2/02/2013

The difference between a machine gun and a semi-automatic



One warning: this piece presents a somewhat confused discussion of the 1986 federal law dealing with machine guns.  The law banned increasing the number of machine guns in circulation.

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Mayor Cory Booker: "Legal Gun Buyers Aren't Causing Murders in Newark and Chicago and Other Places"



From the Media Research Center
CORY BOOKER, NEWARK MAYOR (D-N.J.): To me, the data should drive our decision making. So I know, I’m not afraid of people having guns who are law abiding citizens. In the analysis of gun murders and shootings in my city, I could only find one in the entire time I’ve been mayor – and unfortunately there have been hundreds and hundreds – where a person who was involved in a shooting where they had their gun legally, where they legally acquired their gun. The guns that are causing carnage in our cities, my city and our country, every single year are acquired illegally.
A reader, Alexander Roubian, informs me of the one gun murder committed by a law-abiding citizen was a suicide, not a murder. Alexander has two MP3s where he talked to Booker about this claim (see here and here). 

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Mayors Against Illegal Guns gets supposed list of shootings where guns were allowed all wrong

I have previously noted that there were two multiple victim public shootings that weren't in gun-free zones.  Those were the Gabrielle Giffords and the Carson City, NV IHOP shootings.

In response to my statements, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) has put together a list of their own cases where they claim that more shootings have occurred where guns are allowed.  The group's chairman, John Feinblatt, had a relatively long 255 word letter in the Wall Street Journal publicizing this report.   What should be very clear to anyone who has worked in this area is that you can't simply look at a few news stories to determine whether an attack has occurred in a gun-free zone.  Indeed, as I have complained many times, the media virtually always refuses to mention whether the attack occurred in a gun-free zone (many of my op-eds have also made this point).  For those who follow this blog, it should be fairly clear that others and I do a lot of work in obtaining information about different attacks.  This includes calling the businesses or other facilities involved.  But many times those organizations are uncooperative and in those cases I have spent a lot of time contacting individuals in the area of the attack and asking them if they can provide pictures or other information on the facilities.  Dozens of individuals around the country can attest to me bothering them over the years after these incidents.

