All Postings from November 2004

Donohue withdraws from Thursday's University of Chicago debate on Guns

Disappointingly John Donohue has at the last minute withdrawn from our scheduled debate on Thursday (see note for 11/29 below). I will still give a talk, though I will instead discuss the changing judicial confirmation process.

UPDATE: No one apparently understands why Donohue really backed out of the debate just a couple of days before the event. The debate had been set up months in advance.

So much for the fear of guns at universities

Without anyone realizing it, guns are brought onto the Utah Valley State College Campus every day. That is because since 1996 a law has been in effect stating that concealed weapons are allowed anywhere in the state of Utah except secure areas such as airports. . . . "I don't see the point of banning weapons on campus," Richard McDonald said, a construction management major at UVSC. "If someone is going to commit a crime, I don't think they are going to change their mind because of the school or state rules." In a study conducted by the U of U alumni association, over 63 percent of students thought guns should be allowed on campus, either because the right to bare arms is protected under the constitution, or because the presence of guns would act as a deterrent to criminal behavior.

Debate on guns at University of Chicago Law School on Friday

The Federalist Society of the University of Chicago Law School presents a debate between John Lott and John Donohue entitled: "Do More Guns Result in Less Crime?" Dr. Lott is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research where he researches crime, antitrust, education, gun control, campaign finance, and voting and legislative behavior. He is the author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Professor Donohue is a professor of law at Yale Law School and the author of many articles, including "Shooting Down the 'More Guns, Less Crime' Hypothesis," 55 Stanford Law Review 1193 (with Ian Ayres) The debate will be moderated by Prof. Bernard Harcourt and will be held at the Law School on Thursday, December 2nd at 12:15pm.

Vote Fraud in Washington State?

In Seattle's King County alone the vote counting so far has featured such anomalies as 10,000 ballots being mysteriously discovered nearly two weeks after Election Day, election officials "enhancing" hundreds of unreadable optical-scan ballots, and a judge allowing political partisans to selectively track down voters who cast questionable provisional ballots to see if they could turn them into valid votes. . . . More than 700 previously uncounted ballots were added to [King] county's total after election officials "enhanced" them to better divine voter intent. When optical scan machines didn't accept ballots, workers would fill in ovals on ballots or create duplicate ballots if they felt the voter had meant to register a choice. Hanging chads, meet empty ovals. Through this process, Ms. Gregoire gained 245 votes in King County, dwarfing the shifts to either candidate in any other county. Such creative counting brought Mr. Rossi's lead down to 42 votes, a critical threshold to justify further recounts and litigation.

Supreme Court lets stand lower court ruling striking down campaign spending limits

Justices, without comment, let stand a lower ruling striking down the city of Albuquerque's spending limits as a violation of free speech rights. The court declined to consider whether a 28-year-old landmark decision barring caps should be reassessed due to skyrocketing campaign costs that critics say promotes corruption.

"Violent hunters are not the rule"

Steve Chapman has a nice op-ed on the risks involved in hunting:

The most conspicuous fact about hunting in America is how safe it is. There are more than 15 million licensed hunters in this country, all armed with weapons that can easily kill a duck, a rabbit, a deer or a human being. All it takes is a split-second misjudgment or lapse of concentration to produce a lasting tragedy. But such tragedies are very much the exception.

Oklahoma law mandates that employees have the right to keep gun locked up in their cars

From Friday's Wall Street Journal:

In late summer of 2002, Steve Bastible put three bullets into a dying cow at his ranch, threw the emptied rifle behind the seat of his pickup and forgot about it.

A few weeks later, the rifle cost him his job of 23 years.

That Oct. 1, in a surprise search, Weyerhaeuser Co. sent gun-sniffing dogs into the parking lot of its paper mill here. Mr. Bastible and 11 other workers were fired after guns were found in their vehicles. The timber company said the weapons violated a new company policy that extended a longtime workplace gun ban to the parking area. The fired workers said they knew nothing of the new rule.

