Yes, you read this headline correctly. An email from Joe Olson at Hamline University School of Law alerted me to this problem. David Hardy briefly discusses the Bush Administration's brief on the Parker/Heller case. Here is my question: if it is merely a question of reasonable regulations, why put the second amendment in the bill of rights? Why use the term "shall not be infringed"? The DOJ brief mentions the phrase "shall not be infringed" once when it quotes the amendment. Here is my question: what would the writers of the Second Amendment have had to write if they were serious that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"? A copy of DOJ's brief can be seen here.

There are numerous factual mistakes in the brief. For example, on page 21 they refer to the "current federal machine gun ban." There is no such ban. Some 250,000 machine guns are legally owned in the US. The discussion of what is meant by the term "well regulated" on page 22 is not what I know the term to mean. As I understood the term at the amendment was written meant "well disciplined," but the DOJ brief wants to use the current usage of the term.

What is particularly disappointing is the excellent research that the DOJ had done on the Second Amendment just a few years earlier. Thanks to John McGregor for reminding me to post a link to this.

The Washington Post's take on the DOJ brief can be read here.

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Movie shows multiple victim shooting stopped by person with gun

This movie appears to definitely have its problems. The protagonist, Christian Slater, stops the killer, but apparently he also had "thoughts of terminating his co-workers." Why can't he just be a permit holder who saves lives? Anyway, for those interested, please go here.


When to joke and when to give serious answers?

I guess that I frequently take things too seriously, but while Huckabee is strong on protecting people's right to own guns, he rarely seems to explain the reasons well. I am not sure what to make of the answer below. Is it funny? Yes, I guess so. But in the discussion below will listeners come away thinking that there is a real problem by not having a one-gun-a-month rule? I fear that is the case. Can't there be some kernel of education in the discussion? This is from Huckabee's appearance on the Colbert Report:

COLBERT: South Carolina gun laws are so loose that you can go into any gun shop and buy as many handguns as you want. I mean 200 of them and then just ship them up here to New York and sell them illegally on the street and raise some serious scratch.

HUCKABEE: How do you think I've financed my campaign for the past 11 months?

COLBERT: Smart man!

COLBERT: Pick me up a couple?

HUCKABEE: On their way. What kind would you like?

COLBERT: Something with the serial numbers scratched off.

HUCKABEE: Consider it done.

COLBERT: I know you're a man of your word. You would never rescind your offer of making me vice president no matter how well you do in the campaign. But I'm going to give you one more chance to get out of it. Just ask me, I'll say no ...

HUCKABEE: Steven, be my running mate?

COLBERT: Yes!!!!!!!!!

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More signs showing global warming: Snow in the Middle East

The first snow in a hundred years in Baghdad is a sign of global warming:

Delju said climate change, blamed mainly on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would bring bigger swings in the weather alongside a warming trend that will mean more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

"The more frequent occurrence of extreme events all over the world -- floods in Australia, heavy snowfall in the Middle East -- can also be signs of warming," he said.

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NORC Survey data on Gun Ownership and Support for Gun Control is at Odds with Other Survey data

For a critical discussion on a recent Reuters story on gun ownership see here.

Thanks to Jack Anderson for sending this link to me.


Could Fred Thompson be the Last Conservative Standing?

Thompson did extremely well in the Fox News debate last night (of course, I thought that he has done very well in terms of his positions in all the debates). Frank Luntz's focus group of undecided voters overwhelmingly gave the nod to Senator Thompson. Here is a YouTube clip from the debate that gives one a good idea of how Thompson did.

Given Romney's stands on everything from global warming to the assault weapons ban as well as his changed positions on many other issues, I am not sure how conservative he is, but I think that Romney has backed himself into a corner. By concentrating all his effort on Michigan, he has raised the stakes dramatically. The problem that he faces is that Michigan allows non-Republicans to vote in their primary and that is compounded by the fact that there is no Democratic race (Hillary Clinton is the only one on the Democratic ballot). Independents and Democrats who have no reason to vote in the Democratic primary will feel tempted to wreak all sorts of havoc on the Republicans by voting for McCain or even Huckabee (of course, some of these other voters probably actually like McCain). My bottom line is that I think that this will be a tough race for Romney to win, and I think that he may drop out of the race if he loses in Michigan. Given that I don't think that even their current positions would classify McCain and Huckabee as conservatives on economic issues, that would leave Thompson and Giuliani. Giuliani's strategy seems to depend a lot on what happens in Florida (his staff is being asked to work without pay because of money problems). Of course, all this might depend upon Thompson doing well in South Carolina. That is surely possible given how people in South Carolina appreciated his debate performance on Thursday.