Unfortunately, Mayors Against Illegal Guns did not do this work, and they have also inaccurately stated, ignored, or simply missed material that is readily available in news stories.  Let me go through the cases in the MAIG report.
Geneva County, AL, 3/10/09: The shooter killed ten, including four members of his family, before killing himself. 
Shooter Name: Michael Kenneth McLendon, 28 
Gun details: Bushmaster AR-15, SKS Rifle, Shotgun, and .38 Pistol 
Ammo details: Police recovered additional ammunition from his vehicle after the shooting. Gun acquired: Unknown. 
Prohibiting criteria: The shooter had no criminal record and there is no indication he was prohibited from owning a gun. 
Not a gun-free zone: It was lawful to carry a firearm in the public intersection and gas station where two of the individuals were shot.
Nine people were killed by McLendon. In the first shooting in a house on Pullum Street, five people were killed.  There was also a second shooting in another home that left two people dead.  Neither were public places.  It is true that two individuals were killed in separate public places as McLendon was driving along, but that is not a multiple victim public shooting in which at least four are killed in a public place.  However, MAIG’s report implies that all these shootings occurred in a public places.
Lakewood, WA, 11/29/09: The shooter killed four police officers in a Tacoma Coffee shop, eluding police for two days before being killed as he fled.
Shooter Name: Maurice Clemmons, 37
Gun details: When he was killed, he was in possession of the handgun of one of the officers he had killed.
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: Unknown
Prohibiting criteria: The shooter was prohibited from purchasing a firearm, having been charged with at least 13 felonies across two states. He had posted bail for raping a child just six days before the attack.
Not a gun-free zone: The police officers were armed at the time of the shooting.
I haven't defined gun-free zones in terms of whether police were allowed to carry guns, but whether private citizens are able to readily obtain concealed handguns for their protection.  What is important is that the coffee shop was posted to prevent concealed carry permit holders from carrying.  Presumably MAIG understood this point and that is the reason why they focused on police officers being able to carry in this venue.  Obviously, however, on-duty police can carry any place.  The problem for uniformed police is that they provide an easily identifiable target and it is easy to take them out.  Possibly if the attacker had to worry about permit holders who he could not identify, it would have dissuaded him from attacking.  While I had checked when this event originally occurred, I reconfirmed this information with Dave Workman who lived nearby via email on January 8, 2013.  
Carthage, NC, 3/29/09: The shooter opened fire at a nursing home where his estranged wife worked, killing eight and injuring three before he was shot and arrested by a police officer.
Shooter Name: Robert Stewart, 45
Gun details: .357 Magnum handgun and Winchester 1300 shotgun
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: The guns were acquired legally from a local sporting good store.
Prohibiting criteria: There is no indication the Stewart was prohibited from owning a gun.
Not a gun-free zone: We could find no indication that the property-owner forbid carrying of firearms on their property.
This facility informed me in April 2009 that they did not allow guns in the facility for either the people living there or the staff.  I called up asking what their policies had been before the attack.
Boston, MA, 09/28/10: The shooter killed four and wounded one during a drug-related robbery.
Shooter Name: Edward Washington, 33, and Dwayne Moore, 35, were both charged in the killings. Washington was acquitted. In Moore’s first trial, the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of his guilt, but he was later convicted in a retrial.
Gun details: 40-caliber Iberia handgun and 9mm Cobray semiautomatic. The Cobray has not been recovered, but the weapon was identified based on recovered bullets and shell casings.
Ammo details: 14 rounds fired
Gun acquired: Unknown
Prohibiting criteria: Unknown
Not a gun free zone: A person with a Massachusetts Class A license could lawfully carry a firearm in this area. 
Buffalo, NY, 8/14/10: The shooter opened fire on a group of people outside a bar, killing four and wounding four others.
Shooter Name: Riccardo McCray, 24
Gun details: Unknown
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: Unknown
Prohibiting criteria: McCray had been arrested earlier that year on felony drug charges and the previous year for having a loaded rifle in his car. If he was found guilty of either crime, he would have been prohibited from possessing firearms.
Not a gun-free zone: We could find no indication that it was unlawful to carry a firearm in the area.
Both cities either forbid or make it incredibly difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns for protection.  In Boston it is so bad that even off-duty and retired police are regularly denied unrestricted license to carry permits.
Oak Creek, WI, 8/5/12: The shooter killed six people at a Sikh temple and injured three others, including a responding police officer, before killing himself.
Shooter Name: Wade Michael Page, 40
Gun details: 9mm semiautomatic handgun
Ammo details: Page reportedly bought three 19-round magazines when he purchased the gun.
Gun acquired: Page acquired the gun at a local gun shop a week before the shooting.
Prohibiting criteria: Page was involved with the white supremacist movement but he does not appear to have been prohibited from purchasing a gun. Federal officials investigated Page’s ties to supremacist groups more than once prior to the shooting, but did not collect enough evidence to open an investigation.
From FoxNews.com: “No guns [were] allowed in the temple,” Kulbir Singh, an attendee of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, told FoxNews.com. “Everyone knows that it’s not allowed, anywhere in the temple.” 
Norcross, GA, 2/22/12: The shooter returned to a Korean spa from which he'd been kicked out after an altercation, where he shot and killed two of his sisters and their husbands before committing suicide.
Shooter Name: Jeong Soo Paek, 59
Gun details: .45 caliber handgun
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: Police reported that he acquired the gun legally.
Prohibiting criteria: Paek does not appear to have been prohibited, although he had allegedly served two months in jail for assaulting his sister six years earlier.
Not a gun-free zone: We could find no indication that the property owner forbade possession of a firearm on their property.
In one of the more difficult conversations that I have had, I spoke with someone at the spa after the attack and they indicated that they were sure that neither the sisters nor their husbands had guns at the spa and that the killer who was the brother of the women knew that was the case.  I was told that the killer knew "nobody there had a gun."  While I don't know what the official policy at the spa was because the person that I was talking to was upset and didn't want to continue the conversation, the important thing was that the killer knew that there were no guns for people to defend themselves there.  This was a small family owned establishment so it is most likely that this was the official policy of the family.  Note that they have the wrong date on this event.  The event actually occurred on February 20, 2012.  Note also that the business has since closed.
Mount Airy, NC, 11/01/09: The shooter killed four people outside a television store before eventually surrendering to the police.  
Shooter Name: Marcos Chavez Gonzalez, 29  
Gun details: Assault rifle. 
Ammo details: Unknown 
Gun acquired: Unknown  
Prohibiting criteria: The shooter was a prohibited purchaser, having been convicted of kidnapping a minor in 2002.  
Not a gun-free zone: It was lawful to carry a firearm in the area of the shooting.
Indications are that the attack was part of gang related crime.  As I have explained before, that would exclude it from the cases that Bill Landes and I examined.

