case on the kidnapping and sexual assault charges seem non-existant.


Sometimes even an unloaded gun works

Possibly the owner would have been a lot less nervous if his gun was loaded.

PELHAM - Armed with an unloaded shotgun, a local homeowner held off a burglar yesterday morning until police arrived.

"My heart has never pounded that hard," said Michael Pacheco, 39, of Sherburne Road, as he described how he nudged the gun on the burglary suspect's forehead and pushed him away from his home as his 3-year-old daughter waited inside.

The trouble started when Pacheco, home on a six-week layoff from his job, saw a youth breaking into a shed behind his house and confronted him.

The suspect, Joseph Guillemette, 18, of Pelham has been charged with burglary, according to police.

According to police Sgt. Michael Pickles, Guillemette allegedly drove his car down a long driveway behind 89 Sherburne Road and backed up to a locked shed. But when he tried to break into the shed, he was confronted by Pacheco.

"I observed this kid for quite a while before I did what I did," Pacheco said in a telephone interview last night.

At first, he went out and shouted at the youth but did not bring a gun with him. Pacheco said the youth is about the same age as his own son.

The youth was startled when confronted, Pacheco said, and initially told him he was looking for his dog. . . . .


Free Speech might mean you can take out ads 60 days before an election

So free speech actually means that you can take out ads to discuss political issues 60 days before an election? At least that is what a 2-1 majority on the DC circuit court says. I realize that this is an extreme version of the first amendment given that it states "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech," but it seems like a somewhat possible interpretation, right? Possibly I am missing something else, but where does it say Congress shall make no law except for regulations governing statements by people through corporations that they have formed?

Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The case was brought by Wisconsin Right to Life, which has been fighting the restrictions since 2004, claiming they infringe on its First Amendment guarantee of free speech, among other grounds.

Using its corporate treasury, the group had paid for advertisements denouncing Senate filibusters of judicial nominees and urging viewers to contact either Senator Russell D. Feingold, who was up for re-election that year, or the state’s other Democratic senator, Herb Kohl, who was not.

Under the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, groups wanting to broadcast advertisements that name federal candidates within 60 days before a general election, or 30 days before a primary, are required to follow strict rules on how they pay for them. The law requires that donors be disclosed and caps contributions to prevent secretive groups from advocating for or against candidates in thinly disguised advertisements known as issue ads. . . .

[The Democrat Nominee on the Panel warned} “This is clearly a shift in direction and invites the use of corporate money,” Mr. Foley said, adding: “You can run ads about any policy issue you want to and you can name members of Congress in the ads. You can use corporate money for any ad that fits this profile.”


"Gun-toting Tulsan nabs burglary suspect"

I can only imagine the political pressure this woman is under

A Canadian school board trustee must have know that there would be controversy with her making positive statements about guns. While she made no comments regarding guns in school, of course much of the discussion has focused on children related issues. The initial discussions in places such as the Global and Mail were somewhat balanced: "Right now in Canada, you can't own a handgun for the sole issue of self-defence. You can have it for target shooting and for collection. I don't think it's appropriate to say we shouldn't even discuss protection issues and safety issues." But rather than opening up a debate on the issue of guns, it now appears that the discussion has turned into one bashing this woman. Possibly one of the reasons for the attacks is that she represents a big threat to the gun control advocates in Canada. Here you have an extremely liberal woman recognizing the importance of self-defense.

This is from the CBC:
School trustee's gun advocacy draws fire
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 2006 | 3:16 PM PT
CBC News
A Vancouver school trustee is taking heat for speaking out in favour of a gun group's campaign for the right to carry concealed weapons in Canada.

Sharon Gregson, a longtime NDP activist, was recently featured on the cover of the National Firearms Association Journal, holding a large handgun.

Gregson has just been granted a permit to carry a concealed handgun in the U.S. and has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking why she can't have the same right in Canada.

"I don't think we should be embarrassed or ashamed of the fact that we're legal gun owners who enjoy a sport and want to talk about protection issues particularly if they apply to women."

Wendy Cukier, the president of the Coalition for Gun Control, said she was appalled by Gregson's decision to become the firearms association's cover girl. . . .

