Vote on best gun blog

Well apparently I should thank you all for voting for me as having a good gun blog during the first round of voting. There is now a second round of voting and I would appreciate your continued support by voting here. Thank you.


A note from a law school student

A reader of my website writes:

"I was driving today and I saw a bumper sticker that said "those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither," paraphrasing a Ben Franklin quote. There has also been some press coverage on a protest of some sort where some ladies are holding up a sign saying the same thing, I believe it is in reference to the Patriot Act or the domestic wire tapping. Suddenly it hit me how hypocritical that was coming from liberal America, in light of the recent San Francisco handgun ban and the Wisconsin CCW permit veto. I just thought you may want to point that out in one of your articles."

Law School Student
Florida State University


Research on Guns and Road Rage


There is a new paper that is getting some attention that has just come out in the public health journal "Accident Analysis & Prevention." The paper by David Hemenway, Mary Vriniotix, and Matt Miller is entitled "Is an armed society a polite society? Guns and road rage." The paper is based on a survey of 2,400 drivers that the authors did. The survey asked respondents if they had made an obscene gesture to an opposing driver or whether they had aggressively followed another car. After that a series of descriptive questions were asked: gender, age, income, political views, urban/rural, and whether they have had a gun in their car at least one time over the last year. The authors make a simple comparison between those who have had a gun at least once in their car and those who didn't and say that the respective numbers are 23% and 16%. The authors imply that having a gun makes it more likely that one will engage in road rage.

There are multiple concerns with this analyis. Their questions make no attempt to ask whether a gun was in the car at the time the road rage incident occurred. Nor did they attempt to differentiate law-abiding permit holders from those who illegally possessed guns (e.g., asking respondents if they have a permit to carry a gun). This last point seems particularly important given that they want to make policy conclusions on concealed carry laws.

The paper also has some funny results. For example, Liberals are apparently much more likely to engage in road rage than conservatives and the difference is larger than the difference between those who did and did not have a gun at least one time in their car over the last year. This variable is apparently never investigated, but presumably they are also concerned about liberals being allowed to drive cars.

Finally, surveys can be a useful first approximation, but there is in fact much more direct evidence available on the behavior of concealed handgun permit holders. Despite almost four million Americans currently having permits to carry concealed handguns and some states having these laws for as long as eighty years, there is only one case in Alabama where a permitted concealed handgun was used to commit road rage. There are also other much more direct mesaures that indicate that people who have concealed handgun permits and who thus carry guns in their cars legally. For example, the fact that permit holders tend to be extremely law-abiding and lose their permit for violating gun regulations occurs for only hundredths or thousandths of one percent of permit holders. If they used their guns in the way that the authors of this study fear, their permits would have been revoked.

I have asked the authors for their data, but we will see when and how quickly I get it.

UPDATE: Hemenway is unwilling to provide the data for me to look at. My response is that if he or his co-authors are making comments to the press as they have, he is under an obligation to give out the data used in this paper. Despite putting together the largest data sets that have been put together on crime, I give out those data sets when the papers get media coverage even when they haven't been published yet. Hemenway's paper has been published. (The accuracy of this update was confirmed with my intern who talked to Hemenway and emailed him about obtaining this data. I had previously emailed one of the authors about obtaining the data, but I didn't receive a response.)

UPDATE 2: After a second telephone call, Hemenway said that while he will not give out the data used in the paper, he may reconsider providing a portion of the data, but that he can't make a decision before talking to his co-authors. He is also very busy and would not say when he would check into even this. (The accuracy of this update was confirmed with my intern who talked to Hemenway about obtaining this data.)

UPDATE 3: Well, it is official. Hemenway is not going to make his data available. This is true even though I have only asked for the data used in the published paper, and I am also happy to promise to use the data to only evaluate the research that the authors have already published. Hemenway complains about the comments that I have made regarding his study and concludes that: "no one on our research team believes that it will advance the science to provide even portions of the dataset semi-exclusively to Dr. Lott at this time." Of course, Hemenway inaccurately implies that I ever wanted the data set "semi-exclusively." I think that they should provide the data to everyone. I am probably just the only person to ask for it. (This update is based an email that Hemenway sent to Chris DeMuth, the president of AEI.)

