All Postings from March 2004

Academics looking for handouts

Today I received a mailing from the American Academy of Political and Social Science notifying me of a presentation by Professor Larry Sherman and Wesley Skogan on April 19 at the National Press Club. The title of their presenation is: "How Bush's 2005 budget for the national Institute of Justice Fails to Serve and Protect." As someone who has put together the largest crime data sets that I know of on crime and has never applied for government research grants, it amazes me how much these other academics cry about not getting more government money.

Victim who uses gun to defend himself against car hijacker goes to jail

A Pennsylvania man visiting New Jersey used his gun to protect himself against a car hijacker. The police arrested the victim because he had hollow point bullets, which are illegal in New Jersey.

Blagojevich vetoing bill allowing retired police officers and former military police officers to carry concealed weapons

It just shows you how much some Democrats dislike guns. They don't even want retired police, who have served for 10 years and gone through a police training facility, to carry concealed handguns. (That is right, retired police with 10 years experience and extensive training.) How come Gov. Blagojevich doesn't even trust police with guns?

Illinois allowing retired police officers and former military police officers to carry concealed weapons?

I guess it tell you a lot when an article about allowing retired police officers and former military police officers to carry concealed weapons is entitled "Gun curbs suffer setbacks." It is very difficult for me to understand why gun controllers have such a hard time trusting retired or off-duty police to carry guns. I have debated Gov. Rod Blagojevich before and I am sure that it must pain him greatly to sign this legislation, but with overwhelming support in the legislature, I am not sure what other options he really has.

Over two-thirds of Kansas state senate votes for Right-to-Carry Law

By a 28-12 vote the Kansas state senate passes a right-to-carry bill. The vote was a bit of a surprise because it wasn't expected to get more than 24 votes in the senate. The legislation heads back to the state house which earlier passed a somewhat different bill by a 78-45 vote. The Democratic governor is likely to veto the bill. The question is whether the house can pick up six votes to get a veto proof majority. Three states that had previously banned carrying concealed handguns have voted on legislation this year. In Ohio, over two-thirds majorities passed it. In Wisconsin, there was over a two-thirds majority in one house and they were just one vote short of two-thirds in the other. Now Kansas is passing the bill with overwhelming majorities. It tells you something when even the diehard last holdouts against concealed carry are passing the law with such huge majorities. It will be interesting to see if the state house can pick up the necessary votes to get a veto proof margin. If so, only three states will completely ban being able to carry a concealed handgun. In any case, the Democratic governor is fairly unpopular and opponents might believe that if they accept the law now, it will prevent an even more liberal law from being enacted later.

A note on laser pointers in Australia

The range of banned weapons in Australia is truly amazing. Some things such as all the various types of whips can generally be put down to historical reasons, but others such as laser pointers are very difficult to explain. Laser pointers in the US usually have power outputs between 1mW to 5mW, while in Victoria, for instance, nothing above 1mW is legal. Even up to the 5mW level, eye damage may only occur "if viewed for a long time though an optical device (i.e., binoculars)." Laser pointers that are most commonly used in other countries, that pose no real risk to people, are banned in Australia.

Victoria's list of weapons can be found here, while the US rules and health risks are described here.

British crime continues soaring after gun ban

The question seems simple enough: "A POLICE chief was being asked today why gun crime has doubled although hand-guns have been banned."

Newspapers publishing names of CCW permit holders

Alphecca's website alerted me to an interesting, though long, discussion by Publicola on a string of newspapers around the country from Ohio to Indiana to Colorado that have started talking about publishing the names of permit holders. I agree with the arguments about why permit holders names shouldn't be published, but the interesting thing to me is the fact that this is even occurring now and the hurt feelings that this debate has engendered.

Just in case there were an doubts that Daschle tried to play it both ways on the partial immunity for gun makers bill that was killed earlier this month

Daschle voted for the poisson pill amendments while claiming to vote for the bill. But the bill could still have saved if Daschle had made commitments on assigning conferees.

Mr. Craig . . . downplayed the significance of the letter in his decision to kill the bill. He said the lack of commitment from Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, to assign conferees and the fact that the House leadership has said it would not send a bill muddled with amendments to the president were his reasons.

At least some gun stores in Missouri report 10 to 15 percent increase in sales after RTC law

Enactment of Missouri's right-to-carry law has noticeably increased sales of handgun. Not that this is particularly surprising, but at least one academic has claimed that there is no increase in gun sales after these laws (at least no increase as measured by magazine sales).

