More on UN gun control conference

Supreme Court out of control?

I have been reading Scalia's and Thomas's dissents in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and they are quite devastating. The liberals on the court not only seem to have completely ignored Congress's legislation on the court's jurisdiction, but the court ignores the President's war making powers and rely on international law. Good thing the Justices are there to set the congress and the president straight. Could you imagine the congress actually fulfilling their constitutional role to say what types of cases the courts can hear? Fortunately, we have five Justices who are competent to rewrite the laws and enter into the right foreign treaties when the congress and president ignore the obvious things that they should be doing.

Will Mexico Lurch to the Left this Sunday?

Fox may not be the perfect Mexican President from America's perspective, but if Obrador wins, we will wish that he were still president. It is hard for me to understand why Mexican's can't see the problems created by socialism and the corruption that it creates when they compare their own experience with America's. Obrador's campaign has been long on spending promises and reminding voters that women find him sexually attractive. It has been a wierd campaign. Most polls seem to show Obrador with a slight lead, but virtually all the polls put the election as too close to call. Obrador's campaign being partially funded by Venezuela Dictator Hugo Chavez didn't seem to hurt him very much. Unfortunately, the trend has been to Obrador, though his momentum seems to have stalled in the last week. Calderón may not be inspiring, but the economics in his campaign rhetoric emphasizes the need to privatize government holdings and create incentives.

Polling Data
What candidate would you vote for in the 2006 presidential election?

. . . . . . . . . . . Jun. 18 . . . . Jun. 11 . . . . May 2006
Felipe Calderón (PAN) . . . 33% . . . . . 37% . . . . . 42%
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31% . . . . .35% . . . . . 31%

Source: GEA-ISA
Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 1,600 Mexican adults, conducted from Jun. 16 to Jun. 18, 2006. Margin of error is 3.5 per cent.

Polling Data
What candidate would you vote for in the 2006 presidential election?
(Decided Voters)

. . . . . . . . . . . Jun. 19 . . . . Jun. 9 . . . . Jun. 4
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36% . . . . .34% . . . . . 36%
Felipe Calderón (PAN) . . . 34% . . . . . 37% . . . . . 36%

Source: El Universal
Methodology: Interviews with 2,000 Mexican voters, conducted from Jun. 16 to Jun. 19, 2006. Margin of error is 2.9 per cent.

Update on UN gun regulation conference


Small comment on Texas Redistricting Case

The fractured decision was a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democratic incumbents from office. . . . .

I really wonder how much of a long term victory this is for Democrats because it reinforces the majority-minority districts that very heavily concentrate minorities into certain districts. This is particularly true for Hispanics where a large majority of the constituents apparently have to be Hispanic to ensure that a Hispanic (read Democrat) will be elected. The problem is that this reduces the total number of Democrats elected. The bad effect for Republicans is that Hispanics are made to only be represented by Democrats and makes it less likely for Republican Hispanics to get a start.

George Will nails campaign finance debate

Roberts asked the attorney general for an example to validate his assertion that campaign contributions from Vermont interest groups "often determine what positions candidates and officials take on issues." The attorney general answered that he could not offer an example, and said that "influence" would be more accurate than "determine." People trying to influence elections and government? Heaven forfend. In another clarification, sort of, the attorney general said the problem is "undue influence." So there.

Incessant allegations about the "appearance" of corruption are self-validating -- they create a public impression of corruption. Such allegations enable the reform movement to keep raising money and raising doubts about the sufficiency of government regulations, however numerous, of speech about government. Hence reformers have a powerful incentive to argue two propositions.

One is that corruption is so pervasive and subtle that it is invisible. They resemble the zealots who say proof of the vast sophistication of the conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy is the fact that no proof has been found.

Alternatively, reformers argue that corruption is entirely visible everywhere: It is called politics. If politician A votes in a way pleasing to contributor B -- particularly if B enjoyed "access" to A -- that shall be designated corruption. Never mind abundant research demonstrating that money usually moves toward politicians of particular behavior, rather than changing behavior. . . . .

One minor comment: as far as I know, my research is the only one that shows this last point, but I am glad that he made it.

Defensive Gun Use in San Francisco?

This on the streets of SF? I assume that the person who defended himself is not anxious to come forward given the gun laws in California and the hostility towards guns in SF.

Police are looking for a man who turned the tables on three would-be robbers and shot them early Tuesday in the Tenderloin.

Police say the three first tried to rob a man at 3:30 a.m. at Turk and Leavenworth streets, but he was able to escape. The man then watched as the suspects confronted a couple and tried to grab a backpack from them, police said.

The man with the backpack pulled a gun and shot the three, police said. One man was wounded in the leg and was quickly arrested, and a second man wounded in the arm and buttocks was found around the corner.

The third man, wounded in the buttocks and groin, went to the Tenderloin Task Force police station for help.

"You've got to go somewhere," Inspector John Peterson said. "Where he was shot, he needed the help.''

The three men each were charged with two counts of attempted robbery. Their names were not immediately released. . . . .

Thanks to Don Kates for sending this to me.

"House votes to overturn mandatory gun locks"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to overturn a recently enacted law requiring safety trigger locks on all hand guns sold in the United States.

The Republican-controlled House handed a victory to opponents of gun control by a vote of 230-191.

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Colorado Republican, argued that the added cost of the trigger locks is passed on to gun owners and that they "do not stop accidental shootings."

Last fall, President George W. Bush signed legislation giving gun makers broad protections from civil lawsuits, but that law contained the mandatory trigger lock provision.

The amendment overturning the requirement for trigger locks was attached to a larger law enforcement spending bill for next year that has not yet been considered by the Senate.


Nemerov: "AP Blames NRA for Violent Crime"

Howard Nemerov over at ChronWatch has an interesting article on media bias: AP Blames NRA for Violent Crime. Howard is right to point to the bias in who reporters rely on for their experts. I think that some of the points go too far, such as worrying about the fact that the initial crime numbers don't cover the entire country or that there are frequently small revisions in these initial numbers. I also wouldn't push the political bias that hard.

There is also the issue of timing. I thought that the federal funding was cut well before this increase occurred. In addition, the local communities bear the costs and benefits of crime and they are perfectly capable of deciding how much of their own money to spend on law enforcement. It is not really clear why you have localities send their tax money to the federal government only to have it returned to them with various strings attached.


Fox News on Canadian Gun Registry

Very good Fox News Video on Canadian Gun Registry.

See also this article (When I get a direct link, I will put it up.)

PUBLICATION: Calgary Herald
DATE: 2006.06.27
SECTION: The Editorial Page
COLUMN: Danielle Smith
BYLINE: Danielle Smith
SOURCE: For The Calgary Herald

Day misfires on registry claim

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day claimed in a news release last week that, "Canada's new Government fulfills commitment to abolish the long-gun registry." Turns out he was overstating things. If you talk to gun owners, they will tell you the government position is a massive betrayal.

Killing the registry while keeping the licensing requirements is not what gun owners had in mind when they demanded the government scrap Bill C-68. Maintaining the licensing component is also not what Conservative Party members had in mind at the party's policy convention last year.

Party members passed a new firearms policy that said the government would repeal Canada's costly gun registry legislation and instead implement such measures as "mandatory minimum sentences for the criminal use of firearms; strict monitoring of high-risk individuals; crackdown on smuggling; safe storage provisions; firearms safety training; a certification screening system for all those wishing to acquire firearms legally; and putting more law enforcement officers on our streets."

The idea of requiring a "licence" for law-abiding gun owners was debated by party delegates and voted down in favour of certification. The difference is huge.

Licensing and registering firearms is, in theory, similar to licensing and registering cars: you need a valid driver's licence to drive on public streets and you need to register your vehicle separately.

There is value in registering cars: police can run the licence plate on a vehicle to check for outstanding warrants, it is an easy way to track a car leaving the scene of a crime and it is a way for citizens to report a hit-and-run incident.

There is no comparable value in registering firearms. Nearly all guns used to commit crimes are not legally registered.

There is no value in the licensing scheme, either.

To understand just how offensive licensing is to gun owners, consider if the same rules for having a gun licence applied to having a driver's licence. Imagine what it would be like if you allowed your driver's licence to lapse, and you automatically became a criminal who could be thrown in jail for up to five years. Imagine if that lapse also allowed the police to raid your home and confiscate all your cars.

If you allow your driver's licence to lapse, you can still keep your car on your own property as long as you don't drive it on public streets. It is not a crime to simply own a car without having a valid driver's licence. Not so with firearms.

What is particularly perverse about the firearms licensing scheme is it only monitors legal gun owners. In a meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Nov. 24, 2004, MP Garry Breitkreuz questioned this logic: Under the licensing requirements, law-abiding gun owners are required to notify the government of a change of address, yet there is no requirement for the 201,097 individuals listed as "prohibited from possessing firearms" on the Canadian Police Information Centre database to notify government of a change of address.