Here is a very misleading editorial from the Vancouver Sun:
Until this week, Sharon Gregson was known as a Vancouver school trustee, a passionate New Democrat and an advocate for publicly funded daycare.

All of that changed when she appeared on the cover of the Canadian Firearms Journal, a publication of the National Firearms Association, with a .45-calibre Colt pistol in one hand.

Gregson notes that she's been involved with recreational shooting for several years and has competed in the International Practical Shooting Confederation. But her cover girl turn took many people by surprise and a few by shock. Some of Gregson's fellow trustees worried that the picture might convey the message that carrying a weapon is a good way to protect yourself, which is the last thing they want to promote given concerns about violence in schools. . . .

The Debate over Guns in Schools

Here is the debate in the Deseret News: Guns Don't Belong in School verus Armed first responders are needed in schools.

Here is a summary of the debate from the anti piece:
In Utah, some schoolteachers who have concealed weapons permits carry handguns to school. Some teachers say they carry concealed weapons because they want to be able to defend themselves and others should an intruder threaten school staff or students. A proposal before the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council would permit teachers with the appropriate gun training to become "special function officers," which would be akin to a school district security officer, a hospital security officer or a port of entry agent. The POST council has taken no action on the proposal.
The Utah Chiefs of Police Association opposes the proposal

I also received this note original ascribed to Charles Hardy: "Just to clarify, as best I understand it, a couple of rural districts would like to allow teachers or other school employees to take a 'POST lite' course so they could pull double duty as school resource officers rather than just carrying as private citizens as permitted by CCW permits. No effect on CCW, though those with CCW permits might be logical first choices to enlist to the program. I just love the logic of the antis: a college-educated teacher is too stupid or untrustworthy for this, but a guy who never went to college is smart and trustworthy enough? I really do view it as more insulting to teachers than to gun owners."

When people debate about the risks of having guns on school property why don't they try to answer the following?
1) Can they name one problem that has arisen since guns were again allowed in Utah schools? What about Oregon? What about all the states that allowed concealed handguns in school parking lots (thus within the 1,000 foot rule)?
2) Can they name one problem that arose in all the right-to-carry states that allowed guns in schools nationwide prior to the end of 1995? This is before there was any 1,000 foot rule. Please list just one instance where there was a problem?

Thanks to N. W. Clayton for sending me these links.



More Newspapers Publish Gun Owner's Names Online

It was pointed out to me that one common attribute of some of these newspapers that published these lists is that they are part of Gannett Publishing. I have no idea if there is a connection, but it does seem strange that these lists are being published so closely together.

Dozens of readers have taken issue with The Journal News over its decision to run a list of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties as part of a wider investigative article.

The names of more than 30,000 licensed handgun owners were posted online as part of "Falling Through the Cracks," the paper's Dec. 10 report that found that thousands of registered handguns were unaccounted for because there is no system to secure the weapons of permit holders who die. The articles can be found by clicking the "Gun Control" icon at www.lohud.com.

Some readers, particularly those on the list of licensed pistol owners, suggested that the newspaper erred in publishing the names. They said it may target their homes for theft, although the paper did not publish their home addresses.

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association reacted by posting what it thought were home addresses and telephone numbers of newspaper staff members. The list inadvertently included addresses of people not associated with the newspaper or the articles. . . .

Thanks to Rick Statler.


Argus Leader (S.D.) puts permit holders names on line

More than 41,000 South Dakotans have permits to carry handguns or conceal them in their cars - the highest rate per capita in the nation, an Argus Leader analysis shows.

Records compiled from the state - and now barred from public view, under a law passed this year by the Legislature - show that 7.4 percent of South Dakota adults had such a permit as of June 30. Next closest are Indiana and Pennsylvania, with 6.4 percent of adults licensed to carry a handgun. . . .

The newspaper's analysis of state permits shows that, overall, the handgun culture is more firmly entrenched in western South Dakota, although McCook County, just west of Sioux Falls, had the highest rate of permits - nearly 12 percent - of any county.
. . .

Unfortunately, the Argus Leader has set up a database so that you can check who has a concealed handgun permit in the state. You would think that the newspaper would point to at least one problem with the permitting system in South Dakota before writing articles such as these.