The firings outraged many in this wooded community in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. In rural Oklahoma, carrying a firearm in one's car is commonplace. "In Oklahoma, gun control is when you hit what you shoot at," says Jerry Ellis, a member of the state legislature.

Now, the dispute is reverberating beyond the borders of tiny Valliant, located in the southeast corner of the state. In response, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law giving Oklahomans the right to keep guns locked in their cars in parking lots. But just days before the law was to go into effect this month, several prominent companies with Oklahoma operations, including Whirlpool Corp. and ConocoPhillips sued to stop it. A federal judge put the law on hold pending a hearing.

The cost of deer (or the benefits produced by hunters)

"Last year, hunters killed 7.4 million deer, drivers killed another 1.8 million, but the population of white tail deer still exploded from 29.8 million in 1994 to 32.7 million in 2001. . . . A Utah State University study found that deer vehicle collisions injured about 29,000 drivers and passengers annually and killed an average of 211 people. . . . .estimates that there are 500,000 collisions each year with deer alone, each costing the insurance industry approximately $2,000 per claim or $1 billion annually."

Lancet Survey on Post War Fatalities in Iraq Continues to be heavily Criticized

If the New York Times critiques you (even with caveats) from the right, you know that you are in trouble:

Three weeks ago, The Lancet, the British medical journal, released a research team's findings that 100,000 or more civilians had probably died as a result of the war in Iraq. The study, formulated and conducted by researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University and the College of Medicine at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, involved a complex process of sampling households across Iraq to compare the numbers and causes of deaths before and after the invasion in March 2003.

The 100,000 estimate immediately came under attack. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain questioned the methodology of the study and compared it with an Iraq Health Ministry figure that put civilian fatalities at less than 4,000. Other critics referred to the findings of the Iraq Body Count project, which has constructed a database of war-related civilian deaths from verified news media reports or official sources like hospitals and morgues.

That database recently placed civilian deaths somewhere between 14,429 and 16,579, the range arising largely from uncertainty about whether some victims were civilians or insurgents. But because of its stringent conditions for including deaths in the database, the project has quite explicitly said, ''Our own total is certain to be an underestimate.''

It has refrained from commenting on the 100,000 figure, except for noting that such a number ''is on the scale of the death toll from Hiroshima'' and, if accurate, has ''serious implications.'' Certainly, the Johns Hopkins study is rife with assumptions necessitated by the lack of basic census and mortality data in Iraq. The sampling also required numerous adjustments because of wartime dangers -- and courage in carrying out the interviews. Accordingly, the results are presented with a good many qualifications.

I haven't spent a lot of time going through the methodology used in this survey by Lancet, but I don't know how one could assume that those surveyed couldn't have lied to create a false impression. After all, some do have a strong political motive and there is the concern that some could greatly exaggerate the number of deaths to those conducting the survey. There is also the question of the comparability of the before and after war fatality rates. Andrew Bolt has a very extensive and interesting critique of the Lancet paper:
But what evidence we have tells us these pre-war death rates were actually much higher. Dated United Nations figures suggest the overall death rate was well over seven in every 1000 – or close to, if not higher than, the present rate of 7.9 in every 1000 that the Lancet survey suggests.

But even more persuasive are 2002 figures from UNICEF, which in a much bigger survey of 24,000 households found the infant mortality rate in Iraq before the war was actually a tragic 108 deaths per 1000 infants.

This is more than three times higher than the Lancet survey claims was the case – and double what even the survey claims is the infant mortality rate today. . . .

The researchers did not ask for proof of the children's deaths and admit they were reluctant to ask for proof of all the adults' deaths, either, "because this might have implied that they did not believe the respondents, perhaps triggering violence". Were the Iraqis likewise scared to tell the truth?

Howard Dean with lead in race to take over as DNC Chairman?

Eleanor Clift is one person who should know what is going on in the Democratic Party. She writes:

"Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, withdrew his name from contention after being shown numbers suggesting Dean would win."

The only benefit that I can see for the Democrats is that it could keep Dean from running for President in 2008.