UPDATE: The Democratic DailyKos is advising Democrats in Michigan to vote for Romney. They apparently believe that McCain would be the strongest Republican nominee.

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More People think that Women's Suffrage Helps Explain the Growth of Government

At least one other person beside Ann Coulter thinks that my research that the growth in government is attributable to women's suffrage is plausible. Ann Coulter was very nice bringing up the issue many times this past year. Again, the research doesn't say that this is good or bad, but simply a positive statement about what happened.


The "Unintended consequences" of Animal Rights Legislation

Animal rights groups got bans adopted that to stop the slaughter of horses. So guess what? People started shipping the horses to Canada and Mexico "where, animal advocates say, they sometimes face more gruesome deaths [than the would have in the US]." The elimination of American slaughter houses have also:

The slaughterhouse closings themselves may have added to the population of the unwanted. In some parts of the country, auctioneers say, the closings have contributed to a drop in the price of horses at the low end of the market, and the added distance in the shipping of horses bound for slaughter, combined with higher fuel costs, means that some small or thin horses are no longer worth the fuel it takes to transport them.

The results are not too surprising to an economist.

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Finally the last of the three big Iowa public universities have started letting campus police carry guns

The story on the University of Northern Iowa can be found here (emphasis added):

The University of Northern Iowa police have been carrying firearms since Dec. 23, following an October vote of the Iowa Board of Regents allowing arming of campus police.

Iowa State University became the first of the state's three public universities to arm officers when it allowed sworn police to carry guns Nov. 12. The University of Iowa followed on Nov. 22. . . .

a change long sought by the public safety directors. Iowa's public universities were the only schools in their athletic conferences that did not allow officers to carry guns.

Thanks very much to Mike Miller for sending me this link.

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Another reason why Campaign Finance Regulations help Bloomberg

I came across an interesting news story today about Bloomberg possibly running for the presidency:

So far, the surprise outcomes of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have added urgency and strength to the Bloomberg operation, Schoen said.

"The uncertainty in the nominating process on both sides makes it more likely that Mike Bloomberg will explore a candidacy," he said.

I agree with this, but for possibly different reasons than the person here. Take the extreme case. If a nominee is not picked for a party until the party convention in August, that person will have little time to raise what would likely be a hundred or two hundred million for the general election. The less time that the Republicans or Democrats have to raise money, the easier it will be for Bloomberg to win.

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Might Global Warming Imply that We should LOWER Gasoline Taxes?

To summarize the contrast: The Stern Review calls for a carbon tax of $350 per ton of carbon in 2015. Nordhaus’ model, which has been peer-reviewed many times, calculates the optimal carbon tax in 2015 to be ONE-TENTH of that, or only $35 per ton carbon. I find it useful to put these quantities in terms of something we understand more readily: $350 per ton carbon converts to $1 per gallon of gasoline, while $35 per ton carbon converts to 10 cents per gallon of gasoline. We are talking big differences here.

If you read the discussion that Bob has, you will see that the $1 per gallon tax on gasoline is not very serious. If we are talking about 10 cents per gallon, we already have gasoline taxes that are over 6 times greater than that. Even if we are accepting everything here as correct (and I think that the 10 cent estimate is probably high), there is an argument to be made that gas taxes should be cut.

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Was there a conspiracy about voting machines in New Hampshire?

