Very disappointed by Rush Limbaugh yesterday

I listen to Rush Limbaugh all the time, and I have written multiple op-eds defending him over the years. But I was very disappointed by his commentary on Friday. His defense of President Bush's massive spending plans to rebuild New Orleans was simply wrong.

1) "who can do this [rebuilding New Orleans] if not us, that is what the Federal government is for."

If rebuilding the city makes sense, there will be plenty of private investment available to redo it, just as there were private investments available to build the city to begin with. If anything, unless the system of subsidized government flood insurance is reformed, there will in fact be too much rebuilding. If people were required to get private insurance (no subsidized government insurance), people would build in dangerous areas only if the benefits of doing so exceeded the costs, including the private insurance costs. My concern is that the current rebuilding program is only going to make things worse because they are paying for rebuidling even when the residents didn't even have insurance. Rush counters that this rebuilding program is so large that only the government could redo it, but each house or office building is a separate building decision. The capital required to rebuild New Orleans is just a tiny fraction of what is available in the US capital markets, let alone the world market, which is really the relevant one.

2) That the victims of New Orleans were "essentially innocent in terms of the loss."

I guess that I simply don't understand this. People take risks. They should have the responsibility for those decisions. Do I feel sorry for them that they drew a bad hand? Sure I do, and I want to help and I have given money to charity to help them, but despite all that, they are not "essentially innocent." I will help them out, but I hope that they don't rebuild their homes in the same dangerous places a second time. Would Rush say that they were innocent if they moved into these low lying areas again and a hurricane actually hit just to the west of the city (instead of to the east so that the winds were actually pushing the water away from the city)? People knew that there were risks where they lived, just as they would know that there would be risks the next time.

Justice Dept investigates role of Environmental Groups in stopping levies from being fixed in New Orleans


Guns used to stop crime in New Orleans 4

The Economist magazine writes:

AFTER boarding up their windows and just before they fled, many New Orleans shopkeepers paused to write "Looters will be shot" on their premises. Some felt more detail was required. Painted on the front of Oriental Rugs on St Charles Avenue are the words: "Don't try. I am sleeping inside with a big dog, an ugly woman, two shotguns and a claw hammer." To the right is an update, added a few days later in the same hand: "Still here. Woman left Fri. Cooking a pot of dog gumbo." . . .

That would include the French Quarter, where Finis Shelnutt has been guarding a building he owns since the hurricane hit. There's a restaurant on the ground floor, a piano bar above and caged doves watching Mr Shelnutt sip sparkling wine at a table on the sidewalk.

"Just got my phone charged, thank God," he says. His taps are running again, albeit at low pressure, and the looters left him alone because "I have a very large gun." He marvels at the senselessness of the plunder that followed the deluge. . . .

Thanks to Gregory Pejic for providing this to me.

For some earlier discussions see here, here, and here.

More on gun sales increasing after Hurricane Katrina

Mark Sherman with the Associated Press (September 16, 2005 Friday 2:32 PM) writes:

People in Louisiana rushed to purchase guns in the chaotic days of looting and lawlessness following Hurricane Katrina, according to law enforcement officials still trying to track down thousands of other weapons that were lost or stolen.

The increase was sharpest in the days immediately following the hurricane, according to FBI criminal history background checks on prospective gun buyers.

The 13,256 checks requested in the first 12 days of September were nearly as many as for the entire month a year ago. FBI officials, careful to avoid being drawn into the politically hot topic of gun ownership, would not speculate on the reason for the increase.

People seeking to arm themselves following a disaster is nothing new. More guns were bought nationwide, and more permits to carry concealed weapons were sought, after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"In this case, people realized that the police simply were overwhelmed. They had too much to do trying to rescue people and couldn't protect citizens. What should people do when they have to fend for themselves?" said John Lott, an American Enterprise Institute gun policy expert.

A copy of the article at CNN can be found here.