Frank Main, the crime reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, is the only reporter who has written on this study who mentions criticisms of the Hemenway, Vriniotix, and Miller research.

Clayton Cramer, Say Uncle, Geek with a .45, and The Donovan also have some notes on this research.

Correction: The original note mentioned that only one regression had been run by these authors. In fact, it turns out that four regressions had been run. The points listed above are now correct.


Comment on Broke Back Mountain

Sonya Jones forwarded me the links of some comics inspired by Broke Back Mountain: here, here, and here. I confess that the movie as well as the comics make me uncomfortable, but I wrote to Sonya that at least I would feel somewhat better if they referred to the main characters as sheepherders and not cowboys. Afterall, I seem to have some recollection from the movies that I watched as a kid that cowboys and sheepherders did not get along very well.

Anyway, I will be attending a gun show in Dallas this weekend, and possibly I will get some feedback from some real cowboys.


Canadian MP Garry Breitkreuz has a nice collection of quotes by Canadian police on what they think about the Canadian gun registry. Here is one of the quotes:

GILBERT YARD, RETIRED RCMP SUPERINTENDENT: I am appalled at just how much has been spent to date on the firearms registration process. But perhaps even more disturbing is the misplaced focus on legal firearms. Like many reasonable Canadians, I support programs that address the structural and social situations that give rise to crime. Our first objective should be to promote law-abiding, non-destructive behaviour in as many members of society as possible. There comes a point, however, where punishment and protection of the public must be the focus. In these cases, illegal acts and violent behaviour should be treated with appropriate penalties. From reading my views on gun control and firearms legislation, I suspect that many might feel that I am a "gun nut" with pro-American feelings regarding gun possession. This is just not so. Growing up, my family had limited contact with firearms but we were raised to believe that a gun was a serious tool to be used in appropriate circumstances only. I can understand people who emotionally react to guns as all bad but I am convinced that such emotion can mask the true problem of illegal gun possession and/or usage. During my 37 years of policing I carried a handgun as a tool of my profession. I was also exposed to a wide cross-section of collectors and target shooters who used, stored and transported their weapons in a legal and responsible manner. They are not the problem. The misdirection of time, effort and funding is unforgivable. I believe that Canadians are much too astute to believe that either Bill C-68 or the proposed handgun legislation is anything other than a waste of time, effort and money. Wasting public funds that could really make a difference in acute justice issues, in my view, borders on criminal activity.
SOURCE: THE NORTH SHORE NEWS, “Gun legislation an election issue” published January 11, 2006


Who said that lawsuits weren't out of control?


Wisconsin Assembly Veto Override Fails, Two Democrats switch votes

Last time they failed the override by one vote. This time it was two votes. But both times the Democrats had to put a lot of pressure on those who had voted for the original bill to switch their votes.

Six Democrats, including Van Akkeren, voted to pass the bill late last year, but Van Akkeren and Rep. John Steinbrink of Pleasant Prairie flipped and voted today to sustain the veto.

“In the end, I have put my faith in the views and concerns of my constituents, Sheboygan County law enforcement, and the law enforcement leaders across the state,” Van Akkeren said in a release immediately after today’s vote. “For those reasons, in the end, I felt I needed to sustain Governor Doyle’s veto of SB 403.”

Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake, who voted to override the veto, said he was upset with Van Akkeren switching his vote to side with the governor.

“After the first vote on the bill, I said if everybody keeps their word, we’d be able to do the override," Kestell said. "Well, not everybody kept their word. Two people flipped their votes and one of them was Terry Van Akkeren, who just didn’t keep his word." . . . .

Blackwell and Swan wins in Ohio and Pennsylvania would create huge change in American Politics

Personally, I can't think of two more important races this year than those by Blackwell and Swan. Both are smart, articulate conservative candidates. They could be the future Ronald Reagans in the party.

"Ken Blackwell in Ohio and Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania lead polls of Republicans in advance of spring primaries. Both are mega-swing states where the governorship is what matters since the chief executive controls patronage, judicial appointments and multibillion-dollar budgets. The key for the Republican Party's future is not so much whether Blackwell and Swann win in November -- although that would be a heck of a statement -- but if they win the primaries in which the electorate is virtually all white" -- Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute

Thomas Sowell has a great piece on Blackwell's race.

