Illinois House Panel Passes Two New Gun Control Laws in Wake of Northern Illinois University killing

It is not clear how either of these pieces of legislation would have had anything to do with stopping the attack at Northern Illinois University. But I suppose that is not unusual.

SPRINGFIELD - Proposals that would ban semi-automatic assault weapons and outlaw the purchase of more than one handgun a month cleared an Illinois House committee on Wednesday.

But both measures have won committee approval in the past, only to stall later in the legislative process. It isn’t clear how the bills will fare in the current session of the General Assembly.

House Bill 4393, sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Luis Arroyo, would limit handgun purchases to one every 30 days.

Rep. Edward Acevedo, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored House Bill 4357, which would would ban the sale or purchase of semi-automatic assault weapons, assault weapon attachments, .50-caliber rifles or .50-caliber cartridges. . . .

Who knows what they are defining "assault weapons" as here. There were just standard pistols. Given that the attack didn't use these very heavy, large, and expensive .50-caliber guns, it seems obvious to include them here.

Thanks to Tony Troglio for sending me this link.


Apparently Fedex bans permitted concealed handguns in its facilities

Well, I believe that Fedex doesn't have this sign in many states that they can't restrict permitted concealed handguns (Virginia and Pennsylvania), and I assume that they have had no problems in any of those locations. It is not clear why they should ban permitted concealed handguns in Florida.

Thanks to William Ewans for sending this to me.


Animal Rights Activists Attack Researcher at Home

The Chronicle of Higher Education has the story about this attack:

Wearing bandanas around their faces, several assailants believed to be students from the University of California at Santa Cruz on Sunday attacked the home of a researcher who uses mice to study breast cancer. . . .


Turnpike Toll Takers in Massachusetts Have Been Carrying Guns For Decades with No Training and No Problems

Even though there appears to have been no problems over decades, you can't risk a "wild west" shootout:

Gun-toting toll collectors have been stripped of their sidearms by Mass Pike brass after secretly carrying them for decades without formal training, the Herald has learned.

“I didn’t want to have a wild west show out there,” said Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Executive Director Alan LeBovidge, who ordered the practice stopped. “I could find nothing to show that the employees had state police training that would make them qualified to carry guns.”

But union officials said they are going to fight to allow the toll collectors to keep their weapons, even though a Pike review found the guns were not being properly maintained, with firing pins misaligned and other problems. . . .

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John Stossel on Gun Control

You can read all of Stossel's piece here:

It's all too predictable. A day after a gunman killed six people and wounded 18 others at Northern Illinois University, The New York Times criticized the U.S. Interior Department for preparing to rethink its ban on guns in national parks.

The editorial board wants "the 51 senators who like the thought of guns in the parks -- and everywhere else, it seems -- to realize that the innocence of Americans is better protected by carefully controlling guns than it is by arming everyone to the teeth."

As usual, the Times editors seem unaware of how silly their argument is. To them, the choice is between "carefully controlling guns" and "arming everyone to the teeth." But no one favors "arming everyone to the teeth" (whatever that means). Instead, gun advocates favor freedom, choice and self-responsibility. If someone wishes to be prepared to defend himself, he should be free to do so. No one has the right to deprive others of the means of effective self-defense, like a handgun. . . .


Kirkwood City Council Murder Used a Gun Stolen in the mid1990s

I am not sure what gun law would have prevented this:

was stolen in the mid-1990s from Franklin County, police said Wednesday. St. Louis County police spokeswoman Tracy Panus said the investigation into the gun's history since 1994 or 1995 is ongoing, and she could not provide any further details. . . .

Thanks to Anthony Troglio for sending me this link.


Ammunition Coding Campaign Picks Up in States

Alan Gottlieb with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has discovered something interesting about this campaign:

"Sponsors of bills that would require coding of cartridge casings and bullets in their respective states have neglected to mention that there is only one company in the country with the technology, and that company has been working with a 'hired-gun' consulting firm that offers its help to lawmakers drafting the legislation," Gottlieb said. "Essentially, you have state legislators working as promoters for a company called Ammunition Coding System, pushing measures in at least ten states that would mandate the use of this proprietary technology at the expense of gun owners.

"Even if the technology were licensed to various ammunition manufacturers," he continued, "it still puts one company in a monopoly position. On its own website, the company even acknowledges that legislation would be required to implement what many gun owners believe is a back-door gun registry, by forcing dealers to keep records on who purchases ammunition.

"Creating a technology, and applying for a patent while hiring a consulting firm to push legislation that requires this technology is horribly self-serving," Gottlieb added. "The fact that in every state these measures are being pushed, the sponsors are anti-gun lawmakers, simply adds to the suspicion.

"Giving one company a legislated monopoly in any other area would bring down a media firestorm," Gottlieb stated. "The government would never allow it. State senators, representatives or assemblymen who get involved with this effort should ask themselves just what it's worth to essentially be lobbyists for a monopoly."


William F. Buckley Jr. Dead at 82

Obviously, Buckley had a big impact on the United States. He will be missed.


Global Warming Predictions 50 Years Ago

There is only one little problem with this entertaining film: temperatures had started falling in the late 1930s and continued falling until the late 1970s. This film at least has the amusing title of "The Unchained Goddess." Possibly the problem isn't that they aren't right at the margin, but that the impact from man is so small that it doesn't really alter these overall patterns very much. I am pretty sure that I have seen this before, possibly as a kid in the late 1960s.

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The National Weather Service: One major source of delays for Airlines

Last year I had an op-ed entitled: "Does Government Weather Forecasting Endanger Lives?" Well, some new reports are out and they don't make the National Weather Service look very good. Here is a new GAO report:

Although interagency agreements between NWS and FAA state that both agencies have responsibilities for assuring and controlling the quality of aviation weather observations, neither agency consistently does so for weather products and services produced at the en route centers. Specifically, neither agency has developed performance measures and metrics, regularly evaluated weather service unit performance, or provided feedback to improve these aviation weather products and services. Because of this lack of performance tracking and oversight, NWS cannot demonstrate the quality or value of its services, and FAA cannot ensure the quality of the services it funds. Until both agencies are able to measure and ensure the quality of the aviation weather products at the en route centers, FAA may not be getting the information it needs to effectively manage air traffic.

Private weather services have said that they would be happy to provide weather service predictions "at a lower cost than currently provided" by the NWS.


Massive Global Cooling Over last Year

Global temperatures had stopped rising over the last decade, and now they may be falling.

Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming . . . .

Meteorologist Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down. . . . .

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RasmussenReports.com starts daily tracking of Electoral Votes

For those obsessing on this already, you can find the information here. Right now McCain is slightly ahead in terms of the popular vote, but behind 284 to 216 in terms of the electoral vote.


Simple "common-sense" approaches to handling Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

The Boston Globe has a piece saying that environmentalists love these compact fluorescent bulbs and that you just need a few minor commonsense approaches to dealing with them:

The Maine study, which shattered 65 bulbs to test air quality and clean-up methods made these recommendations: If a bulb breaks, get children and pets out of the room. Ventilate the room. Never use a vacuum -- even on a rug -- to clean up a compact fluorescent light. Instead, while wearing rubber gloves, use stiff paper such as index cards and tape to pick up pieces, then wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel. If there are young children or pregnant woman in the house, consider cutting out the piece of carpet where the bulb broke. Use a glass jar with a screw top to contain the shards and clean-up debris.

“We found some very high levels (of mercury), even after we tried a number of clean-up techniques," said Mark Hyland, Maine director of the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management. During several of the experiments, for example, he said mercury in the air was more than 100 times levels considered safe even after a floor was cleaned. He said such levels would quickly decline if the room were ventilated and people followed their tips.

This is one of the parts of the story that I love:
They said most danger could be avoided if people exercised common-sense caution, such as not using the bulbs in table lamps that could be knocked over by children or pets and properly cleaning up broken bulbs.

Here are a couple of questions: How do the pennies that you save with these bulbs compare to the time and health costs of dealing with them? Remember you have to keep these bulbs on for at least 15 minutes once you turn them on (rather inconvenient if you ask me). So what bulbs are we supposed to use in table lamps or those lamps that can be knocked over?

Of course, in other posts I have mentioned some of the other costs from these "efficient" bulbs.

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Another case where a criminal begs to avoid the death penalty

It is hard to understand how death penalty opponents can see all these murders begging not to be executed and not believe that the death penalty serves as a deterrent. This from CNN:

A former police officer convicted of murdering his girlfriend and their unborn child tearfully apologized to her family Monday in front of the jury that will decide whether he lives or dies.

Bobby Cutts Jr. weeps openly as his mother describes his childhood during a sentencing hearing.
1 of 2

"It was a nightmare that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my days," said Bobby Cutts, Jr., 30, reading from a prepared statement at the penalty phase of his murder trial.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm asking you to spare my life." . . .


"Columbine To Va. Tech To NIU: Gun-Free Zones Or Killing Fields?"

I have a new op-ed at Investors Business Daily:

As Northern Illinois University restarts classes this week, one thing is clear: Six minutes proved too long. It took six minutes before the police were able to enter the classroom that horrible Thursday, and in that short time five people were murdered, 16 wounded.

Six minutes is actually record-breaking speed for the police arriving at such an attack, but it was simply not fast enough. Still, the police were much faster than at the Virginia Tech attack last year.

The previous Thursday, five people were killed in the city council chambers in Kirkwood, Mo. There was even a police officer already there when the attack occurred. . . .

UPDATE: Fox News is reporting a gun threat at at small Ferrum College (1,000 students). I guess I would like to know if this is a concealed handgun permit holder. If it is the school's president is threatening suspension as a first initial response. The president obviously doesn't understand the notion of deterrence. From Fox News:
Ferrum College canceled classes and went on lockdown Tuesday as police searched for a suspicious person on campus.

A Franklin County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman said college President Jennifer Braaten activated an alert system and ordered the lockdown after receiving reports of a suspicious male on the campus. Classes were canceled for the day. . . .

No shots have been fired and there have been no injuries.

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Sienna Miller "Loves" Guns

OK, the fact that Sienna Miller "loves" guns may do more to make gun ownership "cool" than any thousand columns that I could write. Sienna says: "But the best bit is that I'm doing that gun-twisting stuff. I'm learning how to shoot properly, and it's all cool and a lot of fun."


Alex Tabarrok on Gun Buybacks

Alex's piece was published in the Oakland Tribune:

On Feb. 9, Oakland police, led by state Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, offered to buy handguns and assault weapons for $250 each, “no questions asked, no ID required.” The “One Less Gun” buy-back program attracted so many eager sellers that the money quickly ran out. But instead of closing up shop, the police handed out IOUs good for a future buy back. The Oakland police are now stuck with a bill for $170,000.