A good friend of mine, Robert G. Hansen, speculates whether there is some systematic impact of voting machines on Hillary Clinton's share of the vote in New Hampshire. His discussion reminds me a lot about the discussion that took place after the 2004 and 2000 elections. Bob finds some evidence of a difference in Hillary's share based on whether there is a "machine count" or a hand count. I would have done the empirical work differently and seen if there was a difference in the ratio of Hillary's actual share to her share in the polls with the type of vote counting method. It seems necessary to account for differences from the poll and to see if there is anything systematic in how wrong the polls were in predicting things with respect to the machine counting. All that said, anyone who has read my writings on all this knows that I am very dubious about anything shady going on here.


More over reactions from schools to students

The incident apparently happened last month. A six-year-old girl was seen kissing a second grade boy several times while they were riding in the school bus, and the boy was seen kissing her back. The girl's actions landed her in some hot water as her parents were called into the principal's office, and the girl was reportedly suspended from riding the bus for three days. . . .

Many parents believe, given the young ages of the students, a better approach would have been to simply sit down with the children and talk to them, "And say when you are in school it's not appropriate to kiss boys when you are in school, but find out from her exactly how it was meant and I'm sure as in this case it was a child being affectionate to another child, not anything sexual," says Smith.

As is too frequent these days, the school's response was overblown.


Fred Thompson's Plan for Cutting Federal Government Spending

While the media seems to be focused on personalities, Fred Thompson has put forward one well thought out policy position after another, whether it is social security reform or immigration. Previously Thompson has listed 100 government programs he would like to see cut. A summary of his new proposal for limiting government growth can be seen here.

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Transportation Security Administration might be off its rocker

The Transportation Security Administration is apparently about to unveil the new holster that will be used by the Flight Deck Officer (FDO) program (the armed pilots program). You really have to see the picture of this holster to believe it. I hope that all this is a joke, but I haven't had a chance to check it out with some pilots that I know. I suppose that this is better than the lock box that pilots have been having to use.

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SF Gun Ban Thrown Out by California Appeals Court

"Colorado Raid Angers Family"

NEW CASTLE, Colo. (AP) -- An armed law enforcement team broke down the door of a family home with a battering ram and took an 11-year-old to a hospital after authorities feared he was not getting proper medical care for what turned out to be a minor head injury.
Garfield County's All Hazards Response Team raided the home Friday night, a day after Jon Shiflett fell after grabbing the handle of a moving car. Someone - possibly a neighbor - called paramedics.
Jon's father, Tom Shiflett, 62, told paramedics he didn't want them to treat Jon and asked them to leave. He told them he had served as a medic in Vietnam and he had the skill to treat his son.
Caseworkers who later visited the family reported seeing injuries that included a "huge hematoma" and a sluggish pupil. They went before a judge seeking a search warrant and order for medical treatment, citing affidavits from the ambulance crew.
Following the raid, a doctor recommended Jon be given fluids, Tylenol and ice to treat the bruises, according to a copy of the child's patient aftercare instructions. . . . .

Thanks to Rich for sending this to me.


Virginia Governor Tim Kaine pushes for more gun control

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Tuesday proposed requiring background checks for everyone who tries to purchase firearms at gun shows - legislation he called critical to helping prevent tragedies like the shootings at Virginia Tech.

Critical? Did the killer at Virginia Tech get his gun from a gun show? No. Of course, the new NICS law was prompted by the VT attack, but even if it had been in effect at the time, it wouldn't have stopped the attack. In addition, the November 2001 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that fewer than 1 percent of prison inmates who possessed a gun when they were caught obtained their gun from a gun show. To make it clear, 30 percent of state prison inmates possessed a gun when they were caught and of these only .7% got their gun from a gun show. Only about 10 percent of violent crimes are committed with a gun. Many of these 30 percent did not use a gun in their crime.


Permit holder loses permit for pointing gun a store customer

I try to keep track of the good and the bad cases. Here is one of the extremely rare cases where a permit holder did something wrong and he was punished for doing it.

Ingram clerk points gun, will lose license: police

By Bobby Kerlik
Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ten days after shooting a would-be robber multiple times, an Ingram convenience store clerk again pulled a gun -- this time on a customer, police said Tuesday.
"They were in a heated argument over change from a transaction," Ingram police Chief John Doherty said, describing clerk Kaelin Weber's encounter with the customer. "Words were exchanged, and he felt he was being intimidated."

