Two Concealed Handgun Permit Holders Stop Public Shooting

From WBIR in Memphis, Tennessee 3/8/07

Police in Memphis say a gunman firing a pistol beside a busy city street was subdued by two passers-by who were also armed.

No one was hurt during the incident that apparently began with a minor traffic accident, but one passing car was believed hit by a bullet.

Brothers William Webber and Paul Webber told police they stopped their car and pulled their own pistols when they saw a man firing a handgun yesterday.

The brothers said they ordered the man to drop his weapon and then held him at gunpoint until police arrived a few minutes later. Police say the Webbers did not fire their pistols.

Police arrested Dementrius Roberson and charged him with reckless endangerment. Police say the Webber brothers and Roberson have licenses to carry firearms.

Paul Webber says Roberson was firing across traffic and they couldn't tell why he was shooting. . . . .

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Proposed Credit Card Regulations

Listening to the news this morning I heard a report about how horrible it is that credit card companies are allowed to change the terms of their agreements with customers without notice. Apparently, there is a move to pass a law requiring that credit card companies give notice (60 days) for customers before any change can occur. I was quite upset with the Foxnews interviewer. I wished she had asked two questions: 1) Won't that mean higher interest rates? 2) Couldn't the credit card companies offer that now? Doesn't it mean that since they aren't doing that that the customers do not value the benefits from this as much as the costs?

Here is apparently some news coverage of the hearings that took place this past week:

They only discover later that, buried somewhere in a dense, multi-page contract in small print, the lender reserves the right to change the terms - including the interest rate - at any time.
Getting yanked around like this understandably makes customers furious. And they're letting Congress hear about it.



Defensive gun use caught on Cell Phone Video

March 8, 2007
PHILADELPHIA -- The owner of a small breakfast restaurant who has been robbed in the past killed one alleged robber and injured another during a robbery gone bad in Philadelphia Thursday morning, police said. After several rounds were fired, a witness captured the aftermath on his daughter's cell phone video recorded.

Authorities said two people tried to hold up Sunrise Breakfast, a small corner joint on the 1900 block of East Washington Lane around 6 a.m., but the owner shot them before they got away.

Police and witnesses said one of the thieves fired at the owner first.

The store owner, 45-year-old Jason Lee -- who had a permit for his gun -- killed Cornell Toombs, 20, and shot Gary Williams, 24, in the face. Williams was listed in critical but stable condition on Friday.

Lee said he did what he had to do when the gunmen entered his store.

"I'm just lucky," he said. "I'm not a hero. It's my security. I had to do what I had to do."

Lee was behind the counter as workers cleaned up the plate-glass window that had been shattered by bullets. Lee, his wife and a female employee had opened the restaurant early Thursday morning before the two gunmen walked in, held a gun to the female cashier and demanded money.

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Unions spending $10 Million to $20 Million to Attack Wal-Mart

The union-backed campaigns aimed at criticizing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s wages and health benefits are having a "meaningful" impact on the giant retailer's operations, according to a Bank of America Securities analyst.

Wal-Mart on Friday disputed that finding. "Union leaders are wasting millions of their members' hard-earned dollars every year attacking Wal-Mart," spokesman David Tovar said. "Published reports and our own internal tracking consistently show that the critics' efforts are having minimal impact on the company's reputation."

Bank of America analyst David Strasser wrote in a note distributed Thursday to his firm's clients that the union groups have $20 million in financial backing from their national organizations and contributions from their local divisions. He estimates that Wal-Mart, in turn, employs 100 people tasked, at least in part, with countering the union group's criticisms, amounting to a $10 million expense in salary and benefits. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman called that estimate off-base and "simply absurd."

The Wal-Mart workers apparently don't want to be unionized. They won't vote to elect union representation. The union strategy seems to be to force the company into initiating unionization.

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DC Gun Ban Struck Down

The Federal Appeals Court today struck down the ban. A copy of the decision can be found here. Remember you read it here first.

The first paragraph in the decision says it all: "Appellants contest the district court's dismissal of their complaint alleging that the District of Columbia's gun control laws violate their Second Amendment rights. The court held that the Second Amendment . . . does not bestow any rights on individuals except, perhaps, when an individual serves in an organized militia such as today's National Guard. We reverse." Also interesting (p. 57): the court clearly recognizes that restrictions are unconstitutional when they prevent guns from being used in self-defense. The Appeals court granted summary judgement for the plaintiffs.

In the dissent, I wonder if the Judge understands that her decision (p. 3) implies that people should be able to own machine guns. They are surely weapons used in militias.

