All Postings from February 2004

2/29/04
Debate on Reining in Lawsuits Against Gun Makers

On Friday I had a twenty minute debate on CNNfn with a representative of the Brady Campaign (formerly Handgun Control). It was a pretty lively debate, but it just amazes me how the gun control people constantly claim that the bill would prevent all civil lawsuits even when a gun maker or retailer knowingly sold a gun to someone who was going to use it in a crime. It was amusing to see the reaction of the hosts when I noted that even Charlie Rangel, a liberal Democratic congressman from New York City, had voted in favor of the lawsuit restrictions.

2/28/04
Violence in the movies

I think that Dennis Miller has a point when he discusses the political bias by movie reviewers against Mel Gibson's new movie "The Passion. Contrast Miller's statement with what seems to be a fairly typical movie review.

"Why is it that when Quentin Tarantino or somebody drenches the screen in one bloody, up close, slow motion scene after another in order to shock people in a fictional work done solely for profit, critics like you [David Denby, New Yorker film critic] call it breakthrough, edgy filmaking. But when a true believer shows an historical act that was bloody and awful beyond anything we can imagine today as part of a story done as an act of faith, you call it gratuitous, sado-masochistic erotica violence that shows Mel Gibson must have repressed psycho sexual tendencies?" -- Dennis Miller, February 27, 2004, CNBC, Dennis Miller

"Mel Gibson has a history of doing films full of gratuitous violence. I mean, films like "Road Warrior," "Lethal Weapon" and "Braveheart" show that's about all the guy has on his mind." -- Tom O'Neill, IN TOUCH WEEKLY critic, February 28, 2004,Fox News Channel: Cavuto on Business

Similar reviews to O'Neill's can be found in places such as the New York Times (e.g., "By rubbing our faces in the grisly reality of Jesus' death" and "sadomasochistic"). I don't seem to remember these types of complaints about violence by liberal commentators about previous Gibson movies.

2/26/04
Important votes on gun control coming up in the Senate

My new piece at Foxnews.com looks at the votes coming up on Thursday and Friday on extending the ban on some semi-automatic guns and imposing new regulations on guns shows.

The stakes for this [gun ban amendment] represent much more than a legislative battle for gun control advocates. Defeat would put their very credibility at risk if it becomes obvious a year from now that their horror stories have not come true.

2/19/04
The unforseen consequences of judicial decisions, more on the Wilmette case

It is quite a long shot, but the Wilmette man who used a gun to defend himself and his family against a criminal has tried to invoke two surprising Supreme Court cases in his defense against his city's handgun ban. Recent decisions by the Court regarding people's right to privacy with respect to sodomy are being referenced to provide him a right to privacy in owning a gun in his home. Somehow I think that the courts will decide that a right to privacy applies to sodomy (even though it is never mentioned in the constitution) but doesn't apply to owning a gun (even though it is mentioned). This is not saying what laws should or should not be, but simply saying that the courts are fairly selective in figuring out what they think should be the law.

2/17/04
Rep. Charles Rangel (Democrat, NY) still "can't forget Florida"

Rep. Charles Rangel on NBC's Meet the Press this past Sunday showed how the Florida vote will continue to be an issue in the coming campaign:

MR. RUSSERT: You say you can't forget Florida.

REP. RANGEL: I can't forget Florida. I really can't forget Florida. It took a long time for my people to get the right to vote. And once they got it, they did it the way that they should have. We won the popular vote. And then all of a sudden, the Supreme Court comes in and says, "We got enough votes for Bush. Stop counting." And that's what happened.

For my take on this please see this.

2/16/04
An Unintended Consequence of Gun Control Laws

An Associated Press story from Idaho claims that "Prosecutors say Federal Gun Law Backfires in Domestic Violence Cases."

To keep their guns, people accused of domestic violence plead guilty to disturbing the peace. In return for the guilty plea, prosecutors can force abusers into treatment. Prosecutors make the deals because domestic violence cases are often tough to win at trial, Spickler said. If a flat-out dismissal is the only other option, the deal looks better than nothing. . . . "If defendants and defense attorneys are well-versed in the federal legislation, then they will be very slow to plead guilty," [a retired judge] said. "The end result is that it (the gun ban) is providing the opposite result as far as the law is concerned."

2/15/04
Waiting for gun permit can be deadly, also Anonymous posters revealed

There is a move in New Hampshire to adopt Vermont style concealed handgun rules, namely to not require law-abiding citizens to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun. A piece in the major New Hampshire Sunday paper offers the case for getting rid of the regulations. It seems strange that the police can credibly claim that this change will endanger them since neighboring Vermont does not seem to have the problems that they fear. As always, it is the criminals who wouldn't get a permit to begin with who represent the real danger to police. Incidentally, New Hampshire also has its share of political correctness. An eight year old boy was suspended for 10-DAYS for bringing a toy gun to school.

In other developments, the NY Times has a rather sympathetic discussion of authors who anonomously post reviews of their own books on Amazon.com. Apparently a glitch at Amazon.com resulted in the names of anonymous reviews being posted this last week on Amazon's web site. Some people were apparently able to confirm (or more likely not confirm) their suspicions on who writes all those positive or negative negative book reviews. Some very well known authors, such as John Rechy, were identified as writing reviews of their own books. If a conservative had done this, one can only imagine how much the NY Times would have loved to have identified them. Recently others such as Mark Moskowitz, an independent filmmaker, have been found to have solicited up to 3,000 friends to write a favorable review of a movie that he has coming out on DVD.