There is an online poll on concealed handgun laws here, though i don't know how long it will be up.

The articles discuss suicides by firearms, but they fail to note that these suicides would likely have been committed anyway.

Thanks to Rick Statler for alerting me to this.

Why is there such a news blackout on Senator Tim Johnson's medical condition?

I have begun to get concerned that Senator Tim Johnson's health might be worse than believed simply because his doctors have been so silent on the topic. It is surely understandable that the family wants to have its privacy and I am sure that reporters' questions if directed at the family would be extremely stressful. It would also not be fun to have your loved one's health discussed in the media. But is the lack of information because of these concerns or is it because things are worse than we fear. The speculation is occurring anyway, and Johnson, a reportedly very nice and decent of a guy, is a US Senator. In any case, I got an email from someone who writes me regularly. Here is what concerns me:

Since I have worked in a neurosurgeon's office and have had relatives who had strokes, I sincerely doubted the newsmedia's stories about TJ. This afternoon I called a widowed friend in South Dakota whose late husband was a physician. She said the doctors of her acquaintance said that Johnson's condition is critical and they do not know whether or not he will survive. If he does, he faces a long and painful recovery and may never be the same.


Christine M. Ross

I sincerely hope that this isn't true. Presumably South Dakota's medical community, especially among specialists such as this, is a small tightly knit group, but it is possible that Ross's friend is exaggerating her inside information. In any case, thanks to Christine for letting me post this.


"Nevada state senator proposes letting teachers carry guns"

Will someone please explain to me why the discussion of what might happen completely ignores the actual historical experience that we have had with teachers and others being able to carry guns on school property? Utah, Oregon? What about all those right-to-carry states that allowed people to carry concealed handguns prior to the end of 1995?

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada state senator and also-ran in this year's Republican primary for governor says the Legislature should consider letting teachers carry guns in classrooms to stem a rise in school violence.

"I would expect enough teachers would be interested so it would serve as a deterrent," said Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas. He said he's preparing a bill to introduce when state lawmakers convene in February.

While Beers said teachers would have to undergo firearm safety training, Las Vegas-area school officials said that allowing more weapons on campus would make schools less safe.

"The more people who have guns, the more likely it is that there will be a shootout," said Clark County school Superintendent Walt Rulffes. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he was aware of no studies supporting Beers' argument that schools would be safer if teachers carried guns.

School trustee Sheila Moulton said teachers might need more training to identify and deal with potentially violent students. But she rejected the idea of arming teachers.

"That is not the solution," Moulton said. "I'm not for putting guns in the classroom even when teachers are trained on how to use them." . . .

Thanks to Saturdaynightspecial for alerting me to this.

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Zero Tolerance: "there was no reasoning with the principal"

Weird . . .

A 13-year-old Plainfield boy and his parents are stunned and outraged after the teen found a gun in school and turned it in to authorities, who then expelled him.

CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports Ryan Morgan's parents and supporters attended the school board meeting Wednesday evening to try to fight the expulsion. They believe the punishment, and the subsequent alternative school option, are not the proper responses to a mistake made by a teenage boy.

Ryan Morgan, 13, says he pocketed a pellet gun he and a friend found in their school's bathroom to keep people safe. Morgan's mother says a short time later Morgan gave the gun to the Troy Middle School assistant principal.

"I told him maybe that wasn't the best decision, to remove that gun, but it did lead to you finding the culprit, he was arrested and to put my son in alternative school -- he has no behavior problems," Audrey Morgan, Ryan's mother, said.

The Morgans say there was no reasoning with the principal or with the school superintendent.

"He said, 'The board can give your son full two-year expulsion, I'm asking you not to go before them,'" Audrey Morgan said. . . .


Too much exercise causes cancer!!

So much for criminals registering their guns

Blind hunters haven't apparently been involved in any accidents

Apparently, there are four states that allow blind people to hunt (Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota). The Texas state legislator who is pushing for Texas to allow laser sights to be used by blind hunters claimed on the radio today that in these four states there have been no recorded accidents involving blind hunters. My guess is that if an accident were to occur, it would get a lot of news attention.

