An "Indecent Interval"?

The Richmond Times Dispatch has an interesting editorial on one of my recent op-eds:

It didn't take long. Minnesota had just begun to mourn after the Red Lake massacre when John Lott wrote a tedious column suggesting concealed-carry laws might have prevented the atrocity. . . . The problem relates to timing. The gun debate will persist for many years. Lott and others will have ample opportunities to press their cases. . . . But please, let the tears dry before launching into a political diatribe.

The op-ed that they are criticizing is here. (The piece covered a spate of recent shootings that had been in the news.) Of course, one could say that gun control groups had already come out on this issue or that papers such as the LA Times had already had an article after the Wisconsin attack, but that is not really a useful response. One reason why everyone talks about this is because they are concerned about what will save lives. There is a second reason: When is the discussion 'newsworthy." If a newspaper, such as the Richmond Times Dispatch is going to publish an article (whether a news story or an op-ed), it has to be near when the event occurred or at least there is some other news peg. The op-ed seems as indecent as the news coverage and the editorializing that often creeps into those news stories. When people hear only about the bad events (not the defensive gun uses) and no context is provided it creates a misimpression of the costs and benefits of guns. Interestingly, I can't find a similar editorial from the Richmond Times Dispatch concerned about gun control advocates.

For another piece from someone in Minnesota that says the same thing see this.

"Florida Great-Great Grandma Shoots Would Be Robber"

On Paul Harvey's radio show today I heard Gill Gross, who was substituting for him, read the following:

A man accused of bursting into a convenience store demanding money was in the hospital Friday shot, authorities said, by the great-great-grandmother working behind the counter.

Janet Grammer was filling in for the regular clerk Thursday afternoon when a man entered the store waving a gun and fired two shot at the back wall.

"I think he thought I was an old woman and would just give him the money," Grammer, 64, said Friday. "My life was at stake. I thought he was going to kill me."

So she pulled a pistol out from under the cash register and fired once, hitting the man in the chest. . . .

I am not sure, but this might be the first time that I have heard of a defensive gun use on a national radio news program.

New Gallup Poll on Guns

The NRA is surprisingly popular, though I am surprised that only 43 percent of people think that courtrooms would be safer places or more dangerous places if judges were armed with guns.

What is your overall opinion of the National Rifle Association, also known as the NRA -- is it very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

...................................Total favorable..............Total unfavorable


When asked "Do you think courtrooms would be safer places or more dangerous places if judges were armed with guns?", the April 4th to 7th poll indicates that while 43 percent think things would be safer, 50 percent think they would be more dangerous. Yet, when asked "Do you think airplanes would be safer places or more dangerous places if pilots were armed with guns?", 62 percent say safer and only 33 percent say more dangerous.


"What may be behind long nominee battles"


I feel safer already

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will begin enforcing a ban, beginning today, on all types of lighters from the secure areas of airports and onboard airplanes. . . . This includes, for example, butane, absorbed-fuel, electric/battery-powered and novelty lighters.

Question: What are we going to do to stop matches from getting on planes? Does the TSA understand the amount of scrutiny they would have to give passengers to stop some matches from getting on an airplane?

Response to "Watch-list 'justice'" piece

A letter in today's Washington Times responding to my piece with Sonya on Monday.

HEADLINE: Flawed research on guns and violence

. . . According to the article: "The federal Brady Act has been in effect for 11 years and state background checks even longer. But despite all the academic research that has been done, a recent National Academy of Sciences report could not find any evidence - not a single published academic study - that background checks reduce any type of violent crime. " I actually went to the National Academy of Sciences Web site to find that information.

It appears that the columnists and I reached different conclusions. As I read it, the report on guns and violence said that in spite of much research on the connection between guns and gun control, such as background checks, the research is so flawed that it is essentially useless, and no intelligent conclusions can be drawn. The report also implied that guns are so pervasive, both legally and illegally, that trying to control them is almost impossible.

It seems to me, therefore, that the columnists have constructed a straw man to destroy and have essentially wasted not just their own time, but mine. An intelligent and honest discussion about guns and their effect on this society is long overdue, but so long as individuals on both sides misrepresent the facts, any discussion or argument is a farce.

Wayland, Mass.

It is indeed true that the National Academy of Sciences criticized much (note not all) of the research on guns as flawed and that more government money was necessary (a very self serving claim for academics to make and I think that it has more to do with the conclusions of the existing research than anything else). But the point is that despite surveying "253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications" there is not one single study showing that background checks reduce any type of violent crime. With all the decades of study and tens of millions of dollars spent, one would think that there would be one academic study of even questionable worth showing that background checks or other gun control efforts significantly reduced violent crime.