The buy back has been criticized as a poorly organized fiasco, but even the critics say it was “the right idea” and “a step in the right direction.”

On the contrary, the buy back was a bad idea from the beginning. Gun buy backs have been tried before, in cities from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and they simply don’t work. . . .


It looks like global warming will actually doom us all

NewScientist.com lets us know that the earth will indeed burn up in a ball of fire, just not due to increased carbon dioxide.

In a few billion years, the Sun will fuse the last of its hydrogen into helium, turn into a red giant and expand to 250 times its current size. At first, the Sun’s loss of mass will loosen its gravitational pull on Earth, which will allow the planet to migrate to a wider orbit about 7.6 billion years from now.

This process has led some to speculate that the Earth might escape destruction – but survival now seems impossible, says Peter Schröder of the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and Robert Smith of the University of Sussex in the UK.

They created the most detailed model to date of the Sun’s transition to a red giant, based on observations of six nearby red giant stars. Sure enough, they found that Earth’s orbit will widen at first. But Earth will also induce a “tidal bulge” on the Sun’s surface, with its own gravitational pull. The bulge will lag just behind the Earth in its orbit, slowing it down enough to drag it to a fiery demise.

There is one last hope for anybody still living on Earth, the researchers say. In the past, some have suggested that Earth’s orbit could be tweaked by arranging the fly-by of a nearby asteroid to tug at it. This method could potentially maintain Earth’s speed enough to keep it in a widening orbit, they say. . . .

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SNL's take on media coverage of Obama's campaign


Is the "high price" of everything from coffee in restaurants to popcorn in movie theaters due to monopoly power?

A new paper by Richard Gil and Wesley Hartmann provides an explanation for the "high price" of popcorn in movie theaters:

Prices for goods such as blades for razors, ink for printers and concessions at movies are often set well above cost. This paper empirically analyzes concession sales data from a chain of Spanish theaters to demonstrate that high prices on concessions reflect a profitable price discrimination strategy often referred to as metering price discrimination. Concessions are found to be purchased in greater amounts by customers that place greater value on attending the theater. In other words, the intensity of demand for admission is metered by concession sales. This implies that while some consumers' surplus may be reduced by the high concession prices, surplus of other consumers on the margin of attending may increase from theaters' decisions to shift their margins away from movies and toward concessions.

First as a side note, most theaters, at least in the US, do not prevent people from bringing in concessions with them to the theater (I don't know about Spain), and that is at least inconsistent with the monopoly type story. It is also interesting to note that these claims about above marginal cost pricing are made for many similar product such as wine in restaurants or coffee or the differences between lunch and dinner prices, and it is hard to believe that monopoly power actually explains the "high prices" in all these cases. Russell Roberts and I provided a cost based explanation for all the phenomenon back in 1991 here. I guess that my biggest question is what else would one expect relating the log(concession revenue) with log(attendance) and Box Office revenue per attendee. Concession revenue goes up with attendance (though at a lower rate than attendance revenue -- congestion) and it goes up with box office revenue per attendee (presumably picking up the fact that higher revenue per attendee means fewer old people and very young people). What is the problem here and why is price discrimination the only answer here? By the way, when they run a regression that includes information on the number of screens and seats per screen (Table 2, specification 2), those two variables really explain all the variation in popcorn prices (something akin to the hypothesis that Russell and I advanced). I am also not clear why logs are used for concession revenue and attendance, but not box office revenue per attendee.

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January an extremely cold month historically, Snow cover highest in over 40 years

Canada's National Post today notes:

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them. . . .

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Kentucky Considers Letting Permitted Concealed Handguns on University Campuses

This article is from the middle of January, but it continues to show how the debate is slowly changing on this issue:

As the rhetoric in Frankfort rolled to a boil, Kentucky's public universities expressed solid opposition Wednesday to a bill that would allow people to bring firearms onto campuses as long as the weapons remained in vehicles.

In Frankfort, state Rep. Kathy Stein, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the bill amounts to "micromanaging" institutions of higher education, and the legislation is unlikely to get out of her committee for a vote in the full House. "Meddling in the affairs of the universities and community and technical colleges is not high on our list of priority issues," Stein said.

That infuriated the bill's sponsor, Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, who said he plans to step up his work to force the bill past Stein, whom he labeled a "gun-control Sally."

Damron said he thinks he now has more than 50 co-sponsors and could win if Stein doesn't block House Bill 114.

The Jessamine County lawmaker, who is not on the Judiciary Committee, predicted his bill could get approved by 10 of the 15 committee members and would pass on the House floor 85-15. He declined to identify the members who would vote for the bill but said the list of co-sponsors gives a clear indication of overwhelming bipartisan support. . . .

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Weird Delegate Allocation Rules for Democrats

Michael Barone has a very interesting article today on how Democrats allocate delegates. What I found most interesting is how districts have an equal number of delegates and the number isn't large so that even if one of the candidates wins the district by a significant percentage both candidates still win the same number of delegates. You can win all the congressional districts and not pick up any more delegates from those allocated by congressional district. Barone's suggestion is to at least have an odd number of delegates so that a winning candidate at least picks up a net gain of one delegate.


Students Suspended for wearing Crucifixes

The school might be enforcing some rules that they have, but schools seem impervious to using an reason when evaluating these rules:

ALBANY, Ore. — A pair of Albany teenagers suspended for "gang-related behavior" because they were wearing crucifixes say they were only wearing gifts from their mothers.

Jaime Salazar, 14, his friend Marco Castro, 16, were suspended from South Albany High School recently after they refused to put away the crucifixes they were wearing around their necks. . . .


Fewer 16 Year Olds Driving

I suppose what caught my notice in this New York Times piece is that kids had become terrified of driving. The caption under the picture reads: "Kelsey Sheffer, 16, of Bethlehem, Ga., says she lost the motivation to pursue a full license after she saw accident sites with a police officer. For now, her mother is happy to shuttle her around." It is true that youth have had higher accident rates, but you get some rough idea of the risk from the higher insurance premiums: "it now costs 80 percent to 100 percent more to add a 16-year-old to a family’s auto policy." The lack of subsidies for Driver's Ed training (with many schools no longer subsidizing the training) is also mentioned as a reason for the drop. I think that what bothers me most about the tone of the piece is the lack of understanding of trade-offs. Surely, reducing accidental car deaths is good, but it is not the only consideration. There are benefits to teenagers driving, just as there are benefits to adults driving. What is the cost in parent's time driving their kids around? What are the forgone opportunities of the kids because they can't be involved in certain activities? This seems like one topic that could benefit from some rigorous research.



This is closer to the Obama that I remember

Obama was at the University of Chicago Law School when I was there. Politico has a post up about his views then:

Many national politicians, including Clinton, have moved toward the center over time. But Obama’s transitions are still quite fresh. A questionnaire from his 1996 campaign indicated more blanket opposition to the death penalty, and support of abortion rights, than he currently espouses. He spoke in support of single-payer health care as recently as 2003. . . .

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Crime as a big issue in campaigns this year?

David Broder reports how at least one survey claims that crime is a big issue this year:

WASHINGTON -- From Pakistan to Serbia, and recurrently in Iraq, the headlines point to the dangers of the world -- most notably the threat of terrorism. And yet when the polling firm Cooper & Secrest Associates asked
1,139 Americans in December which threat they took most seriously, 69 percent chose violent crime and only 19 percent named terrorist attack.
The survey was part of a striking report released Saturday (Feb. 23) by Third Way, a liberal think tank, and several governors, warning that the crime issue, which has slipped off the political agenda since its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, is about to return.
"Four new and dangerous sociological trends are converging to disturb the peace and are threatening a crisis of crime, if not addressed," says the report. . . .

Possibly it is because of misleading claims put out by places such as the Police Executive Research Forum (for my discussion of this see here). Yet, the most recent numbers indicate that all cateogries of violent crime were falling for at least the first half of last year and that crime rates have been falt during this decade. Except for the news coverage of this, it is very hard to see where these fears are coming from. Things are certainly no worse off than a few years ago when there was no similar concern about crime rates.

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In Canada: Conservatives vote for issues, Liberals vote by habit

This makes it somewhat hard for the Conservatives to win elections:

The average Conservative supporter is driven by policies, hordes of Liberals vote by rote and tradition, and leadership is barely a factor in the current popularity of any of the federal parties. Sounds preposterous? You bet it does.

But those are among the results of a stunning new Nanos Research-Sun Media public opinion poll that turns conventional wisdom on its head, and is guaranteed to cause more than a little shock and awe among the chattering classes.

This is no rogue survey. Pollster Nik Nanos is arguably the most respected in the country, having accurately predicted the outcomes of the last two federal elections within a decimal point. . . .

Conservative suspicion that masses of Canadians don't care about Dion's disastrous leadership; they would vote for the Liberal party led by a fencepost. . . .


Nader announces another run for the Presidency

Ralph Nader announces that he is running for the Presidency, but how much more left-wing can Nader be than Obama (who has the most liberal voting record in the Senate). My guess is that despite the hard feelings towards Nader after the 2000 election he could still create problems for the Democrats because of the war. Both Obama and Clinton seem to have signed on to letting the troops stay in Iraq if the generals say that they should stay their longer.

WASHINGTON (AP) –Ralph Nader is launching a third-party campaign for president.

The consumer advocate made the announcement Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He says most Americans are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties, and that none of the presidential contenders are addressing ways to stem corporate crime and Pentagon waste and promote labor rights.


Peter Bronson with the Cincinnati Enquirer has a nice piece about visiting a gun show

Peter piece can be read here:

As I waited in the parking lot for the doors to open at 9 a.m., two guys pulled up next to me in a black Chevy pickup. They wore camo ball caps, jeans and sweat shirts. Nothing unusual there - until one slung a rifle over his shoulder as they headed for the door.

Anywhere else, people would grab their cell phones and dial 911. But this was the Pro Gun Show at the Roberts Centre in Wilmington. Dozens of guys were toting shotguns, rifles and handguns, not to mention swords and knives.

It looked like a not-very-well regulated militia from Red Dawn, reporting for duty.

As the line spilled out the door, each gun was carefully inspected and tagged to certify that it was unloaded, and safe to sell or swap.

"No cameras," said a sign. It occurred to me that I could get kicked out for carrying a Kodak, but nobody would blink if I flashed a Glock. Apparently, gun owners and dealers value their privacy. . . .

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Man with concealed handgun permit has three defensive gun uses this year

According to WISH TV channel 8, a man in Indianapolis has used a gun defensively three times in less than two months:

"Apparently he heard a noise outside, went outside to see what was going on, and related to the detectives that this individual came at him with a knife, and which time he fired a shot," IMPD Sgt. Paul Thompson said.