I have no doubt that this is going to the US Supreme Court. There is significant disagreement across the circuit courts that I think there is no doubt that the Supreme Court will grant cert. This is actually a very high risk gamble. IF the gun ban is struck down, it will have major implications. If not, no gun regulation will be deemed "unreasonable."

UPDATE: Fox News has posted a useful discussion here

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The real aim of campaign finance reform?

George Will has an interesting discussion of why Democrats have pushed so hard for campaign finance reform. I have written about the McCarthy and McGovern cases myself, and the explanation he gives seem plausible. But it would be nice if it were based on more than conjecture, even if it is quite plausible.

The modern drive for campaign finance "reforms" is usually said to have been initiated by Democrats in response to Watergate. Democrats did start it, but before Watergate, in response to their traumas of 1968.

That year, Sen. Gene McCarthy's anti-Vietnam insurgency disturbed the Democratic Party's equilibrium by mounting a serious challenge to the renomination of President Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy was able to do that only because a few wealthy people gave him large contributions. Democrats also were alarmed by former Alabama governor George Wallace's success in 1968, and they mistakenly assumed that Wallace, too, was mostly funded by a few very large contributions.

According to John Samples of the Cato Institute (in his book " The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform"), congressional Democrats began the process that culminated in criminalizing large contributions -- the kind that can give long-shot candidates, such as Vilsack, a chance to become competitive. Yes, the initial aim of campaign "reforms" was less the proclaimed purpose of combating corruption or "the appearance" thereof than it was to impede the entry of inconvenient candidates into presidential campaigns. In that sense, campaign reform is a government program that has actually worked, unfortunately. . . .



Proposed law for Georgia allowing guns stored in cars

Bob Barr has an op-ed on a proposed law in Georgia that would allow people to store a gun in their car(link here).


Incentives matter even among birds: threats to destroy nests ensure that other birds raise cowbirds' offspring

Raise my kids, or else! People have long wondered how cowbirds can get away with leaving their eggs in the nests of other species, who then raise the baby cowbirds. Why don't the hosts just toss the strange eggs out? Now researchers seem to have an answer _ if the host birds reject the strange eggs, the cowbirds come back and trash the place.

The so-called "Mafia behavior," by brown-headed cowbirds is reported in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It's the female cowbirds who are running the mafia racket at our study site," Jeffrey P. Hoover, of the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Illinois Natural History Survey, said in a statement.

"Our study shows many of them returned and ransacked the nest when we removed the parasitic egg," he explained.

Hoover and Scott K. Robinson of the Florida museum studied cowbirds over four seasons in the Cache River watershed in southern Illinois.

While cowbirds leave their eggs in many other birds nests, the researchers focused on warblers in the study because warblers usually accept and raise cowbird eggs.

To see what would happen, Hoover and Robinson watched where the cowbirds left eggs in warbler nests, and then removed some of them.

They found that 56 percent of the nests where cowbird eggs were removed were later ransacked.

They also found evidence of what they called 'farming' behavior,' in which cowbirds destroyed a nest to force the host bird to build another. The cowbird then synchronized its egg laying with the hosts' 'renest' attempt.

"Cowbirds parasitized 85 percent of the renests, which is strong supporting evidence for both farming and mafia behavior," Hoover said. . . .


Texas may end new gun ban in foster homes

There has never been a problem with guns in foster homes, but that didn't stop the new ban from going into effect. The article has a useful discussion about how the regulation is interfering with the ability of those families to go hunting.

AUSTIN – A new state rule prohibits firearms in foster homes where severely emotionally disturbed or mentally retarded children are living, but a Dallas-area lawmaker calls the regulation unnecessary and has moved to overturn it.

Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, said foster parents shouldn't be barred from keeping guns in their homes, and after hearing from constituents upset about the rule, he has filed a bill to force the state to return to a previous regulation that focused on weapons storage. The new provision affects about 1,500 abused and neglected children, about 7 percent of Texas foster children, officials say.

The Department of Family and Protective Services said Monday that it knows of no Texas foster child who has been injured or killed by a gun while in care. "But our research has identified guns as a risk to children," said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the agency. . . .



France: Film police violence, go to jail

Scooter Libby Trial Verdict

The Lancet estimate of 650,000 Iraqis Dying a Fraudulent Claim?

The statistics made headlines all over the world when they were published in The Lancet in October last year. More than 650,000 Iraqis – one in 40 of the population – had died as a result of the American-led invasion in 2003. The vast majority of these “excess” deaths (deaths over and above what would have been expected in the absence of the occupation) were violent. The victims, both civilians and combatants, had fallen prey to airstrikes, car bombs and gunfire.

Body counts in conflict zones are assumed to be ballpark – hospitals, record offices and mortuaries rarely operate smoothly in war – but this was ten times any other estimate. Iraq Body Count, an antiwar web-based charity that monitors news sources, put the civilian death toll for the same period at just under 50,000, broadly similar to that estimated by the United Nations Development Agency.