Source: Michael Medved's radio show, 12/14/06


A timely reminder: "Keeping lawful citizens unarmed won't reduce number of criminals"

What I would have added to this piece is that disarmament is a relative question. The issue is whether a law disarms more law-abiding individuals or criminals. Who is more likely to obey the law? Who is more likely to find the law imposing costs on their gun ownership? The problem is that the law-abiding citizens are often the ones who care more about obeying laws.

What both sides need to realize is that it's criminals - not guns or politicians - who are responsible for crime. If an individual is truly bent on breaking the law, he isn't going to be deterred by simply more laws.

The only sure way to reduce violent crime is to reduce the number of violent criminals.

Studies show that criminals are less risk-averse than the population at large. In fact, it turns out that people who commit crimes actually seek out risk.

My one complaint with the piece is that it uses numbers that I say in my book are unreliable. The purely cross-sectional comparison is made because that is what most people do, but it is very misleading and exaggerates the benefits from right-to-carry laws.

Our thoughts are with Senator Tim Johnson and his family

I am sure that everyone's thoughts are with South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson and his family. From across the political spectrum, people only have nice things to say about him: "This is a pretty mean town and lets just keep him in our prayers," said former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. "This town is so eat up with power that everybody, you know, that's all they think about. You go to ask somebody for a cup of coffee, they question why you asked, there must be an ulterior motive to you asking. I just did a news story search as I got up and I was disappointed to see that he still seemed to be in surgery. I assume that he will be OK simply because the initial news reports indicated that he hadn't had a stroke or a heartattack, so if it was a stroke, I assume that it was a minor one.


"Buy a House, Get a Glock": Unfortunately only applies to law enforcement

Why limit this to law enforcement? If police understand the importance of guns for self defense, so do other people. My research shows that police are the single most important factor in reducing crime, but I think that the police understand that despite their importance and best efforts they almost always arrive on the crime scene after the crime has occurred.

A Texas real estate agent looking to add more bang to her business is offering clients in law enforcement a free Glock pistol if they buy a home from her.

Julie Upton, a Houston-area real estate agent, spurned traditional buyer incentives like free gasoline cards or home improvement store gift certificates.

Instead, she placed an advertisement offering a pistol with the purchase of any home worth at least $150,000 in the city police department's monthly publication, "Badge & Gun."

The free guns are only for those in law enforcement, said Upton, who is married to a police officer.


An example of why a gun is so important: two criminals versus one victim

Ohio Legislature Overrides Veto and Eliminates Local Gun Control Laws

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Senate voted Tuesday to override outgoing Gov. Bob Taft's veto of a bill that would wipe out local gun laws, marking the first time in 29 years the Legislature have rejected a gubernatorial veto.

The GOP-dominated Senate voted 21-12 to override the Republican governor's veto. Three Republicans voted against overriding, and three Democrats voted in favor of an override, including the attorney general-elect Marc Dann of Youngstown. The House, also controlled by Republicans, voted to overturn Taft's veto last week.

Taft, who leaving office in a few weeks, has said the bill exceeded its goal of cleaning up Ohio's concealed weapons law because it pre-empts about 80 local gun laws. A message seeking comment was left at Taft's office.

That includes current assault-weapons bans in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

Backers with the support of the National Rifle Association defend the provision as bringing uniformity to a confusing patchwork of local gun laws.

Prediction: Crime rates in those five cities will not go up relative to the rest of the state. A police force or two might have troubles of different kinds, but there will not be a systematic increase in crime.

This story raises a risk of Hillary Clinton as President

During wars, government has to have the power to do things that we normally wouldn't let them do. One thing is the power to spy on others. How many times did the Clinton administration abuse those powers and how many times was Hillary involved in the question. Take the FBI file problem that arose early in the Clinton administration where the Clinton adm was asking for FBI files on Republicans.

But Committee Republicans pressed their point that the two men should never have been put in charge of handling the FBI files of prominent Republicans given their political work on behalf of Democrats.

Fast forward to today. Even if this set of stories turns out to be true, it still raises an issue that was a problem during the Clinton administration.