Happy Thanksgiving

For an excellent discussion of the real story of Thanksgiving see go here. The central point is this:

"The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work!?

November general election exit polls on gun ownership

The national exit polls indicate that 41 percent of American households own a gun. 63 percent voted for Bush (an increase of 2 percent over 2000), 36 percent for Kerry, and 1 percent for Nader.

She hardly seems like a real risk

A 79-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday at Fort Lauderdale International Airport in Florida after screeners found a single-shot Colt Derringer and seven bullets in her tote bag. She said she forgot it was in the bag, which she tried to carry on the plane, according to the Broward County sheriff's office.

The previous day the NY Times had a story about women (including a 70-something woman) who were upset about being frisked too throughly. At least for the older woman, that is pretty hard to comprehend as being necessary.

What might future elections hold?

The LA Times has an interesting analysis of this past presidential election:

In this month's election, President Bush carried 97 of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties, most of them "exurban" communities that are rapidly transforming farmland into subdivisions and shopping malls on the periphery of major metropolitan areas.

Isn't it just a question of historical accuracy?

Maryland public schools are in a bit of debate about how to teach Thanksgiving tomorrow. Personally I think that the more important issue is how they reorganized property (moving away from a communal to a private property organization) that saved the colony and of course this is never mentioned, but this other debate is still worth notice:

Young students across the state read stories about the Pilgrims (search) and Native Americans, simulate Mayflower (search) voyages, hold mock feasts and learn about the famous meal that temporarily allied two very different groups. But what teachers don't mention when they describe the feast is that the Pilgrims not only thanked the Native Americans for their peaceful three-day indulgence, but repeatedly thanked God. "We teach about Thanksgiving from a purely historical perspective, not from a religious perspective," said Charles Ridgell, St. Mary's County Public Schools curriculum and instruction director. School administrators statewide agree, saying religion never coincides with how they teach Thanksgiving to students. . . . . Teaching about a secular Thanksgiving counters the holiday's original premise as stated by George Washington in his Thanksgiving Day proclamation: "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor." Such omissions also deny the Pilgrims' religious fervor in the celebration of Thanksgiving, as related by Harry Hornblower, an archaeologist who spent years researching the history of the holiday. According to the Web site, dedicated to Hornblower's research, the Pilgrims "fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean." Thanksgiving, the site said, derived from their belief that "a series of misfortunes meant that God was displeased, and the people should both search for the cause and humble themselves before him. Good fortune, on the other hand, was a sign of God's mercy and compassion, and therefore he should be thanked and praised."

"Parishioners protest firing of pistol packing priest"

Gallegos is wildly popular with parishioners but has angered his Catholic superiors with his habit of wearing a shiny pistol beneath his robes, despite strict laws in Mexico banning private citizens from carrying guns. Also known for his love of cowboy boots and country music, Gallegos says he only carries a gun for protection, noting several of his friends have been killed over the years.

Useful resource in discussing suits against gun makers has a nice collection of facts and articles about suits against gun makers.

In praise of judicial restraint

Steve Chapman has another great piece in the Chicago Tribune. The whole article is definitely worth the read:

Not many businesses survive by turning away customers who have a right to buy. Apparently gun sellers are supposed to be mind readers. "Should know"? Maybe a Ford dealer "should know" that an 18-year-old male who is lusting after a Mustang will drive well over the speed limit. Does that mean he should be liable when the youngster crashes? The manufacturers were faulted for making guns with features that supposedly appeal to thugs--such as concealability and resistance to fingerprints. But some people are legally permitted to carry concealed handguns, which means they need concealable ones. And miniaturization takes place in other products not used in crime. Even many law-abiding shooters like small handguns better than big ones, just as teenagers prefer iPods to boom boxes. Fingerprint-resistant surfaces are popular among law-abiding sportsmen, because traditional shiny finishes are more visible to prey and more prone to corrosion. This innovation is no favor to crooks because it doesn't actually prevent police from getting prints off a murder weapon.

