All Postings from April 2004

Voting machine conspiracy theories

I have a new op-ed in today's San Diego Union-Tribune on all the conspiracy theories about how easy it is to alter the votes with electronic voting machines.

Self defense in New Jersey

Even though "a neighbor who tried to calm Clark moments after the shooting, said Clark thought he saw the suspects point a gun at him," "Prosecutors believe Clark took justice into his own hands and have charged him with murder. He faces the possibility of life in prison, if convicted.'" Thanks to Gus Cotey for alerting me to this story.

Big vote today in NH on concealed handgun law

I have a new op-ed on the move to liberalize New Hampshire's right-to-carry law. New Hampshire already has one of the most liberal right-to-carry laws in the country, but today the state House will vote to see whether the licensing requirements and fees will be removed. While the bill has already passed the state Senate, it has a hard fight in the House.

Detroit Free Press discussion of Michigan's Right-to-Carry Law

The Detroit Free Press has a very sympathetic story of a woman with a permit to carry a concealed handgun who used a gun defensively. The attack occurred in the woman's home, but she apparently still had the gun in her holster.

"Citizens defending themselves are precisely what backers of Michigan's controversial concealed-weapons law had in mind when they worked to pass the legislation in 2001. The law makes it easier for anyone without felony convictions or mental illnesses to obtain a permit to carry concealed weapons. . . . Holland still remembers the words of the man whom she says she never met before he charged her. Using a vulgarity, Hunt said: 'I got you, I got you,' Holland recalled. 'I kept wondering if he was talking to me, but he came running right up at me,' she said. 'It didn't seem real.'"

Democrats tripped up by campaign finance law

Argus Leader has a rather strong article entitled "Daschle telephone campaign broke law." Thune's campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, is quoted as saying: "Their hypocrisy is unbelievable. It's either blatant disregard for the law or incompetence."

Quote of the day: Rush on the threatened attack on Jordan

�If you call killing 20,000 to 80,000 human beings in Jordan 'mass destruction' and if the things that do that are called 'weapons,' then do we not have weapons of mass destruction connected to Iraq via Syria?��

See also Taranto's Best of the Web for a more detailed discussion of this news. This connection between al Qaeda and Iraq is getting surprisingly little news coverage.

Italy Debates Self Defense with Guns

With high crime rates and an election coming up, the question of letting people use guns to stop crime is becoming a central focus of the upcoming election. The country's justice minister, Roberto Castelli, is quoted as saying that the penal code was "unbalanced in favor of the criminal to the detriment of honest people." Polls suggest that he might be on the right side of the debate.

�In a poll released Friday by the weekly newsmagazine Panorama, more than 70 percent of those who responded said current law was unfairly balanced against those trying to protect themselves.��

Debate to Air on Pennsylvania Cable Channel

PCN TV plays a tape of a debate that I had at Duquesne University Law School last week. The program will air at 9 AM on Wednesday morning. I got a lot of nice e-mails after it first aired on Tuesday.

Gun Activists not Excited About Bush discusses the concerns that some voters have with Bush's stands on guns. More points could have been offered than just the semi-automatic gun ban and the Patriot Act (though in the later case it is not really clear to me what the objection is over). Anyway, this is an issue that will cause many not to vote for Bush. This will not be the first time that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Media gradually getting it right on semi-automatic gun ban points out something that I had also noticed this year. A number of news stories are now describing "assault weapons" as "assault-style semiautomatic weapons." I think that this makes a big difference, and my guess is that if the reporting had been more accurate in 1994, the original legislation would never had passed.

Rush on Media Coverage of Columbine Anniversary

�Could somebody explain to me why the media needs to go around and do a Columbine anniversary? I can tell you exactly why: to gin up more anti-gun sentiment out there. I'm not talking about the families, but the media's role.��

Responding to Kerry's "moderation" on guns

National Review Online has a short piece of mine responding to the Kerry campaign's claims this weekend about the Second Amendment and guns.

PETA asks the NRA for help?

I just heard this on WMAL radio in DC. Concerned that clubbing baby seals to death in Canada is cruel, PETA has supposedly asked for help from the NRA to shoot the seals. It is hard to believe that any such arrangement would last very long.

Slightly related update: Not surprisingly the day after PETA asks for "help" from the NRA, other animal rights groups were found to be giving money to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in an attempt to cancel bear hunting season in Allegany and Garrett counties.

Australian Sword ban being extended to NSW?

Victoria's sword ban is being seriously considered in NSW. This would mean that Australia's two most populous states can't even trust their citizens with swords any longer.

Teresa Heinz Kerry on Guns

Well just in case there were any doubts about where Kerry comes from on guns, you should read a press release that Teresa Heinz's group, the Campaign for Public Safety, put out on April 1st. Among the other statements are: "the disinformation machine of the gun lobby is cranking out its tired old song at full volume. It is a lullaby of death, and we cannot allow our legislators to be hypnotized once again by its lies and half-truths." (I thank Andrew Breitbart for alerting me to this.)