Burns told detectives the man he shot was coming out of his car, perhaps trying to steal it.

The victim was hit in the chest and taken to Wishard Hospital in serious condition. While doctors work to save the victim's life, detectives work to figure out a complex case.

Police will determine if this shooting was indeed self-defense. What they'll also look at is the fact that Mr. Burns has been involved in two other shootings, this year alone. . . .

Metro Police tell 24-Houre News 8 that Richard Burns does have a valid gun permit. . . .

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Famous Author John Steinbeck Asked for Concealed Handgun Permit

The story on Steinbeck is here:

Just in time for the commemoration of John Steinbeck's birthday, local historian and fine arts maven Steve Hauk has come up with an interesting new tidbit about Monterey County's beloved dead author.

Hauk managed to locate Steinbeck's 1942 application for a New York state license to carry a concealed weapon.

Hauk posits the theory that Steinbeck may have had grounds for arming himself.

"He had good reason to fear," Hauk said in a posting on his redroom.com blog. "Amazing how life is all just a coverup.". . . .

Character witnesses on the gun license application included artist Henry Varnum Poor and actor Burgess Meredith. The reason given for the permit request was "self protection." . . . .


Obama's Mystery Soldier?

During the debate on Thursday Obama made a startling claim about how American soldiers are supposedly being sent into battle without rifles or sufficient vehicles.

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, sent a stern letter to colleague Barack Obama yesterday, challenging him to provide information about an Army officer he cited in Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.

The senator from Illinois said he had heard complaints from an Army captain who led a rifle platoon in Afghanistan that had to scrounge for weapons because it was poorly equipped. Obama described how Iraq war deployments winnowed the platoon to 24 soldiers and argued that the conflict has so strained the Army that units are going to war without the necessary numbers of troops and weapons. . . . .

ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper reported yesterday that the Obama campaign put him in touch with the unidentified captain -- who was deployed to Afghanistan from late 2003 to early 2004 -- and that the West Point graduate verified Obama's statement. He said, according to Tapper, that soldiers sometimes used enemy AK-47s. The captain also said his platoon used Toyota pickup trucks and unarmored flatbeds to get to the fight because they didn't have enough armored Humvees . . .

This could become a huge issue if this person's name becomes public. The military and others have claimed that this is simply not true. Most embarrassing is that Obama makes several serious errors about military organization and the chain of command in just a few sentences.

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Moving to Montana?: Montana and the Second Amendment

I kinda of doubt that they are serious (see also here and here), but the notion that by claiming the Second Amendment was not an individual right the Supreme Court would be breaking the compact that Montana agreed to when they joined the US is an entertaining idea.

The story of the Supreme Court case, Heller v. D.C. and the Montana attorney general, Secretary of State and legislators warning the Supreme Court that if the Court finds that there is no individual right to bear arms in the Constitution, is going to get interesting, to say the least.

It appears that if the Supreme Court sides with the District of Columbia in disarming gun owners and invalidating the constitutional protections contained in the Second Amendment, they would be in direct opposition to what all 50 states have guaranteed their citizens in the 50 state consitutions: the right to bear arms and protect themselves.

This has sparked questions.

If the Supreme Court decides what is constitutional and it runs counter to what every single state has clearly worded as a guaranteed right in the state constitutions, written at the time those states freely joined the Union, what then?

At this point, we’re not going to speculate until we do more research.

BUT that hasn’t stopped others, particularly gun owners from weighing in on the consequences.

At the AR-15 Forums, a large forum for gun owners, the comments have been flying fast and furious since the news of the Montana legislators sending their warning to the Supreme Court that a finding of “collective right” would violate the compact the state signed with the US government when the state freely joined the Union.

If Montana really left the union, it might be fun to move back there (it is very beautiful).

Thanks very much to Sonya for mentioning this to me.

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Oakland moves to search people's homes for guns

Unless they are going to take the guns from people's homes, I am not sure how searching people's homes will get guns off the streets.

OAKLAND — City Councilmembers Patricia Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown) and Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary) asked the Oakland Police Department this week to formulate a plan to get guns off the street by having officers request permission to search residents' homes for weapons.. . . .

Thanks to Ben Zycher for this link.


Interior Department may adopt new rules that let concealed carry permit holders carry guns

The Secretary of the Interior would like the new rules drafted by April. It is believed that the rules would those eligible to carry a permit in a state to carry a concealed handgun in the national parks in that state. This would take the pressure off the Democrats in the Senate who have been trying to avoid a vote because they knew that it would pass and possibly produce a difficult vote for Obama and Hillary.

Thanks to Fred Miller.


Defend yourself at your own risk in the UK

From the Daily Mail in the UK:

A shopkeeper could face a murder charge following a fatal struggle with a knife-wielding raider.

Tony Singh fought back when Liam Kilroe, a career criminal, ambushed him in his car after closing time.
Kilroe, who was trying to steal Mr Singh's takings, staggered away with a stab wound from his own knife and died in a pool of blood.

The 25-year-old was on the run after being charged with two robberies.

Police called to the scene found Mr Singh in a state of shock, still sitting in his car and nursing serious knife wounds to his back, face and neck.

However, the officers arrested the 34-year-old and are preparing to send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

A murder charge would carry a life sentence on conviction.

The case resembles that of Tony Martin who was charged with murder after shooting Fred Barras, 16, during a raid on his Norfolk farm in 1999.

He was convicted of manslaughter and served three years in prison. . . .

Thanks to Richard Miller for sending me this link.

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Talks tomorrow at Lafayette College

On Friday I will be speaking on my book Freedomnomics to the economics student at noons and on media bias to the faculty at 3 PM


"States consider gun-access laws"

Move to let people keep guns in their cars when they are at work:

•Arizona. State Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Republican, says he sponsored his bill last month after a constituent told him he drives isolated roads to work but is not allowed to keep a handgun in his car. "It just comes down to the right of self-defense," Paton says.

•Tennessee. The proposed legislation, introduced in January, excludes correctional facilities and properties owned by the federal government. An amendment may be added to allow businesses that have secure parking areas that are less prone to crime to ban guns there.

"I respect property and business rights," says state Sen. Paul Stanley, a Republican sponsoring the bill. "But I also think that some issues need to overshadow this. … We have a right to keep and bear arms."

•Georgia. The legislature is considering a bill to allow licensed gun owners to leave their gun in a locked vehicle on their company's parking lot if the employer permits it. . . .


Permit holder protects himself from an on road attack in Arlington, Texas

Note that it is the Escalade driver, the permit holder, who sought out the police for help:

Police said a man driving a Cadillac Escalade was driving on Texas 360 near Interstate 30 when five people drove up next to him in a Chevrolet Suburban and began staring at him.
The man told police that the people in the Suburban followed him onto westbound I-30 when they rolled down their windows and pointed guns at him. The Escalade driver -- who has a conceal and carry gun permit -- pointed his gun back at them.
Police said people from both vehicles began shooting at each other as they exited Cooper Street. Investigators are trying to determine who fired first.
The Escalade driver drove through residential streets trying to evade the Suburban when he saw an officer on Northwood Court and approached him. Three of the people in the Suburban told the officer the man was harassing them and then fled on foot, leaving two of their friends -- one who was shot in the leg. . . .

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"Utah students hide guns, head to class"

CNN has this story:

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- The senior at the University of Utah gets dressed and then decides which gun is easiest to conceal under his clothes.

If he's wearing a T-shirt, he'll take a smaller, low-profile gun to class. If he's wearing a coat, he may carry a different weapon, he said.

He started carrying a gun to class after the massacre at Virginia Tech, but the student says he's not part of the problem of campus shootings and could instead be part of a solution. . . .

CNN also has an interactive chart that shows to some extent what is happening in different states. The problem with the chart is that it doesn't show which states leave the decision up to individual campuses. Right now it emphasizes Utah and Colorado which let students carry guns on all campuses (in Colorado the one exception in the University of Colorado, as they note).


The New York Times goes after legislation that would let permit holders have guns with them in the national parks.

February 20, 2008
New York Times

Packing Heat in the Parks

A sound and bipartisan public lands bill is being held up in the Senate in behalf of the gun lobby’s attempt to overturn decades-old safety regulations barring people from carrying loaded guns in national parks.

Well, despite the impression created here, it is a bipartisan group of senators who have tried to change the ban in the national parks. At least eight Democratic Senators have asked that the ban be lifted. The restriction has been in place since the early 1980s, and there is no evidence that I know of that permit holders were creating any problems prior to the implementation of the ban.

Owners are now required to keep their guns unloaded, disassembled and stored when in national parks and wildlife refuges. Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, is threatening to block the public lands bill unless it includes his amendment to allow the packing of live firearms in the parks.

There is no justification for such a change. Senator Coburn’s office is reduced to offering a scenario out of a “Death Wish” movie: “Guns locked in your trunk are of no use when a rapist is attacking your family.” A coalition of retired park rangers has warned that wielding live firearms would increase the risk to public safety and more easily empower game poachers than family vigilantes

Unloaded, disassembled and stored guns are useless for people being able to defend themselves. Those in the parks face risks not only from wild animals but also human criminals, and there is no reason to expect a fast response time from a 911 call, even if such a call were possible.

The Coburn amendment is another attempt by the gun lobby to extend laissez-faire gun rights to college campuses, churches and workplaces even as the nation suffers firearm fatalities and rampages that take 30,000 lives a year. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is right to oppose it as a poison-pill intrusion into the lands bill, which — among a multitude of useful and largely noncontroversial provisions — would authorize new wilderness areas and safeguard historic and cultural sites from coast to coast.

Guns do cause harm, but they also protect people from harm. The question is what the net effect is, and guns protect people far more frequently than they cause harm. Can the New York Times provide any evidence that permit holders pose any risk to the safety or health of others? No. Why is this provision a "poison pill"? All this provision would do is allow the permitting rules in a particular state to apply to those permit holders who enter a park in that state.

The temptation for lawmakers to pander to the gun lobby is never-ending, and 47 senators are on record in favor of tolerating loaded weapons in the parks. But at least their position was expressed in a plea to the Interior Department, where a hearing process would presumably encourage open public debate. The Coburn amendment is the gun culture’s dangerous end run around the public interest.

The discussion here with terms like "pander" is unfortunate. Would the Times want people to refer to its arguments as hysterical and emotional? Proponents of this change care about people's safety, and the Times references no evidence that permit holders pose a real risk to others.

Thanks to Ben Zycher for sending this link to me.

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Robert J. Samuelson nails the Obama Campaign

Samuelson's piece in Newsweek can be seen here. Read the piece for the substance of his argument.