More on the lack of diversity in Universities

It is not like I give much credence to these types of tests, but the results are ironic nonetheless:

Mr. Rothman used statistical analysis to determine what factors explained how academics ended up working at elite universities. Marital status, sexual orientation and race didn't play a statistically significant role. Academic excellence, as measured by papers published and awards conferred, did. But the next best predictor was whether the professor was a liberal. To critics that argue his methodology is flawed, Mr. Rothman points out that he used the same research tools long used in courts by liberal faculty members to prove race and sex bias at universities. Liberals criticizing his methods may find themselves hoist by their own petard.

How is this for some pretty amazing reading:

Robert Brandon, a Duke University philosophy professor, is one liberal who has at least made an effort to explain why conservatives are seldom seen in academia. "We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire. Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican Party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia."

The rest of John Fund's article is worth a read.

Responses in the LA Times to Op-ed on Judicial Confirmation Process

The LA Times published a couple of letters responding to my op-ed with Sonya.

November 20, 2004 Saturday

Home Edition

SECTION: CALIFORNIA; Metro; Editorial Pages Desk; Part B; Pg. 20

HEADLINE: High Court Drama


Re "Breaking the Siege in the Judge War," Commentary, Nov. 16: John Lott and Sonya Jones write that the confirmation rate for President Bush's judicial nominees is historically low. In particular, they claim that only 69% of Bush's nominees to federal appeals courts and 33% of his nominees to the District of Columbia Appeals Court have been confirmed. The facts, however, are quite different: Bush has made 210 nominations to federal judgeships and 200 have beenconfirmed, a 95% confirmation rate. It is hard to know how Lott and Jones came up with their figures.

William Zame
Los Angeles


So, let me understand the argument: If Democrats simply roll over and play dead when President Bush sends his judicial nominations to the Senate, the so-called logjam will end.

My goodness! Why didn't the Democrats think of that?

Richard Doolittle
Grand Terrace

First, the numbers that we discussed on the issue of confirmation rates explicitly noted they involved Appeals Court judges, not all judges. Appeals Court judges are much more important than District Court judges and that is where the problems are occurring. Second, if you do look at all judges, Bush had 220 nominations of which 192 (or 87 percent) have been confirmed.

Condoleezza Rice on Guns

Well, with Condoleezza Rice at the helm, you won't have to worry about the UN taking away people's ability to own guns over the next few years:

"During the bombings of the summer of 1963, her father and other neighborhood men guarded the streets at night to keep white vigilantes at bay. Rice said her staunch defense of gun rights comes from those days. She has argued that if the guns her father and neighbors carried had been registered, they could have been confiscated by the authorities, leaving the black community defenseless."

"Supreme Court in Illinois frees gun makers of liability"

In a unanimous decision the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the Chicago lawsuit against gun makers. While the decision was not surprising, the unanimity as well as the stinging rebuke offered by the court were:

"Writing for the court, Justice Rita Garman said the city's claims are "the result of numerous unforeseeable intervening criminal acts by third parties not under defendant's control." "The mere fact that defendants' conduct in their plants, offices, and stores puts guns into the stream of commerce does not state a claim for public nuisance," Justice Garman said. "It is the presence and use of the guns within the City of Chicago that constitutes the alleged nuisance, not the activities at the defendants' various places of business." In refusing to define public nuisance as it relates to weapons, the court expressed a philosophy of judicial restraint. "Any change of this magnitude in the law affecting a highly regulated industry must be the work of the legislature, brought about by the political process, not the work of the courts," the decision said. Gun rights advocates hailed the decision as the final defeat of "abusive lawsuits" they say are intended to drive U.S. firearms manufacturers out of business."

"Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find"

John Tierney in the NY Times has an interesting article on new studies on the lack of political diversity in academia.

"a national survey of more than 1,000 academics, shows that Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. That ratio is more than twice as lopsided as it was three decades ago, and it seems quite likely to keep increasing, because the younger faculty members are more consistently Democratic than the ones nearing retirement, said Daniel Klein, an associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University and a co-author of the study. . . . At both [the University of California system and Harvard], employees gave about $19 to the Kerry campaign for every dollar for the Bush campaign. . . . The ratio of Democratic to Republican professors ranged from 3 to 1 among economists to 30 to 1 among anthropologists. The researchers found a much higher share of Republicans among the nonacademic members of the scholars' associations, which Professor Klein said belied the notion that nonleftists were uninterested in scholarly careers."