The implication of the Lancet study, which involved Iraqi doctors knocking on doors and asking residents about recent deaths in the household, was that Iraqis were being killed on an horrific scale. The controversy has deepened rather than evaporated. Several academics have tried to find out how the Lancet study was conducted; none regards their queries as having been addressed satisfactorily. Researchers contacted by The Times talk of unreturned e-mails or phone calls, or of being sent information that raises fresh doubts. . . . .

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Walter Reed Veteran Medical Care and Public Provision

When will people make the connection between the problems at Walter Reed for veterans and the lack of incentives that exist in public provision? This isn't a deep point, but I am not seeing it mentioned in the media. The question is whether any of those pushing for a single payer health care system will see the connection.

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Ann Coulter on Edwards

When people got upset about Ann Coulter's comments about John Edwards I thought that she was referring to this incident about Edwards' obsession with his hair. Unfortunately, Edwards also went after Chenney's daughter being a lesbian during the vice presidential debate.

For those who want more background on Ann's comments see this from Hannity and Colmes.

That said, nothing at all is gained by calling others names. I think that it was a very serious mistake. Let the others look mean. Let others have a monopoly on name calling. I may be idealistic, but let us try to argue on ideas.



Dramatic Defensive Gun Use Saves Woman's Life

Jackson, Mississippi (March 5, 2007)
As customers watched in horror Sunday afternoon, a man stabbed a woman and attempted to set her on fire in the parking lot of a Jackson store, witnesses said.

The attack was stopped by a passer-by, who held the man at gunpoint until police arrived, witnesses said.

The suspect, Henry Watson, 42, was arrested and is expected to face aggravated assault charges, Jackson Police Department Cmdr. Lee Vance said. Watson's wife, Gracie Watson, 42, was transported to the University of Mississippi Medical center, where she was listed in good condition.

"It wasn't five minutes from when she had left my line when I heard a scream outside," said Theresa Stuckey, a cashier at the Family Dollar at 516 Nakoma Drive in Jackson. "I looked out, and (the attacker) was on top of her stabbing her, and stabbing her and stabbing her.

"She was screaming, 'Help, he's trying to kill me!' She was rolling on the ground, trying to get out of the way, but he kept stabbing her. He stabbed her about 20 times in the neck, back and arms."

As the attack continued, people were yelling at the man to stop and honking their horns, Stuckey said. She said she called 911.

"He was just standing over her hacking away," said Dolly Baker, who had just left the Save-A-Lot store next door when she saw the attack.

Baker said she watched the man pour gasoline on the victim then try to strike a match.

"He was literally trying to kill that lady in broad daylight," she said.

Baker said a passer-by stopped the attack.

"He told the man, 'Stop, or I'm going to shoot. And if you run, I'm going to kill you,' " Baker said. . . .

Thanks to Tom for sending this to me.

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Some cities that require people own guns

Most are probably familiar with Kennesaw, Georgia or Love, Utah's requirements that citizens own guns. But there are a few others that people might not know about: Greenleaf, Idaho; Geuda Springs, Kansas; Virgin, Utah; and Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania.

UPDATE: N. W. Clayton informs me that "the Utah courts struck down the Town of Virgin's ordinance requiring residents to own guns shortly after it was enacted, due to the ordinance's violation of Utah's pre-emption law, which prohibits state and local government entities from enacting any firearms regulations without explicit authorization from the State Legislature. Ironically, this law was passed in the 1990s to prevent local governments from creating a checkerboard of gun-control statutes, but it applies to all firearms regulations, including regulations that require residents to own firearms."

He also pointed out: "On another matter, you may be interested to know that the Utah Legislature defeated a bill last week that would have prohibited firearms in faculty and staff offices at state-run colleges and universities. The University of Utah (also known as "the U", where I went to graduate school), after having seen the Utah Supreme Court declare the U's campus-wide gun ban to be illegal, begged the Legislature to grant individual faculty and staff members the authority to declare their offices "gun free". Under the proposal, if a concealed-weapon permit holder wanted to enter a "gun free" office, he would have to remove his weapon first. The bill required the university to install a storage locker somewhere in the vicinity of a "gun free" office, though this requirement had no enforcement clause and would likely have been ignored. A permit holder who entered a "gun free" office with his weapon would have been guilty of a criminal offense. If this bill had passed and I had gone to the U to speak with a professor who had a "gun free" office, and if no lockers were provided, I would have simply unholstered my loaded weapon and set it on the floor outside the office.

