Does DC know what "Does not deprive" means?

On page 21 of its request for cert from the Supreme Court, DC makes the following claim:

A law that bans handguns, but permits private ownership of rifles and shotguns does not deprive anyone of the right to keep and bear Arms, however that right is construed."

"Does not deprive" is a pretty strong term. But owning rifles and shotguns is not the same thing as being able to use them. The word "bear" must mean something. The implications for DC's gun locks can be seen in the paper found here. Some of the diagrams in the paper are particularly useful.

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One Briton's View of Guns in the US

Despite the recent spate of shootings on our streets, we pride ourselves on our strict gun laws. Every time an American gunman goes on a killing spree, we shake our heads in righteous disbelief at our poor benighted colonial cousins. Why is it, even after the Virginia Tech massacre, that Americans still resist calls for more gun controls?

The short answer is that “gun controls” do not work: they are indeed generally perverse in their effects. Virginia Tech, where 32 students were shot in April, had a strict gun ban policy and only last year successfully resisted a legal challenge that would have allowed the carrying of licensed defensive weapons on campus. It is with a measure of bitter irony that we recall Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, recording the words of Cesare Beccaria: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

One might contrast the Virginia Tech massacre with the assault on Virginia’s Appalachian Law School in 2002, where three lives were lost before a student fetched a pistol from his car and apprehended the gunman. . . .

It is nice to see that these arguments are even being taken seriously in the UK.

Thanks to Dan Gifford for sending this to me.

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New Op-ed in NY Post: Falling Bridges?

New Op-ed: DC asking for Cert on Gun Ban

Photo IDs will be allowed for Voting in Georgia

Judge Harold L. Murphy of Federal District Court here ruled that a group of plaintiffs who challenged the law, a coalition that included the American Civil Liberties Union, the N.A.A.C.P. and the League of Women Voters, had not proved that the law placed “an undue or significant burden” on the right to vote.

Passage of the law was one of the first major actions of the newly Republican-led legislature in 2005, and it has been tied up in the courts since then.

Critics say the law will discourage voting, especially among the poor and the elderly. Supporters say it is necessary to prevent voter fraud.

The two sides have had difficulty proving their cases. In hearings, the individual plaintiffs acknowledged that they had the means to obtain photo identification, especially because the legislature had changed the law to make the cards free and easier to acquire. . . .

The argument against IDs has always seemed pretty weak to me. The claim is that the plaintiffs would just need to show that not everyone has a driver's license. There are two problems with this. That doesn't mean that people without driver's licenses voter very much. More importantly, possibly those who vote and who don't currently have some type of Photo ID will now get one. Before they didn't have a reason to get an ID and now they do.


Evaluating the Virginia Tech Report on Guns

An example of how restrictions on campaigning help better known candidates

HILLARY Rodham Clin ton's presidential cam paign hints that agree ing to refrain from campaigning in outlaw Florida and Michigan primaries is a noble sacrifice bowing to party rules. Some of the news media bought into that, with The New York Times reporting: "The decision seemed to dash any hopes of Mrs. Clinton relying on a strong showing in Florida as a springboard to the nomination." Rather, her forbearance looks like a windfall for the Democratic front-runner.

Democratic consultant Bob Shrum, who does not have a candidate this time around, correctly interpreted the decision by Clinton and her two principal competitors, Barack Obama and John Edwards, to follow the Democratic National Committee (DNC) rules. On NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday, Shrum said: "That actually, in a perverse way" could "help Sen. Clinton. If no one campaigns and she wins . . . the primary in Florida, wins the primary in Michigan, that could have a knockout effect." . . .

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Even with gun ownership, you make something more costly people do less of it


Sometimes Government Insurance Doesn't Really Mean Coverage

Two patients in Canada who couldn't wait for the government insurance program to provide them health care coverage.