If the government were interested in tracking individuals most likely to commit a crime, wouldn't they put reporting requirements on the latter group rather than the former? The firearms commissioner responded that firearms officers "have no authority to collect information from someone who is not a client of the program."

The government has it backwards. We should not have a registry of individuals who are allowed to own guns; we should have a registry of those who are too dangerous to own guns.

According to Breitkreuz, that should include "all persons prohibited from owning guns by the courts, all persons with an outstanding criminal arrest warrant, all persons with restraining orders against them, all persons with refused or revoked firearms licences and all individuals who have threatened violence."

A more effective registry would track known criminals, require them to report change of address, vigorously enforce ownership prohibition, and have severe penalties for those who violate the possession rules. Meanwhile, law-abiding gun owners would return to the kind of certification system we had before -- which required safety training and criminal background checks before a gun is purchased.

That's what Conservative Party members thought they were voting for when they passed the party's firearms policy. Does Day's proposal fulfil the government's commitment? Not by a long shot.

Supreme Court struck down Vermont's strict limits on campaign contributions and spending

This was a case that I was an expert witness for, and my side won.

The Supreme Court struck down Vermont's strict limits on campaign contributions and spending yesterday, in a splintered ruling that left intact the constitutional basis of current campaign finance laws but may make it difficult to put new curbs on money in politics.

Vermont's law, approved in 1997, was the toughest in the country with regard to setting limits on the amount individuals and parties may contribute to campaigns and, perhaps more significantly, on how much candidates may spend on their campaigns.

The measure was enacted as a direct challenge to Buckley v. Valeo , the 30-year-old Supreme Court ruling that has generally been read to permit limits on campaign contributions, for the purpose of stopping corruption or apparent corruption -- and to bar limits on candidates' spending as a violation of free speech.

A ruling in Vermont's favor would have opened the door to state and federal restrictions on spending by candidates. But, in a 6 to 3 vote, the justices opted to reject the state's law. . . . .

Even Justice Breyer notes:

That is because contribution limits that are too low can also harm the electoral process by preventing challengers from mounting effective campaigns against incumbent officeholders, thereby reducing democratic accountability. Were we to ignore that fact, a statute that seeks to regulate campaign contributions could itself prove an obstacle to the very electoral fairness it seeks to promote. Thus, we see no alternative to the exercise of independent judicial judgment as a statute reaches those outer limits. . . . .


New Op-ed on UN's Gun Control Negotiations


Jumping to conclusions on Porn and crime

Glenn Reynolds thinks that the fact that rapes have fallen since the late 1970s shows that pornagraphy at least does not increase rape rates.

"So while I won't go so far as to argue that porn actually prevents rape, it seems clear that the claims of some people — including a commission headed by former Attorney General Ed Meese back in the 1980s — that pornography promotes rape are, at best, overstated. I suspect, though, that anti-pornography crusaders are unlikely to heed this lesson."

It is very difficult (actually almost impossible) to infer much of anything from one piece of time-series data since so many other factors can be changing over time. For example, may be as women are more willing to report rapes, the costs of committing rapes has gone up, thus reducing the number of rapes. (This is the National Crime Victimization survey data that tries to get around the problem of figuring out rapes that are not reported to police.) The aging population also seems like a possible factor. In general though it seems like pornography was easier to find in the 1960s and 1970s than Reynolds seems to remember, but, in any case, if there were big geographic differences in the availability of porn, we should be able to track where rapes rates started falling first. I have no idea of what one would find, but Reynolds claim is very weak.

Thanks to Don Kates for alerting me to this post.

Update: Clayton Cramer has some useful points on this too. Clayton also points out that Reynolds didn't properly read the article that he was reading from and that the data started in 1979. The first year that the data could have shown a drop in rape was thus 1980.


The New Sounds of War

From the Strategy Page:

precision firepower, which has replaced the large scale, massive firepower tactics that dominated the 20th century. For most people, American smart bombs, like JDAM and laser guided bombs, represent "precision firepower." But the concept goes much farther than that. American infantry carry automatic weapons, but most of the time they fire one precise shot at a time. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the locals quickly get to know when American troops are fighting in the area. They are the ones firing single shots. The other guys, be they Taliban or Sunni Arabs, fire their AK-47s on full auto. But it's the sparser American firepower that dominates. Better training, and high tech sights, make the U.S. troops very accurate. Snipers are much more in evidence, with up to ten percent of American troops qualified for this kind of shooting.

U.S. artillery units have been using a GPS guided MLRS rocket for over a year. This 227mm weapon delivers a 200 pound warhead as accurately as a 500 pound JDAM. When it comes to bombs, smaller and more accurate is what the infantry prefer. That's because, once the bomb goes off, the grunts want to get in there and capture or kill the survivors before the shell shock wears off. American cannon (155mm) artillery units are eagerly awaiting the arrival of GPS equipped "Excalibur" smart shells later this year. Infantry commanders are particularly keen to have this hundred pound shell available, as it allows troops to be as close as "across the street" from the target.

This produces another unique battlefield sound portrait. You know American troops are at work when one shell goes off, followed by a few shots. No shouting, American troops use individual radios, hand signals and night vision equipment. They move fast, using minimal firepower. Less risk of friendly fire, or collateral damage (civilian casualties or property damage.) Battlefields have never sounded like this. . . . .

Thanks to Don Kates for pointing this out.


Whoopi Goldberg conservative on guns

Whoopi Goldberg likes guns and the death penalty. You might not agree with her on much else, but this was interesting and it would have been nice to have had her give her explanations.

Super foods for better brain function

Quotes for the upcoming UN Conference on Gun Regulation

Thanks to Dan GIfford (some of these were listed in previous posts):

"The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose."

James Earl Jones
U.N. wants global ban on guns
By Gina Parker
June 21, 2006

"I think that eventually Americans will realize that their obsession with arming themselves in fear, in a paranoid belief that they’re going to be able to stave off the ills of the world through owning guns, through turning every house into an arsenal, eventually Americans will go away from that."

Rebecca Peters
International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)
U.N. wants global ban on guns
June 21, 2006

"Uncontrolled proliferation of guns and other weapons also fuels human rights abuses and escalates conflicts ... It doesn't have to be like this."

(Amnesty's Control Arms Campaign believes a global Arms Trade Treaty is the solution. -- story text)

Amnesty International
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"Guns do not kill people. Bullets do ... the global bullet trade is out of control, fuelling conflict and human rights abuses. Also a new international survey from the Control Arms Campaign reveals that almost one in three people surveyed in six different countries have been affected by gun crime."

Oxfam International
Oxfam is a group of non-governmental organizations from three continents
working worldwide to fight poverty
June 20, 2006
Illegal arms and UN reform

"Arms supply chains are becoming increasingly sub-contracted and completely out of control. They are talking about curbing brokering but they haven't even got round to transport."

Brian Wood
Amnesty International's arms expert
June 20, 2006
Illegal arms and UN reform

"The global arms trade is dangerously unregulated, and allows weapons to reach repressive governments, human rights abusers and criminals. To address these concerns, three global organizations have joined together to launch an international campaign in over sixty countries, to reduce arms proliferation and misuse, and to introduce an international Arms Trade Treaty."

Oxfam International
Oxfam is a group of non-governmental organizations from three continents
working worldwide to fight poverty ...
June 20, 2006
Control Arms

"The United States believes that the responsible use of firearms is a legitimate aspect of national life."

John Bolton
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"Had it not been for our tradition of private firearms ownership, our citizens might still be subjects of the queen. Had it not been for America, all of Europe might be speaking German. Were America not the 'great arsenal of democracy' that President Franklin D. Roosevelt described in 1940, the world would be a far different place, and the sanctimonious bureaucrats at the U.N. might instead be working in labor camps."

Alan Gottlieb
Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF)
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"We have done much for the U.N., and in return, the organization has hosted despots, tyrants and dictators whose record of human rights abuses, aggression and genocide speaks for itself. And now comes an attack on our Constitution, on our national holiday. America has always
answered the call to help our international friends and neighbors, but when our very way of life is attacked, maybe it is time to find more worthy endeavors for our material and financial support."

Alan Gottlieb
Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF)
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"The growing trend of gun clubs on college campuses represents 'absolutely no problem' to one of America's top gun control groups. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, students who form such clubs will forever be a 'passionate minority.'"

Alison Espach
CNSNews.com Correspondent
June 22, 2006
Brady Campaign Dismisses Influence of College Gun Clubs

"I think that [the Brady Campaign's] prediction is demonstrably wrong. I'll continue to believe that until they explain to me why in recent years Democratic candidates have deliberately backed away from supporting the Brady position on gun control [which is] notoriously advising their candidates not to open their mouths on the gun issue because it has resulted in the defeat of a whole lot of left wing candidates."