Tierney is quite unusual in his writings in the NY Times.

Update: The two papers discussed by Tierney can be found here.

More on the delay in confirming judges

CBS News did a story tonight that dealt with the piece that Sonya and I wrote on the confirmation process.

Yet the problem is worsening with each White House administration, says John Lott, who studies legislative behavior at the American Enterprise Institute. “Nobody has completely clean hands here,” Lott said. “It’s just that you’ve got to draw a line and it's exploding. ...Each time you get a new administration in there, it’s worse than it was before.” The percent of federal judicial nominees confirmed under Jimmy Carter was 93 percent; under Ronald Reagan, 89 percent; under George H.W. Bush, 78 percent; under Bill Clinton, 74 percent; and in President Bush’s first term it was 69 percent, according to Lott’s research.

Major change in Illinois gun laws passes

In a dramatic override of Governor Blagojevich's veto, Illinois house members easily overrode his veto of a bill that protects Illinoisians who violate local gun ban ordinances from prosecution when they use a gun defensively by and 85 to 30 vote. "The bill's supporters saw it as a statement of support for the basic concept that people should be able to defend themselves in their own homes. Opponents viewed it as an attempt to undercut local gun laws."

Alphecca has his weekly check on media coverage of guns

Alphecca's weekly survey on guns in the news is always interesting and worth a look.

So how difficult has it gotten to confirm judges?

My latest op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on "Breaking the Siege in the Judge War" is up. Some pretty interesting numbers on how much more difficult it has gotten to confirm judges.

Australians are now banning those ever extremely dangerous cowboy hats.

It is about time someone saw the danger in cowboy hats for those who work on ranches.

It all stems from the death of a cowboy, who suffered massive head injuries after being trampled in a fall from a horse while mustering bulls in July 2001. His sole protection was the tattered hat provided him for shading from the sun.

The New South Wales state government brought charges against the ranch owner, who employed 23-year-old Daniel Croker, convicting and fining the company $72,000 last month for breaches of safety, including failure to provide the horseman with an equestrian helmet.

Ranch manager Nicholas Ennis told investigators he knew of no ranch in Australia that made cowboys wear helmets except while mustering on motorbikes.

Since the tragedy at the ranch in Merriwagga, about 300 miles west of Sydney, helmets have become compulsory for working in the saddle there, but ranchers are calling for industrial laws to be changed to reflect the differences between working in the Outback and in a city factory.

News South Wales Farmers' Association president Mal Peters warned that substituting helmets for broad-brimmed hats would increase the hazards of skin cancer and heat stroke. He said there is no helmet a farmer can use when the temperature reaches 113 degrees. "For a farmer who's mustering a mob of sheep, moving very slowly behind them without any air circulation, he or his employee may be subject to heat stroke," Peters said.

It actually is nice that the article points out the trade-offs that exist with different types of protection. One would think that the cowboys themselves might be best able to make that judgement.

Some Employers in Oklahoma are trying to change law that allows people to take guns onto company property

Whirlpool Corp. has sued to block a new law that allows employees to keep guns in their locked vehicles on workplace parking lots. The law was scheduled to take effect Nov. 1, according to the Associated Press, but a federal judge blocked it. Only Kentucky has a similar law..

Why does this seem to be such a difficult point to understand? Banning guns from certain areas mean that only those intent on doing the harm will be armed and that the law protects the criminals and not the victims.

What is the future for the DC gun ban

The odds of getting something through the Senate have improved marginally, but Democrats will probably still try to filibuster. I would not go this far after a law to judge its impact since the farther you go in time the more likely that other factors will begin to dominate, but the article notes that: "According to FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics, the district had 192 murders in 1977, when the population was 690,000 people. In 2000, the population had declined to 572,000, but experienced 239 murders. According to the most recent figures, murders rose to 264 in 2002 and dropped a bit to 248 in 2003.".