What the VPC has to say now on the Semi-automatic gun ban

My latest National Review Online piece is up and it discusses the backtracking of the VPC on the semi-automatic gun ban. It is a pretty amazing set of statements.

New York City Going to Prosecute Another Person Using a Gun Defensively

The New York Post notes a store clerk who used an unregistered gun to stop a robbery is facing weapons charges. Possibly people wouldn't have unregistered weapons if it was possible for them to get registered ones in a timely fashion or even at all.

A provincial court judge in Canada finds that people have right to self defense

Canadian provincial court Judge Don Demetrick ruled that:

"Similarly, in the concrete jungles of urban Canada, ordinary persons sometimes urgently require a firearm for use in lawful self-protection against the lethal attack of two-legged predators such as homicidal rapists or robbers, and of those mentally ill persons who on rare occasion engage in mass homicide for no rational reason," he wrote. "Decent but defenceless urbanites die annually in Canada as innocent victims of criminal or mentally deranged violence in circumstances where their timely and lawful use of a firearm could have prevented or reduced the tragedy."

While I have no problem with the logic or that the government would have to meet a very high burden to prevent someone from being able to defend themselves (a burden that the government is never required to meet in terms of proof), this is a pretty amazing decision for Canada. It would be a pretty amazing decision for an American judge. I would have to believe that the decision will be overturned.

Scotland: Man Who Killed Armed Intruder Jailed Eight Years

Scotland does not seem to have caught up with the Canadian judge on the right to self defense.

Fox News nails Richard Clarke

Clarke Praises Bush Team in August '02. This is in addition to Clarke's resignation letter where he praises Bush and his war on terrorism.

Banning Swords. Laser Pointers, and Other Weapons in Australia: Are Australians really that different?

The Australian has my latest op-ed discussing all the different weapons banned in the country.

AUSTRALIANS are a dangerous lot. Weapons that would hardly cause a second thought in the hands of a citizen in another country generate concern when held by an Australian.

More seriously, the op-ed has some of the latest numbers on the increases in violent crime since the 1996 gun regulations went into affect.

So much for the claim about radio being so right wing

NPR is replace Bob Edwards as host of Morning Edition after almost 25 years. What I found interesting is this:

"Morning Edition" is second only to Rush Limbaugh's syndicated program as the most-listened to national radio show.

More on Concealed Handgun that May Have Saved A Woman's Life in Michigan

The Daily Oakland Press has a good sized article on a woman (a married mother of two) who protected herself with a concealed handgun. Of interest, is a statement from the local Police Chief.

Farmington Hills (Michigan) Police Chief William Dwyer, who dreaded a change in the law in 2001 to make it easier to receive a concealed weapons permit, admits that he's changing his mind about that law. Dwyer said the woman could easily have been killed after she was targeted by a couple looking for an easy score. . . . Dwyer, who as head of the state's police chief's association opposed the change in state law that made it easier for residents without criminal backgrounds to carry guns

London murder rate has doubled in 12 months

"The murder rate in London has doubled in 12 months to reach one of its highest levels ever." So much for the handgun ban stopping gangs from getting handguns to protect their drug turf.

Should Convicted Felons Have A Vote? Most Don't interviewed me recently about whether felons should be able to vote. The quotes have some problems. Here is what I think that I said:

"It is easy to understand the view that people who have committed violent crimes �� rape, murder, aggravated assault �� do not have [society's best interests in mind]," said Dr. John Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "Many object to have those kinds of people determining public policy that affects the lives of other citizens."

Society imposes a long list of collateral penalties on criminals from lost business or professional licenses to inability to hold certain union jobs to lost retirement funds to even restrictions on owning a gun. It is interesting that there is so much focus on just removing this one particular penalty after the 2000 election, especially after it is clear that 70 to 80 percent of ex-felons tend to vote Democratic. I am sure that Martha Stewart probably wishes some of the other collateral penalties were removed to.

The MTV producer was at a debate I did sponsored by the Fortune Society in New York. The panel was about 6-to-1 on the otherside, but Ellis Henican still did a good job as moderator.

