Boyden Gray on the Judicial Confirmation Process

Boyden's entire piece should be read, but one part that I find particularly interesting is that:

Some have argued Democrats have no choice but to resort to extraordinary measures because President Bush's nominees are exceptionally conservative and ideological. But this claim is disputed by none other than prominent Democratic strategist Prof. Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law School. In the Washington Post ("A Bench Tilting Right," 10/30/04), Sunstein and co-author David Schkade explained the outcome of their study of judges appointed by Presidents since John F. Kennedy:

"Remarkably, there are no significant differences among the voting records of Reagan, Bush I and Bush II appointees. The three most recent Republican presidents have shown extraordinary consistency in their choices."

Likewise, AEI's Lott reports that preliminary surveys of lawyers who practice before Circuit Courts found Bush 43 judges were thought to be slightly more liberal than those of both Bush 41 and Reagan. In other words, the current President has not veered dramatically to the right in his nominations; it is rather Senate Democrats who have gone off the liberal deep end.

One year later in Missouri and right-to-carry law is "just another law"

These emotional debates die down so quickly once people realize that the horror stories about the law never came true.

Missouri's concealed gun law essentially has become just another law. "We heard before that bar fights were going to turn into gun fights and all that," said Tim Oliver, a Boone County firearms trainer who runs the concealed guns Web site, LearnToCarry.com. "It just hasn't been a problem anywhere."

Like Oliver, Kansas City attorney Richard Miller isn't aware of major problems caused by Missouri concealed gun permit holders. But that's partly because the names of permit holders are kept secret under the state law. "Is there any proof out there that concealed-carry holders are preventing crimes, which was one of their arguments? We'll never know that," said Miller, one of the attorneys who challenged the constitutionality of the law. "Is there any proof that conceal-carry holders are engaged in criminal activity? We'll never know that, because the permits are closed records."

The statement by Kansas City attorney Richard Miller is misleading because even though the list of permit holders is not publicly released the different police departments and district attorneys will know if someone involved in a shooting has a permit and if so, someone such as Mr. Miller would quickly make it public knowledge.

As of Friday, 15,442 concealed gun background check applications had been submitted to the Highway Patrol, a quarter of the 60,000 first-year applicants the patrol had predicted when the law passed. Only Jefferson County has more than 1,000 permit applicants, although St. Charles and Greene counties are not far behind.

These original estimates were very silly. What happened was that the patrol simply looked at the per capita number of permits in some other states and assumed that would be the rate issued in Missouri. There were two problems with this. 1) In terms of both fees and training requirements and where you can take a concealed handgun, Missouri is extremely restrictive in issuing permits and as I showed in the second edition of More Guns, Less Crime higher fees and particularly longer training periods greatly reduce the number of permits issued. Also it takes many years before everyone who is going to get a permit to do so.

New piece up on Social Security Reform

Bob Hansen from the Tuck Business School and I have a piece in today's Investors' Business Daily on financing Social Security. The point is pretty simple:
Yet, the whole debate is wrong headed. Social security privatization need not have any impact on net debt for our economy or for the government.

The risks of robbing a store: Sometimes the store owners are armed

Feb. 28, 2005 Pawn Shop Shoot-Out
Bruce Sales owns Duval Gun and Pawn in downtown Macclenny. . . . Sales says, "Had a gun in his hands and started yelling at me to get on my knees and put a pillow case over my head." . . . Sales says, "He had already told me he was going to kill me so I shot him, or I shot at him." . . . The gun shots however, were enough to scare the suspect out of the store.. . . [The robber] is in the Baker County jail for the pawn shop robbery. He is facing numerous charges including armed robbery. Police say he has a lengthy criminal history, including two homicide arrests.

Feb. 26, 2005 Dateline Alabama
The robbers started shooting and then the clerk grabbed a gun and fired back, Lopez said. . . . About 10 people had been in the store. "The (clerk) did a good job. He saved us," Lopez said. "He saved my kid. He saved our lives."


Pro self-defense students win Debate at the University of Chicago


Concealed handgum permit holder's intervention in Texas shooting may have saved lives

It hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but the media has given some attention to Mark Wilson and his role in helping stop the shooting that left two people dead in Tyler, Texas yesterday. Here is one the most complete discussions that I could find.

Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia)

February 25, 2005, Friday

SECTION: News; Pg. P8C

LENGTH: 788 words

HEADLINE: Texas man dies confronting gunman


BODY: Man dies while trying to stop rampage credited with saving the life of the gunman's son

TYLER, Texas - A 52-year-old manufacturing plant employee, credited with saving another man's life by jumping into the middle of a fierce firefight on a Texas downtown square, was known for taking life "head-on." Friends weren't surprised to hear that Mark Wilson sacrificed his own life byconfronting a gunman firing an AK-47 assault-style rifle Thursday in Tyler, Texas.