The rise of Assault Knives

Well, you have heard of assault rifles, now a new British law aims to ban assault knives. The article notes that "Over the past four years the number of incidents involving knives has risen by 350%." As reported violent crime in Britain has risen so quickly over the last five years or so, it is becoming difficult for the government to figure out what else to ban. A toy gun ban was being debated seriously earlier this year. I was just thinking today about how little we are hearing in the US about the sunsetting of the assault weapons ban in the US. Hopefully, the US government will quickly deal the spread of assault knives in the US.

Illinois State Senate overrides Governor's veto on Gun Bill

It looks like there will soon be a big dent in Illinois gun bans:

SB 2161 was prompted by an incident in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, where a man was charged with violating a municipal handgun ban after he shot a burglar in his home. The bill would allow a court to clear a defendant of charges of violating such a ban if the gun was used in self-defense or in defense of another on the owner's property. Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed the measure, saying "each individual municipality should determine which affirmative defenses apply to a violation of its own ordinance," but the Senate voted 40 to 18 to override him. State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, represents the community of Wilmette and said the bill imposed upon the municipality's prerogative to impose stronger gun laws than those of the state. He was unable to convince enough of his colleagues to agree with him. "It has been a hallmark of our constitutional system that one has a right to defend one's home and family," said state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton. State Sen. Ed Petka, R-Plainfield, called it "a commonsense piece of legislation." The bill now heads to the House, where it must get at least 71 votes in order to become law in spite of the governor's objections. It got 90 votes in the House in May.

John Fund on the Voting Process in New Mexico:

When a race is close, all sorts of bizarre things happen:

Yesterday afternoon, [New Mexico] Democratic Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron asked the state Supreme Court to overturn lower court ruling that had allowed Republican observers into the polls in Sandoval and Dona Ana counties. She also seeks to overturn a decision by the Bernalillo County Clerk to allow observers there. In her court filing, she contends state law doesn't provide for challengers to be part of the review process.

But cynics point out that she filed her petition shortly after the Bernalillo County Clerk told media outlets that observers had discovered instances of voter fraud during the qualification of provisional ballots. Provisional votes are cast by people whose names did not appear on registration rolls but nonetheless were allowed to vote pending verification of their eligibility. In counting the first 5,000 provisional ballots in Bernalillo County, observers turned up 53 instances of individuals voting more than once. They also found four voters who were dead and dozens of felons attempting to vote. In two cases, the same individual tried to vote three times: early, absentee and on Election Day.

Double voting appears to fall into two categories: voters who themselves may have voted multiple times, and those whose votes were essentially stolen. Dwight Atkins of Albuquerque attempted to vote on Election Day, only to discover that someone had already voted early in his name. Rosemary McGee showed up to vote at 3 pm on Election Day. But someone had voted in her place at 7:00am (the imposter actually misspelled her name on the signature roster). Both were shocked to learn that if an imposter votes first, the fraudulent ballot will stand, and the provisional ballot, cast later by the legitimate voter, will be disqualified.

Earlier this year, when Secretary of State Vigil-Giron went to court to prevent expanded enforcement of the state's requirement that first-time voters show a photo ID, New Mexico Democrats insisted voter fraud didn't exist in New Mexico. So much for that argument. But now it appears that local Democrats are willing to go to court to make sure more evidence of it doesn't turn up.