It's hard not to be dazzled by Barack Obama. At the 2004 Democratic convention, he visited with Newsweek reporters and editors, including me. I came away deeply impressed by his intelligence, his forceful language and his apparent willingness to take positions that seemed to rise above narrow partisanship. Obama has become the Democratic presidential front-runner precisely because countless millions have formed a similar opinion. It is, I now think, mistaken. . . . The trouble, at least for me, is the huge and deceptive gap between his captivating oratory and his actual views. . . . . He has run on the vague promise of "change," but on issue after issue—immigration, the economy, global warming—he has offered boilerplate policies that evade the underlying causes of the stalemates. . . .

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A nice discussion of the arguments surrounding multiple victim public shootings

The Daily Telegram in Adrian, Michigan has a very useful discussion of the various issues raised after the couple of recent multiple victim public shootings. There are a lot of useful details in this long piece, and I am only quoting from the beginning of the article:

Gun bans only assist ‘gun-free zone’ killers

At issue: More calls for gun bans after another college shooting.

Our view: The rise in school shootings has followed the creation of “gun free zones,” not the presence of guns in American society.

The pattern is numbingly familiar. A gunman attacks defenseless people in a supposedly “gun-free” area. Gun control activists respond by demanding and receiving tougher restrictions. Yet shootings in “gun-free” zones only escalate, and the disconnect continues.

After last Thursday’s campus massacre in which five students were murdered and 16 wounded at Northern Illinois University, the anti-gun Brady Campaign responded by stating, “Our weak gun laws make weapons too readily available to dangerous people,” and urged further crackdowns on gun shows.

But NIU shooter Steven Kazmierczak did not buy the shotgun or any of the three handguns he used at a gun show. Each was purchased over time from a licensed gun store in accordance with restrictive laws in Illinois, which already had some of the nation’s tightest state gun regulations.



Handgun permit holder stops rape

Here is a story from the Associated Press via Knoxnews.com:

BRIGHTON, Tenn. - Police say a man attempting to rape a girl and a woman was shot and killed after one escaped and alerted her nearby cousin.

Investigators say 44-year-old David Fleming forcibly entered the home of two sisters, ages 22 and 12, in an apparent rape attempt in Tipton County.

After being tied up, one of the girls escaped and ran to the home of her next-door neighbor and cousin, Keith Ingram.

Police say Ingram shot and killed Fleming after he attempted to attack him.

Fleming had a prior conviction for attempted rape and was a registered sex offender. Ingram had no criminal record and a valid handgun permit. . . .

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"they've never paid more for college, never paid more for gas at the pump"

From Obama's speech last night:

You see it in your own lives and in your own neighborhoods. The stories I told you are not unique. Everywhere I go, I hear the same stories. People are working harder for less; they've never paid more for college, never paid more for gas at the pump. (APPLAUSE)

Well, doesn't the overall price level matter? If the inflation rate is 2 percent and college and gas are going up, that means something else is falling. A 2 percent or even a 3 percent increase in the price level seems awfully small.

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University Police Chiefs in Arizona oppose letting concealed carry permits on campus

This story can be found here:

Police chiefs from Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University testified that allowing gun-permit holders to bring firearms onto school grounds would create confusion when officers respond to a shooting incident. It could lead to the loss of additional innocent lives, they said.

"Our job is difficult enough. I don't think there is a solution to the violence and the shootings we are experiencing on campuses," said ASU Police Chief John Pickens, who previously served as director of public safety at Northern Illinois University, where a gunman last week killed five people and wounded more than a dozen others before taking his own life.

Can they point to any examples where these concerns have actually occurred? No. Just hypothetical worst case examples. But it would be helpful if they could point to even a few examples to justify their fears. Then at least the discussion could be one of benefits versus costs.

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Do Democrats really believe that 18 to 22 year olds should be allowed to vote?

News note from Washington State. Here is an amusing note from yesterday:

Sen. Ed Murray, D - Seattle, the main proponent for SB 6841 [an act that would restrict possession of firearms at institutions of higher education - tf], argued that studies showing incomplete brain development until late teens or early 20s mean “many students do not have the ability to make judgements about guns.” Schoesler [our Republican senator - tf] disagreed, describing university students as having “the best and brightest minds,” and being capable of making good judgments. . . .

Thanks to Sonya Jones for sending me this link.


Kansas CIty murder rate down in first year of right-to-carry law

I am not going to argue that by itself this is evidence that right-to-carry laws are good (many other things can happen in a year), but at least the fears put forward predicting problems were proven false.

Crime down in KCK last year
The Kansas City Star
After two years of seeing reported violent crimes increase, Kansas City, Kan., saw the number of such crimes drop 5.5 percent last year.

More notably is that homicides fell 45.7 percent, from 46 homicides in 2006 to 25 last year. The last time the number of homicides was this low was in 1986, Brown said.

“We are very happy with (2007) stats,” said Capt. James Brown, a Kansas City, Kan., Police Department spokesman. “However, for those of us who have been in the business long enough, we know that there are curves that occur.” . . .

What is disappointing is that the article completely left out the fact that last year was the first year of the right to carry law in the state.

Thanks very much to David Cooper for sending me this link.

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Appearance on Roger Hedgecock's Show on Tuesday

It was fun to be on Roger's show again. We talked about the problems with gun free zones. You can listen to an MP3 of the show here. While all of Roger's show is interesting, the interview with me only starts about half way through the file.

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Clinton has election eve conversion on hunting

WIth elections near so many politicians start to come out in favor of hunting, even in Democratic primaries. Now it is Hillary Clinton's turn:

WAUSAU, WIS. -- At a campaign stop this afternoon, Hillary Clinton’s focus was on the economy and health care but some in the crowd had other things on their minds. Clinton was asked to discuss gun control which prompted Clinton to talk about her days holding a rifle in the cold, shallow waters in backwoods Arkansas.

“I’ve hunted. My father taught me how to hunt. I went duck hunting in Arkansas. I remember standing in that cold water, so cold, at first light. I was with a bunch of my friends, all men. The sun’s up, the ducks are flying and they are playing a trick on me. They said, ‘we’re not going to shoot, you shoot.’ They wanted to embarrass me. The pressure was on. So I shot, and I shot a banded duck and they were surprised as I was,” Clinton said drawing laughter from the crowd. . . .

Emphasis added by me to the word "rifle" in the text. Does Hillary know the difference between a shotgun and a rifle? Does she realize how hard it is to shot a duck with a rifle and to even do it on one's first shot? I doubt it.

Thanks to Ben Zycker for the link.

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Al Franken slightly leads Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota

I recently got to meet Senator Coleman and I was quite impressed. He struck me as a very bright guy. This poll was disappointing news, but the election is still a long ways away:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey found Al Franken slightly ahead of incumbent Senator Norm Coleman in what is likely to be a closely contested campaign. Franken, a former comedian and political commentator, leads Coleman 49% to 46%. If the Democrats nominate trial attorney Mike Ciresi, the poll shows Coleman attracting 47% of the vote while Ciresi earns 45%. . . .


Arizona debating letting concealed handgun permit holders in schools

The debate on letting concealed handgun permit holders in schools picks up steam in Arizona:

Supporters say the permit-holders should be allowed to carry guns at schools so they can defend themselves and others if a gunman starts shooting people and police haven't yet arrived at the scene.

Opponents say police officers urgently responding to a school shooting might have difficulty distinguishing innocent permit-holders from the gun. . . .

Could someone please give me an example of when this concern has actually come true during one of these events?

Thanks to Scott Davis for the link.


Appearing on G. Gordon Liddy Show

I will be on the G. Gordon Liddy Show later today from noon to 1 PM. We are going to be talking primarily about the Northern Illinois University attack.


Do food safety standards pass a cost/benefit test?

From Fox News:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef . . . .

The recall will affect beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., the federal agency said. The company provided meat to various federal programs.

Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten.

"We don't know how much product is out there right now. We don't think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action," said Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety. . . .

No illnesses have been linked to the newly recalled meat, and officials said the health threat was likely small. . . .

Two facts: Most of the beef in the largest ever recall of beef has probably already been eaten. It doesn't seem as if anyone has gotten sick from eating it. I wonder how much of the cost of our food is due to this obviously very costly regulatory process. Huge amounts of food are thrown out. How much do you think that adds to the cost of food? "Health threat was likely small."



Chicago Public Radio Panel Discussion on Northern Illinois University Attack

Chicago Public Radio's 848 had "a panel of experts for a roundtable discussion on guns and violence in Illinois and beyond." I was one of the members of the panel. You can listen to the discussion here.

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More on concealed handguns

Utah is considering more legislation that will make carrying concealed handguns easier.

A student at the University of Arizona chimes in here.

Boston radio talk show host Michael Graham has a discussion here and here.


Gary Becker weighs in on the gun control debate

Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker has a posting on the gun control debate here. Posner also weighs in here. While I have immense respect for both of them, I don't really agree with them too much here and I have posted my comments in the comment section at the bottom of each page. Becker's discussion focuses on a purely economics based analysis of the issue.



More on eliminating gun free zones on campuses

Neil Cavuto has a segment on it here.

ABC News GMA has a discussion here.

I guess that I don't know why the proponents of letting concealed handguns on campus (particularly in the Cavuto interview) don't address the objections more directly. In particular, the concern about the risks of something bad happening. Why not simply point out that we have a lot of experience where permitted concealed handguns are allowed and yet no one can point to bad things happening. Point out that when these attacks have been stopped it usually is stopped without shots even being fired.

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Bouncers with concealed handgun permits stop attack at nightclub

Another example from Michigan where a permit holder has stopped an attack:

Man killed in shootout with bouncers at Detroit club
Santiago Esparza / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred this morning after a group of men were thrown out of Plan B nightclub at 205 W. Congress in downtown.
The men were causing a disturbance and were escorted out the rear of the club by three bouncers, said Detroit Police Sgt. Eren Stephens-Bell.
One of the men in the group shot a bouncer in the back, Stephens-Bell said. Two other bouncers then pulled their guns and shot the man dead who had shot their co-worker, Stephens-Bell said.
The wounded bouncer was taken to an area hospital were he is listed in temporary serious condition.
Police did not release the identities of those involved in the incident.
The bouncers had permits to carry a concealed weapon.

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Obama leftwing contradictions: One example, campaign finance regulations

Rightwing Nuthouse has an interesting discussion here. Last year Obama promised take public financing during the general election if his Republican opponent did so also. McCain also made the pledge. Now Obama calls his pledge an "option" since he is finding it so easy to raise money. McCain made his pledge when he was the lead Republican candidate last year and Obama did the same when it looked like he had little chance of winning the nomination. I have no desire to maintain public financing of presidential campaigns, but I have to believe that these attacks will hurt Obama to at least some extent with this Democratic base. Possibly McCain is helping out Clinton right now more than Clinton is.

As an aside, this basically shows what I wrote in 2004: that presidential campaign finance regulations are dead.