Debate in the Detroit News regarding the jobs picture between myself and some at the Economic Policy Institute

Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute claims that the Bush Administration is playing fast and lost with statistics by wanting to use the Household Survey to determine employment when the establishment survey is the more accurate one. I wish that she had explained why the establishment survey is so much more accurate rather than simply asserting it. She merely notes that "The administration�s supporters counter that the payroll survey doesn�t include growth in entrepreneurship and doesn�t fully capture employment in new firms," but there is no discussion why this argument is wrong. My piece tries to explain the differences between the surveys beyond simply the number of people surveyed. If I had known what she would have written, I would have responded to her claim that "The claim that employment is at a record high is cherry-picking at its most blatant . . . . Yes, the number of working people has grown, but population has grown faster." I am not sure how this shows that the claim that employment is at a record high is "cherry-picking." She seems to actually be conceding that the claim of record employment is correct. It would have been nice if there were some discussion about changing trends (e.g., more women are staying home to raise children, etc.), without Ms. Gould simply claiming that even more jobs should have been created.

Woman Stops Robbery With Own Permitted Concealed Handgun (Michigan)

Woman successfully defends herself from the attack of two men. The woman had a concealed handgun permit. Not surprisingly, the story is amazingly short. Imagine what the story would have been like if she hadn't been able to defend herself.

Some interesting information on who gets concealed carry permits in Indiana

311,000 people have permits to carry concealed handguns in Indiana. (By the way, to get ready for my testimony in Maryland I recently looked up some other numbers for states next to Maryland and found that there were 602,000 permit holders in Pennsylvania last year and there are currently 111,000 in Virginia. There are thus currently over a million active permits in just those three states.)

Among those you might recognize on the public list of permit holders are:

* The Rev. Ternae Jordan Sr., pastor of Greater Progressive Baptist Church and founder of Stop the Violence, an organization devoted to reducing youth violence.

* Dick Freeland, the millionaire owner of a chain of Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants that covers much of northern Indiana.

* Tracy Warner, editor of The Journal-Gazette's editorial page, which has traditionally supported calls for tighter controls on guns and opposed making it easier to carry the weapons.

among the local names recognizable are those of teachers, lawyers, school bus drivers, politicians, real estate developers, builders, nightclub owners, bartenders, tailors, attorneys and a radio talk-show host.

. . .

The average Allen County resident with a gun permit -- who may not actually carry a gun -- is a middle-aged white male between 41 and 50. He's short -- 5 feet to 5 feet, 6 inches -- and overweight -- 190 pounds to 200 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes, and lives in the 46809 ZIP code on the city's southwest corner.

"The Bias Against Guns" is a finalist for Laissez Faire Books' Book of the Year

Thanks to those who voted for my book, though, as I noted in my 3/10 post, there were many deserving books such as Rick Stroup's book. I appreciate some websites, such as, noting the link on their websites, and I assume that some of their viewers voted for my book.

UPDATE: Congratulations to James Bovard for winning this award.

An Amazing Day in Maryland

Something like 16 gun bills were up before the Maryland State House Judiciary Committee today, and I was asked by a couple of the delegates to testify before the committee. Testifying was fun as usual, but the amazing thing about the day was what happened on the assault weapons bill. The proponents brought out the heavy hitters (e.g., Sarah Brady) and were painting a terrible picture about what the world would be like when the federal ban expires in September. Yet, with the Faternal Order of Police and the State Police coming out very strongly against the bill, it was obviously dead. The Republican legislators also just carved up the pro-ban witnesses with their questions. The fact that the pro-ban witnesses would claim that "Justice Department" data showed how frequently "assault weapons" were used to kill police when they were relying on very loosely done research by the Violence Policy Center was to put it mildly pretty damaging to the pro-ban side. The whole day was just amazing and made me think that the gun debate may really have changed in some fundamental way.

Even the Violence Policy Center does not claim that the 1994 federal Semi-automatic gun reduced crime

In an interview this last Thursday on NPR, Tom Diaz from the Violence Policy Center claimed that:

"If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another in terms of our objective, which is reducing death and injury and getting a particularly lethal class of firearms off the streets. So if it doesn't pass, it doesn't pass."

The reporter even summarizes Diaz as claiming that:

"Diaz says that's all the law brought about, minor changes in appearance that didn't alter the function of these weapons."

My own reading of this is that they don't think that it will pass so that they are trying to tone down their rhetoric (possibly my own recent op-eds predicting how not extending the ban would harm gun control groups' credibility with all the extreme predictions they have been making have had some effect).

Not surprisingly, after saying that the semi-automatic gun ban dealt with cosmetic features, Diaz then focuses on the real harm as coming from the guns being semi-automatic and seems to suggest that semi-automatic guns ought to be banned.

ABRAMSON: Automatic weapons may be against the law in the United States, but in the hands of an experienced shooter, this semi-automatic rifle comes pretty close. That's why Diaz thinks a new, improved assault weapons ban should focus on function instead of form. But back in his car on the way home, Diaz also acknowledges that this country will never really restrict the use of all semi-automatic weapons.

