All Postings from January 2004

Political Correctness Wins out over Common Sense

I suppose that it had to happen, but once it became public the New York Times had to rescind the permission that it gave its reporters to carry guns in a war zone. The reports will be accompanied by armed guards, but what can be the reason for not also allowing reporters to carry guns? Anyway, there was an interesting note in the piece about how a security guard with a gun saved the life of reporters this week.

Earlier this week in Iraq, two CNN employees died from gunshot wounds when their vehicle was ambushed. A third employee in another vehicle was injured. A security adviser traveling with the convoy was credited for saving the lives of the other journalists and employees.

The Americanization of British Robbery Rates? The Brits could only wish

The Economist has published a letter of mine commenting on their piece on armed robbery. It is particularly useful to see their figure on armed robbery rates over the last decade and see how these rates clearly went up after the 1997 law banning handguns. Clearly banning handguns haven't reduced armed robberies in Britain and if anything the effect has massively gone in the other direction. For a copy of the International Crime Victimization Survey go to here.

Graph from The Economist

Athletes and Guns

My newest op-ed is up on and it examines a lot of the negative news coverage about athletes and guns. Discussions of the piece can be found here, here, and here.

More on the so-called "jobless" recovery, ABC has great program on guns

I debated Gary Burtless from the Brookings Institution about the "jobless" recovery last Friday on CNBC. I wish that we had more time to debate how many jobs have been created, but Burtless agrees that the Establishment survey misses out on jobs created at new companies and self-employed people.

John Stossel's top ten myths lists "Myth No. 3 �� Guns are Bad." A nice dose of realism about accidental gun death rates and the Brady Gun Control Law.

Hannity and Colmes' have more on the Chicago resident who used a gun to defend himself and his family against a criminal. See the 1/23 post for more on this.

Kind of makes you wonder why the Transportation Security Administration stopped releasing test results on how many weapons could be smuggled on planes as soon as the government took over screening reports how "A woman passed through security screening at New York's LaGuardia Airport with a stun gun and knife in her purse."

A case that might provide an excellent constitutional challenge to gun control regulations, also a good web site analyzing Bowling for Columbine

Hale DeMar of Wilmette, Illinois used a gun to stop a criminal from breaking into his house. His children and wife were at home when the criminal broke into their house. Apparently three days after Christmas the same criminal had broken into the home so Mr. DeMar had some idea how long it would take for the police to arrive. The next night the criminal broke in again. Mr. DeMar had his gun registered with the state and kept in locked in a safe and stored it unloaded (as mandated by Illinois law). The problem wasn't that he used the gun improperly, the police say that he acted entirely properly. The problem was that handguns are banned in the city he lives in. Mr. DeMar published a discussion of the events yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

For those interested, one of the better web sites that analyzes Bowling for Columbine can be found here.

Two New Interesting Pieces of Research on Guns

Eric Helland and Alex Taborrak's paper in Advances in Economic Policy and Analysis uses a "placebo law" approach to test the impact of right-to-carry laws on crime rates. Unlike the clustering approach, the placebo approach can also solve autocorrelation problems and Helland and Tabarrok find that murder, rape and robbery rate trends fall consistently after right-to-carry laws are adopted. Examining county level crime data for the U.S. from 1977 to 1997 they find that:

even with the revised standard errors the trend model indicates that shall-issue laws cause a large and significant drop in the murder trend rate."

Another paper by Carl Moody and Thomas Marvell that is now up on the SSRN web site also deserves mention. They argue that Mark Duggan's paper entitled More Guns, More Crime and Ludwig and Cook's paper entitled Guns and Burglary have completely failed to test the hypotheses that they claim to have tested. Previous comments have noted that Duggan only used the fourth largest gun magazine sales as a proxy for gun sales in a county and that the other gun magazines produced the opposite results or at least no relationship, but Moody and Marvell make a more damaging claim: a proxy variable is only useful in determining the direction of the effect and not its size. The problem that this creates for the Duggan and Ludwig and Cook papers is that they need to know the size of the effects to disentangle two opposing effects that are occurring at the same time. For example, crime and increase the demand for guns or guns might increase crime. Personally I don't think that either of their proxies are very useful, but, even accepting that, their proxy doesn't not allow them to reach their conclusion that guns increase crime. Overall, the Moody and Marvell piece is pretty devastating.

I think that anyone interested in the research on guns and crime would benefit from looking at both papers.

Jeff Soyer's Weekly Check on the Bias

For those who haven't seen it, Jeff Soyer's Weekly Check on the Bias regularly surveys how the news media covers guns every week. The report gets posted every Monday on his web site. It is definitely worth a look.

Why are so few pilots armed? Holding the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) responsible

Two articles on provide extensive discussions on all the obsticles that the TSA puts in the way of pilots getting a license to carry a gun as well as the rules on how pilots can use it.

A "Jobless Recovery"? Hardly

My piece explaining why unemployment rates keep falling even though employment doesn't seem to be rising much is up on The answer? Hint: the numbers for the unemployment rate and the total number employed have been obtained from two different sources.

A BBC Poll Shows that Most British Want a Law authorizing homeowners to use any means to defend their home from intruders

Professor Eric Rasmusen has an extensive discussion of the BBC poll as well as the fallout on his website. The poll has placed a Labor MP in a rather awkward spot. The Labor MP promised to introduce and support whatever proposed law received the most votes, but now finds himself supporting a bill "he predicts would be the mass slaughter of 16-year-olds with pump-action shotguns." At least a lot of the British public seems to understand the idea of deterrence. (One should note that this was not a "scientific" poll.)

Ohio becomes the 37th state to pass a right-to-carry law

With Governor Taft signing the concealed handgun law yesterday, only four states and the District of Columbia now ban citizens carrying concealed handguns (Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, and Nebraska). The Ohio law goes into affect on April 9th and it could be as long as 60 days after that before the first permits are issued. There is a good chance that Wisconsin's legislature will override their governor's veto next week, and later this year there will be a tough fight in Kansas with a possible override there. (As an interesting aside, DC actually has a may issue concealed handgun law on the books, but the problem is that a later law bans being able to own one.)

Did John Kennedy lose the popular presidential vote in 1960?

Given all the continuing anger directed towards George Bush by Democrats, it is interesting to note that John Kennedy probably lost the popular vote to Richard Nixon in 1960. At least the discussion provides some perspective.

With these new totals for Alabama factored in with the vote counts for the other 49 states, Nixon has a 58,181-vote plurality, edging out Kennedy 34,108,157 votes to 34,049,976. Using that calculation the 1960 election was even closer than we thought.

Where are the armed pilots?

My new op-ed in the New York Post examines the slow pace at which pilots are being put on planes.

Why People Fear Guns

My new piece on is up. It examines a lot of defensive gun use stories during December that haven't gotten much attention.

Armed Sky Marshals Are Good, But Armed Pilots Are Better

The difference between Europe and the U.S. can be seen pretty sharply in how they respond to guns on planes. Many Europeans have a hard time accepting even armed sky marshals while Americans give overwhelming support for armed pilots in addition to marshals. My latest piece in the Wall Street Journal Europe is up and looks at the debate.

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

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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