Just in case MAIG decided to rewrite their report, I have saved a pdf copy of it available here.  Possibly MAIG might have been more successful in their task if they had bothered to look up how my past research with Bill Landes has defined these gun-free zones is available here.


There are a few other cases that I have collected that I will link to here.


The Azana Salon & Spa shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (November, 2012).

Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting (July, 2012).
Another shooting in a another gun free zone: Binghamton, NY (April, 2009).
Trolley Square Mall in Utah (February, 2007).
Omaha, Nebraska mall shooting (December 2007).
I have about 327 postings on gun-free zones available here.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the MAIG "report" has gotten coverage without those who have looked at it doing any additional research.  Here is something from the MinnPost by Susan Perry and the MinnPost kindly puts up the report on their site.

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70-year-old Detroit High School Basketball Coach uses permitted concealed handgun to stop robbery



In high crime Detroit, it is good that this older man was able to protect himself.  From WXYZ-TV:
Police sources say the coach was walking the two girls to their cars when two men allegedly approached and one pulled out a gun and grabbed him by his chain necklace. The coach then pulled out his gun and shot both of them, according to sources. 
The man who shot the attackers was 70 years old, according to police. 
One of the attackers was found dead in the median on Lafayette Boulevard, and the other was taken to a local hospital, according to police sources. We've learned that both of the men had attended the high school, and one had been recently expelled. 
Police sources say the coach has a Concealed Pistol License and is reportedly a reserve police officer. They say he is fully cooperating with authorities. 
Crime scene tape could be seen on Lafayette Boulevard and also around the back parking lot of the school near the gym. . . .

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For first time majority of Americans say that the government is threatening their personal rights


It would be nice if there were more yearly observations so that some patterns could be determined here. Presumably the change from June 2000 to November 2001 was a temporary increase due to the 911 attack.  Taking that blip out of the discussion shows a gradual decline from 1995 to 2010.  The big drop after 2010 seems to be an anomaly.  It would be nice to figure out how much of this drop was due to Obama's push on issues such as gun control and his unwillingness to follow the law.  From Pew Research:
As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms. . . . 
The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat. . . .

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Audio of interview that I had yesterday on Sean Hannity's radio show on Gun Control

Here is an audio of an interview that I did Friday on Sean Hannity's radio show yesterday (click here).  I spent 13 minutes talking gun control issues with Peter Johnson, who was sitting in for Sean.

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Was Obama honest about going "skeet shooting all the time"?

