Can Tougher Regulations for Obtaining a Car be Far Away?

I am partially joking, but given the way some react to these problems when they occur, who knows. It appears that it has dawned on someone that SUVs can be used for criminal attacks, possibly terrorist attacks.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (March 4) - The FBI has joined the investigation of a recent college graduate who faces attempted murder charges for allegedly injuring bystanders after driving a sport utility vehicle through a popular campus gathering spot. . . .

The FBI joined the case because 22-year-old Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a native of Iran, "allegedly made statements that he acted to avenge the American treatment of Muslims," said agent Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman in Washington. "The ongoing investigation will work to confirm this."

Taheri-azar, who graduated in December after studying psychology and philosophy, was in the custody of campus police. They intended to charge him with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, said police Capt. George Hare.

Taheri-azar called police to surrender and then awaited officers on a street two miles from campus, authorities said. . . .

"I see everyone kind of part because there's a car coming through, and the next thing I know, I'm on his windshield," sophomore Jeff Hoffman, his arm in a bandage, told The Daily Tar Heel, the campus newspaper. . . .

"He slowly came in, and I thought he was going to stop or something," sophomore Scott Wilson, a candidate, told the newspaper. "But then he sped right through."

Five students and a visiting scholar were treated for minor injuries and released from UNC Hospitals, the university said in a statement. Three other people declined treatment at the scene, police said.

New National Association of Chiefs of Police Survey

The National Association of Chiefs of Police have released their new survey results for 2005. 93.6 percent think that "any law-abiding citizen [should] be able to purchase a firearm for sport or self-defense." On right-to-carry ("Will a national concealed handgun permit reduce rates of violent crime as recent studies in some states have already reflected?"), 63.1 percent said "yes." 88.1 percent view the death penalty as a deterrent. 93.2 percent do not view the media as impartially reporting the news. 67.3 percent say that their department has a policy against racial profiling. There are other interesting results on the survey.

Looking down this list of questions, police chiefs, as a group, certainly seem extremely conservative.


"Hunters give deer to hungry"

A surprising fact on congressional corruption

John Fund wrote in Opinionjournal's Political Diary today that "Just under a dozen of the nearly 10,000 individuals who have served in Congress have ever been convicted of bribery." I assume that he means the number is eleven. I guess that I would have thought the number was a little higher. The one other fact that I would like to know is how those eleven cases are distributed over time. Are most of them relatively recent?

The Internet and Freedom in Iraq

Jonathan Rauch has an interesting new column out:

Odd though it may sound, somewhere in Baghdad a man is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic-language Web site, called LampofLiberty.org -- MisbahAlHurriyya.org in Arabic -- can change the world by publishing liberal classics.

Odder still, he may be right.

Interviewed by e-mail, he asks to be known by a pseudonym, H. Ali Kamil. A Shiite from Iraq's south, he is an accomplished scholar, but he asks that no other personal details be revealed. Two of his friends have been killed in the postwar insurgency and chaos, one shot and the other "slaughtered." Others of his acquaintance are in hiding, visiting their families in secret. He has been threatened for working with an international agency.

Now he is collaborating not with foreign agencies but with foreign ideas. He has made Arabic translations of all or parts of more than two dozen articles and nine books and booklets. "None," he says, "were previously translated, to my knowledge, for the simple reason that they are all on liberalism and democracy, which unfortunately have little audience and advocators in the Middle East, where almost all publishing houses and press outlets are governmental -- i.e., anti-liberal." . . .


The Mainstream Media Must Really Hate George Bush

For whatever it is worth, I just saw an excellent report on the recent Katrina coverage on Brit Hume's show. (A very small part of that coverage can be found here.) The August 28th discussion never mentions the word "breach." There is a brief discussion that no one can really say whether the water will top the levies, but that they expect "minimal flooding." Bill Sammon calls the reporting on this "journalistic fraud." Mort Kondracke said that the tape was "not a smoking gun" despite what the MSM was trying to claim.

The media is really out of control right now, on Katrina, the push poll done by CBS on Bush's popularity, and other issues.