Despite the author's claims to the contrary, the point that "The report also implied that guns are so pervasive, both legally and illegally, that trying to control them is almost impossible" is consistent with our claim that the NAS provided no evidence showing that these laws mattered.

Law Professors Without Perspective

Mark Duggan's More Guns, More Crime Paper's Fundamental Flaws

A couple of problems with Mark Duggan's paper that he knows about:

Conversations with the vice president of Handguns Magazine and Guns&Ammo lead us to believe that Guns&Ammo was severely affected by the magazine's own purchases of its copies. An analysis of state level data for six gun magazines provides additional evidence that Guns&Ammo is a very unique magazine because of these self-purchases. Because Duggan declined to share his data with us, because of the apparent problems with the Guns&Ammo data, and given the costs of acquiring and imputing both county level data sets, we decided to gather those data that are more likely to answer the empirical question on the relationship between gun ownership and crime that we are ultimately interested in. . . .

Skip Johnson, a vice president for Guns&Ammo's and Handguns Magazine's parent company Primedia, told us that between 5 and 20 percent of Guns&Ammo's national sales in a particular year were purchases by his company to meet its guaranteed sales to advertisers. These copies were given away for free to dentists' and doctors' offices. Because the purchases were meant to offset any unexpected national declines in sales, Johnson said that own purchases were very selective and produced very large swings in a relatively small number of counties. More importantly, while a precise breakdown of how these free samples are counted towards the sales in different counties is not available, these self-purchases were apparently related to factors that helped explain why people might purchase guns, and these factors included changing crime rates. Johnson indicated that the issue of self-purchases is particularly important for Guns&Ammo because the magazine had declining sales over part of this period. Handguns Magazine was much newer and experienced appreciable growth.

Duggan (2000, p. 1110): Duggan makes the adjustment for the standard errors in column 2 of table 12. Murder and violent crime show statistically significant drops after the adjustment, but Duggan knows that there are also typos for his rape and assault results. Simply divide the coefficients for rape (=-.052/.0232) and assault (=-.0699/.0277) and you will see that they have t's greater than 2. Thus for all the violent crime categories but robbery the adjustment does not change the conclusion. In addition, there is the issue of looking at before and after averages versus before and after trends, with the symmetry in the changes in trends before and after the before and after averages do not show a big change even though the change in trends is very big, especially for robbery.

About half of his violent crime rate estimates show statistically significant drops in violent crime from right-to-carry laws and none of his results show a statistically significant increase.

Other family congressional family members on payrolls

Outside the Beltway as a nice list of cases where family members are paid for their work on campaigns. I personally don't care and I would leave it up to ones political opponents to make a campaign issue of it if they think that it is important, but it is disappointing that the New York Times could write their original story without listing these cases out. It was hardly a secret. Family members have bills to pay. If they interrupt their lives to work on a campaign, why not provide them win some money so that they can afford to help out. Campaigns would probably get more work per dollar out of a family member anyway.

16th Annual Survey of Police Chiefs and Sheriffs

16th Annual Survey of Police Chiefs and Sheriffs contains such interesting findings as 88.5 percent believe that the death penalty is a deterrent and 94 percent think that any law-abiding citizen should be able to purchase a gun for sport or self-defense.


11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that Felons do not have a right to vote

No surprise, but other congressmen pay family members for work that they do on campaigns

Despite the attacks on Representative Tom Delay, it turns out that other congressmen also pay family members who take the time to work on the campaigns. Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) is one example who according to the Bennington Banner paid both his wife and step daugther for their work.

FDA turns down silicone breast implants

Thirteen years after most silicone-gel breast implants were banned, federal health advisers on Tuesday narrowly rejected a manufacturer's request to bring them back to the U.S. market, citing lingering questions about safety and durability.

My colleague and friend Sally Satel has a particularly devastating op-ed about the political nature of this decision.
Ever since women began enlarging their breasts with implants, feminists have been upset. So, predictably, when a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel begins hearings today to consider approval of silicone-gel-filled breast implants, feminist health activists will urge them to reject the devices as unsafe. But the data emphatically do not justify their concern.

UPDATE: Of course, the next day the panel voted by 7 to 2 to approve at least one type of silicone-gel breast implant.


Wisconsin Residents Vote for Hunting Wild Cats

Homeowner protects family against man armed with iron fireplace poker

Father protects handicapped son from criminal (WSOC TV)

An essay on campaign finance regulations

The American Enterprise magazine has a very short essay of mine on the history of federal campaign finance regulations.