As someone who knew Obama when we were both at the University of Chicago, I don't believe him at all that he likes to go skeet shooting all the time.  His extreme dislike for anything that had anything to do with guns just isn't consistent with his claim.  From Fox News:
Straight Shooter?   
Few people are buying President Obama's claim that he is a big fan of skeet shooting.    
The president was asked by the New Republic -- quote -- "Have you ever fired a gun?"  President Obama answered -- quote -- "Yes, in fact, up at Camp David we do skeet shooting all the time."    
New York Magazine called out the president's phrasing saying, that -- quote -- "...is how people usually talk about things with which they are not very familiar. Your grandma asks you if you 'do Twitter.'"   
The Washington Post looked at the president's past statements and found no mention of skeet shooting.   
It labels, curious, that the White House is refusing to provide evidence that the president has ever used the shooting range. . . .

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2/01/2013

MSNBC Edited Video to show a Sandy Hook father being heckled.

Bernard Goldberg on MSNBC airing an edited video showing Sandy Hook father being heckled.  Goldberg goes through a list of several selectively edited videos on MSNBC, including this recent video..

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The 40 percent background check claim as used during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control this week

Some of the times the claim that 40 percent of gun sales were made without background checks at the hearing this week:
Chief James Johnson, police chief of the Baltimore County Police Department: . . . Up to 40 percent of firearm transactions occur through private individuals rather than licensed gun dealers. Allowing 40 percent of those acquiring to bypass checks is like allowing 40 percent of passengers to board a plane without going through security. . . . 
J. JOHNSON: The background procedures in this nation are seriously in need of -- of modification. Again, 40 percent of those acquiring firearms tried to do it outside that background procedure. . . . 
SCHUMER:  Current estimates show because of these loopholes 48 percent of gun sales are made without a background check. . . . 
SCHUMER: Right. And does it make any sense to exclude the same people who sell them in a gun shop or others, to go to a gun show, and now have any background check at all?J. JOHNSON: It’s absolutely insane. Again, it’s like letting 40 percent of people just pass a TSA checkpoint at an airport. It’s not an inconvenience. . . . 
DURBIN:  . . . But we know now that 40 percent of the sales are not going through the background checks. That’s a huge problem. . . . 
KLOBUCHAR: And is it true that about 40 percent of gun sales take place at the gun shows? 
J. JOHNSON: Statistics reveal that 40 percent of gun sales take place at gun shows and other non-licensed dealer sales arrangements. Nearly 6.6 million guns through that process a year. . . . 
J. JOHNSON: Well, certainly when a weapon is purchased through a licensed federal dealer, they undergo a background check. But, as we’ve said many times here today 40 percent of these guns are being sold outside that process. This is not unreasonable. . . . . 
CRUZ: . . . And indeed, the statistic of 40 percent has been bandied about. Now, that statistic is unfortunately based on a study that occurred before the background check went into effect. And so it is a highly dubious figure. . . . 
The related claim about background checks preventing prohibited persons from getting a gun were also very common.
SCHUMER:  . . . . Since 1999, the federal background check system has blocked 1.7 million prohibited purchasers from buying firearms at federally licensed dealers.Yes, we should prosecute them. But the number one goal is to prevent a felon from getting a gun in the first place. That’s what this did 1.7 million times. . . .  
SCHUMER:  Now, I’d like to ask Chief Johnson a question or two about those checks. Do you agree with the logic that even -- you know, that we should prosecute people who illegally try to buy guns, but even without that, the law has done a whole lot of good because people who are felons or adjudicated mentally ill, millions have been stopped from buying guns and getting guns? 
J. JOHNSON: Yes, since 1994 to 2009, the record is very clear. It is a fact that nearly 2 million prohibited purchases were stopped. God only knows what they would have done with those weapons had it not been for that particular law. . . . 
LEAHY: . . . Nearly 2 million convicted criminals and other dangerous people have tried to buy firearms and (inaudible), as Chief Johnson said, were prevented. . . .