Here is a CBC version of the AP story, but remember in reality there was no mention in the discussion of the word "breach" with respect to the levies and while the storm would be destructive, the belief was that the flooding in New Orleans would be "minimal." It is amazing how distorted this news coverage was.

The tape is of a briefing on Aug. 28 – just one day before Katrina roared ashore, unleashing its fury and destruction on the city of New Orleans and along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The video shows Bush and his federal disaster officials being warned that the levees in New Orleans could be breached.

A hurricane expert is seen and heard warning about his "grave concerns" of imminent danger and destruction of the storm.

"I don't think any model could predict whether it'll top the levees, but that's obviously a grave concern," said Max Mayfield, the Director of the U.S. National Hurricane Centre.

After the hurricane struck, Bush later went on television saying: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." . . .

Note from Switzerland

A friend of mine, Ben Zycher, is in Geneva, Switzerland for the week. He was telling me about a shop sign that read: "Tax Free Shopping for Diplomats." He said it basically summed up what being there was like.

When is a majority-minority district not a majority-minority district?

Apparently, a majority-minority district is not a majority-minority district unless there is a big majority.

Justice Kennedy, addressing R. Ted Cruz, the Texas solicitor general, called the new district "a serious Shaw violation," a reference to the court's landmark 1993 case, Shaw v. Reno, that opened such oddly shaped districts to challenge as racial gerrymanders. The removal of the Mexican-Americans from the Laredo district, leaving the Latino population a bare statistical majority there but not numerous enough to control electoral outcomes, was an "affront and an insult," Justice Kennedy said. . . .

Texas violated the Constitution by "the excessive use of race," Ms. Perales said, particularly "to craft a razor-thin 50.9 percent Latino majority" in Mr. Bonilla's 23rd Congressional District. She said the Legislature chose to retain the narrow majority, down from 63 percent, to protect Mr. Bonilla and "give the false impression of Latino support." . . .

Possibly Bonilla's district should be referred to as a minority-majority-minority district, but what they want is a majority-majority-minority district. Or is it the reverse? I trust that I am no more confused than the Justices. You have to protect Hispanics from not all Hispanics agreeing with each other.


New Jersey going after Law-abiding gun owner

Second Amendment supporters have filed a lawsuit stemming from the wrongful arrest of a Utah man who was detained at the Newark, N.J., airport because he had a gun in his luggage.

As required by federal law, the firearm was unloaded, locked and stored in a case inside Gregg Revell's luggage. Although federal law protects law-abiding citizens who travel with firearms, Revell nevertheless was arrested for possessing a firearm without a New Jersey state license.

Federal law should have trumped state and local law in Revell's case, said the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc.

The Association said it is suing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and one of its police officers for wrongfully arresting and imprisoning Revell, who spent five days in jail before his family raised the required $15,000 cash to bail him out. . . .

Justice Ginsburg falls asleep during oral arguments

Everybody falls asleep on the job sometimes, but if this had happened to Scalia or Thomas, does anyone believe that their behavior would have been excused?

The Supreme Court had put the Texas cases on the fast track, scheduling an unusually long two-hour afternoon session.

The subject matter was extremely technical, and near the end of the argument Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dozed in her chair. Justices David Souter and Samuel Alito, who flank the 72-year-old, looked at her but did not give her a nudge. . . .

By the way, I think that Ted Cruz, who argued the redistricting case for Texas, won.

Do you know the constitution, the Simpsons, or American Idol the best?

Here are some questions about the first amendment, the Simpsons TV show, and American Idol. I got only 2 out of 5 questions right about the Simpsons and 2 out 5 right about American Idol (and even then I was guessing and the first question was a gift). Well, at least I got all the first amendment questions right.

