Retired military trauma surgeon provides some perspective on gun deaths

The Sun's Sept. 12 editorial, "The other atrocity," compares the number of gun deaths in the U.S., in 2003, with the number of deaths from the attacks of 9-11. These are not comparable.

All 2,973 of the deaths from the 9-11 attacks were premeditated intentional homicides. The comparison implies that all 30,136 of the 2003 gun deaths were also intentional homicides; thus comparable to the 9-11 deaths. The FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2003, however, reveals that two-thirds of the gun deaths (19,907) were suicides.

The editorial also failed to mention that criminals killed by the police, or by honest citizens in defense of their lives or the lives of others, were also included in the 30,136; as were unintentional gun deaths.

The number of 2003 gun deaths truly comparable to the 9-11 deaths was no more than one third of the 30,136. The spurious comparison also implies that gun violence in 2003 was of great or increasing concern. In The Gainesville Sun Oct. 18, 2005, article "Murder rate in U.S. hits 40-year low," however, we find that the murder rate in 2003 was the lowest since 1965, and we now know that it declined 3.3 percent more in 2004.

Murder rates in the United States do remain a problem in some of our large cities: Washington, D.C., is the prime example. It has the most stringent gun control laws in the country - and the highest murder rate. Prohibitive gun control disarms the honest citizen - and criminals obviously prefer unarmed prey. . . .

Martin L. Fackler is a retired military trauma surgeon who lives in Gainesville.

Tigers one game away from World Series

This has been quite an up-and-down season for us Detroit Tigers fans. They were so far ahead for much of the season and then things seemed to fall apart towards the end. Now in the play-offs, the Tigers have been unbeatable. Well, for the first time since 1984, the Tigers are just one game away from the World Series and they could rap it up today.


Air America filing For bankruptcy and campaign finance regulations

With Air America filing For bankruptcy, I was thinking about comments on Friday by Limbaugh, Hannity, and others regarding Air America really being a political operation for the Democrats and not a media one, and that got me to think about the campaign finance regulations. One way to look at it is Rob Glaser losing $9.8 million and others losing large amounts. Another way is that campaign finance regulations put limits on how much they can donate in hard money to help candidates. To make the analogy even more complete, much of the money given to Air America was actually given in the form of donations. Why not view these donations or losses as political donations to get around the campaign finance rules? The comments that it will probably cease operation right after the election only add to this point. One of the ironies though is that many service providers who are owed money that will never get paid back may have inadvertantly made donations to this cause.

This just shows how one can always get around the campaign finance laws.


Is complete gun confiscation far off in Canada?

Didn't the Liberals promise that they didn't want to take away people's guns? On top of everything else, unless the gun could never be removed I am not sure how this program would stop anything.

DATE: 2006.10.13
PAGE: 14

MP urges group gun storage

A Liberal MP is proposing a mandatory gun "repository" program to help prevent shooting tragedies like the recent rampage at Dawson College.

As debate bubbles in the run-up to a possible fall vote in Parliament on repealing the long-gun registry, Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jim Karygiannis suggested firearms owners in communities with populations of 40,000 or more should be required by law to store weapons in a special repository. Facilities could be run through a private-public partnership, with fees charged to owners.

Karygiannis said the boost to public safety would far outweigh the potential inconvenience or cost to gun owners. "What's a life worth?" he asked.

Karygiannis said the program, styled after a voluntary program in aboriginal communities in Manitoba, would not target rural farmers or hunters, but rather be geared to city dwellers who are occasional target shooters, hunters or owners of heirloom guns. Rampages like Dawson College might be prevented because owners could be denied access to their weapons if they are intoxicated or show signs of mental distress, he said.