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Nothing learned from gun-free zone tragedy in Aurora, Colorado last summer

Despite an obvious example last summer where a killer picked the one venue where victims were not allowed to defend themselves, Democrats continue to protect gun-free zones in Colorado.  It seems hard to believe that nothing was learned from the attack at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater.  Additional information indicates that the killer cased his target before the attack.  From the Denver Post:
Guns continued to play a big role Wednesday at the Colorado legislature as new bills were introduced even as others died an early death.
On a 3-2 part line vote, a Senate committee rejected a measure to encourage more businesses to allow patrons to carry concealed weapons. The Republican measure would have required businesses such as shopping malls or movie theaters would have to provide armed security if patrons can't carry guns.
Colorado's police chiefs association opposed it and raised questions about large gatherings such as football games.
Meanwhile, a Republican senator proposed a measure to allow more school employees to carry concealed weapons. The measure being introduced is another attempt to add security at public schools. A Democratic committee rejected a related proposal earlier this week. . . .
Apparently, the killer here planned his attack for at least over 2.5 months in advance of the July 20th shooting when he started buying items for it.  From the Huffington Post:
Prosecutor Karen Pearson argued that Holmes meticulously planned the attack, starting with the online purchase of two tear gas canisters on May 10, followed by buying online 6,295 rounds of ammunition, and body armor, as well as going to local sporting goods stores to purchase an assault rifle, shotgun and two Glock pistols. He bought his ticket for opening night of "The Dark Knight Returns" nearly two weeks before the attack and visited the theater early, photographing the layout. . . .

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Errors in Colorado's background check system

I am not sure how worthwhile these numbers are by themselves because if the Colorado system is at all similar to the federal system, a lot of the cases are dropped by internal reviews at the federal level.   Do they have the same type of dropped denials in Colorado?  At the federal level 94% of the initial denials are dropped at the first stage of review. Without knowing that information, the comparisons in the article between the federal and state systems are pretty useless.
But the system — federal or local — is only as good as the data placed in it. About 58.8 percent of denials that were appealed in Colorado were overturned. Between 2000 and 2009, 31.9 percent of 17,355 denials were appealed. 
Point-of-contact states during the period denied 2.1 percent of applicants. Of those who appealed, 43.8 percent were reversed. Among states that use only the FBI's NICS, 1.4 percent of applications were denied and 30.1 percent of appeals were overturned, according to Justice Department statistics. . . . 

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Funding for Gun Control Organizations

This useful write up was done by James Simpson with Capital Research Center:
American Hunters and Shooters Association (2011 revenues $5,000) 
Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (2010 revenues $3 million) and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (2010 revenues $2.9 million) 
Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (2010 revenues $309,000) 
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (2010 revenues $249,000) 
Legal Community Against Violence (a.k.a Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; 2010 revenues $978,000) 
Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund (2010 revenues $2.7 million) 
Stop Handgun Violence (co-founded the American Hunters and Shooters Association in 2005; 2012 revenues $143,000) 
Third Way (formerly Americans for Gun Safety Foundation; 2010 revenues $7.5 million)
Violence Policy Center (2010 revenues $832,000) 
United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund (affiliated with Mayors Against Illegal Guns; 2010 revenues $1.3 million) 
The best known gun control groups are the Brady Center and the Violence Policy Center (VPC). VPC receives most of its funding from the Joyce Foundation ($6.3 million since 1998) on whose board Obama used to serve; George Soros’ Open Society Institute ($800,000 since 1999); and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($575,000 since 1999). The Brady Center receives much of its funding from small donors. FoundationSearch only reveals modest payments from foundations. From 2008 to 2011 the largest donation, $34,000, came from the Ladner Family Foundation. By contrast, the Brady Center’s last tax return says $2.7 million of its $3 million revenues were raised with the help of a professional consultant that specializes in online and direct mail fundraising (the Brady Center paid the consultant $96,000). In the same year, the group’s (c)(4) affiliate, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, paid the same consultant $99,000 to bring in $2.8 million of its $2.9 million revenues. . . .
The reporter also correctly points out that there are many other groups on the left that also push for gun control even though they are not solely focused on that issue.

the gun ban lobby actually includes the ACLU, Women Strike for Peace, People for the American Way, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Physicians for Social Responsibility, National Council of La Raza, as well as labor, women’s, and medical groups. (Yes, the gun control Left has captured the national leadership of such groups as the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has stated, “The most effective way to prevent firearm-related injury to children is to keep guns out of homes and communities.”) . . . 

