Bullet ballistic data bases not very useful

Reason magazine's accuracy has had a number of problems in recent years, but here is a useful piece.

Seven years ago, New York started a database of "ballistic fingerprints" for all new handguns sold in the state. The bill's backers sold it as a crime-solving device, arguing that the state would now have a sample of a spent shell and bullet for every new gun sold. This, they said, would help police connect future evidence from crime scenes to specific guns.

Since then, the authorities have entered 200,000 newly purchased guns into the database and spent $1 million dollars a year on the system. Yet it hasn't led to a single solved crime. The only other state with such a database, Maryland, can attribute at least one conviction to the system since it was created in 2000-more than zero, but few enough that the state's own Police Forensics Division has suggested scrapping the program because of its demonstrated lack of benefits.

This hasn't come as a surprise to gun rights activists, who pointed to several potential problems when the databases were originally debated. Among them: The markings left by a gun are not guaranteed to be the same over the long term and can be deliberately changed with simple expedients such as filing inside the barrel; the vast majority of guns used in crimes are stolen or otherwise obtained in a black market, not used by their original legal owner; devoting so much record keeping to every gun sold guarantees wasted effort, since less than 1 percent of all guns sold will ever be used in a crime.

In 2003 a report from the California Attorney General's Office recommended against launching such a program because of its likely ineffectiveness in crime solving. And a March 2008 study from the National Research Council recommended against a national version of the New York and Maryland databases. In addition to noting the obvious ways in which such a program could be easily circumvented by criminals, the study said the theory behind the ballistics databases—that every gun marks shells and bullets in specific, stable, identifiable ways—has not been scientifically proven.

I had this related piece back in 2002.


Obama: Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh

From today's NY Post:

President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts.

"There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats," the official said. "We shouldn't let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done."

That wasn't Obama's only jab at Republicans today.

In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: "I won," according to aides briefed on the meeting.

"I will trump you on that." . . .


No opposition in Kansas to letting prosecutors carry concealed handguns in Court

Unanimous vote in state Senate:

Bill allows prosecutors to have guns in court


Associated Press Writer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) --Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman thinks allowing prosecutors to carry concealed guns in county courthouses could give them an added measure of protection if they ever needed it.

And on Thursday, the Senate voted 39-0 for a bill that would let county, state and federal prosecutors -- including Attorney General Steve Six and his assistants -- carry concealed guns into county courthouses. . . .


Obama's poll numbers drop, but are still high

From the Politico:

Now that he’s in office, Obama’s approval ratings are starting to normalize, as partisan back-and-forth picks up. Just a week ago, Gallup found an astonishing 83 percent approval of how he has handled his transition, showing he had even won over most Republicans.

The new job-approval figure puts him at the upper end of opening poll numbers for presidents, but doesn’t set a record.

Gallup’s initial job approval ratings were President John F. Kennedy, 72 percent; Dwight Eisenhower, 68 percent; Jimmy Carter, 66 percent; Richard Nixon, 59 percent; George W. Bush, 57 percent; and Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush, 51 percent. . . .



New Fox News Op-ed: On the "so-called" Stimulus Package

My new piece starts this way:

Barack Obama claims that the new stimulus plan that emerged from the House of Representatives this past week is needed to save the economy. Democrats promise to be “creating or saving of four million jobs.” News media report in all seriousness: “The democrats vow no earmarks or special projects will be attached to the bill. The focus is on jobs.” Also "more than 90 percent of the jobs created are likely to be in the private sector."

Unfortunately, though, the $825 billion “stimulus” package has nothing to do with creating or saving jobs – it has everything to do with moving jobs from industries that Democrats don’t like to industries that they do.

The “stimulus” package is just a wish list of every government program that liberal Democrats have long wanted. As Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of staff, announced after the election last fall: “Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things.” . . .

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Bill Ayres is too much for even liberal Canada, but it was deemed improper to discuss his relationship with Obama during the campaign

The Chronicle of Higher Education has this story.

Bill Ayers Cancels Speech at U. of Toronto After Being Denied Entry Into Canada

American voters largely shrugged off attempts during last year’s presidential campaign to portray Bill Ayers, the former antiwar militant who teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as a terrorist. Canadian border officials apparently still have some issues with the education professor.

According to The Globe & Mail newspaper, the Canada Border Services Agency declared him inadmissible at the Toronto City Centre Airport on Sunday evening, forcing him to cancel a planned speech at an education conference.

Mr. Ayers had been scheduled to speak tonight to a research group at the University of Toronto, the Centre for Urban Schooling and the Secondary Program: Inner City Education. In a statement on its Web site, the center said that organizers were “shocked” and “extremely disappointed” by the border agency’s actions, and that the event would be rescheduled.

In remarks to The Globe & Mail, Jeffrey Kugler, the center’s executive director, called the refusal to allow Mr. Ayers into the country a violation of academic freedom. “There is no one who could have thought it possible there was any danger to Canadians to letting him in,” Mr. Kugler said.

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