Some versions of the story say simply that the U.S., without consulting British intelligence, was monitoring Diana’s phone conversations in Paris on the night she died, in August 1997. If American intelligence did that, and if the conversations tapped were between Diana, who was a foreign national, and some other person who was also a foreign national, then the action, although perhaps needlessly antagonistic to the British, would not raise questions of whether the administration sought a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

But the Evening Standard reports that American intelligence agencies “were bugging Princess Diana’s telephone over her relationship with a U.S. billionaire” — identified as American businessman Theodore Forstmann. That report suggests the surveillance took place over a period of some time. If that is accurate, then the story could be quite different.

Forstmann is what is known in the intelligence/legal world as a “U.S. person.” If there were a conversation between him, in the United States, and Diana, outside the United States, it would resemble, at least in structure, the conversations between people in the United States and those in foreign countries that have been at the center of the controversy over what President Bush calls the terrorist-surveillance program and what Democrats call “domestic spying.” (The difference, of course, would be that the Bush administration says it has listened to conversations involving people with known connections to a foreign enemy, al Qaeda; neither Diana nor Forstmann, a public-minded financier who was quite active in Republican politics, appears to fit a comparable description.)

If the Clinton administration did engage in surveillance of Diana/Forstmann, it is not clear if it was done with or without a warrant. “To get a FISA warrant, they would have had to believe that either Forstmann or Diana was an agent of a foreign power,” says one former Justice Department official. That, the official adds, would be an unlikely scenario. “To get a criminal warrant, they would have had to had a proceeding going on in which they got a judge to give them a warrant” — another unlikely scenario. “Or perhaps,” the official concludes, “the NSA did it.” . . . .

Creating Gun Free Zones in El Salvador

I was thinking of writing a comment on this, but I have made a comment on this type of thing too many times already.

San Salvador, Dec 11 (Prensa Latina) Archbishop Fernando Saenz affirmed the Salvadorian Catholic church views favourably the Arms Law reform recently approved by Antonio Saca s government, noted local press Monday.

Saenz considered the law modification appropriate reducing the spaces in which carrying firearms is legal and said he hopes the new measures benefit Salvadorian society.

"I think it is advantageous to reduce carrying weapons as much as possible," noted the catholic hierarch although he did not rule out the possibility for the citizens of carrying them for self-defense.

The new law forbids carrying weapons in squares, gas stations and parks.

According to the Salvadorian authorities 3,409 murders were registered in the country until last November, and 85 percent of them were with firearms.

Over 400 thousand weapons are actually in the hands of civilians.

Those dangerous cows: one thing that the media missed

Both cows and horses release a lot of methane, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Isn't it time that the environmentalists thank the car? Can you imagine how much "worse" things would be without the car?

A report by the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization says cattle and other livestock cause more greenhouse gases than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation put together. Britain's Independent News says the report blames cow flatulence and manure for one-third of all methane emissions — which warm the earth 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.

The world's 1.5 billion cows are also blamed for everything from acid rain to desertification and the destruction of coral reefs. And while cows are taking the heat in one U.N. report, another says humans are doing less harm to the environment than previously thought. The Sunday Telegraph says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reduced its estimate of human affect on global warming by 25 percent. And it has lowered its prediction of how much sea levels will rise by half. The Panel cites improved data for the revisions. . . .

For more information, see this.

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Contrarians in Canadian Academia

Here are stories of three bold academics in Canada. It would be interesting to see whether they had tenure before they did this research.

Asked how the scientific community, the media and Al Gore could get the story so wrong, Dr. Patterson says it’s mainly because the debate has become so politicized. Environmental activists have taken what should be rational scientific debates and turned them into occasions for “evangelizing and antagonizing,” even though “they don’t really know what they’re talking about.”

Some climate skeptics, fearing the public backlash or damage to their scientific reputations, decide to keep their views to themselves, says Dr. Patterson. Others, notably scientists working for federal agencies, were effectively muzzled under “previous regimes,” he says. . . .

(On guns) However, within his faculty of business administration, the situation is somewhat more complicated. There are those who applaud him for being a bit of an iconoclast, but others have questioned whether the articles he’s published in criminology and political science journals should count for review when he’s a marketing professor. . . .