Patients suing province over wait times
Man, woman who couldn't get quick treatment travelled to U.S. to get brain tumours removed
Sep 06, 2007 04:30 AM
Tanya Talaga
Health Reporter

. . . Holmes began losing her vision in March 2005, she told a press conference at Queen's Park yesterday. An MRI in May 2005 revealed a tumour in her brain. Her family doctor couldn't expedite appointments booked with specialists for July 19 and Sept. 19, 2005. As the tumour pressed on her optic nerves, her vision deteriorated. Afraid to wait any longer, she went to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Within a week she met three specialists and was told she had a fluid-filled sac growing near her pituitary gland at the base of her brain. They urged her to have it taken out immediately. She went home with the hopes of quickly removing what is known as a Rathke's cleft cyst.

Unable to get surgery fast, she returned to Arizona and had the mass removed on Aug. 1, 2005. Her vision was restored in 10 days. The Holmes family is now in debt $95,000 because of medical costs.

"My husband has taken a second full-time job. We've re-mortgaged our home. It has to be known. People can't go through this," said Holmes, a family mediator. "I was very fortunate to save my eyesight but the cost and the battle has been devastating . . . .


Alan Colmes forces Giuliani to say Whether He thinks that the Brady Act Reduced Violent Crime

If there is an academic study by Economists or Criminologiist that finds tht the Brady Act reduced violent crime, I hope that someone will please point to it for me. Alan Colmes deserves some respect for forcing Giuliani to answer this question.

COLMES: But the Brady Bill did lead to a decline in crime. You have to acknowledge that.
GIULIANI: The Brady Bill was part of the crime bill. The crime bill overall helped. I am not saying it did not help. But the reality is that what we did in New York was nothing short of totally unexpected. Nobody thought it was possible.

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New Book Reviews of Freedomnomics

1) The Heartland Institute has a nice review of my book here (click on review).

2) A review of the book in National Review by Jim Manzi concludes that: "Yet this limitation is only one of arggument, not one of ultimate purpose. Lott's overall point -- that freedom unleashes, for the most part, beneficial human ingenuity, and not the corrupt carnival of Levitt's imagination -- is both true and important. Freedomnomics is well worth reading as an engaging apologetic for the market economy." If I have time, I will write some notes on this review.

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Fred Thompson's Video Announcing His Campaign for the Presidency

The video announcement of Fred Thompson's announced run for the presidency can be seen here.

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For DC the ban on handguns is a safety issue

Leonardo DiCaprio's Environmental Movie Bombs

Why isn't the press covering Norman Hsu as the Democrat's Jack Abramoff?

Of course, Jack Abramoff gave money to both Republicans and Democrats, but the press played it as a purely Republican scandal. Hsu is on the run again and I couldn't find a story about this on CNN. If it was Abramoff, I believe that this story would get round the clock coverage.

California businessman Norman Hsu, a former New York apparel executive and major contributor to Democratic candidates and causes, failed to appear for a bail reduction hearing Wednesday, leading to speculation that he again is a fugitive from the law, FOX News has learned. . . . .

--Hillary Clinton is keeping virtually all the money raised by Hsu for her campaign. Hsu "is listed as one of the top 20 Democratic fundraisers in the country and is one of Clinton's "HillRaisers" -- people who rustle up at least $100,000 for Clinton's campaign, The Wall Street Journal reports." The money she is keeping is the money that Hsu raised for her campaign, but the problems with this money is pretty obvious:

On top of that, among those who have "bundled" their contributions along with Hsu's is one San Francisco family of seven adults whose home is small and under the airport flight path, jobs are average and $213,000 in donations are closely coordinated with Hsu's.

Hsu's relationship to the Paw family apparently goes back a decade, and Winkle Paw, 35, is an employee of Hsu's New York companies, The Wall Street Journal was first to report. Barcella told The Los Angeles Times the Paws have their own cash, and "Norman never reimbursed anyone for their contribution."