Randolph Roth, Ohio State University History Professor, Seminar "American Homicide"

I just witnessed a really amazing seminar by Randolph Roth entitled "American Homicide." He has tried to put together homicide data for the United States over the last couple hundred years from newspaper reports and coroner reports. From this he makes claims that murder rates were basically flat from 1914 to 1933 and that prohibition had no impact on murder rates. I really wish that I could post a copy of the figure that Roth presented. The fact that murder rates seem to have risen in individual states after they adopted prohibition doesn't seem to matter, that murder rates fell dramatically as soon as prohibition ended to the month in 1933 doesn't matter. The more amazing thing is how he got his data together. When someone asked him about the subjectiveness of determining what is murder, Roth responded that it is extremely subjective: "Tell me what murder rate you want and I can get you that murder rate." In most fields you want to have some separation between those who put the data together and those who use it. Ideally it is best if those who put the data together have no idea what the data is going to be used for. But Roth who seems to have extremely strong political views has not ensured a separation in data gathering and use. Such separations are expected in most empirical work that I am familiar with. No actual bias necessarily occurs and even unconscious effects might be avoided, but the data has more credibility with others if precautions are taken. For example, those gathering the data should not even know what it is going to be used for.

It was also interesting that he had no desire to try to reconcile the data that he gets with state level and other patterns, such as those just discussed with prohibition.

I would have liked to have seen him use newspaper reports from today to construct the homicide rates that we see. Could he use newspaper reports to accurately construct the changes in crime rates? I doubt it.

I have also rarely seen an academic seminar where someone crops the ends of his figure (e.g., cutting off the crime data in 1992) to exaggerate the differences that he is trying to claim exist.

UPDATE: Here are number for the period that Roth claims that murder rates were essentially flat. Note that individual states were adopting prohibition rules over this period. Bureau of Justice Statistics, DOJ I don't disagree with the claim made that murder rates fell dramatically after prohibition ended (though his claim that it was just due to FDR wasn't explained.

1900 - 1.2
1901 - 1.2
1902 - 1.2
1903 - 1.1
1904 - 1.3
1905 - 2.1
1906 - 3.9
1907 - 4.9
1908 - 4.8
1909 - 4.2
1910 - 4.6
1911 - 5.5
1912 - 5.4
1913 - 6.1
1914 - 6.2
1915 - 5.9
1916 - 6.3
1917 - 6.9
1918 - 6.5
1919 - 7.2
1920 - 6.8
1921 - 8.1
. . .
1933 - 9.7 (last year of prohibition


Concealed Handgun Permits in Washington State

Democrats defending gun control

One just has to look at the gubernatorial debates around the country to see that gun control isn't dead: Governor Rod Blagojevich and Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka and Republican challenger Lynn Swann and Governor Ed Rendell.

Concealed Handgun Used to Stop Attack in Seattle

Westlake, Washington Tuesday, October 10, 2006 -- A 25-year-old man who was fatally shot while attacking a stranger Saturday at Westlake Plaza had previously served time in prison for setting fire to a day-care center his mother operated out of her Phinney Ridge home.

Daniel Culotti was shot shortly after 11 a.m. by a 52-year-old man he was assaulting in an unprovoked attack, according to Seattle police. The victim of the assault was carrying a handgun and had a concealed-weapons permit, police said. . . .

According to Seattle police, a woman called 911 at 11:08 a.m. Saturday to report that a man was acting erratically, yelling at passers-by and randomly assaulting strangers near Boren Avenue and Pine Street. Officers sent to the scene couldn't find the caller, the man or any victims, police spokeswoman Debra Brown said.

Twenty-three minutes later, police dispatchers radioed that shots had been fired at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, she said. Moments earlier, witnesses told police, a man in his 20s apparently attacked the 52-year-old man, punching and kicking him until he fell to the sidewalk. The older man pulled out a .357-caliber Ruger revolver and fired one round, striking the man in the abdomen.

The older man "was not winning the fight" - the other man "just starts attacking him, he's on the ground and a shot is fired," Brown said, describing witnesses' accounts.

"It happened pretty fast. Probably by the time anybody thought to intervene, it was already over."

The 52-year-old had a concealed-weapons license and was in legal possession of the handgun, Brown said. Police have not released the man's name because he was not booked into jail.

"He was very cooperative," she said, noting the man waited for officers to arrive and turned over his weapon; he was interviewed by police and later released. . . . .

More information on the attack is available here.

Thanks very much to Tom Armstrong for providing this information to me.

Apple Computer Insults Muslims?

This is too funny. I thought that this was a joke when I first saw it.