Morton C. Blackwell
President of the Leadership Institute of the Campus Leadership Program
(CLP). It affiliates itself with conservative organizations such as Gun
Owners of America (GOA) and recruits paid field representatives to
identify and train conservative students to form clubs.
June 22, 2006
Brady Campaign Dismisses Influence of College Gun Clubs

"Who will save the children? Who will save them from guns? the Washington-based Children's Defense Fund issued a report saying in part that the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 'The number of children and teens killed by gun violence in 2003 alone exceeds the number of American fighting men and women killed in hostile action in Iraq from 2003 to April 2006 ... In 2003, 56 preschoolers were killed by firearms. In the same year, 52 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty ... The number of children and teens in America killed by guns in 2003 would fill 113 public school classrooms of 25 students each.' So who will save the children? Who will save them from guns?"

Dwight Lewis
Columnist, The Tennessean
June 22, 2006
Guns keep on robbing America of her young

"One Year After Kelo: New Reports Document Skyrocketing Eminent Domain Abuse"

in just the past year, more than 5,700 properties nationwide have been threatened by or taken with eminent domain for private development—a figure that compares with more than 10,000 examples over a five-year period preceding the Kelo argument, according to one of five reports released today by the Institute for Justice . . . . 25 states (out of the 45 that had legislative sessions this year) enacted legislation aimed at curbing the abuse of eminent domain.

It is amazing that you could have this 2.5 fold growth despite these new legal restrictions at the state level. One wonders what the rate of growth was in the states that didn't adopt legal restrictions relative to the ones that did. Of course there is the possibility that the taking cases are being rush through before legal restrictions are being imposed.

"Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq"

So I suppose that this means that the Democrats have lied when they claimed that Bush lied. I have always thought that those accusing Bush of lying were deliberately distorting what the word "lie" means, so I guess that means that they were always lying, but by their definition of "lying" it must be obvious that they were lying.

The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

Here is a video that is very interesting. Sadam's claim that all weapons were destroyed was "a lie." The administration has sat on this information because it apparently doesn't want to have this debate over again. I don't have a clue what the administration is thinking on all this. Here they have the evidence that shows that the WMDs were there and they fight about releasing even a small portion of that evidence.

Update: Here is the Democrat's response:

Democrats downplayed the intelligence report, saying that a lengthy 2005 report from the top U.S. weapons inspector contemplated that such munitions would be found. A defense official told FOX News that the weapons probably can't be used in their current form because of their age, but the report notes that they are still hazardous and possibly lethal to coalition forces.

This report contains all the response need: "but the report notes that they are still hazardous and possibly lethal to coalition forces."

Some discussion leading up to next week's UN Gun Control Conferemce

I am not sure how this proves gun control is good. The countries included in this survey have strict gun control.

Three in 10 people questioned in a six-nation survey have been the victim of gun crime or know someone who has been in the last five years, gun control campaigners said on Monday.

The survey of about 1,000 people in each of Brazil, Britain, Canada, Guatemala, India and South Africa found widespread support for tighter international restrictions on trade in firearms, the Control Arms campaign said in a statement.

Control Arms is a joint initiative by human rights group Amnesty International, charity Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms, made up of hundreds of groups from around the world seeking tighter gun controls. . . .

For more on the UN gun control push see: "UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed as Insult to USA" and "NRA unloads on U.N.".

In a very unusual action, the UN claims that it doesn't want to take guns away from people:
Americans mistakenly worried the United Nations is plotting to take away their guns on July 4 -- U.S. Independence Day -- are flooding the world body with angry letters and postcards, the chairman of a U.N. conference on the illegal small arms trade said on Wednesday.

"I myself have received over 100,000 letters from the U.S. public, criticizing me personally, saying, 'You are having this conference on the 4th of July, you are not going to get our guns on that day,"' said Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka's U.N. ambassador.

For those pushing the gun control see: BBC on the push ("need") for international regulaiton and Reuters for a similar set of claims.

Translating Amazon.com ratings into book sales


"Cars" gets a high rating.

"Cars" is a very good movie, and, as Joni Ogle wrote me, it is "cute." I don't think that I liked it as much as "The Incredibles" (that movie's extolling the virtues of being talented was just too good), but "Cars" has basically a good message and is done in a nice way. When you think about it, cars are pretty politically incorrect, especially race cars. I was a little concerned that there were so many possible politically correct environmental messages that could have been put in the picture, but thankfully I didn't notice anything. The movie also had lots of nice touches (the Cadillac shaped mountains behind the town, the pin striping on the Porche's rear end, the way that the trophy was pushed out towards the winner of the last race, and on and on). Any movie that makes young kids have a positive view of race cars has to be rated by me as good.


Bizarre exercise video

Kennedy ensures that the Clean Water Act will mean a lot of work for lawyers

So much for judges trying to establish clean clear rules. If both sides on the Supreme Court's decision on the Clean Water Act agree on anything, it is that there will be a lot more litigation. The Pacific Legal Foundation at least did win the case that was before the court (though Jonathan Adler warns that this victory might be very short-lived.). From the Washington Post:

In yesterday's ruling, a five-justice majority agreed that the Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency on wetlands regulation, exceeded its authority when it denied two Michigan developers permits to build on wetlands. The court said the Corps had gone beyond the Clean Water Act by making landowners obtain permits to dump rocks and dirt not only in marshes directly next to lakes and rivers but also in areas linked to larger bodies of water only through a network of ditches and drains.

But there was no clear majority as to where the Corps should have drawn the line, with a four-justice plurality made up of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. arguing for an across-the-board reduction in the Corps' regulatory role but Kennedy rejecting that view and calling for a case-by-case approach.

The net effect of the most important Clean Water Act case to reach the court in recent years was thus neither the outright rollback of federal wetlands regulation that property rights advocates have long sought nor the reaffirmation of the Clean Water Act that environmental organizations had desired.

Getting rid of the electoral college?: Proponents aren't thinking very clearly

Some states are moving to get rid of the electoral college. The idea is to have each state's electoral votes determined by the winner of the national popular vote. Of the six states that are going to be voting on these initiatives California, New York and Illinois are Democratic states and Colorado, Missouri and Louisiana generally Republican in presidential elections. Obviously this represents more Democratic electoral votes than Republican ones. Democrats might think that this will encourage people to campaign in California and New York, but if you campaign in Florida, you get two returns: increase the probability of carrying Florida plus increasing the probability that you will get California's and New York's electoral votes. As more states adopt these rules, it will make it more similar to the popular vote determining the outcome of the election. But if only a few states adopt the rules, they will make those states largely irrelevant. Suppose that California was the only state to adopt the rule? There would then be clearly less of a reason to campaign in California than there is now.

It is my understanding that some states who are voting on this have a provision that it won't go into effect until states with a majority of electoral votes have adopted this, but at first glance it appears that even with some states requiring a majority of the electoral votes go this way, there would still be a bigger return to campaign in the states where you would get both electoral votes and popular votes.


Jumps in Logic on Global Warming

It is very disappointing to see so many people assume that if there is global warming, that the conclusion is that we should do something about it. Even if global warming is significantly man-made (not something do to changes in energy output from the sum), it is not clear that we should want to stop it. The theories of global warming indicate that the warming involves raising low temperatures, not increasing high temperatures. Growing seasons will increase, meaning for food. How can warmer winters be so bad? Here is the survey results:

From what you know about global climate change or global warming, which one of the following statements comes closest to your opinion?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun. 2006 . . .Jul. 1999

Global climate change has been
established as a serious problem and
immediate action is necessary . . . . . .29% . . . 23%

There is enough evidence that climate change is
taking place and some
action should be taken . . . . . . . . . . .30% . . . 28%

We don’t know enough about global climate
change, and more research is necessary before we
take any actions .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28% . . . 32%

Concern about global climate change is unwarranted
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9% . . . 11%

Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 4% . . . 6%

Labels: ,

American Hunters and Shooters Association, revisited

I have gotten several inquiries about a posting that I had last year on an organization set up on guns by Democrats. THe information that I had posted on the American Hunters and Shooters Association can be found here. I am not sure why there is this sudden interest, but please feel free to look at these old posts.


Some Spending Earmarks Detailed

The question to me is: why should the Federal government be doing most of what it is doing? If localities like pools, great. Let them pay for it. If they want an athelitic facility, great. Let them pay for it. The problem isn't just earmarks, it is the problem with massive ranges of Federal spending. It was no different for government spending on police or even responsiveness to local disasters. The benefits of most of these expenditures are easily obtained the state effected. Given that there is no reason that the costs couldn't be also.

