Brazilians to Defeat Gun Ban?

Before the referendum, support for the ban was running as high as 80 percent. But in the weeks before the referendum, both sides were granted free time to present their cases on prime-time TV, and the pro-gun lobby began to grow.

In a survey released Wednesday by Toledo & Associates, 52 percent of those questioned said they would vote against the ban, while 34 percent would support it. The poll questioned 1,947 people in 11 Brazilian state capitals on October 8-15, and had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

"Most of the media supported the ban, so before the television spots, nobody gave it much thought, but when the pro-gun lobby got equal time the opinion really shifted," said Jessica Galeria, who researches gun violence for the Viva Rio think tank. "They were smart, using images of Nelson Mandela, Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall to link owning a gun with freedom." . . . .

Quote of the day?

It appears as if the gun control groups are really losing it. You have gun control groups this week going out and making claims about the "unregulated" gun industry. Michael Barnes announced that he was stepping down from the Brady Campaign. Now we have the over the top statement from the Brady Campaign's Dennis Henigan:

As Dennis Henigan, [Brady Legal Action Project]'s Director said,
"Congress can pass it. The President can sign it. But this shameful law will not stand.

We will challenge the constitutionality of this special interest extravaganza in every court where the rights of gun violence victims are being threatened."

Council on Foreign Relations Interview Regarding Sunday's Vote in Brazil on Banning Guns

Eben Kaplan from the Council on Foreign Relations did an interview with me today. I think that my views on Brazil came through a lot more clearly than they did in the BBC interviews. A copy of the interview can be found here.

Miers pullout planned by White House?

The Washington Times reports that:

The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday.

"White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times yesterday.

The White House denied making such calls. "Absolutely not true," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said.

But a conservative political consultant with ties to the White House said that he had received such a query from Sara Taylor, director of the Office of White House Political Affairs.

Miss Taylor denied making any such calls. A second Republican, who is the leader of a conservative interest group and has ties to the White House, confirmed that the White House is making calls to a select group of conservative activists who are not employed by the government.

"The political people in the White House are very worried about how she will do in the hearings," the second conservative leader said. "I think they have finally awakened.


BBC coverage of Brazil vote to ban guns

Here are rough translations of a couple of interviews that I did this week with the BBC on Brazil's gun ban referendum.

The economist John Lott Jr, author of some books defending the use of weapons for the civil population, finds that, if the sunday countersignature to approve the prohibition of venda of weapons and the ammunition in Brazil, the situation goes to move little.
"In the practical one already a virtual prohibition exists, because it is very difficult to obtain authorization to have a weapon. I do not find that it goes to make a great difference ", affirms, remembering that only 3.5% of the population have firearms. . . .

Lott says that, beyond the biggest policing and of more rigid penalties, the possibility of the proper person if to also protect helps withholds the crime.

"When you proíbe set, it is basically taking off the weapons of the people who are inside of the law and not of the criminals. Instead of increasing the security, he is increasing the crime, because the criminals do not need to be worried very when they go to attack the people ", says it.

The economist John Lott Jr, book author defending the armament as self-defense against the crime, has different opinion.

He agrees that the increase of the investments in the policy and the increase of the size of the sentences contributed for the reduction in crime, but says that one of the factors is that some States had approved laws allowing that the citizens walked armed.

Thanks to Jason Morin for pointing me to a better translation program.

Robbery stopped at loan office in Mesa, Arizona (10/20/05)

One man was shot dead and a woman accomplice was wounded at noon today in an attempted robbery of a Payday Loans office just east of Dobson Road in Mesa. . . .

Both the man and woman where shot inside the loan office, 1940 W. Baseline Road, but it was not clear if the shooter was a customer or employee. The woman, who was hit multiple times, was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn.

Rhonda Wright, an employee at the store who showed up for work at 1 p.m. said she knew the store's owner, Scott Tracy, kept a gun in the store for situations like this. Because of liability issues, Tracy had removed the gun from the store and kept it with him in recent weeks, she said. Wright, 36, suspected Tracy used the gun to foil the robbery attempt.

"He picked the wrong person to mess with," Wright said of the slain suspect.

Editorial on Using the Courts to Get Gun Regulations Adopted

The House's vote yesterday to approve the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is a victory for proponents of sensible crime policy. The bill, which the president is expected to sign, bars civil actions against gun manufacturers and sellers who obey the laws governing their trade. The gun-control lobby was apoplectic, and with good reason. The measure cuts off their last avenue for imposing gun control and threatens to refocus attention on the awkward question of whether gun control actually works.

The latter point is a particular problem, because there is no evidence that any type of gun control reduces crime, as one economist, John Lott, author of "The Bias Against Guns," told us the other day. Some studies even suggest that gun control is counterproductive, although this proposition is currently the subject of vigorous debate among academics. . . .