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Off-duty guard stops shooting at Atlanta school

My big question is whether the off-duty guard was in uniform.  As an aside, this isn't the type of case that is in the news as the killer was only interested in killing one person, not trying to kill as many people as possible.
The armed resource officer who took the gun away was off-duty and at the school, but police didn’t release details on him or whether he is regularly at Price. Since 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December, calls for armed officers in every school have resonated across the country. 
Hours after the Atlanta shooting, several school buses loaded with children pulled away from the school and stopped in front of a church about a half-block away. Parents tried boarding the buses. Police who initially tried to stop the parents, relented and screamed, "Let them off!" about the students. . . .

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Obama doesn't care about court decisions or laws and basically says he will do whatever he wants and opponents will have to sue him

With the National Labor Relations Board losing its case, the Obama administration has basically ignored the Appeals Court decision.  There are many similar cases.  Here is another example involving the same Appeals Court.  From Fox News:
. . . An oil industry representative said the Obama administration was thumbing its nose at a ruling last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The court threw out the 2012 mandate for cellulosic biofuels, saying it was based on wishful thinking rather than accurate estimates for an industry the Obama administration wants to encourage. Administration officials have said that increased use of biofuels could lower greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, as well as lower U.S. dependence on foreign fuel. 
"The court recognized the absurdity of fining companies for failing to use a nonexistent biofuel," said Bob Greco, director of downstream operations for the American Petroleum Institute, the principal lobbying group for the oil and gas industry. 
Greco said he was astonished that EPA would nearly double the mandate for biofuel in 2013. "EPA needs a serious reality check," he said, calling the mandate a "stealth tax on gasoline" and an "egregious example of bad public policy." 
EPA spokeswoman Julia Valentine said the agency believes the proposed standards "are a reasonable representation of expected production" of biofuels this year. 
"This projection reflects EPA's current estimate of what will actually happen in 2013," she said, adding that EPA will consider public comments before setting the final cellulosic standard. . . .

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Top jobs for women?: Secretary, cashier, elementary & middle school teacher

This CNN article lists the top jobs in 2010 for women and the interesting thing is how they go into careers where it is still easy for them to leave the workforce to have kids and then re-enter at a later date.

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Was it really smart for Obama to announce end to jobs council the day before the unemployment numbers are reported?

Possibly the Obama administration knows what the new numbers are.  But if the rate were to rise today, you would think that it would be pretty embarrassing, something that it is hard to believe that even the mainstream media wouldn't latch on to.

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"IRS: Cheapest Obamacare Plan Will Be $20,000 Per Family"

In final regulations issued this week by the IRS, the least expensive family health insurance that will be offered under Obamacare will be $20,000. In 2012, the average price for insurance for a family of four was $15,745.
In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year. 
Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. 
The IRS's assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan. 
The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan. 
“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says. 
Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare--after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016. . . .

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Sean Hannity on Fox News: "Celia Bigelow vs. Zerlina Maxwell Debate DHS Video Lesson"


There were a couple of points that I wanted to make about Zerlina's comments.  The main way that gun control regulators argue is usually through hypothetical cases.  In Zerlina's case, she just asserts certain things as true.  For example, the case of the person with the permitted concealed handgun being more likely to be shot by police.  In fact, there is not a single case where a permit holder has stopped one of these multiple victim public shootings that has occurred.  Nor in her example of the permit holder will shoot bystanders has that ever occurred in these multiple victim public shootings.