1,500 new earmarks at a cost of some $900 million.

They include $500,000 for a scenic trail in Monterey, California; $1.5 million for the William Faulkner Museum in Oxford, Mississippi; $500,000 for a swimming pool in Columbus, Ohio; and $500,000 for an athletic facility in Yucaipa, California. Several of these projects, including the athletic facility, have been promoted by Bill Lowery's lobbying firm--the very firm in the middle of the Jerry Lewis probe.

On Wednesday Jeff Flake of Arizona and other Members offered amendments to strip the earmarks, but they lost those floor votes by a wide margin. Our favorite: a $500,000 earmark for renovating a swimming pool in Banning, California. The same pool had already received a $250,000 earmark in each of the previous two years. Mr. Flake's floor proposal to strike the swimming hole subsidy got all of 61 votes. . . . .


Devaluing achievement: "everyone can be a winner," what it means to be a valedictorian

"Rarely received a B" means that you get a 4.0. Well, yes, when AP classes are graded on a 5.0 scale. So if you take AP classes, a "B" student can be valedictorian.

"At this time, I would like to award all 41 students who have achieved that honor," Meier said as the crowd cheered. "I tell these guys," Meier joked, "the only thing I have in common with them is I rarely received a B in high school myself." . . . .

As high school graduates across the region accept their diplomas this month, one tradition has changed greatly. The title of valedictorian -- the coveted top slot for the brainiest student -- is no longer necessarily reserved for the single best student.

A growing number of schools, such as Robinson, bestow the title on every graduate who earns a grade-point average of 4.0 or higher. . . . .

Concealed Carry Permit holder defends himself in a robbery

A Virginian-Pilot carrier who was delivering newspapers early Thursday shot and wounded one of two youths who tried to rob him, police said.

Police planned to charge the youths, who were in custody, with attempted robbery and related crimes. Their ages and identities were not released. The injured youth was hospitalized under guard Thursday, according to Cpl. Ollan Burruss, a police spokesman. His wounds were not considered life-threatening.

Police said the shooting happened about 2:52 a.m. in the vicinity of the 3500 block of Chesapeake Blvd . The carrier, who is an independent contractor and not an employee of the newspaper, had just started his route when he encountered the two.

The carrier i s not facing charges, Burruss said.

"They were trying to rob him, and he defended himself," he said.


Apparently there are good reasons to sleep with your gun under your pillow

I have never known someone who has actually done this (it seems like you would find it quite uncomfortable sometimes, though may be he uses a really big pillow). Anyway, I am sure that Mr. Brown believes that sleeping with a gun under his pillow was well worth any discomfort.

Willie Brown shrugged off the noises downstairs early Thursday, but the 74-year-old was fully awake when he saw a man holding a knife in his bedroom doorway.

"He said, 'Don't move, I got a knife.' I said, 'You got a knife, huh?' He said, 'Yeah.'"

"I reached under my pillow and came up firing my .38 Smith and Wesson. He said, 'Oops' and turned and ran down the steps. I followed and shot him again," Brown said.

The suspect hopped out of the window he broke to enter Brown's house at 3912 Caseyville Ave. and ran across his yard, Brown said. East St. Louis Police did not identify the suspect, but said he was arrested Thursday as he was fleeing. . . .

"He appeared to be heading right into me," Williams said. "He hollered out that he'd been shot. I took off behind him with lights and my siren on. At 40th Street and Caseyville Avenue, Washington Park police officer Wendell Wilson blocked him in. I took his car keys," Williams said.

Williams said he saw blood on the back of the suspect's red and white shirt. There was a bullet hole in the man's back.

The suspect's condition was not immediately available and police would not say how many times he was shot. Brown said he thinks he hit him with at least two of the three rounds he fired.

East St. Louis Detective Ricky Perry, who is investigating the case, said police were called to Brown's home at 4:48 a.m. Brown's handgun was taken by police.

Although it's not likely Brown will be charged, Perry said he would present the case to the state's attorney's office and let them make a decision.

On Feb. 8, an 87-year-old woman on Gaty Avenue shot and killed Larry Tillman as he was breaking into her home. She had previously been beaten by an intruder, believed to have been Tillman , and was not charged in the shooting. . . .

Thanks very much to Guav for giving me a link to a story that did a better job of covering the story. I have changed it to the link that he gave me.

iPods and Baseball, even better together


I thought that gun bans would stop this

Oops. Apparently people have figured out how to make weapons themselves. In any case, the problem that I have with this article is one of causation. Guns fuel crime, but may be there is some desire to commit crime that creates the desire to get the weapons and that there are a lot of different weapons to pick from.

BEIJING (Reuters) - The illegal manufacture and sale of weapons is fuelling a crime wave in poorer parts of China, police said on Tuesday.

Knife attacks have become a particular problem in a country where crime has boomed along with the economy for the past two-and-a-half decades, threatening government control and stability.

"Some evil forces and crooks always carry around illegal blades, using them for fights and resisting the law, whipping them out at the drop of a hat," Xu Hu, deputy director of the police's public order division, told a news conference.

The number of incidents using explosives has fallen every year for the last four in the country that invented gunpowder.

But police spokesman Wu Heping voiced concern at the news conference about their continued availability thanks to a huge market for fertilisers and a thriving mining industry.

"At present, the security management situation of explosives, guns and ammunition is still not optimistic," Wu said. "...In some parts of the country incidents continue to happen, seriously threatening people's lives and property." . . . . .

I thank RGriff for sending me this.

Media and Terrorism: Good for each other?

I know Bruno and he is a good, well known economist. Despite its name however, the Granger Causality test doesn't really test causality. It just says that if there is a change in one variable, there is a change after that in the change of some other variable. That is interesting, but it isn't a test of causality. It would have been nice to have more media covered than just two newspapers, though I presume that there is a lot of correlation between coverage in the NY Times and the rest of the media. My work with Kevin Hassett, however, indicates that there are significant differences across even just newspapers.

More ink equals more blood, claim two economists who say that newspaper coverage of terrorist incidents leads directly to more attacks.

It's a macabre example of win-win in what economists call a "common-interest game," say Bruno S. Frey of the University of Zurich and Dominic Rohner of Cambridge University.

"Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents," their study contends. Terrorists get free publicity for themselves and their cause. The media, meanwhile, make money "as reports of terror attacks increase newspaper sales and the number of television viewers."

The researchers counted direct references to terrorism between 1998 and 2005 in the New York Times and Neue Zuercher Zeitung, a respected Swiss newspaper. They also collected data on terrorist attacks around the world during that period. Using a statistical procedure called the Granger Causality Test, they attempted to determine whether more coverage directly led to more attacks.

The results, they said, were unequivocal: Coverage caused more attacks, and attacks caused more coverage -- a mutually beneficial spiral of death that they say has increased because of a heightened interest in terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. . . . .

Using Riflery Training to Overcome Social Differences

Rifle Bonding
June 9, 2006
Malaysia has come up with a novel approach to encourage its next generation to live together more harmoniously: teach them to use guns.

Amid much handwringing about continuing distrust between the country's majority Malay population and its Chinese and Indian minorities, Kuala Lumpur's policy makers this week announced a proposal to help teenagers of all ethnicities bond: the government's National Service Program will now require training in the use of rapid-fire M16 assault rifles.

Launched two years ago, the National Service Program puts tens of thousands of randomly selected 18-year-olds through three months of boot camp every year with the aim of teaching them to live better together. That bunching is something that rarely happens elsewhere in Malaysia, where members of the three main ethnic groups attend different schools and live largely separate lives. One recent survey found that only a third had ever shared a meal with someone from another race. No wonder the labels flew, with the same survey finding Malays are commonly called "lazy," Chinese "greedy," and Indians "untrustworthy." . . .

Sharing rifles may give teenagers a thrill in a country where possession of an unlicensed weapon is punishable by death. But neither this, nor the other bonding activities on the National Service program -- ranging from map reading to community service -- stand much chance of bridging the gulf dividing Malaysia's ethnic groups, so long as they know they'll be treated differently once again as soon as their three months in boot camp are over.

Thanks to Rex Chadwell for sending me this link.


Self Defense Gun Use Stories

April 20, 2006, Indianapolis, Indiana

DeAngelo Morrison felt lucky to be alive Wednesday, hours after he shot and killed a masked man armed with a shotgun who was chasing him into his Speedway apartment.

"He had a big gun," Morrison said. "We locked eyes. Honestly, I'm thinking this dude is coming to kill me.
"It was the craziest 30 to 45 seconds of my life."

Speedway police say Morrison, 21, was acting in self-defense when he fired his handgun at the two men rushing up the stairs at the West Wind Terrace Apartments, near I-465 and Crawfordsville Road.