Compare this to the Kerry Campaign's statement this weekend: the senator "is a lifelong hunter, supports the Second Amendment and will defend hunting rights."

Law firm providing free representation to NYC in its suit against gun companies drops out.

Apparently, it has only recently dawned on a major law firm's clients that the precedent created by the suit against the gun makers could be easily applied to themselves. The New York Times has a piece on this today, though the tone of the piece is somewhat one of outrage that this happened. The law firm that withdrew from the case has had major clients such as General Motors, and it is very easy to see why the liability theories established in this case could apply to them. For example, should General Motors be held liable if a speeding motorist causes an accident that results in fatalities?

On Thursday, CSPAN taped a presentation that I made of my book, The Bias Against Guns. It should air in three weeks. We had a representative of a gun control group and another academic critic comment on the book, but I thought overall it was a fun experience.

NRA to Buy Radio Station and Launch News Company

I told you years ago that this would happen. The campaign finance regulations are experiencing a big loophole if independent advocacy groups can be defined as part of the media and thus exempt from campaign finance rules.

In the no good deed goes unpunished department

A 17-year-old honor student was suspended this week from a California school for bringing a plastic air gun to school for use in an anti-drug video. The last paragraph is amazing:

Houchin had testified that he forgot to leave the air gun in his truck, which was parked off campus, and discovered it inside his backpack during a second-period geometry class. A teacher's assistant overheard Houchin discussing his dilemma and she notified campus officials.

The student made an honest mistake and was caught while he was trying to figure out how to solve it.

Alphecca's Weekly Media Bias is up

Jeff Soyer has his weekly recount of how the media is covering guns. This is a good posting to check each week.

Map showing when different states adopted right-to-carry laws

Davy Crockett, a champion of limited government

With the new revisionist history of the Alamo being put out in the new Disney movie, John Fund provides a very niceresponse.

Bar takes down "No Guns" sign after robbery

A St. Paul Minnesota bar takes down its sign prohibiting concealed handguns after a robbery. In fact, the bar goes to the other extreme and now openly welcomes permit holders.

A "Cascade-area man who shot and killed an escaped convict who broke into his home and threatened his wife and him"

A newspaper editorialized "Thank goodness Robert Nylund had a weapon available, the ability to quickly access it and the skill needed to use it under trying circumstances when the stakes couldn't be higher." It seems that this would have been another case where a gun lock could have created tragedy.

Senators say U.S. slow to arm pilots

Appearance tomorrow on NPR's Day to Day

Tomorrow morning I will be on NPR's Day to Day Show sometime after 9 AM to discuss Ohio's new concealed handgun law.

One example why the partial immunity for gun makers should be passed

The Wall Street Journal today has an interesting example of how the court system is being abused to sue gun makers. Judge Weinstein has bent over backwards many times to help assist suits against gun makers. Possibly this time he may have gone too far for too long:

In theory, case assignments are random. But in practice no fewer than 11 gun-litigation cases have been steered to Judge Weinstein. Plaintiffs do this by requesting their case be sent to judges hearing "related" litigation. . . .

The industry has good reason for suspicion. The Second Circuit had previously turned over a key gun case handled by Judge Weinstein to New York's state appeals court, which rejected the claims. While this case was working its way up the appellate ladder, the state had filed a public nuisance lawsuit against the gunmakers. This too was rejected decisively by New York courts.

But Judge Weinstein was not deterred. Last July he rightly threw out the NAACP case on the grounds that the organization had no standing to bring such a case because it had not suffered any special injury. Alas, he did not stop there. He devoted pages of his ruling to findings of "fact" that went way beyond the NAACP's allegations and laid out a road map for how another plaintiff -- hint, hint -- might get around the problem.

That's just what the City of New York did in Beretta. Judge Weinstein now proposes to handle Beretta all by himself by importing the rulings and findings of fact he put down in NAACP. Not only does this prevent the defendants from challenging any of his assertions in NAACP, it puts the judge in the position where he can finally get what he wants without the annoyance of a trial or jury. Surely it says something about his zeal that when he was asked to recuse himself, he refused even the routine process of hearing arguments.

What do Israelis do when terrorism looms?

Israelis with valid gun licenses should carry a weapon with them during the Passover holiday, Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki said Monday.

First it was Ben getting a permit, now its Marc

Jennifer Lopez's new close friend apparently has similar beliefs regarding personal protection to Ben Affleck. Marc Anthony is so concerned about her safety that he carries a gun around with him to protect her.

Voting Rights for Felons?