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Weekly Standard: "If Guilty, Menendez Could Face 30 Years in Prison"

For a discussion of the relevant laws, see the extended discussion at the Weekly Standard:
If Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is found guilty of traveling to the Dominican Republic to engage in sexual intercourse with underage prostitutes, he could face up to 30 years prison. The appropriate law, which would seem to apply in this instance, is the Prosecutorial Remedies And Other Tools To End The Exploitation Of Children Today (or the Protect Act). . . . 
Meanwhile four more prostitutes have come forward to confirm that Menendez was engaged in this behavior.
The main source in the Bob Menendez underage hooker scandal sent the FBI the names of four hookers who confirmed they had attended sex parties with Salmon Melgen and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the Dominican Republic. . . .
So what does what learn from all this?  Just like the Secret Service agents who got in trouble over the prostitutes, Menendez got in trouble because he tried to underpay the prostitutes. Menendez apparently promised to pay $500 and instead only paid $100. 

Now it turns out that Menendez try to get a $500 million contract for the doctor who supplied the trips down to the Dominican Republic.
Sen. Bob Menendez used his influence to advocate for a Dominican Republic business deal that helped a longtime friend and donor whose South Florida office was raided by federal agents this week. 
Menendez questioned Obama administration officials at a July hearing about what it was doing to help U.S. businesses that he felt were being unfairly treated by the government of the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries. 
One company Menendez was apparently referring to: ICSSI, acquired the year before by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Palm Beach County eye doctor and friend. The firm was seeking to enforce a contract it had won to X-ray Dominican Republic port cargo, that could be worth $500 million to $1 billion over two decades. . . .
UPDATE: From Politico:
New Jersey political insiders tell POLITICO that even if it is proved Menendez had sex with prostitutes, he can survive that hit politically. Menendez wouldn’t even be the first sitting senator to weather a prostitution scandal; Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) admitted in 2007 that he had called a D.C.-based prostitution ring. Vitter, however, did not admit to having sex with prostitutes and the Senate Ethics Committee did not investigate the matter. 
“It is a sophisticated electorate that is very focused on policy issues, and if it were established that there was some personal failings, which is not yet at all clear, I wouldn’t say that it was politically determinative,” Torricelli said of New Jersey voters. 
But if the allegations that the women were underage prove to be true, that could be too much for Menendez — and the larger Senate Democratic Caucus — to accept and he could be forced to step down. 
Under U.S. law, it is illegal for an American citizen to have “commercial sex” with anyone younger than 18 while traveling in a foreign country. . . . 

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Al Gore's tough media tour for his new book

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1/31/2013

Keynesian claims about Sequestration

Will spending cuts really government spending cuts hurt the economy?  Yet, despite what Keynesians believe the evidence doesn't support that.  From The Hill newspaper:
A sharp decline in defense spending led the U.S. economy to contract at the end of 2012 by 0.1 percent, but it did little to change the fight over further cuts to the Pentagon set to begin in March. 
The White House used the report to lash out at Republicans, arguing the GOP should agree to a deficit-reduction package that includes spending cuts and tax hikes to replace the $85 billion in scheduled cuts known as sequestration. 
“Our economy is facing a major headwinds, and that's Republicans in Congress,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “It can't be 'we'll let sequester kick in because we insist tax loopholes remain in place for corporate jet-owners.' ” 
Republicans counter that they agreed to raise tax rates on households with annual income above $450,000 in a deal earlier this month and that they will not raise taxes again. Instead, they say President Obama must accept spending cuts. . . . .

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Millionaire athletes fleeing California's taxes

So Obama doesn't think that taxes effect behavior?  Well, here are some people who are voting with their feet.  The higher federal tax rate makes people even more sensitive to the changes in state taxes.  From Fox News:
The Golden State's new 13.3 percent income tax on top earners prompted golfer Phil Mickelson to say earlier this month he was considering a move, and according to the accountants who advise millionaire athletes, he was just saying what a lot of jocks were already thinking. Federal taxes on the top income bracket just rose by roughly 5 percent, and, while there's nothing rich athletes can do about that, they are paying attention to which states dip into their game checks — and how much they take. 
They’re going to have an exodus of people,” said John Karaffa, president of ProSport CPA, a Virginia-based firm that represents nearly 300 professional athletes, primarily in basketball and football. “I think they’ll see some [leave California] for sure. They were already a very high tax state and it’s getting to a point where folks have to make a business decision as well as a lifestyle decision.” . . . .