The bullet struck DeShawn Givens, 21, in the chest and police said he died at the bottom of the stairwell. Givens and another man were planning to commit a robbery, police said. Givens was wearing a black mask and police found a shotgun near his body.

Givens' reported accomplice, Andre Washington, 19, faces initial charges of felony murder and attempted robbery. He is being held in the Marion County Jail.

Marion County prosecutors still are investigating the case and declined comment, but experts say Morrison may have been justified in his actions.

"At the end of the day, the law says if you have no other out and it appears you are about to get killed or seriously harmed, you don't have to send out a survey," said Scott Newman, the former Marion County prosecutor. "You can pull out a gun and defend yourself."

Just last month, Indiana became the third state to make clear that people have the right to use deadly force when threatened without first trying to back away. Indiana did not previously require residents to retreat before using a gun or other deadly weapon, but the new law clarified that point.

The reported robbers have lengthy criminal records, police said, while Morrison has a clean record and a permit to carry a gun. "All the evidence is basically lining up with what (Morrison) says," Assistant Police Chief Joel Rush said. . . . .

Thanks to Matthew Ledyard for sending me this story.

By the way, Eric Root sent me a couple of examples of self defense from his own life:

a couple of years ago, I encountered several drunk campers burning a picnic table at about 11:00 PM. I went a short distance from their campfire, called the police, and continued to track what they were doing. In retrospect, I misjudged the situation - thinking that it was more benign than it was. They ordered me to leave, and laughlingly said, "Good luck finding any evidence when the police get here." I remained where I could see them. Two men pursued me, eventually attacking me front and back. All three of us went to the ground, one on my back choking me and the other in front keeping my hands down and hitting me. After about a minute, I realized that this was not just about beating me up, but was a murder in progress - they were trying to kill me. There were other members of the group I was hoping would pull their buddies off, so there was still some possibility that I could get out of this without shooting either man. I cocked the pistol in my pocket and I began counting down to time the last moments to the point at which I would either take their lives or they would take mine. My patience was rewarded, their friends stopped the choking before I had to pull the trigger. They continued to hit me, but addressing that could wait for the police to show up.

Contrast that with another incident involving twelve weight lifters who I had earlier thrown off our property for inappropriate behavior. They had canoed downriver to another of our beaches where they were surrounding and threatening eight young women. When I arrived on the scene, about half of these guys were naked and it was clear to me that they were intending one or more rapes (the women confirmed afterwards that they thought the same thing on the basis of the obvious signs of excitement). I chased the nearest one off (the little noisy one I judged to be a coward), and shoved a second one into the water (the oldest one that I judged to be looking for an excuse to leave). Then the biggest of the men, who appeared to be the group's dominant member, came at me, demanding to know, "What are you going to do with me?' He was about 6' 3" tall, and weighed about 270 - almost none of which was fat. I told him that he was 35 pounds heavier and 30 years younger than I was, that I wasn’t going to fight him, I was going to shoot him. I also said that if his friends got behind me or did anything other than immediately leave, I was going to shoot him first. I was not bluffing, they knew it, they swore and threatened retaliation, but they left promptly. It is worth noting that the weapon involved was a derringer chambered for 45 Long Colt. I could not have wounded or killed more than two of them.

More Defensive Gun Use Stories can be found here as well as here.

Coffee as health food

Scientists v. Gore on Global Warming

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites?

No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field. . . . .

Thanks to Rob Moore for sending me this link.

Labels: ,

Canadians learn that terrorism affects them also: Support for troops in Afghanistan goes up

Lindgren's post on David Gross and the Survey data

Jim Lindgren has a new post that indicates that a concern Lindgren raised earlier that David Gross might have taken Hemenway's 1996 survey and not my 1997 survey. In bold type near the end of his post he notes:

"Since neither the demographics nor the descriptive accounts matched Gross to any Minnesota respondent, it seems clear that Gross was not surveyed by Hemenway in 1996."

Lindgren notes that it is possible that Gross may have taken another suurvey in 1997, but no such remotely similar survey has ever surfaced. Opponents, even those immersed in these issues, have not pointed to any remotely similar survey during anywhere near that time period. If Lindgren does not believe that Gross is making up this memory out of whole cloth and Lindgren claims that he believes that Gross did take a survey when Gross says that he did, either point to some other possible survey that was given around that time or concede that Gross took my 1997 survey. Of course, I raised this several years ago and at that time Lindgren pointed to the 1996 Hemenway survey. Now that Hemenway has finally released the data from that survey, it is clear to everyone that Gross could not have taken that survey. Rather than just conceding the point, Lindgren points to claimed inconsistencies in Gross's statements, but Gross strongly disagrees with those claims (see point 4a). David Mustard also states that Lindgren inaccurately reported what Mustard told Lindgren.

It is also very disappointing that Lindgren has put no pressure what so ever on getting Hemenway to release his 1999 data. However, Lindgren in a email to me this week indicates that: "By the way, when I talked with either Hemenway or the survey organization they used for the 1996 study, they suggested that for most of their studies after 1996, they had lists at least of the telephone numbers used (they didn't for the 1996 study except on paper in boxes someplace)." However, Hemenway told Jeff Parker earlier this year something quite different:

From: David Hemenway [mailto:hemenway@hsph.harvard.edu]
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2006 10:56 AM
To: Jeffrey Parker
Subject: Re: John Lott survey

Dear Jeffrey:
Unfortunately, it does not appear to be possible. I emailed the
survey firm which conducted the surveys, and they no longer have the data
on the phone numbers. Here is the email response I received.

Best Regards,

Just as he did for years with the 1996 survey, Hemenway has consistently refused to release the 1999 data.


Female store clerk uses gun to stop robbery

Lexington, KY, June 11, 2006

A Lexington store clerk shot and killed a man who attempted to rob a downtown market this morning, Lexington police said.

Charles F. Harmon, 26, of Lexington entered SubCity Market, at the corner of East Seventh Street and Shropshire Avenue, just before 9:30 a.m. and demanded money from the clerk behind the counter, Lexington police Lt. James Curless said. The clerk pulled out a handgun and shot Harmon, who stumbled outside the store and collapsed.

The clerk then called 911, Curless said. When firefighters arrived they performed CPR on Harmon and transported him to the University of Kentucky Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:58 a.m., according to Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn.

Police do not plan to file charges against the female store clerk, whom police did not identify.

Should off-duty and retired police in San Diego be able to carry guns? Apparently not according to some.

This post touches on something that I have been arguing for a long time (e.g., see here for one of my past pieces). I guess that I have a really hard time understanding why even the police or retired police can't be trusted to carry guns. I would trust more than just those individuals, but it seems very difficult for gun control advocates to continue claiming with a straight face that we can trust the police.

Police officer groups to continue lawsuit

By James Steinberg

June 7, 2006

DEL MAR – Off-duty and retired law-enforcement officers are permitted to bring their weapons to the 2006 San Diego County Fair when it opens Saturday, the fair board decided yesterday.

But the decision does not apply to future fairs, and it leaves intact a lawsuit pending in federal court brought by the Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego and the San Diego Police Officers Association. The lawsuit seeks to permanently prevent the board from enforcing the weapons restriction. . . .

So what is the value of a fish?

From Brendan Miniter at OpinionJournal.com's Political DIary:

Credit Rep. George Radanovich, a California Republican and chairman of the subcommittee on Water and Power, with eliciting one of the report's most chin-dropping disclosures: The Bonneville Power Administration routinely is forced to release water from one its power-generating dams to benefit a handful of salmon. The number of fish saved? Twenty. The value of the electricity lost downstream? Approximately $77 million -- about $3.85 million per fish.

Political correctness and breast-feeding

I am not sure that I understand this. It is OK to make parents "feel guilty" about second hand smoke (even when the science isn't there), but it is butting into people's business and improperly making them feel guilty to say that children are better off being breast feed. I definitely don't think that the government should get involved in either case, but is it me or is it just that there is a bias against making women feel that they should stay home raising their kids?

Child-rearing experts have long pointed to the benefits of breast-feeding. But critics say the new campaign has taken things too far and will make mothers who cannot breast-feed, or choose not to, feel guilty and inadequate. . . .

urging women to breast-feed exclusively is a tall order in a country where more than 60 percent of mothers of very young children work, federal law requires large companies to provide only 12 weeks' unpaid maternity leave and lactation leave is unheard of. Only a third of large companies provide a private, secure area where women can express breast milk during the workday, and only 7 percent offer on-site or near-site child care, according to a 2005 national study of employers by the nonprofit Families and Work Institute.

One could also add how having a child and breast-feeding, especially when the woman is at a relatively young age, reduces the risks of breast cancer. (This study doesn't differentiate by the age of the mother when she starts breast-feeding and this average effect hides the big benefit of doing it at younger ages.)

