Is the Bush administration backtracking on the Second Amendment?

Saddam's Execution by Hanging Video


A little math can be a dangerous thing: Washington Post on Crime rates

It is one of the least-told stories in American crime-fighting. New York, the safest big city in the nation, achieved its now-legendary 70-percent drop in homicides even as it locked up fewer and fewer of its citizens during the past decade. The number of prisoners in the city has dropped from 21,449 in 1993 to 14,129 this past week. That runs counter to the national trend, in which prison admissions have jumped 72 percent during that time. . . .

If you want to drive down crime, the experience of New York shows that it's ridiculous to spend your first dollar building more prison cells," said Michael Jacobson, who served as New York's correction commissioner for former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and now is president of the Vera Institute of Justice, which studies crime-fighting trends worldwide. . . .

Perhaps as intriguing is the experience in states where officials spent billions of dollars to build prisons. From 1992 to 2002, Idaho's prison population grew by 174 percent. the largest percentage increase in the nation. Yet violent crime in that state rose by 14 percent. . . .

There appears to be a simple explanation for why both prison population and crime can fall in New York. When murders fall by 70 percent, can you really keep on expanding the prison population? Note that the prison population has fallen by a third, but violent crime in the city has fallen by much more than that.

It would have been helpful if they had put the numbers in per capita rates, rather than comparing numbers 10 years apart. For example, I guarantee you that Idaho's population grew by more than 14 percent, though less than 174 percent. Thus it would appear the crime rate did fall as the prison population grew.


The Federal Election Commission now watching car bumper stickers

If this guy was unfunded, it sounds as if he had plenty of empty space on his car. It seems as if the opportunity cost of it was zero.

NASCAR driver is rebuked for Bush sticker

It’s no secret that NASCAR drivers skew Republican, which is fine with the Federal Election Commission, just so long as they don’t display their preferences where anyone can see them.

In a decision announced Tuesday, the FEC sent an “admonishment letter” to Kirk Shelmerdine Racing. Kirk Shelmerdine, a former pit boss for the late Dale Earnhardt, has been an unsuccessful, underfunded and undersponsored driver. He has never finished higher than 26th.

So back in 2004, in a move perhaps designed to draw some attention to his car, he placed a “Bush-Cheney ’04” decal on his rear quarter panel, which was otherwise unencumbered by advertising. Democratic activist Sydnor Thompson complained to the FEC, and the agency found that Shelmerdine “may have made an unreported independent expenditure or a prohibited corporate expenditure.”

Former commissioner Bradley Smith dissented in one of the case’s early votes and blogged about the result this week. He has written that in reference to the FEC’s $250 expenditure limit, “evidence is strong that the market value of Shelmerdine’s rear quarter panel was approximately $0, give or take $249.”


Murder rates up in many cities


Massachusetts: 203,302 Concealed Handgun Permits

All this assumes that the Boston Globe got these numbers correct.

Speak of people carrying concealed handguns rates in Texas or Florida to someone in Massachusetts and I am sure that they would be viewed as examples of the dangerous wild west. So who has more concealed handgun permits per capita? Texas or Massachusetts? Texas has 22.9 million people and 247,345 permits. For Massachusetts, which has 6.4 million people, the numbers are quite high: “In Massachusetts, 203,302 residents were licensed to carry concealed weapons as of August, according to the state Criminal History Systems Board.” Texas would have to have over 726,000 permits to have the same rate of issuance. (Obviously it would be nice to compare only the adult populations, but this fast comparison using total populations will give a useful rough measure.)

How about Florida or Massachusetts? Florida is way up there also with 549,000 permits, but on a per capita rate it would have over 565,000 if it issued permits at the same rate as Massachusetts.

While I am putting this up, for Utah it is 79,353 permits. Utah and Massachusetts have virtually the same rate of issuing permits per capita, but my guess is that Massachusetts' rate is higher among adults.

By the way, the Brady Campaign gives Massachusetts a "B+" for its concealed carry system because police have discretion to grant permits, but it gives Texas a "D" and Florida and Utah an "F"s.

Pennsylvania, Indiana, and South Dakota have the highest rates of issuing permits 6.4, 6.4 and 7.5 percent of adults respectively. There are over 1.1 million permits issued just from Pennsylvania and Florida alone.

Thanks to Maxim Lott for discovering this fact about Massachusetts.

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Weird Crime Fact: Male Rapes

NYT: “Very rarely will an African-American woman work for an African-American boss”?

This piece offers multiple explanations, but here is a possibility: might it be that the reasons given below by the nannies themselves are correct?