By the way, in typical NPR fashion, they interview two different gun control organizations (giving them the first and last comments) and place a gun dealer to comment on the other side.

Talk about giving terrorists the wrong incentives

The fact that the terrorist attack in Spain altered the election outcome there only increases the odds that terrorists will attack right before the election in the US in November.

Gun locks: Helping criminals, not children

Correct piece in The Union Leader (Manchester NH) on the risks of gun lock laws. An additional point that I would add is that these laws make it so people don't think of using guns defensively. Without the benefit of using guns defensively, I think that helps motivate passage of additional gun control in the future.

First Defensive Gun use Reported in St. Louis After RIght-to-Carry Law Goes into Effect

Just as soon as Missouri's right-to-carry law has gone into effect the St. Louis Post is already reporting a defensive gun use. The headline says it all: "Man repels 3 robbers by firing hidden pistol." (Thanks to Matthew Peters and Bob Ferguson for sending me this link.)

Martha Stewart's case shows what is wrong with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

My newest op-ed at Investors' Business Daily is out today. The point is that the guidelines actually accomplish the opposite of what they are supposed to do -- equalize penalties for two criminals who commit the same crime.

I am not so sure how carefully a reader read my op-ed, but here is a critical letter published by IBD in response.

Senator Kerry threatens to attack Bush Nominee for something that Kerry's family does

The Bush administration from nominating Anthony F. Raimondo to a position in the Commerce Department because the Kerry campaign threatened to make an issue of the fact that Raimondo's company opened up a factory in China employing 180 workers. The irony here is amazing because Kerry's family owns a major protion of the stock in H.J. Heinz & Co., which apparently operates 57 factories overseas. I strongly support companies being able to open up factories in other countries, but this is a question of hypocracy.

Laissez Faire Books has vote for best book of the year

Laissez Faire Books has seventeen books on everything from vouchers to environmentalism to guns that people can vote on for their best book award. I thought that Richard Stroup's book on environmentalism was a particularly strong book, but there are other strong entries.

Democrats won't let the myth of the stolen election die down

It might help motivate the Democratic troops, but I worry how these claims will poison the entire political debate in the future. These claims are undoubtedly part of what is behind the filibuster of judges.

The Washington Post Finally Concedes What Really Happened at the Appalachian Law School Attack

This last Saturday's Washington Post:

Odighizuwa accepted responsibility for the shootings that began after school officials told him that he was failing out of the program. On Jan. 16, 2002, he took a .380-caliber pistol to the offices of Dean L. Anthony Sutin and Prof. Thomas Blackwell and killed them before opening fire on a crowd, killing student Angela Dales, 33, and wounding three others. Odighizuwa was subdued without incident by armed students.

Two major additional pieces of evidence have come out since the story first was written on by the Post. 1) Mikael Gross, one of the two students who had their guns, was used by the prosecutors as a witness during the preliminary hearing. 2) Odighizuwa had to make a public statement about the events and describe exactly what happened in making a plea bargain. For a summary of past discussions on the Appalachian Law School Attack see my earlier posts.

Do Gun Control Activists Pad Gun Death Statistics? has a somewhat different take on a point that I have been making for sometime. Wendy McElroy argues that the Million Mom March (now part of the Brady Campaign) claims that gun death rates for children are about 17 times higher than they really are.

For those interested in the text of the different gun control amendments voted on by the Senate yesterday and last week and how their Senators voted, here is a useful link.

Gearing up for the Senate Votes Today

Tuesday is shaping up as the most significant day for congressional votes on gun control in at least the last five years. An op-ed in today's Washington Times makes the case one last time for why the assault weapons ban should be allowed to expire (the piece also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer).

Semi-automatic weapons ban and gun show regulations narrowly approved, amendment to let off-duty police carry guns when they travel around the country passes overwhelmingly, but overall bill dies.

As the news headlines say, "Senate Democrats Score Wins on Gun Bill" (headline changed later in day). Instead of sending the debate to the conference committee with the House, the NRA decided to pull the plug on the whole legislation rather than try to strip the "poison pill" amendments in conference. It appears that the Democrats would have kept the bill bottled up in conference as long as possible simply to keep the issue alive. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out for someone such as Tom Daschle, who says he supported reining in the lawsuits but at the same time voted for all the new regulatory amendments that eventually killed it.

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Appalachian law school attack

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The Merced Pitchfork Killings and Vin Suprynowicz's quote

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Craig Newmark

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William Sjostrom

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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