Montgomery, Alabama Mayor suggests a solution to crime: Buy a gun

SF Chronicle has piece opposing proposed city gun ban

Countless stories were told about unarmed citizens who were defenseless against the criminals who preyed upon them. Only those who were armed were able to fend off the encroaching violence. In such cases, self-defense is all that's left, which is perhaps why gun sales rose exponentially in Louisiana right after the disaster. The fact that police and military units in New Orleans later began confiscating those weapons does not bode well for the city's remaining residents.

If the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has its way, law-abiding residents could find themselves at the mercy of criminals in the event of a similar disaster. Given that the Bay Area is ground zero for earthquakes, it's not a very good idea to take away residents' capacity to fend for themselves. But Proposition H, a measure on the November ballot that seeks to ban handguns in San Francisco, would do just that. . . .


Man uses gun to stop fleeing Car-Jacker

Kimberly D. Boyd took her son to preschool Monday morning, then dropped by a bank before heading to her office in north Cobb County.

Minutes later, her routine was shattered, and sometime before 9:30 a.m. she was struggling for her life with a carjacker as her Toyota Sequoia raced south on U.S. 41. The kidnapping ended with the 30-year-old Acworth woman dead and the carjacker fatally shot by a passer-by.

Boyd died instantly when her SUV was broadsided by a cement truck, police said. Within seconds, the man driving Boyd's car was also dead — shot by Shawn Roberts, 31, who had seen Boyd fighting the man and followed the car, police said.

"She was fighting for her life," Roberts, who lives in Acworth, told WAGA-TV.

Roberts told police he was driving north on U.S. 41 about 9:30 a.m. when he saw a man beating a woman outside the SUV, just south of the Lake Allatoona bridge. He stopped and turned around on the four-lane road to help the woman, said Cobb Police Cpl. Dana Pierce.

The carjacker pushed the woman back into the SUV and took off, with the doors still open. Roberts followed about two miles to Lake Acworth Drive, where the crash occurred, Pierce said.

As Boyd's car turned east on Lake Acworth Drive it was struck by the cement truck.

Witness Bobby Williams said the truck had just started away from a traffic light and was traveling no more than 10 mph when it hit the SUV.

Williams, owner of A2Z Auto Service at 4356 North Cobb Parkway, said he saw Roberts get out of his 2004 black Dodge Ram pickup and run toward the accident scene wearing a leather shoulder holster.

"He looked official," Williams said, explaining that he thought Roberts might be a plain-clothes police officer. "He hollered at [the carjacker], 'Stay where you are. Stay where you are.'"

The carjacker ran toward a Raceway gas station on the corner and Roberts chased him. He told police the man turned a gun toward him, and he had to do something.

"I shot and killed a man today," Roberts told WAGA-TV. "I don't feel good about it, but if I hadn't have done something somebody else would have died."

Williams said he heard at least four, perhaps five, gunshots.

"He [the carjacker] was five feet in front of me when he got hit," Williams said. "On TV, all that flailing around that goes on is not what happened. He dropped like a sack of potatoes."

Monday night Cobb police identified the dead man as Brian Clark, 25, who has family in Acworth. Police did not say whether Clark lived in the area.

No charges were filed against the cement truck driver, who was not identified.

Police questioned Roberts, who they said was not an off-duty officer, before releasing him without filing charges.

I want to thank David Moody for telling me about this piece.


Talks tomorrow

I will be giving talks on gun control tomorrow at the law school at the University of Alabama (at 4PM) and the Cumberland Law School at Samford University (at noon).

Gun Confiscation in New Orleans

Few people objected when police began gathering firearms they found in abandoned New Orleans homes, to prevent them from falling into the hands of criminals. But one gun policy expert says confiscating guns from law abiding citizens who remain in the city is increasing the danger posed by criminals. . . .

Lott . . . told Cybercast News Service that he is "very disappointed" with the decision by New Orleans leaders.