(feminist critic) but the response from academia has been less than enthusiastic. Reactions to her work have ranged from cries of “shame” to doubts about her sanity “for even bringing this up.” . . .

Thousands of new marine animals discovered during last couple of years


Noncitizens voting in North Carolina

Immigration agents checking voter registration records last month found at least four cases of noncitizens in North Carolina who they say illegally registered to vote.
Three of the people have been arrested, and officials are looking for the fourth.

Agents recently added more public records -- including voter registration -- to the list of databases they routinely check during investigation. They only do this for people already flagged for investigation, including people suspected of being here illegally, as well as legal residents seeking citizenship. So far, about 50 people in 31 North Carolina counties have been looked into this way.

"It's a very personal charge to us," said Tom O'Connell, resident agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's Cary office. "It goes to the integrity of the entire democratic system when we have ... aliens registering to vote."

Registering to vote often requires a person to swear he or she is a U.S. citizen, and it's a federal crime for noncitizens to lie to officials about their legal status. . . .

No confidence in Global Warming: Democrats again threaten to silence those who disagree

This is from today's Opinion Journal's Political Journal.

Senators Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Olympia Snowe of Maine [wrote] to Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil. As the Journal reported on Monday, that letter is a veiled threat that ExxonMobil would be well advised by a "date certain" to "end its dangerous support of the [global warming] deniers" and instead start giving money to environmental groups. . . .

Several experts on Congressional ethics laws have contacted us noting that these two Senators may have run afoul of long-established rules. One former Senate legal counsel alerts us to Senate Rule 43, passed in the wake of the Keating Five scandal in the 1980s. Senate rule 43 reads: "The decision to provide assistance to petitioners may not be made on the basis of contributions or services to the member's political committee or entity in which the member has a political, personal, or financial interest."

In other words, Senators are not permitted to use their powers as lawmakers to do harm or benefit to individuals or companies on behalf of "political campaigns or causes." . . .

Conservatives also object to the censorship double standard here. "Can there be any doubt," asks Fred Smith of Competitive Enterprise Institute, that a giant media furor would ensue if "Republican Senators told corporations to stop giving money to the Sierra Club?" CEI was the one free-market group that the two Senators listed by name as a "climate change denier" organization. We hear that a number of free-market donors were so furious over the Rockefeller-Snowe gag order that they have increased their donations to CEI. . . .

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Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ex-Ambassador and very nice person, Dies


Attorneys for the District of Columbia argued 2nd Am only applies to militias

Bringing this case was a real gamble. I wish that they had waited until there was at least one more change on the Supreme Court. We will now just have to wait to see what happens.

WASHINGTON — In a case that could shape firearms laws nationwide, attorneys for the District of Columbia argued Thursday that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

The city defended as constitutional its long-standing ban on handguns, a law that some gun opponents have advocated elsewhere. Civil liberties groups and pro-gun organizations say the ban in unconstitutional.

At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the 2nd Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" applies to all people or only to "a well regulated militia." The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.

If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the amendment's scope. The court disappointed gun owner groups in 2003 when it refused to take up a challenge to California's ban on high-powered weapons.

In the Washington, D.C. case, a lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection.

. . .

Thanks to Robert Stevens for sending this link.

More Judges Carrying handguns

I wish that this got more coverage.

More Judges Packing Pistols in Courtrooms

By Amanda Bronstad
The National Law Journal
Despite increased security at courthouses following shootings in Chicago and Atlanta about one year ago, many judges are bringing their own guns into their courtrooms for protection. . . .

In Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas, incidences of violence in the past year have prompted new laws or solidified rules allowing judges to bring guns into courtrooms.

"Judges in our courthouse have been carrying guns almost all the time," said Cynthia Stevens Kent, a Texas judge in the 114th District Court, where a man in a family law case killed his ex-wife and son last year on the steps of a Tyler courthouse.

"We feel strongly about providing adequate security, but it comes down to personal responsibility. And you've got to take responsibility for your own safety," Kent said.

Security concerns were raised last year after a rape suspect grabbed a deputy's gun and killed an Atlanta judge and others. One month earlier, a litigant had killed the husband and mother of a Chicago federal judge who ruled against him. . . .