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Technology helping to reduce the number of people going to law school

If this is true, it bodes well for those who think that fewer lawyers is a good thing and it is a pattern that might continue to accelerate.  From the NY Times:
The drop in applications is widely viewed as directly linked to perceptions of the declining job market. Many of the reasons that law jobs are disappearing are similar to those for disruptions in other knowledge-based professions, namely the growth of the Internet. Research is faster and easier, requiring fewer lawyers, and is being outsourced to less expensive locales, including West Virginia and overseas. 
In addition, legal forms are now available online and require training well below a lawyer’s to fill them out. . . . .

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1/30/2013

"More housework, less sex for married men: study"?

I would appreciate some theory for this finding.  I think that there is a real endogeniety problem here.  Something else is different in those households where men do more housework.
His study, "Egalitarianism, Housework, and Sexual Frequency in Marriage," looks at straight married couples in the United States, and was based on data from the National Survey of Families and Households.
The study was co-authored by University of Washington sociologist Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Katrina Leupp.
Men in the study reported having had sex an average of 5.2 times in the month prior to the survey, while women reported 5.6.
But both men and women in couples with more traditional household labor divisions said they had more sex. . . .

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South Dakota moving towards letting towards letting teachers carry concealed handguns at school

The vote in the state House is pretty overwhelming.  Again, the arguments against this law are hypotheticals and they can never actually point to such cases actually occurring in the places that have allowed permitted concealed handguns on school property.
A bill that would allow school districts to arm teachers and other personnel with guns was approved Tuesday by the South Dakota House after supporters said it could make would-be attackers think twice about entering a school building.  
Representatives voted 42-17 to send the measure to the Senate for further debate.  
Supporters said school boards, particularly in rural areas where no law enforcement officers are stationed in school buildings, need the option of arming teachers, administrators or volunteers to protect against attacks like last month's school shooting in Connecticut. Opponents countered that arming teachers could make schools more dangerous because it could lead to accidental shootings and put guns in the hands of people who are trained to teach, not shoot people.  
The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, said the measure leaves it up to each school board to decide whether to train and arm teachers and others. Schools are now inviting targets for potential mass murderers because they are considered gun-free zones, he said.  
"The possibility of an armed presence in any of our schools is a deterrent," Craig said. . . .

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Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.) signals push for so-call "universal" background checks

Leahy's comments show where the big battle is going to take place politically.
Leahy said he will be pushing for an expansion of background checks on all gun sales, a proposal that appears to have bipartisan support in the Senate and broader appeal to the American public in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting.
The Vermont Democrat, though, pointedly didn’t mention the assault weapons ban.
“I just don’t understand how anyone could be against universal background checks,” Leahy said in an interview. “We need to close the loopholes” for private gun sales or weapon purchases at gun shows. . . .
Of course, there are strong arguments against these background checks and also here.  The New York Times has this claim:
A gun bill that is limited to background checks, however, still remains a strong possibility in Congress this year, if the Republican leadership of the House would bring such a measure on the floor. “I was a co-sponsor of a conceal carry bill in Nebraska that had a significant background check component,” said Senator Deb Fischer, a newly elected Republican from Nebraska. . . . .
The Hill Newspaper has this:
A bipartisan group of senators is working on a proposal to strengthen background checks on gun purchasers.
The coalition of lawmakers includes Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), and Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Democrats Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (W. Va.), according to USA Today, which first reported the talks.
The senators have not disclosed the reforms they are considering, but Coburn said the group is working to ensure that firearms remain out of the hands of those who “are a danger to themselves and other people,” according to the report.“I believe the mentally ill should never be able to get a gun, I believe criminals should never be able to get a gun," Coburn told USA Today. "There's nothing wrong with updating what we're doing to try to make that more effective." . . . . 

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