All Postings from November 2003

Some undesirable consequences of New York City's gun control laws

In New York City earlier this year there was some news when a retired Air Force officer was arrested and charged for having a gun. The former officer had applied for a NYC permit but hadn't received it yet. One night he found someone who had broken into his house in his young son's bedroom. Apparently in NYC when a criminal is in your child's bedroom the view is that you should call the police and wait for them to arrive. Obviously there are possible trade-offs, but here are a couple more recent interesting stories from NYC:


A pistol-packing, 80-year-old Bronx man was arrested on gun charges after he tried to turn the tables on a mugger who beat him and stole his Social Security money, authorities said yesterday.


A U.S. Marine - in New York for the holiday before an expected deployment to Iraq - spent Thanksgiving in jail after rushing his shot buddy to a hospital in a borrowed SUV that cops say contained semi-automatic pistols.

Missouri Attorney General's reponse to suit claiming that the recently passed concealed handgun law is unconstitutional.

The Missouri constitution states: "That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons." All this seems pretty clear to me. People have a right to own and carry guns openly, but they don't have a right to carry guns concealed. The plaintiffs want to argue that this provision bans carrying concealed handgun laws. The Missouri Attorney General's reponse goes through this wording one word at a time and, at least to me, appears to destroy the plaintiff's claim. Many other states have not only the same or similar wording to the Missouri constitution but also allow concealed handguns. To me the most interesting part of this case is that if the Missouri Supreme Court adopts the Attorney General's conclusions that the clause "but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons" means that the state government can regulate concealed handguns, the implication is that they really can't regulate other aspects of gun ownership. I haven't really seen this point discussed anyplace.

The Hotline tries to straighten out politicians on gun ban issue.

There are few publications that are read as religiously by political staffs in Washington DC as the Hotline. This last week the Hotline had a nice synopsis of the piece that I had on the renewal of the assault weapons ban.

New York Times Op-ed gets the numbers completely wrong on Murder rate in Baghdad

A recent article in the New York Times got some of it's facts completely wrong about murder rates in Iraq. The mistakes were up to around a factor of over fold during October, 12 fold earlier in the year. When asked the op-ed writters provided two sources for their claims. A piece in the NYT that provided the data through August and another more recent piece reporting death bodies in the Baghdad morgue for October. Both pieces make it quite clear that a wide range of deaths other than "murder" were being included in the total. I point this out in a letter to the editor. Not surprisingly, the NYT has apparently decided not to correct this mistake.

On another note, I have two new op-eds out: The 2004 Hunt: Presidential candidates on guns and Cheaper Drugs Are No Cure-All

More discussions on the biased media coverage of the Concealed Carry Permits Fire up Debate Over Workplace Shootings

This very interesting piece examines employers attitudes towards letting concealed handgun permit holders carry guns at work. It starts with an example of how this policy can backfire:

In the crime blotter from Dec. 26, 2000, Louis "Sandy" Javelle's name appeared alongside those of six other victims who had been shot to death by a disgruntled co-worker at Edgewater Technologies, Inc., in Wakefield, Mass.

Javelle distinguished himself that day by trying to delay and disarm the gunman, 42-year-old Michael McDermott, before being killed. But Javelle might have saved his own life and at least four others if the concealed handgun permit he held in New Hampshire had allowed him to carry a weapon on his job in neighboring Massachusetts, according to one of Javelle's friends and numerous firearms policy experts.

"Sandy held both a federal firearms license and a permit to carry a handgun in New Hampshire," according to his friend, David Bergquist. "Ironically, the gun laws in Massachusetts prevented him from carrying a concealed handgun. But these same laws did not prevent Michael McDermott from obtaining illegal firearms."

This is an interesting article and well worth reading.

More discussions on the biased media coverage of the Appalachian Law School Attack

Bernie Goldberg's new book, Arrogance, has a whole chapter that discusses how the media covered the Appalachian Law School attack. Just as I expressed concern about the media coverage in an op-ed piece and later in my book, The Bias Against Guns, a questioner notes that Goldberg comes to the conclusion that "But one of the themes you explore in your new book is that there are some cases, on some issues, where it's really quite hard to conclude that the bias is not deliberate, particularly in the case of guns used for self-defense." Goldberg did his own Nexis search that came to a very similar conclusion to what I obtained and he points to similar Nexis and Westlaw searches that were also done by James Eaves-Johnson. Goldberg notes that despite his concerns about the media, "It just didn't make any sense" that the media could so universally hide the fact that guns were used defensively to stop this attack, but that his Nexis search reached "basically the same conclusion. And I said, 'Nah. You cannot have either a hundred or two hundred papers and only less than five of them reporting that the guys had guns who subdued the gunman. Can't be.'"