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Newsweek Interviews Students for Concealed Carry on Campus

The Newsweek interview can be seen here:

It was a sickeningly familiar scene. A student-gunman opened fire Thursday during a lecture at Northern Illinois University, killing five and wounding 15 before turning the gun on himself. The deadly spree was the fifth school shooting this week—and a traumatic reminder that for all the efforts to improve campus security nationwide since the massacre at Virginia Tech last year, students and faculty remain disturbingly vulnerable.

A nonprofit organization called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus would like to change that. The group, whose 12,000 members nationwide include college students, faculty and parents, champions legislation that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons on campus, in the hope that an alert and well-trained citizen could stop a deranged shooter before he or she could do serious damage. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, 13 states are currently considering some form of "concealed carry" legislation aimed at campuses. Utah is the group's model; after a state Supreme Court ruling found that the state university had violated a law allowing permit holders to carry concealed weapons, the school agreed that guns could legally be carried on its grounds. Some states, like Colorado, do not explicitly ban licensed students and faculty from carrying hidden weapons onto school grounds, though most universities in such states impose restrictions of their own.

There are signs that the "concealed carry" group was making headway even before the tragedy at Northern Illinois. Earlier this month the South Dakota House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to force state universities to allow students to carry weapons on campus, according to GOP state Rep. Tom Brunner. The bill, which Brunner sponsored, recently died in the state senate, but Brunner said he intends to bring it back as soon as he can. "It's not an issue that's going to go away," Brunner said. "We feel pretty passionate [that] students and teachers should have a right to defend themselves, and weapons on campus should be a part of the plan." . . .

Those interested in joining Students for Concealed Carry on Campus can do so at facebook here. The group has a second national protest coming up from April 21 to 25th.

Thanks to Rich for sending the link from Newsweek to me.

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Concealed Handgun Permit Holder Stops Man being Beaten by Three People

In Pittsfield Township, Michigan a permit holder stopped a man from being beaten:

While stopped at a red light at Carpenter and Packard roads a few minutes later, the victim said the driver of the van confronted him and began yelling. He said he exited his vehicle and was punched in the face and knocked to the ground, Heller said.

Two women, including the woman he tried to help, got out of the van and began hitting and stomping the victim while he was on the ground, Heller said.

A passing motorist stopped his car, pulled a gun and demanded the trio stop beating the man, Heller said.

Police responded to several calls reporting a man holding people at gunpoint. Officers determined the man with a gun had a legitimate concealed weapons permit and was trying to help, Heller said.

Officers arrested an 18-year-old Ann Arbor man and two 19-year-old women. They were released pending charges.

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Hugh Hewitt has an amazing speech by Michelle Obama

For those interested you can listen to his discussion of her speech here. Things have gotten so much worse during her lifetime? Income has soared. Life expectancy has gone up. I agree with Hugh that this is a scary speech.

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Over 90 percent of Republicans in Congress Support an Individual's Right to Own Guns

Support for gun rights is an overwhelmingly Republican issue. 9 of the 55 Senators who signed the Supreme Court brief saying that gun ownership is an individual were Democrats (9 out of 51 Democrats is an 18 percent rate). 46 were Republicans (thus 46 of the 49 Republicans signed it, a 94 percent rate). 67 of the 250 Congressmen who signed the brief were Democrats (with 233 Democrats in congress that is a 29 percent rate). Again that means 183 out of 201 Republicans signed it (a 91 percent rate).

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Laws on Gun Carry Laws from Gunmap.org

This map is from GunMap.org. They should be coming out with a new map this next week.


Move to ease Federal restrictions on guns in National Parks bogs down in Politics

Fox News has a piece on the election year squabbles here:

WASHINGTON — An election-year dispute over whether to allow loaded guns in national parks is holding up a vote on a massive bill affecting public lands from coast to coast.

Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to score political points by injecting a "wedge" issue like gun rights into a noncontroversial bill.

Republicans counter that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to protect the two leading Democratic candidates for president by shielding them from a politically difficult vote on an issue that many rural voters consider crucial.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the leading Republican contender for president, is a co-sponsor of the amendment, which would allow gun owners to carry loaded, accessible firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges. Current regulations ban gun owners from carrying easy-to-reach firearms onto lands managed by the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service.

Spokesmen for the two leading Democratic presidential contenders, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, declined repeated requests to comment.

The gun amendment is sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime gun-rights advocate who has endorsed McCain. A spokesman for Coburn accused Reid, D-Nev., of bad faith in refusing to allow a vote on the issue, despite an earlier agreement between the two senators. . . .

A majority of Senators have signed legislation asking that people with concealed handgun permits be able to carry their handguns with them in parks within states that recognize those permits so this bill would easily pass if a vote were allowed. I can't imagine that this type of game playing makes Senator Harry Reid a popular guy in Nevada.


Obama claims to support individual's right to own guns, but simultaneously supports DC's ban on handguns

Both Clinton and Obama claim to support an individual's right to own guns, though it is useful to note that neither signed the brief supporting this that was just submitted to the Supreme Court. This is one part of the article that caught my attention:

At his news conference, he voiced support for the District of Columbia's ban on handguns, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court next month.

I have blogged on this issue before, but I would like to see someone ask Clinton and Obama in their debates about how they can reconcile their position on the gun ban with their claimed position of gun ownership as an individual right.

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Space Station Crew has access to a gun

The discussion is here:

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station apparently have access to a gun.
Russian Cosmonauts carry a gun on their Soyuz space capsule, which is attached to the space station. . . .



Restoring gun rights to felons in Washington State

Washington State Senate unanimously passes bill to restore the right to own a gun to felons:

"A petition shall be granted if the person meets all requirements of this section for restoration of the right to possess a firearm and the petition."

Information provided to me by a mole in the Washington Senate.


Dennis Prager notes that these multiple victim public shooters are irreligious

His check of multiple victim shooters indicates that these murderers are not religious individuals. I have never really compiled this information myself, though I seem to recall at least one case in Seattle where I thought that the killer was Islamic, but in any case, I accept his statement that it is quite rare that these killers are religious. Dennis' point was that if all these people were religious, the media would have made an issue of it. The fact that they are not religious makes it not interesting to the media. I think that he is correct on this.

I also agree with his concern that it is extremely disappointing to see the murderer's death included in the victim count. I have been bothered by this for years and I am glad to see Dennis mention this.


Faintings at Obama Rallies Staged?


These clips are also available here.

Thanks to Sonya for sending this to me.


UK: "Smokers would have to get a licence to light up under the plan"

The BBC reports on licensing for smokers in the UK:

No one would be able to buy cigarettes without the permit, under the idea proposed by Health England.
Its chairman, Professor Julian Le Grand, told BBC Radio 5 Live the scheme would make a big difference to the number of people giving up smoking.

But smokers' rights group Forest described the idea as "outrageous", given how much tax smokers already pay.
Professor Le Grand, a former adviser to ex-PM Tony Blair, said cash raised by the proposed scheme would go to the NHS. . . . .


Busy Day on the Radio

I will be on WGN in Chicago with John Williams at 2:07 CST (rescheduled for 10:15 AM CST tomorrow). I will be on Michael Graham show's on 96.9 WTKK in Boston at 5:20 EST. KMOX (again) 11:10 PM CST, or 12:10 AM Saturday EST. This morning I have already done stations such as KMOX and KGO.


A couple of mentions about the Northern Illinois University Attack being in a gun free zone

An editorial in the Texas A&M University school newspaper:

A cross the nation, the death toll on college campuses continues to climb. Virginia Tech, 21 wounded, 33 dead. Louisiana Tech, two dead. Northern Illinois University, at least 16 wounded, six dead. The travesty is, these deaths might have been prevented had students been allowed to carry firearms on campus. . . .

Here is another mention at KXMB television in Bismarck, ND:

This one, like some others before him, even stopped to reload. One gun. That’s all it would have taken. But that campus, like all the others, is a “gun free zone”

Here is a press release from CCRKBA:

The tragic shooting at Northern Illinois University late Thursday is another failure of the "gun free zone" mentality that has created a false sense of security on college campuses and other public venues across the country, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

"Gun-free zones have given us nothing but body counts," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb. "This giant loophole in public safety is becoming a national disgrace and it is time to dramatically change our perspective on self-defense in this country. . . . .

On the blogs, Bill Quick and Jay Tea quote the Northern Illinois University Student Code of Conduct:

Northern Illinois University The Student Code of Conduct
3-1.5 Dangerous Weapons:
1.5a Possession, use, sale, or distribution in any residence hall, building, or grounds under university control of: fireworks, firearms, shotguns, rifles, hand guns, switchblade knives, any type of ammunition, explosives, and all other serious weapons.
1.5b Misuse of martial arts weaponry, BB guns, pellet guns, clubs, knives, and all other serious weapons.
Students who wish to bring firearms to the campus must obtain written permission from the chief security officer of the university. Firearms must be stored at the University Security Office except with written permission of the chief security officer of the university. At no time will any of the above dangerous weapons be allowed in the university residence halls.

UPDATE: Gun control groups unite on proposals after the Northern Illinois University attack. The problem is that none of these proposed regulations would have stopped the attack:

WASHINGTON, DC - February 15 - Following yesterday’s mass shooting at Northern Illinois University which left six dead, including the shooter, and 16 wounded, America’s leading national gun violence prevention organizations, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Violence Policy Center, issued the following joint statement:

“Our sympathies go to all those affected by this terrible tragedy.
America is in a gun crisis. Yesterday’s shooting at Northern Illinois University was the sixth mass shooting in less than two weeks. On college campuses, in malls and stores, and in our neighborhoods, our nation is paying the ultimate price for the ease with which we allow almost anyone access to increasingly powerful weaponry. Yet all too many of our elected officials remain deaf to the daily toll guns exact across our nation. Mass shootings are not a force of nature unstoppable by man. They are the predictable result of our nation’s weak gun policies, and much can be done to prevent them.
To prevent future mass shootings we must begin to ratchet down the firepower that is available to civilians. For years, we have outlined proposals to reduce gun violence. We call on the presidential candidates to make gun violence prevention a priority issue. We demand that Congress hold hearings on gun violence prevention. And we urge federal and state policymakers to act immediately to implement policies such as those outlined below that will work to reduce the carnage:
o An effective ban on all semiautomatic assault weapons. In addition, the Bush Administration should act immediately to better enforce the existing federal ban on the importation of foreign-made assault weapons.
o A complete ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
o Ensure that all gun sales at gun shows are subject to a background check.
o Establish a system whereby university officials are notified when a student purchases a gun from a gun dealer.”


Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not free-traders, McCain is

A new Cato Institute website has the voting records for congress over at least a decade on trade. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are solidly in what Cato calls the Interventionist camp (go here and plug in his name):

Barrier Votes: 31% (9 votes out of 29 opposing trade barriers)
Subsidy Votes: 14% (1 votes out of 7 opposing trade subsidies)

Barrier Votes: 36% (4 votes out of 11 opposing trade barriers)
Subsidy Votes: 0% (0 votes out of 2 opposing trade subsidies)

Interventionists -- Members of this group consistently support government intervention at the expense of the free market—favoring both subsidies and trade barriers. They tend to oppose bills and amendments that would lower trade barriers, as well as those that would cut or eliminate trade and investment subsidies. Interventionists reject the judgment of Americans twice, first by denying them full liberty to spend their private dollars beyond our borders and then by seeking to divert public tax dollars for export promotion and government-to-government bailout packages

By contrast, McCain is classified as a free trader

Barrier Votes: 88% (35 votes out of 40 opposing trade barriers)
Subsidy Votes: 80% (8 votes out of 10 opposing trade subsidies)


My guess: I think that Clinton will win the nomination

This is a tough call, much tougher than most people think. Hillary needs to win Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. The polls for Ohio and Pennsylvania actually show Hillary with substantial double digit leads, though Ohio is getting a little tighter. The question is whether the Obama's recent wins will shake her support between now and those primaries. In addition, Karl Rove indicates that Obama may make significant inroads in Texas among Hispanics. I couldn't find any polls for Texas, and that is where things might really matter. Rove did mention that the really bizarre delegate counting rules in the Democratic primary in Texas and that heavily weights African-American votes relative to Hispanics. I guess that I am just assuming that Clinton knows more about what is happening in Texas. If she pulls in those three big states, I think that she will keep the majority she has of super delegates.

Add to all that that Clinton will push for the large Democratic delegations from Florida and Michigan to be seated. If she pushes hard with legal action, it could really produce hard feelings among African-Americans. The more that it seems today that Obama is going to win, the more his supporters will be angry if she gets the nomination. It will be a bloody and difficult win, but the Clintons will do what they can and conditional on Texas, I give her the edge.

All that said, I also think that Obama would be the easier candidate for Republicans to beat in the general. He is the most liberal member of the Senate, and his record will just be too much to defend. Take for example, his opposition to renewing FISA because it would allow us to spy on conversation where foreigners are talking to foreigners. I think that will be hard to explain to people.

UPDATE: I have just come across a poll for Texas and it shows that Obama is in the lead. Obama is ahead 48 to 42 percent. "Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama among self-described Democrats 47% to 42%. Obama leads Clinton among self-described independents and Republicans 24% to 71%." On the other hand, I wouldn't put too much weight on this right now. The main reason for this is that I am becoming more convinced that she will take Wisconsin. If so, I think that Clinton will take Texas along with Ohio and Pennsylvania. Obama will be edged out because of the super delegates and the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations.

UPDATE2: Several new polls give Clinton an average of a double digit lead in Texas.

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The Reagan Library

Last week when I traveled to California to give some talks, I briefly had the chance to visit the Reagan Library. The picture above is a Mustang that Reagan used while campaigning for governor in 1966. The library was a very beautiful place. It would be nice to have a chance to spend more time there in the future.

Here is another picture of one of the many guns that Reagan owned.


Now we can add dog leashes to the list of items that take more young lives than guns

To the list of plastic water buckets and bathtubs, now we can add dog leashes. A new CDC report notes how dangerous leashes and bungee cords are:

At least 82 youths have died from the so-called "choking game," according to the first government count of fatalities from the tragic fad.

In the game, children use dog leashes, bungee cords wrapped around their necks or other means to temporarily cut blood flow to their head. The goal is a dreamlike, floating-in-space feeling when blood rushes back into the brain. . . .

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Yet another shooting in a gun free zone

Here is a story on the latest tragedy:

DE KALB, Ill (CBS) ― Several people have been shot on the Northern Illinois University campus. The suspect killed himself and officials say the danger has passed.

Officials confirmed that several people were shot at Cole Hall, a large lecture hall on campus, shortly after 3 p.m. and the campus was immediately placed on lockdown.

Kishwaukee Hospital reported that up to 13 people were being brought to the hospital and that three to four of those victims had suffered head wounds.

Student journalists at the school's Northern Television Center reported that there were 18 victims, two of them fatalities, including the gunman. . . . .

Illinois is of course one of two states that completely ban people carrying concealed handguns anyplace.


Encoded ammunition

Here is some discussion on encoded ammunition. I am called on the carpet for not dealing with this issue, though I have written on this type of question in the past and I had thought that I had put up one post on this. The problem is that in California they already have so many gun laws this law will not actually have any effect. There will be no newly designed guns because of other gun laws even if this new rule hadn't been passed.


The cost of government regulation: this seems to large to believe

A new study by Theo Eicher at the University of Washington finds:

"Fully $200,000 of that [$226,000] increase [1989 and 2006] was the result of land-use regulations"!

Thanks to Sonya Jones for sending me this link.

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Washington State Supreme Court Says People can Shoot Wild Animals in Self-Defense

Sonya Jones sent me this link from the Washington State Supreme Court. The court reaffirmed the notion that people are allowed to defend themselves and their property from wild animals.
[I]t may be justly said that one who kills an elk in defense of himself or his property, if such a killing was reasonably necessary for such purpose, is not guilty of violating the law.

The only sad thing is that such a common sense ruling requires someone to go to court and fight the issue all the way up to the state Supreme Court. In this case, the guy engaged in "repeated requests" for help from the state and still had to go through this long court battle. Sonya Jones posted her own discussion of the decision posted here.

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Some don't even trust sitting judges with concealed handguns

I read this a couple of times, but it sure looks as if some believe that you can't even trust sitting judges with concealed handgun permits. Of course, the rest of the story doesn't contain any evidence that these fears have actually turned out to be justified:

Judge Charles Kahn, who was criticized in Allen's opinion, was described by his colleagues as acting, at times, "volatile," "irrational" and "schizoid." At one point, after Kahn signed up for a concealed weapons training class, the marshal in charge of court security testified that he put a lock on the door to the judges' robing room to stop Kahn from getting into a retirement party. . . .



MP3s of Dennis Miller and Liddy Show Interviews

For those interested, you can listen to my interview on Dennis Miller's show today here. An interview that I had with on the G. Gordon Liddy Show can be found here (the interview is about half way through the file).


Warmer weather saves lives

I would have to look at this to see whether they are properly accounting for improved technology and increased wealth that can help keep people warm, but this is something that I have long pointed to at this website:

While summers in the UK became warmer in the period 1971 - 2003, there was no change in heat-related deaths, but annual cold-related mortality fell by 3% as winters became milder - so overall fewer people died as a result of extreme temperatures. . . .

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Clemens hearing on Steroids

I have been watching some of the hearings, and what I found most striking was the difference between the Republicans and Democrats on the House panel. Republicans are defending Clemens, while the Democrats are going after him with everything they have. Republican Congressman Burton has just completely destroyed the former trainer, Brian McNamee, who was testifying against Clemens. McNamee claimed that there were times where conversations were said to have occurred that were just impossible, and the former trainer must have been caught in a what seemed like a dozen lies. The Republicans are fortunately standing up against the type of witch hunt that congress (particularly with the Democrats in charge) seems to special in getting into. I don't know whether Clemens is a Republican and that is the reason for the difference, but I would like to believe that there is something much deeper going on here.

For those interested, here is a very interesting report on Clemens' performance over time. Art DeVany, who is an expert on these things, has some various thoughts on this case here and here.


Some Democrats talking about Al Gore as nominee

John Fund writes in today's WSJ's Political Diary:

Despite the Obama momentum and recent landslides in many states, if Hillary were to win Texas, where there is a very large Hispanic vote, she would have won the four big electorate-rich states: New York, California, Florida, and Texas. That would be a strong case for many undecided Democratic superdelegates to support her notwithstanding Mr. Obama's strong showing.

What happens in a deadlocked convention? If neither candidate throws in the towel and neither can get a majority of delegates, one option is a brokered convention, where both candidates step aside for a compromise candidate. That's the way smoke-filled, dealmaking conventions used to work. One name keeps resurfacing as the ideal brokered candidate: Al Gore. Many Democratic pundits still believe the Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize winner would have the best chances against the GOP in November. His record is not nearly as far left as Senator Clinton's or Senator Obama's and he may stand a better chance of winning independent voters than either of them.

But a problem with this scenario, as one Democratic insider tells me, is that Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are "mortal enemies." She would rather sleep on a bed of coals than hand the nomination to her husband's vice president, whom she constantly squabbled with in the White House. . . .

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Appearing on G. Gordon Liddy Show

I will be on Liddy's Show today just after 12:30 PM EST. we will be talking about the DC gun ban case before the Supreme Court.



Appearance on Dennis Miller Show

I will be on Dennis Miller's Show tomorrow at 10:35 AM EST. For some places where the show airs delayed, that is during the first hour of the show.


Majority of the U.S. Senators Support Allowing Guns in National Parks

National Park Service currently forbids permitted Right-to-Carry guns in our national parks and wildlife refuges. Now 51 Senators have now written Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to change the policy. 911 isn't always possible to call when you are camping in a national park, whether one is threatened by a bear or a criminal. Interestingly, Russ Feingold (D-WI) signed a letter even though Wisconsin is one of only two states that ban concealed handguns.


Markets indicate Obama's chance of winning the nomination are about 2.5 times that for Clinton

The University of Iowa has a market where you can bid on the Democratic and Republican primaries and predict who will win. McCain has an almost 94 percent chance of winning, and Obama is over 70 percent. Personally, I think that given how left-wing Obama is he will be easier to defeat than most might think.


Permit holder stops Robbery in Houston Texas

Here is a story of another robbery stopped by a permit holder:

Authorities have identified a man who was fatally shot while allegedly attempting to rob a man in a southeast Houston parking lot.

Calvin Earl Taylor, 23, was shot several times by 36-year-old Keenan Procter, whom Taylor and Omari Duana Stephens, 24, allegedly attempted to rob in the 500 block of Gulfgate Center Mall Wednesday night. Taylor was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident occurred around 9:55 p.m. when Stephens and Taylor allegedly attempted to rob Procter in a parking lot, Houston police said. Procter, who has a valid concealed handgun permit, then fatally shot Taylor, authorities said. Procter was not injured.

Stephens was charged with aggravated robbery and is currently in Harris County Jail in lieu of $30,000 bail.

The shooting will be referred to a Harris County grand jury.

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Rumor: Huckabee will drop out of the Republican Presidential Contest by March 10th to Run for the Senate from Arkansasential contest by

I heard this rumor today, but it sounds pretty plausible to me. The filing date for the Arkansas Senate race is March 10th, and Huckabee seems virtually guaranteed of winning if he runs for the senate.