Numerous black parents successfully employ nannies, and many sitters say they pay no regard to race. But interviews with dozens of nannies and agencies that employ them in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Houston turned up many nannies — often of African-American or Caribbean descent themselves — who avoid working for families of those backgrounds. Their reasons included accusations of low pay and extra work, fears that employers would look down at them, and suspicion that any neighborhood inhabited by blacks had to be unsafe.

The result is that many black parents do not have the same child care options as their colleagues and neighbors. They must settle for illegal immigrants or non-English speakers instead of more experienced or credentialed nannies, rely on day care or scale back their professional aspirations to spend more time at home.

“Very rarely will an African-American woman work for an African-American boss,” said Pat Cascio, the owner of Morningside Nannies in Houston and the president of the International Nanny Association.

Many of the African-American nannies who make up 40 percent of her work force fear that people of their own color will be “uppity and demanding,” said Ms. Cascio, who is white. After interviews, she said, those nannies “will call us and say, ‘Why didn’t you tell me’ ” the family is black? . . .

Some black sitters, both Caribbean and African-American, said they flat out refused to work for families of those backgrounds, accusing them of demanding more and paying less.

“It seems like our own color looks down on us and takes advantage of us,” said Pansy Scott, a Jamaican immigrant in Brooklyn, basing her conclusions on working for a single black family years ago. Ai-Jen Poo, lead organizer for Domestic Workers United, a labor group, said, “Domestic employees are at the whim of their employers,” good or bad. “If they happen to run into an employer who for whatever reason is not respecting their rights,” she said, they may draw wildly broad conclusions. . . .


Despite legal risks, Fox hunting will still occur in England this coming week


Guns and football players

I was watching HBO's Inside the NFL with Cris Collinsworth this weekend and I saw an amazing attack on people carrying concealed handguns for protection. The attack was basically that those who carried a gun did so because they wanted to feel tough. He gave no consideration to the fact that these players might be very promising targets for criminals who perceive the players as wealthy. I am not sure what the player is supposed to do when he is attacked my multiple assailants. By the way, I came across this recent post:

Pierce on Guns

Paul Pierce will be one of many quoted on ESPN's Outside the Lines Sunday morning on the topic of athletes and guns:

“Because I’m recognized on TV, people want what I have. And, people are jealous of what you have. And, you have to be careful because people out there in the world are very envious of your life.”

Pierce, as you recall survived a brutal multiple stabbing at a Boston nightclub in September 2000. He is now licensed to carry a concealed weapon, but says he leaves his gun at home and hires a bodyguard when he goes out.

Merry Christmas!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas.


Canadian Indians win right to hunt at night

When I went to New Zealand early this year and got some time to talk with the Maori, I got a new found respect for the importance of hunting traditions to native people. Indeed, this desire on their part may end up being important to keep hunting going. It is good to hear about this legal victory in Canada. In this Canadian case though I find it amazing that so-called public safety concerns that are not based on any statistical evidence might possibly outweight treaty obligations. Even if the evidence existed, it is not clear why it should outweigh the treat.

In a split decision, the judges said rights given to Indians in treaties can overrule current Canadian laws.

Native groups are calling it an important victory but critics say the ruling ignores important concerns over public safety.

Hunting in the dark is illegal because it is widely felt to be very dangerous.

Ten years ago, two hunters from the Tsartlip Indian band on Vancouver Island were hunting at night with rifles and electric torches.

But their only catch turned out to be a decoy deer set up in the woods by wildlife officials.

The two hunters were arrested.

But the pair argued that hunting at night is a traditional practice for their tribe, that a treaty signed back in 1852 specifically mentions it and that grants them the right to carry on doing it. . . .

But the court itself was split over the issue, with several of the judges saying public safety should outweigh all other concerns, even in sensitive aboriginal rights cases. . . .

A couple of defensive gun uses

Norman, Oklahoma -- A man who police say broke into a northeast Norman home was shot to death by the resident late Thursday.

Keith Dewayne Robinson, 23, was pronounced dead at the home on Princeton Circle shortly before midnight. Police said the home’s occupant, Ernest Bernal, 49, arrived at home about 11:30 p.m. Police said Bernal discovered Robinson inside the home.

“A confrontation between the resident and the intruder ensued in which the resident shot the intruder,” according to a police press release. . . . .

Thanks very much to Gus for sending this to me.

Fayetteville — A convenience store clerk turned the tables on two armed robbers Saturday afternoon.

It happened at the Amoco gas station at 1711 Clinton Road in Fayetteville around 3:30.

Fayetteville police said the clerk shot one of the suspects as the robber began to pull out a silver handgun.

The wounded suspect was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. His wound was not life-threatening, police said.

The other suspect ran away, and police were looking for him. . . . .