There are now three additional searches after the one that I did that get extremely similar results. Goldberg has appeared on everyplace from the Rush Limbaugh radio show on November 7th (a subscription is required to listen to the archived shows) to an interview with Tim Russert on CNBC on November 15th where Goldberg discussed the Appalachian Law School case as an example of media bias. I thought that Goldberg was quite effective in both cases and it is nice to see that the work that I did is receiving this level of attention.

Additional discussions on questions raised about the media coverage of the Appalachian Law School case can be seen on my web site at 9/11/03 and 9/6/03.

Sources for Defensive Gun Uses

For More Guns, Less Crime, The Bias Against Guns, and some of my op-ed pieces I have at least partially relied upon Nexis/Lexis searches to discover defensive gun uses, but that method is very time consuming and it is not available to everyone. Fortunately, there are a few sites that I reference for defensive gun uses. One that provides an excellent search engine for types of cases is provided at, a list of the most recent cases is available at, and some fairly old cases can be found on the NRA site. The search engive at is very powerful, but the references there tend to be at least a few months old. The NRA used to also have a section on more recent cases (and they probably still do someplace), but I haven't been able to find it since they have revamped their website. A new site that I just saw very recently is by Clayton Cramer, though there appears to be a lot of overlap with the web site.

How Much Difference is There Really Between the Democratic and Republican Presidential Candidates on Guns?

My piece in the Washington Times today argues that the differences between Bush and the Democratic Presidential candidates is actually relatively small on guns, with the exception of one important issue. The bottom line though is this: "The fate of more regulations lies in who controls Congress, not the presidency."

Banning Nonexistent Plastic Guns

My piece at Tech Central Station today discusses the extension of the so-called plastic gun ban that is likely to shortly be passed by the Senate.

WSJ data indicates that Rumsfeld was correct

Early this year there was quite a debate about Rumsfeld and myself discussing the relatively low murder rate in Baghdad. My quoting Rumsfeld

"Yet, despite Iraqis owning machine guns and the country still not under control, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pointed out that Baghdad is experiencing fewer murders than Washington, D.C., where handguns are banned"

apparently outraged many people. Well, it turns out that Rumsfeld was correct. The Wall Street Journal reports that the murder rates this year were as follows: July, 92; August, 75; September, 54; and October, 24. As I pointed out,

"Baghdad is a city with a population some 8.5 times greater than Washington. While it might be difficult to keep track of the number of property crimes or robberies these days in Iraq, presumably Rumsfeld knows whether the number of murders is greater or less than 200 a month. It is certainly not clear why Rumsfeld would make the claim that he did if he didn't have this information. As an aside, given that during 2001 Washington had 261 murders, my math is a little different from Rumsfeld's (185=(261/12)*8.5), but the numbers are of a similar order of magnitude and the point is the same."

Only in July does the number of murders in Baghdad even approach half the rate found in Washington, DC.

My discussion on 7/26 also makes related points.

Update: I have been asked about previous questions on this issue. Please note that my previous posts linked to above go into these questions, such as the previous AP story that didn't differentiate war deaths from murders.

The Harm from Gun Locks

My piece at Tech Central Station today notes:

"This week President Bush's program, Project Childsafe, begins distributing 20 million gun locks. Over 712,000 locks will be given out just in New York. It seems like such a reasonable program, who could oppose it? After all, if a gun lock can save a life, it seems a small cost. Unfortunately, despite the obvious feel-good appeal of these rules, gun locks and safe storage laws are more likely to cost lives than to save them."

Democrats are voting with their feet against public financing for campaigns

Democrats may claim that public financing of campaigns helps challengers, but my piece in today's Investors' Business Daily points out that they sure don't act that way.

The rising debate about the Assault Weapons' ban

It is amazing to me how little of the debate over extending the assault weapons ban is based upon facts, either regarding the impact that the regulations have on crime rates or even the types of guns actually covered by the law. Attached is an op-ed that I have on the topic at Tech Central Station today.

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