The study involved 50,302 women with breast cancer and 96,973 without the disease. According to the study, a woman's risk for breast cancer decreased by about 4.3 percent for every 12 months she breast-fed. The risk went down 7 percent more for every child born.

Is eminent domain causing a health threat?


Don Kates: "VICTORY IN SF!"

Email from Don Kates:

Last November San Francisco enacted what was billed as a handgun ban -- it banned and confiscated all handguns in the city and severely restricted even police access to handguns -- but also included a ban on sale of all long guns
This was Round 2: In 1982 San Francisco had enacted a similar handgun ban that did not apply to long guns at all. Twin cases were filed then, one by the NRA and one by me on behalf of the Second Amendment Foundation, and that ban was held invalid as contrary to state law.
As to the Nov., 2005 ban(s), suit was brought by a law firm w/ which I am Of Counsel, Trutanich & Michel, on behalf of the NRA and many individual San Franciscans. Today the SF Superior Court threw out the entire Ordinance. Kudos are due to a host of lawyers who filed amicus briefs including one for the Pink Pistols a group championing the right of gays to possess arms for self-defense.

The case is not over for the City will doubtless appeal.

LA Times Letter to Editor: Re "Shooting holes in a lawsuit," Opinion, May 31

Unfortunately, this letter was substantially shortened and somewhat altered the meaning due to space limits on letters. It is also unfortunate that the LA Times did not publish any letters from other academics who had written in.

Accusations on gun law research are unfounded
June 12, 2006

Re "Shooting holes in a lawsuit," Opinion, May 31

Jon Wiener claims that "nobody" tried to replicate my research, which demonstrated that right-to-carry laws reduce crime rates.

This is false. Not only has everyone who tried managed to replicate my findings, but many academics have gone beyond that and shown that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime under a variety of approaches
(see johnrlott.tripod.com/postsbyday/RTCResearch.html).

Wiener fails to note that since my research was published, not a single peer-reviewed publication has found that right-to-carry laws increase crime, and there is research that finds even larger drops than I found.

Wiener's Google search implies that many other scholars agree with his claims of research fraud. Yet Wiener fails to note that only about a sixth of the postings are actually scholars of any type.

Wiener claims that my defamation suit wants to "silence" certain claims of fraud. I and other academics have tried to engage Stephen D. Levitt in discussions on the accuracy of his claims, but he won't respond to us.

Instead, [Levitt] falsely charges that the research with which he disagrees was published only because the University of Chicago Press overrode the journal's editor, and that I bought the press' decision.


Here is one of the other letters that I know of from two academics:

In his op-ed piece, “Gun-research 'Freak'-out” (LA Times, May 31), Jon Wiener says, “Blocking the sale of a book based on a literal interpretation of a single word would be outrageous.” But this is not the issue. In Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner say, “When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott’s] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.” This statement is false under any reasonable interpretation. We replicated Lott’s results, as have many other scholars. If Levitt did not know this, then he was lax in his scholarship.
Levitt should know that among scholars “unable to replicate” is interpreted as “something is seriously wrong here.” Moreover, the phrase carries the suggestion of, at best, incompetence and, more likely, dishonesty.
Levitt should express his disagreement with Lott in a way that does not imply incompetence or dishonesty. It is thoroughly reasonable to require a publisher to revise a sentence for future sales if the existing sentence is false and defamatory.

Nicolaus Tideman
Blacksburg, VA

Florenz Plassmann
Ithaca, NY

See also:

Dear Mr. Goldberg:
At the end of his op-ed piece, “Gun-research 'Freak'-out” (LA Times, May 31), Jon Wiener says, “Blocking the sale of a book based on a literal interpretation of a single word would be outrageous.” But the relevant issue is not “a literal interpretation of a single word.” In Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner say, “When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.” This statement is false under any reasonable interpretation of the words.
In our understanding, and in the understanding of colleagues we consulted, what is generally meant in economics by replicating someone’s work is gathering the same data and analyzing them in the way that the original researcher had analyzed them. We took an interest in the issue of guns and crime when Lott’s work was first published. We gathered the data that he had used, analyzed it in the way that he described and got essentially the same results. Thus we replicated Lott’s work.
In some circumstances, what is meant by replicating someone’s work is to gather similar data and analyze it in the same way. But that interpretation would not be relevant here, because (as often happen in economics) the data that Lott used were all of the data that were available.
Should “replicate” be stretched to mean “undertake similar analyses and reach similar results”? Well, we analyzed the guns and crime data in additional ways that we regarded as interesting and reached results that were broadly in agreement with those that Lott had reached.
Is there any reason why our work (“Does the Right to Carry Concealed Handguns deter Countable Crimes? Only a Count Analysis Can Say,” Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001, Volume 44, Number 2, Part 2, pp.771-798), should not count as a replication of Lott’s work? Wiener quotes in apparent endorsement Levitt’s assertion that, “for $15,000 [Lott] was able to buy an issue [of the Journal of Law and Economics] and put in only work that supported him.” This is not what happened. We presented our work at a conference that Lott organized. At Lott’s invitation, we submitted our work for a special issue of the Journal of Law and Economics that Lott arranged. A letter from an editor (Sam Peltzman, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago) informed us that we would need to address the concerns of a referee who had reviewed our work before a decision would be made as to whether it would be published. A later letter for Peltzman informed us that our revision in response to the referee’s comments was accepted. Thus our work was not “put in” the Journal of Law and Economics by Lott but rather accepted for publication after scholarly review.
The basic issue between Lott and Levitt is not whether the results of either scholar can be replicated, but rather what statistical analyses are appropriate to make inferences about the effect on crime of allowing more citizens to carry guns. It is not unreasonable to require Levitt to find a way to express his analytical disagreement with Lott without implying that others who analyze the data in the way that Lott did do not get the same results. While lawyers are better suited to opine on what legal measures are appropriate to achieve this end, it seems to us not unreasonable, prima facie, to require a publisher to revise a sentence for future sales if the existing sentence is false and defamatory.


Florenz Plassmann
Associate Professor of Economics, Binghamton University
Nicolaus Tideman
Professor of Economics, Virginia Tech


Edwards edges out Clinton in Iowa Poll

The fact that Democratic heavy weights such as Tom Daschle and Al Gore are toying with entering the Democratic primaries indicates to me that there is a lot of doubt about Hillary being a strong candidate.

Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina leads a list of potential Democratic presidential candidates while Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack holds fourth place, trailing Edwards by 20 points in an early test of support among likely Iowa caucus participants.

A new Iowa Poll conducted for The Des Moines Register shows that Edwards, the runner-up in the Iowa Democratic caucuses two years ago and a frequent visitor to the state since then, is the choice of 30 percent of Iowans who say they are likely to take part in the January 2008 caucuses.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York follows on Edwards' heels with 26 percent in the Iowa Poll.

Experts say it's the first poll showing anyone besides Clinton as the preferred Democrat in the race for the White House.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who used his victory in the 2004 caucuses as a springboard to the Democratic presidential nomination that year, is a distant third in the Iowa Poll with 12 percent.

Vilsack, despite getting good marks in previous polls for the job he's done in two terms as governor, receives relatively tepid support from his home state in the Register's new presidential poll, taken May 29 to June 1. Ten percent of likely caucus participants say that if the caucuses were held today, they would vote for him. . . . .

Here is a heading about Daschle: "Daschle says he is energized by campaign trip"

Gun Crime in Scotland

Guns replacing knives at the sharp end of city gang culture (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Note the connection to illegal drugs. Thanks to John Williamson for sending the link.

Only 26 percent of Canadians support their current medical care system

Wal-Mart Quickly Going Nutsy Politically Correct

Recently I noted how Wal-Mart had stopped selling guns at 1,000 stores. Now it is giving away free gun locks, moving away from free trade (at least on items that are not politically correct), and supporting minimum wage laws. With the Sam Walton family dying off, the new people who have taken control don't have the same values. On the so-called "fair trade coffee" issue, my rule is simply to buy the cheapest coffee, just as it doesn't make much sense to have customers of steel in the US pay higher prices just to protect jobs in some industries at the expense of jobs in others (e.g., cars and other companies that make things out of steel). If it turns out that Brazilian cooperatives produce the cheapest coffee, fine. But if that is the case, I don't understand why anything special needs to be made of the term "fair trade."

Gun locks available for free at Wal-Mart

For Wal-Mart, Fair Trade May Be More Than a Hill of Beans

Wal-Mart calls for minimum wage hike


The Unintended Consequences of a Government Fix

Thousands of pounds of armor added to military Humvees, intended to protect U.S. troops, have made the vehicles more likely to roll over, killing and injuring soldiers in Iraq, a newspaper reported.