"He is the type of person who would grab his gun and go," said Lewis George of Dallas, Wilson's former brother-in-law and best friend for 30 years. "If it was me, I would have been running the other way.

"Mark, he took life head-on."

Wilson was shot several times by David Hernandez Arroyo Sr. during a deadly shooting spree outside the Smith County Courthouse. Aroyo also killed his ex-wife and wounded his 23-year-old son and three police officers.

Wilson, who lived in a loft apartment on the square, had apparently just returned home after having lunch with a friend when he saw Arroyo walking down the street, shooting people, friends said.

Wilson, who had once owned a gun range in Tyler, apparently grabbed a Glock9mm handgun and ran downstairs. One eyewitness said they traded shots, initially missing each other until Arroyo hit Wilson.

"The gunman walked up to Wilson and shot him while he was on the ground," TheAssociated Press reported Tyler Morning Telegraph publisher Nelson Clyde III saying in today's editions of the newspaper. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was sickening."

Arroyo was wearing body armor. But by distracting Arroyo, police said, Wilsonprevented him from fatally shooting his son, David Hernandez Arroyo Jr.

"Based on what we can tell, Mr. Wilson may have saved the younger Arroyo's life," Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle said. Swindle told The Associated Pressthat Wilson may have hit the gunman, but that his rounds did not penetrate the man's body armor.

"Arroyo was shot by his father, and we believe around that point in time is maybe when Mr. Wilson came up and confronted the suspect," Swindle said.

Lorraine Childress, a sales assistant for Merill Lynch, watched the shootout from her 16th-floor office overlooking downtown Tyler. Little did she know that her friend Mark Wilson was trying to stop the rampage. "We are so proud of our friend," Childress said. "We know Mark saved this young man's life by doing what he did."

Word of Wilson's courageous act quickly spread through this community of 86,000 about 125 miles east of Fort Worth, and no one seemed surprised that Wilson jumped into the middle of the shootout.

Just outside the front of the loft where Wilson lived, the courthouse square was covered in crime scene tape and the street was littered with shell casings. Police had cordoned off Wilson's white Dodge pickup.

Behind the truck, Wilson's prized Porsche 911 was covered by a tarp.

"Ever since he moved into those lofts eight years ago, he's been on the lookout down on the square," said Deborah O'Sullivan, whose husband, John, is the landlord of the lofts where Wilson lived.

"With his knowledge of weapons, he would have immediately known it was gunfire and taken action. That's just Mark. He was always looking out for others." . . .

By contrast the stories that I found on NBC and ABC did not discuss the concealed handgun permit holder's actions. CNN also had some stories that provide useful details about what happened. Thanks very much to Howard Nemerov for bringing this to my attention.

I have additional posts on this case at Tyler, Texas here, here, and here.


Push for Gun Control in Illinois

anti-gun lawmakers on Thursday are queued up to move their own proposals--including measures to limit handgun purchases and ban many assault weapons--through a committee more sympathetic to their position. That sets the stage for a major confrontation over gun control in the full House in the coming weeks that will pit urban and Downstate lawmakers against each other. It also could pressure Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich to take sides in a politically sensitive battle of which he has tried to steer clear. . . . An aide to Blagojevich said the governor supports the mayor's legislative package and has "pledged to do whatever we can to help those bills pass."

So much for Blagojevich's original campaign pledge on gun issues. Anyway, there are many places where the gun control issues are not dead. There is some pro-gun legislation being pushed in Illinois, but it is not going to get the Governor's signature even if it were to make it through the legislature.


British "Beer Commercial Featuring Shotgun Is Banned"

Ad "offensive to pub landlords"? Well, I suppose that is one class of people who haven't previously felt like a protected class.

A "threatening" beer advertisement depicting a double-barreled shotgun pointed at the viewer was banned by Britain's advertising watchdog on Wednesday. There were 51 complaints about the advert for Ruddles ale which featured a shotgun positioned at the reader from between two pub stools, and read: "Excuse me, I believe that's my seat." Complainants said the advertisement, which appeared in newspapers, was offensive and irresponsible because it condoned the threatening use of guns. The Union Pub Company said the advert was particularly offensive to pub landlords. Greene King, which produces Ruddles, said the advert was part of their "uncompromisingly from the country" campaign, which targeted male bitter-drinkers who would recognize the humor behind the advertisement. The Advertising Standards Authority said the advertisement was "unlikely to be seen as condoning or provoking anti-social behavior" but added it could be considered threatening and was likely to cause "serious or widespread offence."

Florida boy accused of assault with rubber band

Election Assistance Commission Meeting in Columbus, Ohio Today

The Election Assistance Commission will be meeting today in Columbus, Ohio at the Moritz College of Law. There will be a public hearing on voting systems from 10-11:30 am, and a public hearing on provisional voting from 1-5 pm. Among those who will testify this afternoon will be Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood. I will also be testifying on some very preliminary new research that I have regarding provisional ballots.