New Op-ed in WSJ on Texas Redistricting Case

I have a new op-ed on the case that will be heard today before the US Supreme Court on the Texas redistricting case: "Don't Mess With Texas." The first paragraph is:

Just three years ago Texas Democratic legislators made national news when they fled to New Mexico and Oklahoma to avoid a quorum in the state's House of Representatives. Today the Supreme Court reviews the partisan congressional redistricting that they failed to stop. Yet despite all the angry words spoken, the Republicans' gerrymandering has proven to be much less partisan than the Democratic gerrymandering it replaced. It is also less biased than gerrymandering in other states, making it hard for the Supreme Court to strike down the new district lines as unconstitutional. . . .

The New York Times takes the opposite position from me (surprise), but they provide no numbers on the gerrymandering in Texas and their emphasis on national numbers doesn't talk about what caused the lack of competition there (namely, the one-person-one-vote Supreme Court decisions from the 1960s).

Canadian government on track to eliminate long gun registry

Thank you: Over 400,000 different visits to my website

I appreciate you all taking the time to visit my site.


Self Defense Gun Use California Style

From the SF Chronicle (2/27/06):

An armed man wearing a black, ninja-style mask was shot to death by a Healdsburg man this morning after he attacked the man's wife outside their home and chased her inside, police said.

The shooting happened about 7:30 a.m. at the end of Sunset Drive, a semi-rural street on the east side of town.

The woman was about to take the couple's two Wheaton terrier dogs for a walk when the masked man jumped her outside her garage, police said. The woman struggled, broke away and ran screaming into the house, with the attacker in pursuit.

Her screams awoke her husband. The man, whom police identified only as a man in his 60s, "grabbed their handgun, probably a .357 ... and fired more than one shot," Police Chief Susan Jones said.

The intruder "had what looked like a firearm in his hand," Jones said. He died at the scene. His identity has not been released.

"The husband is fine. He's uninjured," Jones said. "The wife is being treated for a head injury that she sustained sometime during the struggle, but she's going to be fine." . . .

As Jason Morin, who sent me this link, wrote: "What would the San Fran city councilman have to say about this story?"

Supreme Court hears Vermont Campaign Finance Case

I was the statistical expert for this case when it heard at the lower court in Vermont, so I am particularly interested in seeing what happens. It would be neat to win such a case, and I heard that the arguments went well today.

The U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to rewrite the legal rules for election spending and fund raising in a dispute over the nation's strictest campaign- finance limits.

The justices today will hear arguments in Washington on a 1997 Vermont law, signed by then-Governor Howard Dean, that caps candidate spending and limits contributions to as little as $200 per election cycle for each candidate. A Republican-backed suit says the limits violate constitutional free-speech rights.

The case marks the first major test on the subject for the court's newest members, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. The dispute offers the court a chance to revise its landmark 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which authorized limits only on contributions, not on spending.

``Just limiting contributions leaves untouched one of the core problems, which is the pressure that candidates face when they can never stop fund raising,'' said Brenda Wright, a lawyer for the Boston-based National Voting Rights Institute, which represents voters supporting the law. . . .

`The voters are entitled and need to hear from candidates because they are the ones who ultimately take office,'' said Bopp, general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech in Terre Haute, Indiana. ``When you limit spending by candidates, you limit their opportunities to communicate to the voters.'' . . .


Protests in New Zealand

I have put up a couple of posts about the Green Party anger over my involvement in the firearms conference. Here is one possible threatened protest that never materialized I just found out about.

The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand)

February 24, 2006 Friday


LENGTH: 291 words


. . .

Meanwhile, addresses from American speakers John Lott and Mark Barnes went ahead without any disruption at the seminar yesterday. The possibility of a protest had arisen after Green MP Keith Locke publicly opposed the presence of several of the speakers labelling them pro-gun lobbyists.

Edited letter run in New Scientist: "Liberal road rage New Scientist February 25, 2006"

Edited letter in New Scientist

Liberal road rage New Scientist February 25, 2006

BYLINE: John Lott, Washington DC, US.
American Enterprise Institute


Your magazine did a poor job discussing a recent survey that relates gun possession to road rage (4 February, p 7). The survey asked whether respondents had a gun at least once in their car over the past year and whether they made anobscene gesture or drove aggressively sometime over the same year. But their questions made no attempt to ask whether a gun was in the car at the time the road rage incident occurred. Nor did they attempt to differentiate law-abiding permit holders from those who illegally possessed guns, for example by asking respondents if they have a permit to carry a gun.