The bill did not address the issue of shared offices or office spaces with cubicles, both of which are common at universities. Also, even if lockers had been installed, I can imagine people freaking out when they saw someone unholstering and unloading a firearm in broad daylight. Furthermore, this would have defeated one of the purposes of concealed carry, which is to keep people from knowing who's armed and who isn't. The list of concealed-weapon permit holders is supposed to be kept confidential under state law, but this bill would have been a de facto way of forcing permit holders to declare themselves in public.

The substitute version of the bill that passed merely allows students in campus housing at state colleges and universities to request assignment to a roommate who does not have a CCW permit, though there is no requirement that that such a roommate assignment be guaranteed. Given that the list of permit holders is secret, and given that the U is prohibited from requiring students to declare whether they have a permit, I'm not sure how this will work out."

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Concealed Handgun Permit Rate in Minnesota

More than 42,000 people are licensed to carry handguns in public in Minnesota, 19,147 of them in the seven-county Twin Cities area, the state Department of Public Safety reported Thursday. . . . .

The article makes a big deal of the fact that fewer people got a permit than was originally perdicted. If they had listened to my predictions, they wouldn't be making this claim. Second, the quote below is exactly what David Mustard and I argued in our 1997 JLS paper.

Since passage of the law, which overturned a system that gave police chiefs and sheriffs wide discretion to deny permits, the number of permits has more than tripled. The increase has been even more marked in the Twin Cities area, where law enforcement officials previously kept a tight rein on permits. . . . .

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Is the draft Gore movement going anyplace?

Yet, more problems with Wikipedia

This is not particularly surprising:

In a blink, the wisdom of the crowd became the fury of the crowd. In the last few days, contributors to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, have turned against one of their own who was found to have created an elaborate false identity.

Under the name Essjay, the contributor edited thousands of Wikipedia articles and was once one of the few people with the authority to deal with vandalism and to arbitrate disputes between authors.

To the Wikipedia world, Essjay was a tenured professor of religion at a private university with expertise in canon law, according to his user profile. But in fact, Essjay is a 24-year-old named Ryan Jordan, who attended a number of colleges in Kentucky and lives outside Louisville.

Mr. Jordan contended that he resorted to a fictional persona to protect himself from bad actors who might be angered by his administrative role at Wikipedia. (He did not respond to an e-mail message, nor to messages conveyed by the Wikipedia office.)

The Essjay episode underlines some of the perils of collaborative efforts like Wikipedia that rely on many contributors acting in good faith, often anonymously and through self-designated user names. But it also shows how the transparency of the Wikipedia process — all editing of entries is marked and saved — allows readers to react to suspected fraud. . . . .

Freerepublic has more information on Mr. Jordan:
This Essjay character is VERY typical of the Wikipedia administrator elite. The NYT has the basics, but they also leave out a lot about him.
Specifically - Essjay claimed to be a homosexual theologian and frequently espoused far left versions of Christianity in his article edits. He basically used his phony Ph.D. to browbeat his leftist point of view into articles on Christianity by citing himself as an expert.

He is also one of dozens of radical gays who CURRENTLY populate the upper tiers of wikipedia's administration. This guy is just the tip of the iceburg at Wikipedia.

Some people are trying to set up an alternative to Wikipedia. Given the liberal bias of Wikipedia, they claim that "Wikipedia is "anti-American", "anti-Christian" and "anti-capitalism" according to US fundamentalist Christians who have set up their own online reference site, Conservapedia, to protect themselves from the evils of the world."



"Denying self-defense to GIs in Iraq"

It would be an interesting study to see what hapens to the number of troop deaths before and after the adoption of these rules. You raise the cost of defending people and it makes them more likely targets.

As part of President Bush's troop surge now under way in Iraq, he insisted that Iraqi leaders "lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces." That's an important step, but a deeply ironic one, because it overlooks other unreasonable restrictions imposed on US soldiers – by the US government.

In 2005, the Pentagon amended its Standing Rules of Engagement (ROE). The new rules make it harder for US troops to boldly counter hostile acts, and they specifically allow commanders to limit the right of soldiers to defend themselves!

The United States seeks to bring peace to Iraq by winning the "hearts and minds" of the civilian population. Unnecessary collateral damage and innocent civilian deaths undermine this effort. Presumably, the new ROE, which allow unit commanders to "limit individual self-defense by members of their unit" after notifying the secretary of Defense, were adopted with a noble purpose in mind: to lessen civilian casualties. However, limiting the right of self-defense is too drastic and it puts soldiers at risk.

Commanders take these restrictions seriously. Newsweek magazine recently quoted Marine Capt. Rob Secher, who complained that "anytime an American fires a weapon there has to be an investigation into why there was an escalation of force." . . . .

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