Zogby Poll on Terrorism and Guns

More voting problems in Washington State

The Evergreen State's voting system is so sloppy that you can't tell where incompetence ends and actual fraud might begin. Three Washington counties just discovered 110 uncounted absentee ballots--including 93 from Seattle's King County--in a governor's race that occurred more than five months ago and was decided by only 129 votes. Officials in Seattle's King County admit they may find yet more ballots before a court hearing next month on whether a new election should be called. Last Friday, they reported finding a 111th ballot.

The infamous 2004 governor's race was finally decided seven weeks after the election, after King County officials found new unsecured ballots on nine separate occasions during two statewide recounts. After the new ballots were counted, Democrat Christine Gregoire won a 129-vote victory out of some three million ballots cast. Even as she was sworn in last January, King County election supervisor Dean Logan admitted it had been "a messy process."

He wasn't kidding. During the two recounts, Mr. Logan's office discovered 566 "erroneously rejected" absentee ballots, plus another 150 uncounted ones that turned up in a warehouse. Evidence surfaced that dead people had "exercised their right to vote"; documentation was presented that 900 felons in King County alone had illegally voted and that military ballots were sent out too late to be counted. A total of 700 provisional ballots had been fed into voting machines before officials had determined their validity. In the four previous November elections, King County workers had never mishandled more than nine provisional ballots in a single election. . . .

Some change seen in Canadian Opinion polls from Gomery hearings

Our take on part of the Senate hearings last week to renew the Patriot Act

"Watch-list 'justice'", in the Washington Times, responds to claims by Schumer and Kennedy last week.

OhioCCW one-year anniversary stories blanket newspapers


Notice of Terms of Use for this website

On Ohio's Right-to-Carry Law's One Year Anniversary Nothing Surprising

Maybe the Liberals used the gun registry program to siphon money to the party because they never really believed in program

So much for competitive bidding. One thing to keep in mind when reading all these news stories is that Paul Martin, the current Prime Minister, was finance minister for eight years. This is how the gun registry contract was awarded:

In yet another major allegation in a scandal that has jolted the country, former Groupaction employee Alain Renaud said he had the ear of Jean Pelletier, Chretien's chief of staff from 1993 to 2001. Renaud also alleged the right-hand man to former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano personally intervened in 2000 to prevent Groupaction from losing $20 million in sponsorship contracts. The inquiry was told Chretien's one-time riding organizer, Michel Beliveau, was the point man between Renaud and Pelletier, a good friend of Chretien, whenever Groupaction sought more contracts. "I saw Mr. Beliveau call Mr. Pelletier directly in his (Beliveau's) office," Renaud said under questioning from chief inquiry counsel Bernard Roy. . . . Renaud said Groupaction landed the lucrative gun registry contract in the mid-1990s because the firm was close to Jacques Corriveau, a graphic designer and friend of the former prime minister.

The tip of the "The iceberg"

If Adscam was the only problem Paul Martin faced, notes Greg Weston, he'd be in trouble. But things may be far, far worse than that ... Investigations by the auditor general and now the Gomery inquiry point to potentially widespread bid-rigging.

Another description of how the Canadian government operated with respect to the gun registry:

Mr. Brault's description of the Liberal machine at work in the province — wherein businessmen like him greased the wheels of the party with everything from envelopes of cash to bogus hirings so that party faithful were paid as they worked on election campaigns, to completely fraudulent invoices, and who were in exchange rewarded with lucrative contracts that they promptly inflated to make up for the dough they were pouring into party coffers — suggests the federal organization is less a political party than, as Conservative Peter MacKay said in the House yesterday, a criminal organization. . . .

If what Mr. Brault testified to is true, and the offences he alleged are proven (though let us be clear that he did not consider them to be offences, but rather the normal course of doing business with Ottawa), then the party would surely be a contender for the criminal organization label. . . .

This, of course, is the same Department of Justice that got into advertising for the first time in a big way, Mr. Brault testified, with the advent of the inept and ineffective boondoggle that became the billion-dollar federal gun registry. . . .

By 2001, that same contract was soon due for renewal. “We were at the crossroads,” Mr. Brault said. “There was uncertainty in the air, pressure from other agencies.” By then, happily for him, Mr. Brault had agreed to pay a monthly salary, in cash, for Liberal fundraiser Buryl Wiseman, the first instalment of which he said he handed over to another party fundraiser, Joe Morselli, over lunch in Montreal's Little Italy.

So, a few months later, still fretting about that unresolved gun-registry contract (God forbid it would have been put out for a real tender), he was splendidly positioned to ask Mr. Morselli for a return favour. He told him, he said, that he wanted the contract extended until mid-2002, or, as Mr. Brault put it, “I had suggested $100,000 if the competition was sidelined . . . if it's delayed, it's worth $100,000 to me.” . . .

bold emphasis added.