Talk tonight in NYC

I will be giving a talk tonight in NYC at 7 PM on Freedomnomics.

Grand Hyatt New York
109 E 42 St
New York, NY 10017


Bitter fireworks about ready to blow up among Democrats

Shades of the Florida 2000 election were discussed today in the WSJ:

For over seven years the Democratic Party has fulminated against the Electoral College system that gave George W. Bush the presidency over popular-vote winner Al Gore in 2000. But they have designed a Rube Goldberg nominating process that could easily produce a result much like the Electoral College result in 2000: a winner of the delegate count, and thus the nominee, over the candidate favored by a majority of the party's primary voters.

Or this:

Indeed, it has already been reported that Sen. Clinton will demand that the convention seat delegates from Michigan and Florida, two states whose delegates have been disqualified by the party for holding January primaries in defiance of party rules. The candidates agreed not to campaign in those states. But Sen. Clinton opted to keep her name on the Michigan primary ballot, and staged a primary-day victory visit to Florida, winning both of those unsanctioned primaries. Her campaign is arguing that the delegates she won in each state be recognized despite party rules and notwithstanding her commitment not to compete in those primaries. Of course. "Count every vote." . . .

My understanding from a well-placed friend is that the Hillary campaign is talking about actually bringing a lawsuit in Florida to force the delegates to be seated.

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Woman put on hold by 911 dies

The woman called 911 because her house was on fire and she was disabled. The operator put her on hold despite her pleading for them not to do that. The tape can be heard here and it is very graphic. In this case, the person was calling about a fire, but this could obviously occur with some calling about a crime.




W. Scott Lewis with Students for Concealed Carry on Campus announces that they will again protest gun free zones on campuses on April 21-25, 2008.

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Economists utterly fail at predicting recessions

There are some things that economists are good at and some that they are not. Art DeVany, an extremely well-known economist, points to economists record at predicting recessions.


The explanation behind the sub-prime mortgage crisis

The government is blaming the banking industry, but it is really government pressure that is responsible for the problems in the industry. It is always amazing to me how government regulation begets more government regulation. Stan Liebowitz has an excellent piece on all this in last week's NY Post:

Most people instinctively understand that such loans are likely to be unsound. But how did the heavily-regulated banking industry end up able to engage in such foolishness?
From the current hand-wringing, you'd think that the banks came up with the idea of looser underwriting standards on their own, with regulators just asleep on the job. In fact, it was the regulators who relaxed these standards - at the behest of community groups and "progressive" political forces.
In the 1980s, groups such as the activists at ACORN began pushing charges of "redlining" - claims that banks discriminated against minorities in mortgage lending. In 1989, sympathetic members of Congress got the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act amended to force banks to collect racial data on mortgage applicants; this allowed various studies to be ginned up that seemed to validate the original accusation.
In fact, minority mortgage applications were rejected more frequently than other applications - but the overwhelming reason wasn't racial discrimination, but simply that minorities tend to have weaker finances.
Yet a "landmark" 1992 study from the Boston Fed concluded that mortgage-lending discrimination was systemic

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An amusing interview with a Chicago Politician about gun control

This is an interview that I find interesting because a Chicago politician is asked about my research on gun control. You can watch the interview here.


306 to 18: Congressional Support for an Individual's Right to Own a Gun is Overwhelming

You can read the brief that Cheney and 305 members of Congress signed here. To say that this is an "unusual step" for Cheney is a bit of an understatement because the brief that he signed put him at odds with the DOJ brief submitted a few weeks ago. The DOJ brief stated that the right to own guns is an individual right, but that the level of burden necessary for the government to restrict that right was relatively low, much lower than for the rest of the Bill of Rights. But the brief signed by Cheney argued for a much higher burden on the government (see the "strict judicial scrutiny" discussion on p. 36). For a news article see this:

WASHINGTON — Vice President Cheney took the unusual step Friday of joining with lawmakers in signing a Supreme Court brief that goes further in support of gun rights than the one submitted by the Bush administration. . . .

Cheney joined more than 300 senators and representatives, led by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who want the court to rule that Washington's ban is unconstitutional.

"The vice president believes strongly in Second Amendment rights," Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said.

Seventeen Democratic lawmakers and District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton urged the court to uphold the ban. . . .

The brief for the 17 members of Congress and the Delegate from DC can be seen here.

One other point should be made here. McCain signed the same brief that Cheney did. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did not.

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Majority of Congress On Record that the Right to Own Guns is an Individual Right

The Heritage Foundation hosted an event about the 2nd Amendment yesterday and below are some video and audio links to the event, and the text of Sen. Hutchison’s remarks.

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Debate in Washington State over Whether to Create or eliminate Gun-Free Zones

Sonya Jones sent me this link and all I can say is that Senator Murray should be thankful that Sonya isn't working on the Senate Committee on Higher Education.

The bill offered by Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, would ban weapons at colleges that host high school students. That would include community colleges that offer the Running Start program, and universities when high school students are touring.

In response to Murray's bill, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, introduced her own measure that would prohibit universities from banning concealed weapons. Her argument is that people with permits to carry weapons would make campuses safer. Most universities now ban weapons on campus, but that is not a state law. . . .

But Roach declared, "Based on the policy of the last 30 years, it may be evident that this is a failed policy, there have been 38 college and school shootings since the prohibition of guns in schools was enacted. There were only two recorded during the 150 years preceding that prohibition." . . .

"I want to make sure the record reflects that Virginia Tech was a gun free zone, and results (were) painfully predictable," said Brian Judy, testifying for the National Rifle Association. "Only the victims were gun free."

But gun foes said guns on campuses would create more trouble.

"Well-intentioned people who have firearms and want to save the day often end up adding to the violence of the situation or becoming victims themselves," said Kristen Comer, executive director of Washington Cease Fire. "Any time we start to get into the area of vigilante justice, it's a bit precarious."

I think that I have an easy response to Kristen Comer's concern below about what might go wrong with allowing concealed handguns onto campuses: its called experience. Why do we have to debate about what might happen when we have a lot of experience about what actually happens in these circumstances?

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Briefs available on DC Gun Ban case

Many Amici briefs for the respondent (those challenging the DC ban) are available here.

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Citizens banned from Carrying Concealed handguns where City Council Attack occurred

At least five people were killed in Kirkwood, Missouri last night at a city council meeting:

A total of seven people were shot, including the mayor and several city officials, before police shot and killed the gunman. The mayor is in critical condition. . . .

Citizens are banned from having concealed handguns at these public meetings. The only exception are members of the city council and a reporter might have inside information on whether any of them have concealed handgun permits.

Apparently some people were reduced to throwing chairs at the killer to stop the attack:

At some point he fired at City Attorney John Hessel, who told McNichols he fended the attacker off by throwing chairs. She saw Hessel later, appearing uninjured except for a knot on his head.

While there was a police officer in the room where the attack occurred, apparently the killer shot the officer immediately when the attack started. This is a typical problem with uniformed guards where killers either wait for them to leave the area or kill them first. This is one big advantage of concealed handgun laws.

Meanwhile, there was a shooting at a University in Louisiana on Thursday and of course it occurred in another gun free zone.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A young woman killed two female students in a college classroom at a vocational college Friday, then killed herself, police said.
The students apparently were shot in their seats in the second-floor classroom at Louisiana Technical College, Sgt. Don Kelly said.
Officers ran into the building within four minutes of the first 911 call, which came at 8:36 a.m., he said.
"There was mass pandemonium, people running," Kelly said. "One officer - the first into the classroom - told me he could still smell gunpowder."
The students' names and ages were not immediately released, and it was not clear whether the shooter also was a student.
The school offers classes in a dozen subjects including early childhood education, practical nursing, drafting and welding.

In this case, even though the police officer got to the classroom very quickly it was still not fast enough.

UPDATE: Three attacks in gun free zones in one week discussed here.

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There is some cost for governments nationalizing the assets of foreign firms

There is some cost to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez taking the assets of firms:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp has moved to freeze up to $12 billion in Venezuelan assets around the world as the U.S. company fights for payment in return for the state's takeover of a huge oil project last year.

The company said it has received court orders in Britain, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles each freezing up to $12 billion in assets of Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA. An Exxon spokeswoman said the total that could be frozen worldwide was $12 billion.

Exxon also won a court order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in December freezing more than $300 million belonging to PDVSA, as Exxon argued it would have little chance to recoup its investment from PDVSA should it win its arbitration. . . .


Hillary's campaign imploding?

Is Hillary Clinton's campaign falling apart:

The day she admitted she'd written herself a check for $5 million, Obama's people crowed they'd just raised $3 million. But then his staff is happy. They're all getting paid. . . .

These announcements from the Clinton campaign were associated with a big drop in the probability of her winning.

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McCain's voting record.

Given all the references in the press the last couple of days to McCain's voting record, I thought that I would look up some numbers. McCain is on the liberal side of Republicans, but there is a big difference between him and the average Democrat.

McCain's ACU ratings (100 most conservative, 0 most liberal):

2006 65 Average for Republicans 81 Average for Democrats 11
2005 80 Average for Republicans 86 Average for Democrats 12
2004 72
2003 80
2002 84
2001 68
2000 81
1999 77

McCain's Americans for Democratic Action ratings (higher means more liberal with 100 as the highest):

2005 10

Here are the two liberal votes in the index that he made that year:

amendment to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug manufacturers for lower drug prices under Medicare. Rejected 49-50.

McCain (R-AZ) amendment to establish the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation as the uniform standard for interrogating persons detained by the Department of Defense, and prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of any prisoner detained by the U.S. government. Adopted 90-9. October 5, 2005.

In only the first of the two votes could his vote have mattered.

2004 35

Here are the seven liberal votes included in the index that he made that year:

1) Voted to require gun locks sold with guns. 70-27
2) increasing funds for childcare by $6 billion over five years. 78-20
3) extending unemployment benefits 59-40
4) "amendment blocking reclassification of nuclear waste that would allow the Defense Department to leave the waste in place." 48-48
5) Voted for Ted Kennedy amendment on Iraq. Given his claims on the Iraq war, this is very strange since it was a pretty much party line vote with Kennedy trying to cause trouble for the Republicans. 48-50
6) Against constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. 48-50
7) "A bill reorganizing 15 U.S. intelligence agencies and creating a national intelligence director with power to freely transfer money among the CIA, National Security Agency and other defense and civilian agencies." 96-2

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The Emptiness of Campaign Finance Reform

The Drudge Report mentions that the Clinton's may be spending their own money now on Hillary's campaign. Note how the WSJ recently reported:

Former President Clinton stands to reap around $20 million -- and will sever a politically sensitive partnership tie to Dubai -- by ending his high-profile business relationship with the investment firm of billionaire friend Ron Burkle. . . .