"I believe the up-armoring has caused more deaths than it has saved," said Scott Badenoch, a former Delphi Corp. vehicle dynamics expert told the Dayton Daily News for Sunday editions.

Since the start of the war, Congress and the Army have spent tens of millions of dollars on armor for the Humvee fleet in Iraq, the newspaper reported Sunday.

That armor - much of it installed on the M1114 Humvee built at the Armor Holdings Inc. plant north of Cincinnati - has shielded soldiers from harm.

But serious accidents involving the M1114 have increased as the war has progressed, and the accidents were much more likely to be rollovers than those of other Humvee models, the newspaper reported. . . . .

Reviewing Self-defense cases in Florida after stand your ground law put into effect

Michael Brady didn't think about his rights when he shot and killed a stranger in his front yard. He says he was just scared.

Brady is one of at least 13 people in Central Florida who pulled the trigger this year under a new law that loosens restrictions on the use of deadly force in self-defense.

They killed six men and wounded four more. All but one of the people shot were unarmed. So far, three of the shooters have been charged. Five have been cleared; the other cases are under review.

It is too early to tell whether the law makes Floridians safer or puts them at greater risk. There are no statistics on the number of self-defense claims statewide before or after the law took effect Oct. 1.

But an Orlando Sentinel review of five months of court records in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties shows widespread differences in the way claims are investigated and prosecuted. . . .

Whether the new law has added too much gray area for investigators is unclear. But there is a wide range in how investigations of self-defense claims have been conducted. Some have involved more than 20 hours of detectives' time, while other cases were never reviewed by detectives.

In one case, for instance, an off-duty Maitland police officer was arrested after shooting and wounding his host and another guest at a Jan. 15 party near Casselberry.

Despite claiming he feared for his life, Daniel Metevier was jailed by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office on two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

The charges were dropped two months later, after Metevier, 30, underwent a lengthy tape-recorded interview with prosecutors. . . . .

As Robert points out in the comment section beating me to the punch, none of these cases obviously took place because of the new rules. No comparison is made to previous years. No evidence is provided that any of these individuals even claimed that they behaved differently because of the law. Despite the anti-gun nature of the piece, no cases are actually pointed to saying that the new law has resulted in any different out come, legally or otherwise.


Like Chicago, West Virginia apparently has dead people voting


Democrats won't let Delay Off the ballot

Is this the same political party that got US Senator Robert Torricelli replaced on the ballot with just weeks to go before the election?

In a surprise twist to the Tom DeLay saga, the Texas Democratic Party filed suit Thursday in an attempt to keep the resigning Republican Congressman’s name on the November ballot.

The suit, filed in Travis County 126th District Court, seeks to undo an hours-old declaration by Republican Party Chair Tina Benkiser that DeLay is ineligible to run in the general election.

If DeLay doesn’t serve as the party’s candidate for Congressional District 22, then according to the Texas Election Code, no other candidate is allowed to replace him, the suit says.

Lawyers for Houston’s Riddle & Brazil law firm, which filed the action, obtained a temporary restraining order at about 5:10 p.m. from Judge Darlene Byrne. Sources familiar with the case said the order prevents Benkiser from calling a meeting of the so-called District Executive Committee or taking other measures to replace DeLay as the Republican Party nominee for CD-22. . . .

"Democrats call Zarqawi killing a stunt"


"Burgled [UK] MP wants home stun guns"

It is obviously too politically incorrect to note that there are problems with stun guns (e.g., the criminal wearing rubber soled shoes or heavy coats) and that because of those problems guns have some advantages.

An MP whose house was burgled while his family and visitors slept has called for homeowners to be allowed to arm themselves with Taser stun guns. . . . .

Mr Davies added: "Shouldn't I, at the very least, be able to stand at the top of my stairs with a Taser - which isn't going to kill somebody - and use that as a means of self defence?" . . .

Although voicing support for Mr Davies, Victim Support Wales advised against home owners being armed with the electronic stun guns.

John Trew, Victim Support's national officer for Wales, said; "I don't think there is a problem with people using reasonable force to defend themselves."

But he said if there were burgling your house, people should "ring the police, don't try to take them on." . . .

New Orleans Police Chief backs off New Threat to take guns

So will Canadians Become more Sympathetic to American's on the Terrorism Issue?

NRA v. Gun Owners of America Differences


Rudy Giuliani most popular national politician

I am not sure why Obama is second (what has he accomplished?), but in any case here are the results.

Polling Data

I’d like to get your feelings toward some of our political leaders and other people who have been in the news. I’ll read the name of a person and I’d like you to rate that person using something called the feeling thermometer. You can choose any number between 0 and 100. The higher the number, the warmer or more favourable you feel toward that person, the lower the number, the colder or less favourable. If we come to a person who you haven’t heard enough about to form an opinion, you don’t need to rate the person. Just tell me and we’ll move on to the next one.

. . . . . . . Mean Rating . . . .Unknown to

Rudy Giuliani 63.5 __ __ 13%

Barack Obama 58.4 __ __ 55%

Condoleezza Rice 56.1 __ __ 9%

John McCain 56.0 __ __ 17%

Hillary Rodham Clinton 49.9 __ __ 2%

John Edwards 49.4 __ __ 21%

Joseph Biden 48.8 __ __ 55%

Evan Bayh 47.9 __ __ 74%

Mitt Romney 47.5 __ __ 67%

Mark Warner 47.1 __ __ 72%

George Allen 46.8 __ __ 72%

Al Gore 45.7 __ __ 3%

Chris Dodd 45.3 __ __ 64%

John Kerry 45.2 __ __ 6%

Russ Feingold 45.1 __ __ 62%

George W. Bush 42.9 __ __ --

Bill Frist 41.8 __ __ 51%

Donald Rumsfeld 41.5 __ __ 12%

Dick Cheney 40.5 __ __ 5%

Source: Quinnipiac University Polling Institute
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,534 registered American voters, conducted from May 23 to May 30, 2006. Margin of error is 2.3 per cent.

May be everyone does understand the importance of defensive gun use?

The votes on these bills have been absolutely overwhelming. If this doesn't show that everyone understands that guns are necessary to defend people when the police can't be there, I don't know what does.

Start of hurricane season triggers gun debate

By Carrie Sheffield
June 6, 2006

The start of hurricane season has become a selling point for gun-rights legislation spurred by Hurricane Katrina.
During the during storm’s chaotic aftermath, government officials hoping to ensure public safety seized hundreds of legally owned guns from Louisiana residents, some seeking to protect themselves from pillagers and assailants. The seizures have triggered outrage among gun-rights activists, spawning a lawsuit and bills nationwide to ban future confiscations.

“These people were left to defend themselves from criminals,” said Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA). “It really became the proving ground for what American gun owners have always feared, and that’s the day that bureaucrats threw the Bill of Rights in the trash can.”

Cox and other lobbyists are pushing for a bill that would ban government officials from seizing firearms during emergencies, saying it would ensure protection for law-abiding citizens when they need it most. Opponents say it could hamper law enforcement’s ability to stabilize turbulent situations. . . .

Since Katrina, state legislators in Louisiana, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida and Arizona have unveiled bills that would ban weapons seizures by state and local officials during emergencies. In Washington, S. 2599 and H.R. 5013 would prevent federal officials from making the confiscations. Proponents are using the start of the hurricane season last week as a selling point for moving the legislation swiftly.

“It’s a very important bill based on our experience, especially with hurricane season starting June 1 this year,” said the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.).

Gun-rights strategists say they will easily garner enough votes to approve the federal measure, prompting critics to condemn what could result in the suspension of local gun-control laws and could make criminals of law-enforcement officials who confiscate abandoned weapons.

In the House, members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, including ranking member Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), approved the bill on a voice vote May 17. . . .

"Gun Sales Rise as Crime and Accident Rates Fall"

The data below was collected from the NSSF. I strongly disagree with their positions on issues such as gun locks and their position on Project ChildSafe, because I think that it actually costs more lives by making people fearful of guns. In any case, they have updated some interesting data:

NEWTOWN, Conn.--New statistics show that firearm and ammunition sales are on the rise, coinciding with steady downward trends in gun crime, suicide and accident rates, in the U.S.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry, has released U.S. Dept. of the Treasury figures indicating that 2005 retail sales of firearms and ammunition rose 2.6 percent for a total volume of $2.1 billion.

For the year, approximately 4.7 million new guns were sold, bringing the estimated number of citizen-owned firearms in the U.S. to more than 290 million. The number of American households with at least one firearm is now estimated at nearly 110 million.

Of the various firearm types, the sharpest gains were seen in retail sales of handguns (pistols and revolvers). Handgun sales rose 3 percent while long-gun (rifle and shotgun) sales rose 1.8 percent.

Ammunition sales rose 3.5 percent. . . .