"The question is, 'Are the police there able to protect people?' And I think he would have to be one of the first to acknowledge that the police simply aren't capable of protecting the people who are there," Lott said. "One thing that this hurricane has shown is that people are ultimately forced to protect themselves. It would be nice if the police were available to go and protect everybody, but they're not."

Police were forced, Lott said, to choose between rescuing hurricane survivors and enforcing the law. The necessary choice, he believes, left unarmed residents defenseless.

"They just weren't able to do both and many people were falling victim to criminals," Lott argued, "You had roving gangs going around and it's not really clear what else you would have advised someone to do other than having a gun for protection."

Lott said he is also disappointed that police appear to be engaging in "selective" gun confiscation. After Compass expanded the original order, the New York Times reported that it, "apparently does not apply to the hundreds of security guards whom businesses and some wealthy individuals have hired to protect their property."

Police officials would not respond to reporters' questions about allowing the guards, who are private citizens with firearms training similar to concealed weapons permit holders, to keep their guns.

"They seem selective in ways that are a little bit hard to fathom in terms of who they let have a gun," Lott said, adding that many wealthy individuals were also apparently being allowed to keep their firearms. "Lots of people who live in the poorest areas there probably needed the most protection."

Lott said the police are "running a real risk" by taking away the only protection some New Orleans residents have from criminals.

"There are obviously bad people there who have guns. But, to take away the guns from the law abiding citizens - so that they can't protect themselves from those same people that the police are worried about - I don't think makes much sense," Lott concluded. "You're going to end up creating more victims and easier targets for criminals to attack."

Private versus Public Relief After Hurricane Katrina

Craig Newmark has a nice posting here about how well private organizations did relative to the government in responding to the disaster after Hurricane Katrina.


Remembering what was said about Rehnquist

My new op-ed at National Review Online is up: Supreme Rhetoric: Remember the past when watching the hearings

Hurricane Katrina Caused few Deaths, even fewer than reported

. . . The average yearly death-rate in the US is 8.25 people out of every 1,000, which translates to 3,300 people a year in this "hypothetical" city [of 400,000], making the estimate pretty accurate.

Now suppose we imagine that something happens - a hurricane for example - and all of those people who died of natural causes are left where they died for about two weeks.  At 11 people a day, that's 154 bodies.  At 8.25, that's 116.

Now suppose that something happens wherein life-saving treatment is unavailable to the infirm, and the death-rate shoots up to something like that of South Africa's (21.32/1,000) for that two weeks.  Now we've got 23 people dying of natural-causes (exacerbated by the unavailability of quality medical care) each day for a total of 327 bodies accumulating during that two weeks.

Last I heard, the official death toll in Louisiana (including more than just the city of New Orleans) was 279.  Not surprisingly, the vast majority of deaths seem to have occurred in hospitals and nursing homes - places where the elderly and infirm congregate. . . .


Rehnquist and Hayek

"Ice Cream Man Pulls Gun On Would-Be Robber"

An ice cream man used a gun to scare off a potential robber in Vancouver, and police say he did the right thing.
He's a salesman who packs heat along with his ice cream.

"This is the third year I've been in business," Chris Sanders said.

Along with his ice cream, before heading out, Sanders also grabs his gun.

"It's a Keltek .380," Sanders said.

It may seem odd for an ice cream man to be armed, but Sanders says the gun came in handy last Saturday.

"Right up here at the top of this bridge is where the guy flagged me down," Sanders said.

He pulled over, but instead of ice cream the man wanted a ride. Sanders said no.

"As he was walking away he turned and ran towards my vehicle trying to go in through the sliding door which was locked. At that point I grabbed for my .380, chambered a round. Then he'd already come in the window. I pointed it at him and he said, 'Oh s***,' and he takes off running," Sanders told KOIN News 6. . . .

Thanks to a reader of this blog, though I apologize for misplacing your email with your name.

"Teen shot and killed in Gulf Breeze home invasion"


"A gun owner is a liberal who has been mugged"