Another New York family of three that runs a plastics packaging plant in Pennsylvania and is tied to Hsu donated more than $200,000 in the last three years, the Times states.

Clinton adviser Howard Wolfsen told The Times that Hsu has been a longtime donor to the party: "During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or to return them."

-- Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy is keeping his donations from Hsu.

So apparently on are many others. My own belief is the very fact that so many democrats are keeping this money shows that there hasn't been the same pressure on them as there was on the Republicans. Is Hsu merely serving as a conduit for money from China? He is a Hong Kong businessman.

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Realtors Discuss Freakonomics and Freedomnomics

Many of you no doubt read the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. I read it the other year. It was a bestseller and caused quite a buzz and a stir when it was first published. The book is an interesting and entertaining read that discusses some controversial idea, among them that legalized abortion helped reduce violent crime in the 1990s . . .

This weekend I read the book Freedomnomics, subtitled "A Rebuttal to Freakonomics and More"

Author and Economist John Lott, Jr. provides some convincing arguments against the evidence and conclusions of the book Freakonomics.

Regarding the topic of real estate agents, Lott surmises that Levitt & Dubner habitually fail to realize "that market forces exist that punish dishonest behavior."

Lott doubts that real estate agents are really ripping off their own clients and states that a listing agent has very little to gain from encouraging buyers to deliberately depress bids on homes. . . . .

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UK Gun Crime Soaring, Labor Government Accused of Cooking the Books

THE government was accused yesterday of covering up the full extent of the gun crime epidemic sweeping Britain, after official figures showed that gun-related killings and injuries had risen more than fourfold since 1998.

The Home Office figures - which exclude crimes involving air weapons - show the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun attacks in England and Wales soared from 864 in 1998-99 to 3,821 in 2005-06. That means that more than 10 people are injured or killed in a gun attack every day.

This weekend the Tories said the figures challenged claims by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, that gun crime was falling. David Davis, the shadow home secretary, tells her in a letter today that the “staggering findings” show her claims that gun crime has fallen are “inaccurate and misleading”. . . .

Thanks very much to Will Brink for bringing this to my attention.

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Jodie Foster's New Movie "The Brave One" Looks to be Very Disappointing

"The Brave One" looked like a revival of the old "Death Wish" movies, or at least that was what I thought at first. Warner Brothers describes the movie as follows:

The first time she shoots someone, it is kill or be killed. The second time is also in self-defense . . . or did she make a choice not to take herself out of harm's way? The fear that once paralyzed her has been replaced by something else . . .

I have posted positive notes on this movie earlier, but this summary and Jodie Foster's discussion here are very disappointing:

''Here's my commentary: I don't believe that any gun should be in the hand of a thinking, feeling, breathing human being. Americans are by nature filled with rage-slash-fear. And guns are a huge part of our culture. I know I'm crazy because I'm only supposed to say that in Europe. But violence corrupts absolutely. By the end of this, her transformation is complete. ''F--- all of you, now I'm just going to kill people with my bare hands.''' . . .

Does this mean that Switzerland isn't part of Europe? In any case, the synopsis of the movie stating she "has been replaced by something else" with Foster's own views is not very promising. It appears to give this movie a decidedly anti-self defense twist.

Well, at least some of the recent reviews have picked up on this heavily anti-self defense sentiment that seems apparent in the movie:

an impeccable dissection of gun control, as well as a wicked mockery of NRA mentality. . . .

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Incentives matter even in a socialist workers paradise


Percentage of Americans who are Hunters Plummets

New figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that the number of hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 - from 14 million to about 12.5 million. The drop was most acute in New England, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific states, which lost 400,000 hunters in that span.

The primary reasons, experts say, are the loss of hunting land to urbanization plus a perception by many families that they can't afford the time or costs that hunting entails.

"To recruit new hunters, it takes hunting families," said Gregg Patterson of Ducks Unlimited. "I was introduced to it by my father, he was introduced to it by his father. When you have boys and girls without a hunter in the household, it's tough to give them the experience."