Lack of news coverage by mainstream media about congressional candidate encouraging illegal aliens to vote in race

This is from John Fund writing in today's OpinionJournal's Political Diary:

But almost no national media outlet has covered the late-breaking news that may decide the election. Last Thursday, Ms. Busby addressed a group of supporters and in response to a question in Spanish about how someone who was an illegal alien could help, she answered: "You don't need papers for voting," she said. "You don't need to be a registered voter to help." Even more troubling for her is the fact that someone in the audience taped her statement and gave it to San Diego talk-show host Roger Hedgecock.

The San Diego Union-Tribune picked up on the story over the weekend, and included Ms. Busby's strained explanation that she intended only to say that people too young to vote could still help with volunteer work in her campaign.

The incident hurts Ms. Busby because much of her campaign has been focused on her fight against corruption, especially in the sullied area of Congressional "earmarks," the pork-barrel projects that figured prominently in Rep. Cunningham's votes-for-cash bribery scandal. Now Ms. Busby has been caught in an apparent endorsement of either vote fraud or, most charitably, encouraging illegal aliens to help in her campaign. Should she lose on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if the national media belatedly identify her slip of the tongue as a factor in her defeat. Alternately, should she win on Tuesday, will media outlets ask any questions about possible voter irregularities, such as whether any of the thousands of newly registered voters in the district weren't eligible?.

Did New York CIty agents violate gun control laws?


87 Year Old Woman Protects Herself With Gun

East St. Louis
An 87-year-old woman who fatally shot a would-be intruder will not be charged with a crime, even though she did not legally own the gun, authorities said Monday.

On Feb. 7, Jacksie Mae King fired several shots through the front door of her house after she woke up about 2 a.m. to the sounds of someone trying to break in.

One bullet hit Larry Tillman, 49, who was on the other side of the door, standing on King's enclosed porch.

He lay dead on the porch in the 2100 block of Gaty Avenue for four hours before he was found by King's daughter, who came to bring breakfast about 6 a.m. Meanwhile, King stayed inside clutching the pistol.

"She was justified in using deadly force to defend herself against the threat of deadly force," said Robert B. Haida, the St. Clair County state's attorney.

King did not have a Firearm Owner's Identification card, which is required to own a gun in Illinois, Haida said.

He said it would be inappropriate in the interest of justice to prosecute her for the illegally owned gun.

King's daughter gave her the .32-caliber Colt revolver two months earlier after a man broke into King's house in December. That intruder beat her and stole some of her things. . . .

Has the New Orleans Police Chief Learned Nothing from Last Year?


Most people favor the death penalty for a person convicted of murder

Canadian Liberals in New Campaign Finance Donation Scandal


Man Shoots burglar

GRAND RAPIDS -- A man shot while trying to break into an Oakfield Township home last month was armed with a handgun, giving Marcus Diamond cause to fear for his life, Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth has determined.

Forsyth said today he will not charge Diamond, 34, for the May 12 shooting that injured Fernando Olivas, 18, outside a rural home on 15 Mile Road NE. The prosecutor's decision is based on police finding a gun Olivas allegedly carried to the house. Olivas apparently reached for the weapon before Diamond fired.

"When Mr. Olivas 'reached into his pocket,' the shooter believed he posed an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm," Forsyth ruled. "The fact that Mr. Olivas was armed clearly validates his belief.

"Even if Mr. Olivas was not reaching for his weapon, the shooter had an honest and reasonable belief that he was."

Olivas and Edgar Hernandez, 17, who both face multiple felony charges, are accused of trying to enter the home of William "Jake" Kish. They believed Kish grew marijuana and had unregistered guns inside, court documents show.

Olivas, who was shot in the back, told The Press in an earlier interview he and Hernandez went to the house, 10739 15 Mile Road NE, with the intent to burglarize it. In the interview, Olivas denied having a gun.

He since has refused to comment on the incident.

Forsyth said declining to charge Diamond is not an indication of the teenagers' guilt.

Diamond's sister said the family was relieved to learn he would not face criminal charges. Diamond could not be reached for comment.

"He wasn't too worried, but it was good to hear," the sister said, declining to identify herself. "He did what he knew he had to do." . . . .

Thanks to Matthew Ledyard for sending me this link.

Krauthammer discusses Barry Bonds and Steroids

Charles Krauthammer has a good piece in today's Washington Post. I have made these basic points before, though he may have done a better job of expressing the point.

. . . The idea that an athlete of Bonds's stature, for whom the body is both temple and bank vault, would be mistakenly ingesting substances is implausible, made all the more so by the evidence dredged up by two San Francisco sportswriters detailing Bonds's (alleged) gargantuan consumption of every performance-enhancing drug from steroids to human growth hormone.

But why should we care? What is really wrong with performance enhancement? We say we are against it because it diminishes striving, devalues achievement, produces a shortcut to greatness, etc. But in many endeavors we don't really care about any of that. Medical residents at hospitals have been known to take Ritalin to keep themselves alert on overnight shifts. If it enhances their thinking in the emergency room, what's the objection?

Many public speakers, performers and even some surgeons take beta-blockers to literally still their hearts and steady their hands. I've never seen a banner at the opera complaining: "Pavarotti does it on pasta." And what about the military, which pioneered some of these performance-enhancing studies to see how they could help soldiers survive the most extreme stresses? Isn't that an unqualified good?

Performance enhancement turns out to be disturbing only in the narrow context of competition, most commonly in sports. And the objection is not cheating nature but cheating competitors. It's basically a fairness issue.

When everyone has access to technological improvements (graphite tennis rackets, titanium drivers, more tightly wound baseballs) the sport may be transformed, but the playing field remains level. When technology is enhancing the equipment, fans become quickly reconciled to the transformation. (And it can be radical: The transition from bamboo to fiberglass totally changed the pole vault.) But when technology enhances the physiology of the athlete, we tend to recoil. . . . .


Has Europe gone nuts?

I am still trying to figure out how free train travel fits in with the other proposals, though may be it is just obvious so that people can see each other to do the other things that the party is advocating. It seems amazing to me, but this new party seems to be getting some support.

Last month, the NVD [Charity, Freedom and Diversity Party] presented its platform. The party seeks to lower the legal age for sexual relations in the Netherlands from 16 years to 12 years, decriminalize child pornography, bestiality and the consumption of all drugs, and make train travel free.

In order to officially take part in the January 2007 legislative election, the NVD requires 570 signatures of support. Party co-founder Ad van den Berg explained his rationale for allowing paedophilia, saying, "A ban just makes children curious." . . . .

50 songs that conservatives love?

50 songs that conservatives love? I am not sure that I agree with all of these. The ones that I owned of these and liked are:

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down -- I have it by Joan Baez, not The Band (What can I say, I have a weakness for the South.)
Who'll Stop the Rain -- Greedence Clearwater Revival
Janie's Got a Gun -- Aerosmith (I like this song, but it has never been completely clear to me that she was going to use it wisely.
Get over it -- the Eagles
Taxman -- Beatles (Obvious)
Revolution -- Beatles (Obvious, though for some reason it is not on their list.)


"Intruder shot after breaking into Boring woman's home"

KATU.com BORING, Ore. - Clackamas County Sheriff's Deputies say a Portland man was shot multiple times early Tuesday morning after he allegedly forced his way into the home of a woman who claims the man had been harassing her.

Investigators report the woman was in the company of her present boyfriend and was intruded upon by Joe Ray Estes, 49, reportedly her previous boyfriend.

Officers say it appears to be a situation where Estes allegedly objected to the presence of the other man and came to the residence and physically forced his way into the woman's home.

Investigators working this investigation are under the impression the multiple gunshot wounds Joe Ray Estes received during this altercation are not considered life threatening.

Estes was listed in stable condition after being flown by helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Hospital. . . . .

Entrapment?: OK, I confess that I have some sympathy for this clerk

Well, she LOOKED 21 anyway, maybe older, and what's more the clerk at the small store in this Coos County town says he was much distracted by what he called the young lady's scanty attire. So distracted, he said, that he didn't see the "Minor until 2007" stamped on her driver's license. She got the six-pack, and store owner David Cardwell got a $1,320 fine. The clerk had to pay $750.

Cardwell is hollering "Entrapment," "Draconian" and more.

Rather than pay, Cardwell says, he will take the alternative and close the store for a week. He says it doesn't make that much in a week in any case.

His clerk had been stung by an Oregon Liquor Control Commission decoy sent to test for underage sales.

His two clerks will be jobless until June 7.

Cardwell is not denying his employee erred, but says it was hardly fair.

"This young woman was dressed in very provocative clothing more suited for the bedroom," Cardwell said in a letter to the OLCC. "I would not allow my daughter to leave the house dressed in such a way." . . . .