Congress passes lawsuit limits against gun makers 283-144

1) Congress passes lawsuit limits against gun makers 283-144, Bill goes to President for his signature.

2) Presumably ones statements have to be at least a little close to the true to be believable. Besides making predictions that never seem to be borne out, how can anyone believe that the gun industry is "unregulated"?

"This legislation will make the unregulated gun industry the most pampered industry in America," said Kristen Rand, director of the Violence Policy Center.

3) Obviously it isn't a scientific survey, but what interests me is the question that AOL is asking about gun regulations

Overall, what do you think of the nation's gun laws?
Too loose 38%
Too restrictive 35%
Just right 27%
Total Votes: 90,232

What is surprising is that the survey actually allows people to say that the rules are too restrictive. Things have begun to chnage a little, but for the decade and a half that I studied in my book, The Bias Against Guns, I could not find any questions that allowed people to say that there were benefits from owning guns. This question does exactly fit into that issue, but the way it is asked and the fact that virtually identical numbers of people say that we have laws that are "too loose" and "too restrictive" is interesting.

New Op-ed on vote today to limit suits against gun makers

The National Review Online has my piece with Jack Soltysik entitled: Suiting Down: Congress guns for fairness?

Almost all products have illegitimate uses and undesirable consequences. In 2002, 45,380 people died in car accidents, 838 children drowned, 474 children died in house fires, and 130 children died in bicycle accidents. Luckily, local governments haven't started recouping medical costs or police salaries by suing car manufacturers, pool builders, makers of home heaters, or bike companies.

Many items, including cars and computers, are also used in the commission of crimes. But again, no one seriously proposes that these companies be held liable.

People understand that what makes a car useful for getting to work also makes it useful for escaping a crime. They also understand that the penalty should be on the person who uses the product for ill.

This logic is ignored when cities sue gun makers for costs incurred from improper firearm use, and the House of Representatives looks poised to end the practice today. Multibillionaire George Soros, via the Brady Campaign, has funded most of these suits. Last year the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," to rein in these suits, was defeated when Democrats added amendments to extend the so-called assault-weapons ban. . . .


Miers' nomination may be in real trouble

It appears to me that someone really messed up the vetting process on Miers. She was supposed to be the stealth candidate on abortion, but it comes out that she supported a constitutional amendment in 1989 to ban abortion. Did not anyone know about that? Beyond the vetting issue, the White House has been giving all sorts of signals on her personal views that she opposes abortion. The Democrats might want to let her on the court, but their constituents might not let them given what appears to be her strong views on abortion. Her backtracking on her recent statements on Griswold v. Connecticut is another mess.

John Fund notes in today's "Political Diary":

A number of Republican Senators are sending desperate political semaphore signals to the White House that the Harriet Miers nomination is in deep trouble. Last week, Senator Rick Santorum, the most vulnerable GOP incumbent up for re-election next year, criticized the argument that Senators should blindly trust the president. "I am concerned President Bush nominated someone who is a blank slate. I'm disappointed that he wanted to nominate someone like that instead of someone with a record," he said. "It is what I term the president's second faith-based initiative, which is 'trust me.' I think, candidly, we deserve better than that."

Louisiana Republican David Vitter joined in yesterday when he issued the following statement: "In terms of her background and experience, I'm hearing it described as very 'practical.' I just want to make sure she's not practical like a lot of political people are -- with no consistent philosophy and without the will to stand up against popular attitudes when they're not grounded in the Constitution." Ouch.

Late yesterday afternoon, Nevada Republican John Ensign expressed open skepticism when he told a reporter: "I think this is too big of a vote just to trust the president or anybody else." If Ms. Miers' meetings with individual Senators continue to go as badly as I am hearing they are, expect more Senators to step forward and suggest the White House consider a Plan B.

Finally, if you have any questions left about the nomination, you might want to look at Robert Bork's piece today in the WSJ.

Lorne Gunter's Canadian Blog, some recent posts on guns

Lorne has an interesting blog site that is well worth looking at. Here are a couple links to his recent comments on guns. If you think it is difficult sometime in the American debate, you should see what Lorne has to deal with.

Lorne Gunter's thoughts on murder rates across countries.
On Canada's Liberals selective hearing regard advice from police.

John Stossel on Gun Control Myths

Guns are dangerous. But myths are dangerous, too. Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people.

"Don't tell me this bill will not make a difference," said President Clinton, who signed the Brady Bill into law.

Sorry. Even the federal government can't say it has made a difference. The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.

I wanted to know why the laws weren't working, so I asked the experts. "I'm not going in the store to buy no gun," said one maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. "So, I could care less if they had a background check or not."