Bummer: "Walk the Line" not given best-picture nomination

Well, it makes you wonder whether pictures almost have to be political to be nominated for best picture. At least Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were given acting nominations for their amazing performances. I don't get to see many movies, but "Walk the Line" is one of the few that I would strongly recommend that people see.

Mathematical error behind crucial part of Global Warming Claims?

First the abortion and crime hypothesis was found to be based on a programming mistake, now this:

In the scientific and political debate over global warming, the latest wrong piece may be the hockey stick, the famous plot (shown below), published by University of Massachusetts geoscientist Michael Mann and colleagues. This plot purports to show that we are now experiencing the warmest climate in a millennium, and that the earth, after remaining cool for centuries during the medieval era, suddenly began to heat up about 100 years ago--just at the time that the burning of coal and oil led to an increase in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. . . .

But now a shock: Canadian scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have uncovered a fundamental mathematical flaw in the computer program that was used to produce the hockey stick. In his original publications of the stick, Mann purported to use a standard method known as principal component analysis, or PCA, to find the dominant features in a set of more than 70 different climate records. . . . .

UPDATE: Nelson Clayton sent me this link to Michael Crichton's speeches where he goes into issues such as the one discussed above. The talks look very interesting. Thanks Nelson.

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Wisconsin Assembly Looks Set to Override Governor's Veto of Concealed Carry Tomorrow

With the Senate already overriding the Governor's veto, there will now only be three states that completely ban people carrying concealed handguns (Nebraska, Kansas, and Illinois). Nebraska has a good chance of also passing a right-to-carry law this year. In Wisconsin, I just don't think that the Democrats want to go through an election where right-to-carry is a big issue.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and two Democratic state lawmakers came together Sunday to put up a last-minute fight against a bill that would legalize the carrying of concealed weapons in Wisconsin. But they acknowledged that even with their protests, the legislation would likely become law.

"The possibility is very, very strong that by the end of this week, people will be able to carry concealed guns in Wisconsin," said Barrett, who spoke outside State Fair Park with Reps. Jon Richards of Milwaukee and Tony Staskunas of West Allis.

On Thursday, the Republican-controlled state Senate voted to override a veto of the bill by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. On Tuesday, the Assembly will decide whether to do the same.

The Assembly passed the bill in December by a vote of 63-32 - short of the two-thirds majority needed for an override. But a Republican was missing, and a seat that was open at the time has since been filled by a GOP supporter of the bill.

While Democratic leaders have said they are confident that two of six Democrats who supported the legislation would change their votes, Barrett and Richards did not sound optimistic.

"We're here today to talk about a bill that is about to become law," said Richards. The mayor and lawmakers were joined by Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festivals Inc., who said he opposed the bill. . . . .

Talk at Texas State Rifle Association

I will be speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Texas State Rifle Association. I will be speaking on February 4th sometime during the late morning.

My response in the Chicago Tribune to their Editorial on Assault Weapon Bans

Here is my response to this editorial in the Chicago Tribune. Not a bad week. I had something in both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune the same week.

Uncertain effects

Published January 27, 2006

With all the claims that your editorial makes about so-called assault weapons ("Ban assault weapons in Illinois," Commentary, Jan. 26), murder rates should have soared after the Federal ban sunset on Sep. 13, 2004.

On Oct. 18 last year, the FBI released the final data for 2004. It shows clearly that for the U.S. monthly murder rate plummeted 14 percent from August through December. By contrast, during the same months in 2003 the murder rate fell only 1 percent. Curiously, the seven states that have their own assault-weapons bans saw a smaller drop in murders during 2004 than the 43 states without such laws.

Instead of you just citing gun control organizations, does it matter that there is not a single published academic study showing that these bans have reduced any type of violent crime? Even research funded by the Clinton Justice Department concluded that the effect of the ban on gun violence "has been uncertain."

John R. Lott, Jr.
Washington, DC

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune


Canadian Tories to let Border Guards Have Guns

Oklahoma legislation considers letting school superintendents and principals with a valid conceal-carry permit to carry firearms on school property