Reaction by the Left to Republican Victories

Here are some of the hysterical comments from those on the Left:

“Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?... In fact, we now resemble [modern Europe] less than we do our putative enemies. Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.” -- Gary Wills, New York Times, November 4, 2004

“President Bush isn't a conservative. He's a radical -- the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is. Part of that coalition wants to tear down the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, eviscerating Social Security and, eventually, Medicare. Another part wants to break down the barriers between church and state . . . . Democrats mustn't give up the fight. What's at stake isn't just the fate of their party, but the fate of America as we know it.” -- Paul Krugman, New York Times, November 5, 2004

“W. doesn't see division as a danger. He sees it as a wingman. The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule . . . . W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq -- drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or ‘values voters,’ as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Mr. Bush, whose administration drummed up fake evidence to trick us into war with Iraq, sticking our troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy, won on ‘moral issues.’” -- Maureen Dowd, New York Times, November 4, 2004

“[W]hat troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do -- they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is . . . . Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president.” -- Tom Friedman, New York Times, November 4, 2004

“Let's be honest: We are aghast at the success of a campaign based on vicious personal attacks, the exploitation of strong religious feelings and an effort to create the appearance of strong leadership that would do Hollywood proud. We are alarmed that so many of our fellow citizens could look the other way and not hold Bush accountable for utter incompetence in Iraq and for untruths spoken in defense of the war . . . . And we are disgusted that an effort consciously designed to divide the country did exactly that -- and won . . . . Radical efforts to destroy the achievements of progressive government should not be undertaken on the basis of a slim majority. The word'reform' should not be hijacked as a cover for whatever the president wants to do to favor the interests that support him.” -- E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, November 5, 2004

“I grew up in Missouri and most of my family voted for Bush, so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not... [Cheney and Bush] know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant. Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone?” -- Jane Smiley, “The Unteachable Ignorance of the Red States,” Slate, November 4, 2004

“The other side may be euphoric, but the intensity of their happiness can't match the intensity of our despair. Honest conservatives, even those who admire President Bush, know he didn't earn a second term. They know he staked his presidency on a catastrophe, and that, by all rights, Iraq should be his political epitaph. Their victory, while sweet, can't be fully enjoyed because it isn't fully deserved.”-- Peter Beinart, The New Republic, November 15, 2004

“Ok, it sucks. Really Sucks . . . . Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any old nut—a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut . . . . Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn’t ever need to pander to the Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear that he should spend these last four years building ‘a legacy’ so that history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from office.” -- Michael Moore, November 5, 2004

More on Liberals Reaction to Republican Victories

Compare these two statements. The first is by some Democrats complaining about the rest of the country. The second is by Bill Clinton.

"I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland," Dr. Joseph said. "This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland." "New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us," he said. His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be. "New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say." "They're very 1950's," she said of Midwesterners. "When I go back there, I feel I'm in a time warp."

Bill Clinton's take on the election:

Democrats "need a clear national message, and they have to do this without one big advantage the Republicans have, which is they won't have a theological message that basically paints the other guy as evil," he said.

Supreme Court to consider gun-ownership laws' limitations

The court has taken a case that will decide whether conviction of a crime overseas can bar an American possessing a gun in the U.S..

Over the last couple of days it is very obvious which candidate investors thought was better for the market

Yesterday when the exit polls showed that Kerry might win, the market fell by 100 points. Today after Bush had one, the market rose by hundred points.

What was wrong with the exit polls

Dick Morris has some very strong words on yesterday's exit polls:

That an exit poll is always right is an axiom of politics. It is easier to assume that a compass is not pointing north than to assume that an exit poll is incorrect. It takes a deliberate act of fraud and bias to get an exit poll wrong. Since the variables of whether or not a person will actually vote are eliminated in exit polling, it is like peeking at the answer before taking the test. But these exit polls were wrong. And the fact that they were so totally, disastrously wrong is a national scandal. There should be a national investigation to unearth the story behind the bias.

Kerry Concedes

Media refused to give Bush the win

Despite 100 percent of the vote being counted in Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, and Nevada and Bush having substantial leads in all those states, none of the networks were willing to give Bush over the 269 votes needed to win. NBC and Fox gave Bush Ohio but none of the other three states and thus 269 Electoral Votes. CNN and ABC gave Bush Nevada, but not New Mexico, Iowa nor Ohio. The media just didn't want to claim that Bush had won.

Boston Globe headline: "Crime may be dropping in US, but gun possession is rising"

I don't think that either side correctly describes what is going on here, but but the article is still worth a read here.

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

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

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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