All Postings from October 2003

How to change a Washington Post reporter's views about hunting?

When a car accident with a deer threatens the lives of a reporter's family he becomes at least a little more sympathetic towards hunting.

"The idle rich carried the day, by the way, and efforts to thin the herd and feed the hunters were defeated."

Democrats on Gun Control

The Washington Post has an interesting story about Democratic Presidential candidates being convinced that gun control is a losing issue for them. Two quotes stand out:

Yet "the irony with Dean is his policy positions on guns is exactly the same as" those of his rivals, said Americans for Gun Safety policy director Jim Kessler, who surveyed the candidates' views on gun topics. "But he is making a point about his support for Second Amendment rights and vigorous enforcement. The reason? This works as a strategy."

The two groups do not think the candidates should run away from the issue by staying silent . . . . Al From, who runs the DLC, recently said Democrats can turn the gun issue into an advantage if they vigorously push for gun safety and rigorous enforcement of laws while reassuring voters they stand firmly in support of the Second Amendment. The idea is to move away from broad restrictions such as mandatory registration and toward more popular and narrower ideas aimed at making guns safer and keeping them away from criminals and children, which polls show voters widely support.

The extensive discussion on polling in the piece raises real questions about the rhetoric being driven by what sells. By repackaging everything as "safety," protecting children, and keeping guns away from criminals, it appears that the same gun control laws are being advanced as before. My coocern is that these propsed laws will actually endanger people's lives.

NPR on the public financing of presidential campaigns

NPR's marketplace (click for audio file) had a segment on the public financing of presidential campaigns. Four of the interview clips that NPR had were by supporters of the system and one was by an opponent, myself, though NPR did have a reference to Turbo Tax response to charges leveled by public financing proponents against their tax program. In any case, it would have been nice to have a response to the claims that "government matching funds have leveled the playing field" and made it possible for relatively unknown challengers to compete. Given the much larger stock of reputation already posed by incumbents, it is hard to understand how the spending limits contained in the public financing rules could do anything but help incumbents. Take the extreme case where expenditures are reduced to zero. Obviously this would ensure that already well-known incumbents would win. The irony is that to liberal political icons would have gone nowhere if the current campaign regulations had been in effect during the 1960s and early 1970s. Eugene McCarthy got virtually all of his money from only five donors and George McGovern's campaign would have folded without a large cash infusion from Stuart Mott. In any case, the quote that NPR used from me was referring to spending limits, not public financing per se.

A couple more brief newspaper reviews of my book, The Bias Against Guns.

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL) and the Union Leader (Manchester NH) have nice things to say about The Bias Against Guns.

What passes for academic discourse these days:

The Wichita Eagle has a piece on the debate in Kansas over passing right-to-carry laws. As is becoming all to common these days, some academics get carried away with the debate and use pretty strong language to describe those on the other side of the discussion.

Some of the many errors in the Mother Jones piece entitled "Double Barrled Double Standards," Oct. 13, 2003:

One thing to note in reading the two interviews is that the reporter is very hostile. I have learned through hard experience that you have to be very careful for every part of what you say because a part of any one sentence can be taken out of context in the final piece. Here is a short list of some of the errors in the piece .

Was Rush right about the media coverage?

National Review Online runs a piece of mine that examines Limbaugh's statement that "�the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.�� For those interested, an excel file with the raw data is available for downloading. (If this data is reused, please provide a clear statement about where you obtained it.) The regression output can be seen here.

The simple weekly averages by quarterback show some difference. During the weeks when quarterbacks played about 67 percent of the news coverage for black quarterbacks was positive and about 61 percent of the coverage for whites was positive. Including all weeks (including when quarterbacks didn't play and even weeks before some started to play) narrowed the difference to 64 percent for blacks to 60 percent for whites. The regressions with fixed effects show a much more pronounced difference with a gap of 27 percentage points.

Talks next week in California

University of San Diego School of Law
October 16th, noon to 1 PM

California Western School of Law
October 16th, 2:30 to 3:30 PM

Chapman University School of Law
October 17th, noon to 1 PM

How useful is academic research?

Craig Newmark references some interesting new research by David Laband and Robet Tollison. David has done some well cited work on rent seeking and Bob has probably easily published 400 or 500 articles. The two statements that I find the most interesting are:

"while the standard refrain from representatives of accreditation agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is that scholarship enhances teaching performance, we can find no evidence to suggest that this is true."


"the enormous increase in the social investment in academic research is, by and large, wasted and comes at the expense of time and effort that could have been devoted to providing education"

Gun Registration in Switzerland?

A new piece that I have on National Review Online discusses how in a very short period of time Switzerland has moved to adopt all sorts of new gun control laws. The new proposed rules include registering guns, banning others, and tightening controls on buying guns.

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