Today on NPR's The Connection I debated three proponents of the view that convicted felons should be able to vote . It was an amazing hour long debate. Deborah Goldberg, from the Brennan Center for Justice, even pointed to Israel's recent supreme court cases saying that Yitzhak Rabin's murder should be able to vote.

Quote of the day

"We have 60 members in the department of government," said Harvey Mansfield, a well-known Harvard professor. "Maybe three are Republicans. How could that be just by chance? How could that be fair? How could it be that the smartest people are all liberals? Many liberals simply don't care for the kind of work conservatives do."

How Academia Views Gun Owners

Mike S. Adams is a brave academic who admits that he owns guns and is sympathetic to the NRA. Not surprisingly there are at least some criminology professors who have no idea what an "assault rifle" is:

When one colleague learned I was in the N.R.A., he asked why �we�� think that everyone should own an �assault rifle.�� That discussion ended when I asked him to tell me what an �assault rifle�� was. He didn�t know.

Adams' new book, Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel: Confessions of a Conservative College Professor, looks interesting.

New Hampshire legislation to allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit goes forward

April 20th is shaping up as the next key date for whether New Hampshire will adopt a Vermont/Alaska style concealed handgun type regulations. Opponents seem to be focusing on crime rates for one recent year in Vermont when in fact the Vermont style rules have been in effect for over 100 years.

How can anyone oppose letting retired police carry guns?

Amazingly enough, Governor Blagojevich apparently wants the status quo over allowing retired police to carry concealed handgun. My latest op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times takes issue with Blagojevich's reasoning. Objections to allowing retired military police carrying guns is just an attempt to kill the entire bill.

Some more harsh words for the Transportation Security Administration for dragging its feet on arming pilots

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) couldn't have been much blunter: "They'll get the message or they'll lose their money for the program," The senators are threatening to adopt a law that would essentially set up a "shall issue" system for pilots. When a news service asked the TSA to respond to the tough commens, their initial response was to "submit written questions." Here is the response that the TSA eventually offered.

Senator Daschle's radically changing positions on guns and other issues.

When Daschle first ran for the senate in 1986, he ran as a social conservative. For an interesting article on this see the piece in NRO by Jon Lauck. One quote from his piece:

One of Daschle's 1986 newsletters also attempted to neutralize the gun-control issue: "I am against it. No representative of our state has ever supported restrictive Federal gun-control laws written in Washington and there is a very good reason why. What makes sense in New York is crazy in South Dakota."

Despite this claim, Daschle has obtained a 80% pro-control voting record from the Brady Campaign (formerly Handgun Control). The first vote that the Brady Campaign bases its rankings on is from 1991 (during Daschle's first term) and at least by that time, if not earlier, he was already a supporter of national gun control.

4/1/04 violating campaign finance laws?

I realize that Republicans are giving a hard time over using so-called "soft money" to run their television ads, though I think that is a losing strategy legally for the Republicans. George Soros and friends are obviously putting up a lot of money to buy these ads, millions more than they could if they donated money directly to Kerry, but the law and the recent Supreme Court decision seems to allow these advertising expenditures. However, as much as I dislike these new campaign finance laws, I do think that is violating them, but the violation involves the prohibition on so-called electioneering ads (ads that mention a candidate's name) that occur within 30 days of a primary election. The ads are national ads and clearly the Republicans are still having their primaries. To me at least, it seems like a slamdunk case legally and would impose some significant fines on the group.

Richard Miniter destroys Richard Clarke's book

Richard Miniter extensively interviewed Richard Clarke for Miniter's own book, Losing Bin Laden. Miniter's review of Richard Clarke's book is pretty devistating. (Disclosure: Miniter is a friend of mine, and beyond that I think that his book "Losing Bin Laden" is well worth the read.

New Hampshire continues towards Vermont/Alaska type Right-to-Carry Law

The Union Leader recounts recent testimony before the NH state House. The only amazing point is how you can have a state like Vermont right next door (which has not had regulations on concealed carry since 1903) and still have people make horror stories about what might happen.

Home (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

Academic papers:

Social Science Research Network

Book Reviews:

For a list of book reviews on The Bias Against Guns, click here.

List of my Op-eds

Posts by topic

Appalachian law school attack

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

The Merced Pitchfork Killings and Vin Suprynowicz's quote

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Mother Jones article


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's

Interview with National Review Online

Lyonette Louis-Jacques's page on Firearms Regulation Worldwide

The End of Myth: An Interview with Dr. John Lott

Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

An interview with John R. Lott, Jr. author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws

Some data not found at

Updated Media Analysis of Appalachian Law School Attack

Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been added to Nexis:

There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use increase from 2 to 3 now.

Journal of Legal Studies paper on spoiled ballots during the 2000 Presidential Election

Data set from USA Today, STATA 7.0 data set

"Do" File for some of the basic regressions from the paper