2/14/04
Costs Overruns of Canadian Gun Registry are closer to $2 billion, not the $1 billion originally thought

The Canadian gun registry was originally supposed to cost $2 million. There was a lot of anger when it looked like the costs were to come in at $1 billion by 2005. (Yes, the "million" and "billion" are correct.) Well, it turns out that $1 billion estimate did not include a lot of costs and the total over run is nearer to $2 billion. Of course, these are just the costs borne by the Canadian Federal government and this ignores all the costs imposed upon provincial and local governments. I am not even sure that this includes the separate Federal costs used to run the system in Quebec. Not too surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be any crimes that were solved by this costly system. See also this discussion the paragraph discussing the Canadian system here. One can only get depressed wondering about how many police Canadians could have hired with $2 billion and how many crimes these officers could have solved.

2/13/04
More discussions of The Bias Against Guns

More recent discussions of my book can be found here and here.

2/7/04
Some charges dropped in Wilmette gun case

The Chicago Tribune reports:

In a slap at Wilmette village officials, Cook County prosecutors today announced they would not pursue charges against a homeowner, who shot and wounded an alleged home intruder, for letting his state firearms registration lapse.

"We choose to prosecute the real criminal here, the person who broke into this house not once, but twice," said Assistant State's Atty. Steve Goebel, supervising prosecutor in the Skokie courthouse.

Other reports indicate that the victim still faces charges of violating the Wilmette gun ban.

Note on another topic: I have received an e-mail asking questions about the different types of defensive behavior discussed in my piece entitled Athletes and Guns. For those interested, I have put up here a discussion that my RA Brian Blase wrote.

2/6/04
"The rhetoric may be toned down, but the aim remains the same."

My latest op-ed (co-authored with Grover Norquist) is up at the Los Angeles Times. The piece is based on a presentation that the policy directors for at the time top five leading Democratic presidential candidates. Four of the candidates were unwilling to say whether they regarded a handgun ban as a reasonable regulation. Discussions of the piece can be found here and here. The op-ed was also run in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

More on the Unemployment Rate Front

The media keeps on down playing the growth in the number of people employed. While the Establishment Survey shows a job growth of only 112,000 (the only number reported by most of the media), the Household Survey shows a growth of 496,000. As I noted previously, there are significant problems with the Establishment Survey.

2/5/04
Transportation Security Administration Rejects Pilots who were Former Police Officers, Firearms Instructors and Military Pilots with the Highest Security Clearances

The Transportation Security Administration gets itself in more trouble. Here is one example of a pilot being rejected for training to carry a gun on a plane:

One pilot, a retired Air Force colonel and fighter wing commander responsible for multimillion-dollar jet fighters, said he was allowed to carry his pistol aboard military aircraft.

"The USAF considered me psychologically sound enough to be directly responsible for nuclear weapons," the pilot wrote. "Yet a TSA psychologist has determined I am unreliable to carry a weapon in my own airliner."

2/4/04
Transportation Security Administration Sends Threatening E-mail to Pilots

The Transportation Security Administration may finally have gotten itself in real trouble. In an attempt to stop the pilots who have been licensed from talking members of congress or the media about their security concerns, the TSA warned that these disclosures "must be referred to TSA Internal Affairs for investigation." The TSA soon sent around another e-mail saying that the first one was a mistake, but it looks like the damage may have already been done. I am not surprised that Secretary Tom Ridge did not know about the threatening e-mails. I had a chance to talk with him last fall and I came away convinced that he really thought that arming the pilots was a good program. The impression that I had was that as Secretary he had a million fires to put out and that it was just a hard job to keep on the bureaucrats in line.

2/3/04
Seniors Pack Heat for Protection

A very brief write up on the Foxnews segment can be found here and an excellent video clip is available under the "Related Video" section to the right of the article. A brief interview with me is shown in the clip.

Right-to-Carry Law in Wisconsin defeated by one vote

After overriding the governor's veto in the state Senate, the state house failed to override the governor's veto by one vote. The surprise was that the one vote who was lost at the last minute was a Democrat who had been one of two house Democrats who had sponsored the right-to-carry bill since it was first introduced in Wisconsin. Apparently he voted to sustain the governor's veto because he has a leadership position in the party and he views it as his obligation to support the party line while he is in the leadership. A rather brief discussion of the whole issue can be found here.

A friend who follows these things closely in Wisconsin told me an interesting story about the vote in the state Senate. Apparently, a couple of Democratic senators had voted for the bill when it first came up, but they were going to flip to uphold the governor's veto. Another Democratic Senator who had voted for the bill was apparently under extreme pressure to also flip and was told that he did not vote to sustain the governor's veto he would lose his committee assignments. This Democratic Senator then went out and told the press about the threat and that we was going to do the right thing no matter what punishment the party imposed upon him. Those statements to the press apparently stopped the other two Democratic Senators from flipping because they were afraid that doing so would make it look like they too had caved into threats from their leadership. (Whether they had also received threats hasn't been discussed in the press so my friend doesn't know, but it all makes for an interesting story.)

2/1/04
Clip of ABC's 20/20 "Myth No. 3: Guns are Bad."

For those who missed John Stossel's program on "Myth No. 3: Guns are Bad" you can see it here. This is a very well done piece. Among other things, Stossel's people called up law enforcement in every right-to-carry state to find out whether they thought that crime had gone up after the right-to-carry laws were passed. Interestingly, not one of the law enforcement agencies in these states that had been contacted believed that crime had significantly increased.

For those who haven't been following the debate to pass right-to-carry in Wisconsin, the state House will vote on whether to override the governor on Tuesday. It was quite a surprise that the state Senate voted to override the governor. If the law passes, Wisconsin will be the seventh state to adopt significant right-to-carry reforms within the past year (this includes Alaska which went from a restrictive right-to-carry law to a Vermont style system). The vote in Wisconsin will be extremely close depending upon just one or two legislators.

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Appalachian law school attack

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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 www.johnlott.org:

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