Obviously Clinton has gotten a lot of money from other sources so there is no need to single out Burkle, but Burkle obviously can't donate $10 or $12 million to Clinton's campaign. Yet, if he pays Clinton for work that isn't very obvious, Clinton can then turn around and spend it on a campaign. Does it really matter that Burkle can't give the money directly to Clinton?

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Typical email that I am getting on the Republican Presidential Candidates and Gun Control

First of all thank your hard work defending the 2nd Amendment. I have to vote today and am quite torn as usual. I am not a one issue voter. I have always admired John McCain's sacrifice for our country, but seeing him chumming up with Arnold really bothers me. I have a lot of friends in CA that are furious about The Governor signing yet more anti gun legislation, as as they say so goes CA, so goes the Nation. So I may end up voting for a man I don't respect as much...

Any thoughts?

My response:

Well, with Romney you will likely get an new assault weapons ban. With McCain, you will get a gun show regulation bill that will regulate all private transfers of guns. I would also guess that you could get a bill requiring that people use gun locks. I am not sure what Romney really believes because he has changed his positions on too many issues. Of these different laws, I think that the gun locks rule is the worst because if prevents people from using guns defensively.

Personally, I worry that both Romney and McCain will be weak general election candidates though for different reasons. Romney because he has changed his position on too many issues. McCain will be attacked as too old and will have a tough time getting the conservative base to turn out.

My bottom line is the courts. I think that Romney is probably more likely to appoint conservatives to the courts than McCain. I think that McCain will have a very hard time appointing conservatives to the court if he really wants his campaign finance regulations put in place. I believe that there is a strong correlation between their views on protecting the First Amendment on political speech and the Second Amendment.

I hope that this helps.

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League of Conservation Voters endorsed McCain in 2004

I thought that this endorsement by the League of Conservation Voters was enlightening:

LCV has endorsed Republican John McCain for reelection in the U. S. Senate to represent Arizona. Senator McCain has been a leader on global warming, a strong voice of reason against drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and has voiced his opposition to the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill. He is the lead sponsor on the bipartisan McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 that would require a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to 2000 levels by the year 2010. Senator McCain said, "We must take action, and act appropriately. Many have hidden for too long behind what we do not know or the uncertainties around climate change. Their shield is shrinking." The Senator voted against an amendment that would have opened the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling and in a letter addressed to the President said, "I have thought long and hard about this debate and the vote that I will cast. I still hope we can achieve a more balanced national energy strategy, but I am not convinced that a key component of that policy should be to drill in ANWR." Before voting against the Energy Bill, he sent a letter to Congress stating his opposition to the manner in which the bill was developed, he said, "One of the other problems that I have with this bill is the way in which it was developed. This secretive, exclusive process has lead to a 1200 page monstrosity that is chock full of special interest giveaways and exemptions from environmental and other laws that frankly can´ withstand the light of scrutiny." If you would like to support Senator McCain's campaign, please contact Vivien Braslau at vivien_braslau@lcv.org.

Here is an interview where McCain is arguing that he is the strongest green candidate:

Why should voters consider you the strongest green candidate? What sets your platform on energy and the environment apart from the others?

My clear record of environmental advocacy and activism, ranging from my efforts to protect the Grand Canyon to working with [Connecticut Sen.] Joe Lieberman to get a cap-and-trade proposal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through the United States Senate.

You've said that global warming would be one of three key issues for your presidency. Why do you think the issue is important?

It's like Tony Blair said: Suppose we're wrong, and there's no such thing as greenhouse-gas emissions, and we adopt green technologies. All we've done is give our kids a better planet. But suppose we're right, and do nothing? Then what kind of a legacy are we handing on to future generations of Americans? I think we ought to frame the debate that way.

And I think most, if not all, of the ways that we can address this issue are through profit-motive, free-enterprise-system-driven green technologies. General Electric dedicated itself to green technologies, and guess what? They're still making a lot of money.

Yet, for the evidence on the global warming see here.

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Brief to over turn DC gun ban filed today

The brief for the attorneys challenging the DC gun ban was filed today. You can read it here.

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Another Shooting in a Gun Free Zone

Of course, permitted concealed handguns do not exist any place in Illinois given that this is one of two states that completely ban them any place. Yet, the ban doesn't seem to have stopped this attack:
TINLEY PARK, Ill. — A gunman fatally shot five women in a robbery at a store in a suburban Chicago strip mall and fled Saturday, prompting police to sweep through neighboring shops as terrified customers watched. . . .



Police say that "Good Guys Won"

Stories about how this break-in in Las Vegas, NV was stopped can be found here (February 2nd:

A man was shot after he broke into an east Las Vegas home and attempted to rob the people inside Thursday night, Las Vegas police said.

The man, whose name was not released, was taken to a hospital and remained there Friday, police said.

He and another suspect entered a home on the 2100 block of Casa Ladera Street, near Lake Mead and Nellis boulevards, about 9 p.m. Thursday. During the attempted robbery, a struggle broke out among the victims and the two suspects, police said, and one of the suspects was shot.

The victims "were at a barbecue, and people broke in and it went to hell, but it looks like the good guys won," said Las Vegas police Lt. Mitch Bradshaw, who oversees the department's sexual assault unit. . . .

Thanks very much to L. J. O'Neale for sending me this link.


Another Review of Freedomnomics

Brian Shelly has a review of Freedomnomics here:

However, I read Freedomnomics by Economist Dr. John Lott. This book was a pretty easy read and I found some of the information jaw dropping. His specialty is crime and punishment and Chapter 4, which focuses on that, just blew me away. It really showed how conventional wisdom is flat out wrong when you look at the data on crime. . . .


Fox's 24 falling to political correctness

The Wall Street Journal reports that political correctness hits "24":

Producers would later experience trouble casting roles, once some of the most desirable in television, because the actors disapproved of the show's depiction of torture. "The fear and wish-fulfillment the show represented after 9/11 ended up boomeranging against us," says the show's head writer, Howard Gordon. "We were suddenly facing a blowback from current events."

Last spring, Fox executives asked producers to come up with a plan for what to do with their onetime crown jewel. The producers decided to take the radical -- and rarely attempted -- step of reinventing the show. While some fans complained "24" had grown too formulaic, the producers also grudgingly saw the importance of wrestling the show from its ties to an unpopular conflict. . . .

If you look at the viewing data provided in the article, it seems very hard for me to discern a fall off in viewership because of opposition to torture. If you look at the last season, there was a drop that was already occurring before the New Yorker piece repersented by the orange dot in the 2006/2007 season (the vertical lines represent viewership). If you click on this link, you can use the interactive features in the WSJ picture.

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What is an all too common reaction to gun ownership

I was pointed to this blog posting by Amanda Nalley, someone who I don't know, but her discussion was interesting because of the reactions that she faced from getting a concealed handgun permit are so similar to what I am sure that many face. It is also clear that there continue to be so many misconceptions about the risks of having guns.

I know owning a gun is dangerous, but so is getting in a car, or sharpening kitchen knives.

What bothers me the most about my choice is talking to non-gun owners.

I keep hearing the same things over and over and over again. They don't want to sound prudish by saying guns are bad but they want to know why you are doing it and have dozens of reasons as to why you shouldn't.

"Why? I mean, I don't mind guns and I don't mind people owning them. My grandfather even owned one. I just don't get it though. What are you trying to accomplish? What about kids? Will they be safe? Why would you ever want to carry one on you? Wouldn't it just incite a situation?"

Most gun owners know there are safety issues in owning a gun. A responsible owner, like a responsible driver, will obey rules and store their guns safely. But there are those who don't obey the rules just like there are drivers who run red lights.

Guns, like cars, are everywhere. They are like the dirty little secret we pretend isn't all around us. And they are one of the few things that EVERYONE has formed an opinion on (other topics would include tipping and abortion).

The four gun classes that were held this weekend were some of the largest in the state. And the variety of people there was awe inspiring. . . .

The problem of course is that these safety rules come at a real cost for people's safety. Locking up guns make it much harder for people to use guns defensively.

In 2004, there were 649 accidental gun deaths, 76 of those deaths involved women. I just did a really quick search on this.

Unintentional poisoning 20,950, women 7,016
Unintentional Falls 18,807, women 8,951
Suffocation 5,891, women 2,671
Fires 3,322, women 1,368
Unintentional bicycle deaths 843, women 111
Unintentional Motor Vehicles 44,933, women 14,096
Drowning 3,308, women 714



Talks in California this next Week

The beginning of this next week will be busy with several talks in California. The two big talks are the Commonwealth Club at the Menlo Park City Council Chambers – 701 Laurel Street – Menlo Park on Wednesday, February 6th and the Conservative Forum on Tuesday, February 5th. You can find more on the Conservative Forum here.

As part of all this, I will also be doing an interview on KSFO at 6 PM (PDT) on Monday.

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Democrats in Washington Proposing More Gun Control: Gun Show Regulations

The Virginia Tech Shooting is being used to push for a gun control law that no one is arguing would have had to do anything with the shooting. I guess this passes for rigorous reasoning:

This week, two Senate Democrats introduced legislation to close that loophole in federal law, despite a recent failure in Virginia -- where a gunman killed 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech in April -- to change a similar state law.

Accompanied by family members of some of the Virginia Tech victims, along with gun-control advocate Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Democratic Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Jack Reed of Rhode Island unveiled their proposal at a news conference Wednesday. . . .

This time Lautenberg and Reed are using the Virginia Tech shootings to build their case, though gunman Seung-hui Cho bought his guns from a licensed dealer and underwent a background check.

My book, The Bias Against Guns, spends a lot of time in chapter 8. The one impact that I found from these laws is that they reduce gun shows by about 25 percent.


Places where concealed handguns can be carried in Georgia expanded

See this:

Debate continues in the Georgia General Assembly over weapons. But on Thursday the House voted 111-58 to allow Georgians with concealed gun permits to carry their weapon at bus stops, other transportation facilities, houses of worship and restaurants. According to the Telegraph, the House vote expands a move by the Senate allowing people holding permits to carry guns at public parks & restaurants without alcohol licenses.

More on what is happening in Georgia regarding gun free zones can be found here.

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Hillary versus Obama on Delegates

I was looking at the delegate totals for the Democrats and while Hillary is ahead in total delegates, her lead is entirely driven by Super Delegates. Among delegates won in the primaries and caucuses, Hillary won 48 and Obama 63. The thing with these super delegates is that they can change their minds. If we had the less compressed schedule for primaries that we had in 2004 or 2000, Obama would easily win. I don't know whether he will have enough steam by Tuesday.

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