"There's guns everywhere," said another inmate. "If you got money, you can get a gun."

Talking to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals don't obey the law. (That's why we call them "criminals.") Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there's money to be made selling something, someone will sell it.

A study funded by the Department of Justice confirmed what the prisoners said. Criminals buy their guns illegally and easily. The study found that what felons fear most is not the police or the prison system, but their fellow citizens, who might be armed. One inmate told me, "When you gonna rob somebody you don't know, it makes it harder because you don't know what to expect out of them."

What if it were legal in America for adults to carry concealed weapons? I put that question to gun-control advocate Rev. Al Sharpton. His eyes opened wide, and he said, "We'd be living in a state of terror!"

In fact, it was a trick question. Most states now have "right to carry" laws. And their people are not living in a state of terror. Not one of those states reported an upsurge in crime.

Why? Because guns are used more than twice as often defensively as criminally. When armed men broke into Susan Gonzalez' house and shot her, she grabbed her husband's gun and started firing. "I figured if I could shoot one of them, even if we both died, someone would know who had been in my home." She killed one of the intruders. She lived. Studies on defensive use of guns find this kind of thing happens at least 700,000 times a year. . . . .


SF Police Officers Ass'n Opposes San Francisco's Gun Ban Initiative

On the Nobel Prize in Economics going for Game Theory Again

If economics isn't testible, you don't have a science. Having a certain richness is nice, but there are simply too many game theory models that end up making similar predictions. When you can't even differentiate monopoly behavior from perfect competition in predation what good is it? Indeed the goal frequently seems to be how many different models can be generated. I also agree that Game theory creates a bias towards thinking about everything in terms of monopoly. What is interesting in Game Theory disappears when you assume that firms are behaving competitively. For whatever it is worth, I wrote a book on all this entitled: "Are Predatory Commitments Credible?" Take a simple example in Predation to show how sensitive the results are. All the models basically look at the information held by the predatory firm. But what if the victim firm can sell short the stock of the predator? Given that the costs to the predator from actually engaging in predation are so large, indeed much greater than the losses imposed on the victim, victim firms that sell short the stock of the predatory might not only hope that the predator enters the industry but the victim firm might now want to stay in the industry just so that they can benefit from the predator's losses. Of course, the very possibility of short selling can make it unnecessary. The whole thing is a mess.

A Devastating Article on Supreme Court Nominee Miers

One should read the entire op-ed by David Brooks about Miers. My own research predicts that she will be easily confirmed precisely because she is so weak. Democrats should be thrilled and not enogh Republicans will buck the President. Even if she were to surprise me and turn out to be an economic conservative, if Democrats have to put a Republican on the court, this is the type of Republican they want. Someone who will not have much impact.

Of all the words written about Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the early '90s, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called "President's Opinion" for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian.

Nothing excuses sentences like this: "More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."

Or this: "We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism."

Or this: "When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved."

Or passages like this: "An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin."

I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers' prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things. . . .


The Brady Campaign's Michael Barnes backs out of a Debate at George Washington University with less than a week to go

Oh, well. Note that I got from student who set up the debate at George Washington University:

We regret to inform you that Mr. Michael Barnes has backed out of the debate that we had scheduled between you and him for next Wednesday, October 19th.  We are trying to find a replacement that could argue from his position, but we are not too optimistic that we will find a person of such caliber at this late date.

I later received this message:

We expressed to him [Barnes] that whatever disagreements he had with your views, we believed that an open debate would be the best opportunity to present a well-reasoned refutation of your position. . . .

We are disappointed that we will be unable to host the debate as we had planned, but we are pleased that you are still willing to address our chapter.

"Senate Reasoning" on Steroids

Senator Bunning's statement puts it this way: "I remember when players didn't get better as they got older. They got worse. When I played with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Ted Williams, they didn't put on forty pounds of bulk in their careers, and they didn't hit more homers in their late thirties than they did in their late twenties...I'm willing to trust baseball, but players and owners have a special responsibility to protect the game. And they owe it to all of us to prove that they are fixing this terrible problem. If not we will have to do it for them.''

He doesn't define the "terrible problem" but presumably it is the pace at which new records in home runs were set over the 1999 to 2001 period. It turns out that he is wrong on even the simple factual assertions he managed to make, aside from the leap to a conclusion and the speculation he states in other parts of his testimony. Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth did not go into a steep decline; they sustained a high level of home run hitting far beyond modern hitters like Maris, McGwire, Sosa, and perhaps even Bonds, though we have yet to see how his career goes. Nobody, so far as I can discover, put on forty pounds, except players of the past many of whom drank rather than trained as modern players do. . . .

People might find the whole post from Art DeVany's website interesting. As usual, a few numbers go a long way in correcting some myths, in this case about steroids and home runs.