Apple's "Mecca Project" Provokes Muslim Reaction

On October 10, 2006, an Islamic website posted a message alerting Muslims to what it claims is a new insult to Islam. According to the message, the cube-shaped building which is being constructed in New York City, on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets in midtown Manhattan, is clearly meant to provoke Muslims. The fact that the building resembles the Ka'ba (see picture below), is called "Apple Mecca," is intended to be open 24 hours a day like the Ka'ba, and moreover, contains bars selling alcoholic beverages, constitutes a blatant insult to Islam. The message urges Muslims to spread this alert, in hope that "Muslims will be able to stop the project."

Note: This is so bizarre. If you want to see what the store ended up looking like, see this link here. The picture that the above story shows is from when the cube was under construction. The claim that it "contains bars selling alcoholic beverages, constitutes a blatant insult to Islam" is equally funny because the Genius bars provide computer advice, not alcoholic beverages.

Thanks to Tom for sending me this link.


Weird Science findings: Psoriasis triples heart attack risk

14-year-old boy saves himself and mother from attacker

Corpus Christi, Texas October 10, 2006 -- Police said a 14-year-old boy was defending himself and his mother when he shot and killed an intruder Monday afternoon at their home on Ocean Drive.

Capt. John Houston said the 14-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was home from school after becoming ill, and his 46-year-old mother, Rose Ann Kozlowski, had just returned from the grocery store when she was confronted by a man with a knife.

Cmdr. Jesse Garcia confirmed during a news conference that police received a call from one of the residents of 4221 Ocean Drive at 12:55 p.m. and responded to a report of a man tying them up and holding them at knifepoint.

The man, only identified as a black man in his 30s or 40s, led the mother and son to the upstairs master bedroom, where he bound their hands with men's ties and ransacked the house for valuables.

"He packed up her SUV in the garage with those items. He threatened to kill them repeatedly," Houston said.

After the robber caught the woman trying to untie herself once, she was able to free herself and her son and find her husband's pistol in a security box under the bed. She tried to shut double doors to the bedroom as the man tried to push them open and her son held the gun.

"She was using all her strength to push them," Houston said, adding that the boy aimed at the man through a space in the door and fired one shot.

"He shot once and hit him in the head, killing him instantly," Houston said. "He took a life-saving measure to save his mother and himself." . . . .


Are Liberals finally turning against teachers unions?

A star figure at the second annual Aspen Institute Ideas Festival -- attended by several hundred, mainly liberal intellectual and financial glitterati -- was Joel Klein, the former Clinton aide who is now chancellor of New York City public schools.
Blame teacher contracts
Klein made a riveting case that teachers-union contracts are the main obstacle to improving urban education.
"The contract protects the interests of adults at the expense of kids," he told a rapt audience, describing how it bars pay differentials based on student performance and service in difficult schools; makes it impossible for principals to fire underperforming teachers; and allows teachers to choose their own professional development tracks, regardless of supply-and-demand needs, such as those for more math and science teachers.
. . . .


Athletes and Guns

This article provides a nice summary of gun policies in different sports.

Celebrities need protection. In the wake of Friday's shooting incident involving four Indiana Pacers, that was a common explanation for why athletes increasingly seem to carry guns.

Another viewpoint: It's not just athletes; it's more young people in general carrying guns, a byproduct of a society that glorifies violence.

Colts coach Tony Dungy believes gun ownership is "very prevalent" among athletes and non-athletes alike.

"In the 19- to 30-year-old crowd, I think that's what we are now," he said. "We carry weapons, we get the permits, we feel like we've got to have them. I won't say 'most,' but there are a lot of young men that have weapons. That's the way it is."
There have been no national studies to determine how many professional athletes carry guns, experts say. But a quick look at headlines in the sports section or on ESPN paints an unmistakable picture. A search of national media clips found eight accounts of NBA or NFL athletes being charged in gun-related crimes since 2005, 12 since 2003. Add in college athletes, and it's much higher.

Peter Roby, director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, said it's part of a larger cultural issue. "Violence is being glorified and carrying a gun as part of a lifestyle is being bought into more than (by) the generation before," Roby said.

Yet Roby also understands athletes feeling they need protection. He said that as the gulf between the lifestyles of athletes and fans grows, players hear "more resentment and anger than ever" from the stands.