Legislation to reduce political bias in college classes?

Inside Higher Ed is fearful of an administrative code designed to prohibit political and religious discrimination. The of the proposed law in Ohio seem pretty unobjectionable to me:

1) that students have access "to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion" and be exposed to "a plurality of serious scholarly methodologies and perspectives."

2) that students should "be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers" and prohibits discrimination on the basis of "political, ideological, or religious beliefs."

Inside Higher Ed appears to view this as a rightwing plot. I would prefer not to see these interventions because I believe that they are unenforceable and I would rather leave this regulation to the market (admittedly I understand that there is a problem with public funding that protects schools from these market forces), but it ironic that liberals who impose these types of rules all the time find these particular rules objectionable. Could it be that liberals know that these rules will primarily be binding on liberal professors?


President's Day

This evening Sonya Jones mentioned to me how Texas colleges are having classes tomorrow. When I was a kid we celebrated both Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays. Now even with all the Presidents birthdays lumped together, they are not celebrated. While I am never one to argue for more government holidays, it is disappointing (indeed a pet peeve of mine) that we can not find one holiday to get rid of to celebrate these birthdays (particularly Washington's). For younger school children, it would be nice if they read about Washington's battlefield heroics, his turning down the offer to be King, and to read about his beliefs.

Losers cry foul

Is it only me or are academics who aren't getting what they want behaving childishly? I know that is shocking. An Associated Press story with the "objective" title that "Scientific Influence Wanes, Research Funding Weakened in Bush Administration, Experts Say", complains that on various issues, apparently for outside government scientists we are talking about Global Warming, the scientists who are predicting the most dire prospects aren't being listened to. Rather than simply admitting that well-informed academics may have different opinions, the claim is that all scientists are simply being ignored. The Union of Concerned Scientists is also not exactly an unbiased source.

Three Defensive Gun Uses from last couple of days

1) CLINTON, La. An East Feliciana Parish woman fired a bullet into the chest of a man who had broken into her farmhouse, then fought off his beating until the man died from the gunshot wound. Georgia Belle Sullivan says she was sleeping before dawn yesterday when her dogs' barking woke her up. She retrieved her gun, then saw a shadow move behind a line of chairs. She told authorities that's when a man lunged at her.

2) MISHAWAKA, Indiana . . . According to a report from the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit, which is investigating the case, Birtwhistle was awakened in his first-floor bedroom by the sound of someone trying to kick down his front door. At that point, the octogenarian retrieved the loaded revolver he kept in his bedroom and went to investigate the situation. "He was trying to kick the front door in," Birtwhistle said. "I warned him not to, but he kept trying." According to investigators, Rosebush eventually was able to break the door loose, prompting Birtwhistle to fire at least one shot through the door. The shot mortally wounded the assailant, who fell onto the homeowner and knocked him to the floor.

3) BARDONIA, N.Y. . . . Caught On Camera: Jewelry Heist Ends In Violence Fixler said that while the incident was not "memorable," he feels he did what he had to. "I'd be dead," he said in a phone interview. "My life was going to be over. That's what I thought about."Detective Lt. Charles Delo of the Clarkstown police force, which covers Bardonia, said a review of the shooting on a surveillance videotape showed it to be justified. Fixler had a permit for his .38-caliber handgun. Fixler, a 57-year-old ex-Marine, had to sidle along his counter with the robber's gun in his face to get to the spot where his handgun was hidden, he said.


When governments don't even trust the police to own guns

Idaho concealed weapons permit holders could carry guns in more states


Who gets denied concealed handgun permits when discretion allowed


CSPAN replaying presentation on Judicial Confirmation Process

The conference was interesting with useful comments from the participants and the audience. CSPAN3 is available here. It should be on from 12:30 to a little after 2 PM. It should also be replayed again at 7 PM EST tonight. The paper can be found here.

UPDATE: After the initial live broadcast, the show got a lot of coverage on CSPAN. CSPAN2, Monday, February 14, 2005, 9:55 to 11:25 PM; CSPAN2, Tuesday, February 15, 2005, 1:30 to 3:00 AM; CSPAN3, Tuesday, February 15, 2005, 12:30 to 2:00 PM; CSPAN3, Tuesday, February 15, 2005, 7:00 to 8:30 PM; and CSPAN3, Wednesday, February 16, 2005, 7:00 to 8:30 PM.