Also a single cross-sectional survey tells us nothing about causation. Ironically, the researchers' regression results also show that liberals are much more likely to engage in road rage (both making obscene gestures and driving aggressively) than conservatives, and that the difference is larger than the difference for whether one had carried a gun in the car at least once. This variable is apparently never investigated, but presumably the researchers are also concerned about liberals being allowed to drive cars.

The rest of my letter that wasn't published noted:

Surveys can be a useful first approximation, but there is in fact much more direct evidence available on the behavior of concealed handgun permit holders. Despite almost four million Americans currently having permits to carry concealed handguns and some states having these laws for as long as eighty years, there is only one case in Alabama where a permitted concealed handgun was used to commit road rage.

There is also direct evidence on how law-abiding permit holders are. Many states have kept detailed records on whether and why permits are revoked, and concealed permit holders tend to be extremely law-abiding. They do not harm others with their guns in anyway. In Florida, where 1,114,727 permits were issued between October 1, 1987 and January 31, 2006, 157 permits were revoked for any type of firearms violation, and the vast majority of these involved permit holders accidentally carrying a gun into a restricted area such as an airport. 2,955 permits were revoked for any type of misdemeanor or felony. While the violent and property crime rate in Florida is 4,893 per 100,000 people, the rate at which permit holders lose their permits crimes after licensure is 265 per 100,000 people. Similar low rates exist in state after state.

Finally, it is very disappointing that the authors of this study (David Hemenway, Mary Vriniotis, and Matthew Miller) are unwilling to provide other researchers with their data, even when the authors have been promised that the data will only be used to evaluate the research that the authors have already published. Once a paper is published and the researchers are discussing their published results in the media, it seems incumbent upon them to make their data public so that a meaningful discussion can take place.

I was disappointed that the letter editor cut out the part of the letter stating that the authors were unwilling to release their data, but I guess that it was just getting too long. The version on Nexis (shown above) was slightly different than the version on their website.

Are Dems or Reps leading in fall races for congress?

 The CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll reported last week that the Democrats led Republicans among registered voters in the generic congressional survey by 50 percent to 43 percent, a seven-point margin that could give Democrats enough victories to take control of the House, if their supporters participate in November's elections.
    But a deeper analysis of these numbers by David W. Moore for the Gallup Poll said, "It is likely many voters will not do so" because turnout among registered voters tends to be lower than that among "likely voters" who say they plan to vote and usually do.
    In his analysis, Mr. Moore writes that Gallup's "experience over the past two midterm elections, in 1998 and 2002, suggests that the [registered voters] numbers tend to overstate the Democratic margin by about 10? percentage points."
    "Given that Democrats currently lead by seven points, that could mean that among people who will definitely vote, Republicans actually lead by three to four points," he said. . . .
Nevertheless, Mr. Anderson said, "If the election were held today, it looks like Democrats will make marginal gains, but their hope of taking the House or Senate is a pretty long shot."

So what is the problem with socialized medicine?

The last sentence quoted below says it all.

Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years in discomfort before receiving treatment.

But no one is about to arrest Dr. Brian Day, who is president and medical director of the center, or any of the 120 doctors who work there. Public hospitals are sending him growing numbers of patients they are too busy to treat, and his center is advertising that patients do not have to wait to replace their aching knees.

The country's publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

Dr. Day, for instance, is planning to open more private hospitals, first in Toronto and Ottawa, then in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario provincial officials are already threatening stiff fines. Dr. Day says he is eager to see them in court.

"We've taken the position that the law is illegal," Dr. Day, 59, says. "This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years." . . .


Appearance on Steve Gruber's "Wildlife" WJR radio show

I will be on WJR from 8:20 to 9 PM this evening (760 AM) talking about gun control.

Scalia on guns