Now this might actually work: How to ensure that there will be fewer people who want to be politicians

Proposals by Indonesia's president to restrict the right of the country's public servants to practice polygamy have sparked an angry reaction.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proposed extending a law banning the taking of multiple wives to all public servants.

Currently anyone not a civil servant in the predominantly Muslim country is allowed to marry up to four wives.

But a tightening of the law, which bans polygamy under the constitution, could also affect ordinary citizens.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson, in Jakarta, says that some of the loudest opposition to the president's plan has come from Indonesia's mainstream Muslim parties.

Rarely restricted

They argue that restricting the practice, which they say is sanctioned by the Koran, will lead to increased levels of adultery.

Muslim men who are not working as civil servants are currently allowed to marry up to four wives as defined by Islamic teaching.

Government spokesmen in Indonesia say that rule will be expanded to cover all lawmakers, ministers and other government officials. . . .


Robber with knife meets his match with a person with a permitted concealed handgun

WINDHAM, Maine (Dec 4, 2006): A would-be robber was foiled last weekend at the Quiznos sandwich shop in North Windham after pulling a knife and finding himself staring down the barrel of a Smith & Wesson.

Assistant Manager Michael Kry said he noticed a six-foot-tall black male with a thin build carefully checking the store's hours on the glass door after he closed up shop on Sunday, Dec. 3 and was filling out paperwork.

Kry said police told him the suspect was probably watching him to see what he was doing.

At about 9:20 p.m. Kry was exiting the store when the suspect attacked him, trying to pin him to the ground in order to steal the night's deposit out of his hand. According to police reports, a brief scuffle ensued and Kry elbowed his apparently unarmed assailant in the face.

The suspect stepped back and both men drew hidden weapons.

Kry, who was not harmed and did not fire his pistol, said the suspect fled on foot in the direction of Raymond. . . .


Zero Tolerance Policies Ineffective and possibly Counter Productive

Some sense from the American Psychological Association.

A review of the school discipline research shows that zero tolerance policies developed in the 1980s to stop drug use and curtail unruly and violent behavior in schools are not as successful as thought in creating safer environments to learn. These policies, which mandate that schools severely punish disruptive students regardless of the infraction or its rationale, can actually increase bad behavior and also lead to higher drop out rates, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) report. Based on these results, the APA today adopted a resolution recommending ways to target discipline more effectively in order to keep schools safe while also eliminating the need for a one-size-fits-all punishment for misbehavior.

APA’s governing body, the Council of Representatives, commissioned the Zero Tolerance Task Force to examine the research conducted to date on the effects zero tolerance policies have on children in schools. The task force reviewed the last 10 years of research to determine whether these policies have made schools safer without taking away students’ opportunity to learn; whether they incorporated children’s development as a factor in types of discipline administered; and whether educators referred juveniles to the justice system too often with costly consequences. Lastly, the review showed how families and communities are affected by these policies.

According to the report’s findings, schools are not any safer or more effective in disciplining children than before these zero tolerance policies were implemented in the mid 1980s. The research also shows that while school violence is a serious issue, violence in schools is “not out-of-control.”

Thanks very much to Harry for alerting me to this.


Talk on Abortion and Crime at the University of Western Ontario

I will be giving a talk this afternoon in the economics department at the University of Western Ontario on the link between abortion and crime. The talk is at 3:30 PM. Sorry about the lack of posts, but I was also here giving a talk yesterday on media bias.


New Book Out: Straight Shooting

I know that the release date a Amazon says October 30th, but this new collection of my writings will soon be officially released: Straight Shooting: Firearms, Economics and Public Policy The book is a collection of recent op-eds that I have written on a variety of topics, primarily gun control.

Media Bias in Cleveland on Guns?


12-year-olds learn how to fire guns in Alaska Public Schools

State Constitutions and the right to own guns

While there have been other attempts to put these laws together, this is more comprehensive:

Eugene Volokh has a new paper on state constitutions on the right to self defense.

Thanks very much to Ben Zycher for sending this link to me.

Gun buy back just yields non-criminal guns

Some votes are pretty cheap

Buying votes with pork rinds?