John R. Lott, author of "The Bias Against Guns," said it's only smart for athletes to protect themselves by carrying guns, though he acknowledges that's hard for the public to understand.

"People think that if anybody should be able to defend themselves (without weapons), it's big football players and large basketball players," Lott said. "But these people are real targets, because of their celebrity and large salaries. They want to have something to protect themselves."
. . . .

Homeowner Stops Two Robbers

Hollywood, Florida -- A Hollywood man turned the tables on two robbers outside his home early Saturday morning, leaving one attacker dead from his own gun and the other nursing a bullet hole in his leg and a bite on his arm, authorities said.

Police say the two robbers were after new chrome rims on the homeowner's pickup truck.

Police identified the robbery suspects as Jason Robert Melendez, 23, and Ronald Magano, 22, both men with lengthy criminal histories, according to state records.

Magano died in the attack, and Hollywood police picked up a wounded Melendez a short time later. Melendez, who is on probation, will be charged with "a multitude of felonies, including felony murder," said Capt. Tony Rode, spokesman for the department.

The homeowner, Christopher Welker, 26, escaped the attack unharmed and is unlikely to face charges, Rode said. A grand jury will make the final decision.

"He was defending his property and his life," Rode said. "Mr. Welker was certainly justified in his actions." . . . .

Thanks again to CM Ross for sending this to me.

Democrat in Wyoming who supports Vermont/Alaska type concealed handgun law

I got an interesting note from Ed Fowler, a democrat who is running for county Sheriff in Wyoming. He is apparently supporting a bill in Wyoming that would have it adopt a Vermont/Alaska type concealed handgun law. Fowler certainly seems like a colorful character. (I have no independent knowledge of his opponent.)

CT Mayor Carries Concealed Handgun in City Offices, Creates Concern

Mayor James R. Miron is taking some heat for allegedly packing heat.

A Town Council leader and some town workers say Miron has taken a handgun into his Town Hall office and town council meetings, raising concerns about public safety and making them uncomfortable, the Connecticut Post reported Sunday. Some say they have seen the mayor with a gun at both his hip and strapped to his ankle.

Miron, 41, a lawyer and retired Marine, refused to confirm or deny that he carries weapons to Town Hall or meetings. But he defended his right to do so.

"If I do carry guns to Town Hall, I would never admit that for personal safety reasons and my own right to privacy," said Miron, a Democrat. "I don't want someone intent on firing a gun at me or anyone else knowing if I carry guns or not."

Miron said he has had a gun permit since 1999. Local police say he had a town permit that expired last year. The mayor says he now has a state permit that allows him to carry guns anywhere in the state. He said the only reason he would fire his weapon is to defend himself or to save another person's life.

Under state permits, weapons must be concealed at all times, police say. Records on gun permits are not accessible by the public.

"It is my right to carry guns, and it is also my right not to confirm when and where I carry them," Miron said.

James Feehan, a Republican and chairman of the Town Council, told the newspaper that he saw the mayor carrying two guns at the same time _ one strapped to the ankle and the other under his suit jacket _ during a council meeting within the past few months.

"As a gun owner myself, I believe the mayor certainly has the right to carry a gun or guns as long as he has a legal permit," Feehan said. "However, if his guns are making Town Hall employees and citizens uncomfortable, as I have been told, I would ask that he cease and desist immediately. . . . .


Why Publicly Owned Companies Usually Lose Money

For those of you who haven't been following Airbus, their major new plane, the A380, is two years behind schedule and it risks falling even further behind. The current CEO, Christian Streiff, is apparently being pushed out because he is trying vainly to run Airbus like a company. It appears that even with all the government subsidies, Airbus may be in a lot of trouble. Anyway, in reading an article on Streiff's problems, there were a couple of sentences that really stood out:

But Mr. Streiff has been pushing to have a free hand in guiding Airbus, making decisions based on commercial rather than political concerns. . . . According to one executive inside the company, Mr. Enders and Mr. Gallois have grown frustrated by Mr. Streiff’s perceived indifference to political concerns. Mr. Streiff did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.

Film Clip from Mine Your Own Business (film on environmental movement)

For those interested, here is a film clip from the movie "Mine Your Own Business." You can also order a copy of the film there for $12.95. It is too bad that this film wasn't distributed in movie theaters.