Some animal-welfare activists welcome the trend, noting that it coincides with a 13 percent increase in wildlife watching since 1996. But hunters and state wildlife agencies, as they prepare for the fall hunting season, say the drop is worrisome. . . .

There are a lot of economics reasons for this. Fewer people have grown up in rural areas raising the costs of them learning how to hunt, possibly more alternative activities raising their opportunity costs, increased licensing requirements raising the costs of getting started, and having to travel farther to go hunting.

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Mark Levin on Senator Larry Craig Resigning

So, Larry Craig is gone. He solicited sex without actually soliciting sex or having sex. He pled guilty, but not to lewd behavior — to disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor). He is said to have a secret life involving same sex partners, but where are all these partners? According to one report, a guy in college believes Craig hit on him in 1967. Another says he “believes” he performed oral sex on the senator in a restroom at Union Station. He’s not 100-percent sure. If Craig has been living this secret life since 1967, you’d think others would come forward at some point. Maybe they will. So far, they haven’t. Indeed, where is all the evidence of Craig’s seedy life? Where are the photos, the video, the audio, the solid witnesses, and the rest of the evidence? And if the case against Craig in that airport restroom was so compelling, if it was so sleazy, if authorities wanted to send a message to others, why didn’t prosecutors take Craig to trial? Why let him go with a disorderly conduct misdemeanor? Were they doing him a favor? I don’t think so. They conducted a sting operation without any sting. Let me suggest not only couldn’t they make a gross misdemeanor charge stick, they would have lost the disorderly conduct charge, too. Read the statute. But the law is an ass, as they say. This is an issue of morality. . . .

I think that Mark is right on. As I noted last Thursday, The biggest problem that I have is that sexual relations in a restroom should be punished. I don't think that simple foot tapping or even having one's shoe briefly touch another person's shoe should be a criminal offense.

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Freedomnomics on C-SPAN Again on Monday at 5 PM EDT

From David Friedman's Blog

David often has interesting discussions on his blog. Here are a few recent questions that he has raised.

Why don't we see automated systems in old houses that open windows at night when the outside temperature is lower than inside the house and close windows when the reverse is true?

My presumption is that the reason we don't see this is because it isn't efficient. It is costly to set up a mechanism that would raise and lower enough windows in a house to really effect the temperature. Even if we eventually see something like this in new houses, that wouldn't mean that it was efficient to put the system in older ones.

Is there a moral problem in giving students points for simply participating in class discussions? David worries about this because it may be done simply to reduce the effort that the professor makes in teaching.

I personally give credit for just students who get the answers right. But I do think that students learn from thinking on their feet so it doesn't bother me to call on students in the class who haven't raised their hands.

Finally, David asks about why low cost hotels include internet access in their price for the room, but more expensive hotels have it as an extra fee.

I could be wrong, but I guess that I am dubious that this has much to do with price discrimination. It would be interesting to get some numbers on the share of customers in the two types of hotels that use the internet.


Student prevented from graduating because she referred to Jesus in her commencement talk

This punishment seems a little extreme to me. I don't understand how a school can prohibit such speach by a student to begin with, but this punishment seems out of scale to the "crime."

DENVER — A student who said she was told she wouldn't get her diploma unless she apologized for a commencement speech in which she mentioned Jesus has filed a lawsuit alleging her free speech rights were violated.

The school district contends its actions were "constitutionally appropriate."

Erica Corder was one of 15 valedictorians at Lewis-Palmer High School in 2006. . . .

What is it with "15 valedictorians"? About the only way I can see you getting 15 valedictorians is if they all had straight "A's," and that implies that these classes give just too many A's. After all, many of these 15 valedictorians must have been taking honors and AP classes together. Suppose you have 25 students in an AP class. How many A's would you have to give out so that there will end up being 15 students all together who get straight A's.