"Burglar-alarm policy prompts call to arms"


New Research and Presentation on the Judicial Confirmation Process

On Monday from 9 to 10:30 AM, CSPAN3 will be carrying live a presentation that I will be making at the American Enterprise Institute on "The Judicial Confirmation Process: The Difficulty in Being Smart." I am lucky to have a good group of people participating in the presentation: Boyden Gray, Bill Marshall, and Todd Zywicki, two of whom were involved in the confirmation processes under the Clinton and Bush I administrations. Hopefully the event will be rebroadcast on the other CSPAN channels.


Talks this week

This week I will be giving a range of different talks. On Tuesday Feb. 8, I will talk at the Florida State University Law School at 12:30 and give another talk that is being arranged by Randy Holcombe in the economics department at 3:30. On Wednesday, I will be giving a talk at the University of Miami Law School at 12:30 and give another talk in the economics department at 3:30. On Thursday, I will be talking at noon at Nova Southeastern University. All the talks but the one to the University of Miami economics department will be on gun control, with the FSU Law School presentation being a panel presentation.

UPDATE: The talks this week are now over and they were a lot of fun. I appreciate everyone who organized them for taking the time to put everything together.


More on Zero Tolerance Gone Wild

Under the headline of "Child Punished After Finding Toy Gun At Bus Stop: Student Says He Brought Toy Gun To School To Give To Principal":

A Kansas City student is being punished for what he thought was a good deed.

"It came out real fast. I got a good look at it. It really was a gun. Thank God it was a toy gun," 10-year-old Frasier McCart said.

Frasier wouldn't find out it was a toy until later. He said when he first found it, he wanted to make sure nobody got hurt. Just before the bus arrived at the corner, he put the gun in his backpack so that he could give it to school officials.

"I was thinking, 'I'll give it to the principal, she'll know what to do,'" Frasier said.

"It did look like a real gun," Principal Marla Wasserman said.

She said the boy had good intentions, but while making his way through the hallway to her office, he told another student what he had in his backpack. Wasserman said the boy should not have told another student. The boy's mother said he was then suspended. The principal said she then gave him in-school disciplinary action. . . . "It's hard to find somebody that can be honest and do the right thing," said Tracy Johnson. "And to punish him for doing the right thing, that just doesn't paint a pretty picture."

What people are missing in discussing the Sentencing Guidelines

My newest piece at Investors' Business Daily is up. I think that Scalia and Thomas have this decision partly wrong:

The Guidelines have created more sentencing disparity because they focus solely on just one of the penalties that criminals face: imprisonment. There are many other penalties imposed on criminals, including lost professional and business licenses, the inability to join some unions or work for the government, lost retirement funds as well as fines and restitution. Prior to the Guidelines going into effect, judges usually imposed lower prison sentences on criminals who faced large other additional penalties. . . . The dissents by Justices Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas were right in that all the Guidelines don’t have to be thrown out just because a small section of the Guidelines that applied to some trials violated Constitutional rights to a jury trial. Yet, the jabs Scalia pokes at the majority’s seeming inability to grasp the inconsistency between making the Guidelines voluntary and saving the guidelines’ mission to reduce sentencing disparity missed a crucial point. The critique only makes sense if the Guidelines actually reduced disparity.


200,000 Total Hits and a New Website Design

First, I would like to thank all the visitors to this site for helping make it a success. The number of unique hits – 200,000 – is greatly appreciated.

My son Maxim has also redesigned the website and fixed the problems we used to have. The new features are:

-- A search engine. Just type something into the search field at the top of the page, and you will get all the matching pages from this site.

-- Posts are now on their own page (from Sept. ‘04 onwards). This makes linking and e-mailing easier.

-- The load time for the front page has been dramatically reduced.

-- The menu on the right is consistent for all pages (was a problem with the old site.)

-- Posts are archived by month.


My latest piece is up on National Review Online


At least in Europe crime guns are a deductable business expense for criminals

A bank robber has been allowed to claim the £1,400 cost of the gun he used as a legitimate business expense. The 46-year-old criminal was able to set the price of the pistol against his gross proceeds of £4,700, which he stole in the southern Dutch town of Chaam. Jailing him for four years, the judge at Breda criminal court reduced his fine by that amount. The Dutch prosecutors' service said yesterday that the judge had followed sound legal precedents. Leendert De Lange, a spokesman, said: "You can compare criminal acts to normal business activities, where you must invest to make profits, and thus you have costs." Therefore drug dealers would be within their rights to claim the cost of a car used to ferry the drugs around, he said. However, Mr De Lange scoffed at the hypothetical example of a drugs dealer claiming his Ferrari against the proceeds of his crimes. "No, he would have to prove that he needed the car to transport the drugs and I hardly think he would transport them in a Ferrari."

Thanks to Gus Cotey for supplying me with this story.

A sign of the times? Capitalism versus Socialism

John Fund has this interesting tidbit in his opinionjournal political diary:
"Today, [Ayn] Rand's books not only outsell those of Karl Marx, but are taken a lot more seriously."