Weber, 24, was cleared of wrongdoing in the Christmas morning shooting, but the latest incident will cost him his license to carry a concealed weapon, said Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen, who grants gun permits. . . .



Clinton's crying made her appear sympathetic

I thought that this "crying" was planned yesterday and I believe it even more so now. This was Hillary Clinton's Sister Souljah moment. They wanted to make her look human and sympathetic. It just amazes me that they could achieve this with what was probably staged.

Edward Morrissey asks
"Did independents break Republican instead of Democrat, assuming that Obama had the race sewn up?"
It certainly seems possible, though you would probably need an exit poll to determine if this is true. I guess that I believe that the effect that I mentioned above was the important effect.

UPDATE: From John Fund at OpinionJournal's Political Diary:
A senior Obama adviser told Politico.com that he had no other explanation for his candidate's startling loss. "Did her choking up have a positive effect among women? Did they say, 'We are not going to run her out of the race here?'" the adviser asked. "There is no other reason we can see. Every poll showed us even with Clinton with women, and then we lose women to her. There was a big gender gap that didn't show up until yesterday."

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80 Year Old Woman Stops Mountain Lion with Gun

Do People vote their self-interest?

George Mason's Bryan Caplan has a provocative piece in this last Sunday's Washington Post. His first point is:

1. People vote their self-interest.

In fact, there is only the tiniest correlation between income and party. The country is not divided into two camps: the poor, who vote Democrat, and the rich, who vote Republican. If you consider your own experiences, this is hardly surprising: Are your rich friends really Republicans and your poor friends Democrats?

Self-interest is also a bad predictor of views about specific issues. Yes, the elderly heavily support Social Security and Medicare, but so does almost everyone else. The old bumper sticker says, "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament," but men are actually slightly more pro-choice than women. And so on. Pollsters have found a few exceptions where self-interest really matters, such as smoking restrictions, which smokers obviously tend to oppose. But overall, where voters stand has little to do with where they sit.

I guess that I have a simple explanation for this claim regarding abortion based upon my own research. Single men support abortion because it makes it more likely that women are willing to engage in pre-marital sex. This op-ed is based upon Bryan's book "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies." His point on "Voters' errors balance out" is very similar even to some research that I have done in the past.

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More thoughts on Campaign Finance Reform

For those who think that a deadlocked national convention will let the Republicans turn to another candidate, my advice is to forget it. This time it will be necessary for candidates to forgo public financing of their campaigns and campaign finance regulations make it extremely difficult to for a new candidate to put together a national mailing list of campaign donors.


The problem with the claim that lethal injection for the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment

While the chief justice’s skepticism was not unexpected, Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s response to Mr. Verrilli’s argument was a surprise. Justice Breyer told Mr. Verrilli he had read scientific articles supporting the one-drug protocol that were cited in the briefs filed by the inmates and had found them confusing.

“So I’m left at sea,” he said. “I understand your contention. You claim that this is somehow more painful than some other method. But which? And what’s the evidence for that? What do I read to find it?”

“I ended up thinking, of course there is a risk of human error,” Justice Breyer continued. “There is a risk of human error generally where you’re talking about the death penalty, and this may be one extra problem, one serious additional problem. But the question here is, Can we say that there is a more serious problem here than with other execution methods?”

Often, such doubts about the quality of the evidence lead the court to send a case back to the lower courts for further factual development. Mr. Verrilli said that although the record was sufficiently clear for the justices to proceed, “it certainly would be a reasonable thing to do” to send the case back to the Kentucky courts, which rejected the challenge to the three-drug protocol without considering whether the availability of the single-drug alternative meant that inmates were being subjected to an unnecessary risk of pain. . . . .

The claim is that the first injection cannot be guaranteed to anesthetize the killer before the other drugs take effect. By this logic of requiring a guarantee, executions through a firing squad or hanging or electrocution would all have to be banned.

But the problem is actually even broader. We can't even guarantee the criminal's safety in prison. Could the criminal be injured? Could he be stabbed by another criminal? My own guess is that those arguing to end executions understand this problem and probably really hope that the case will be sent back to the lower court. Sending the case back to the lower court could be used to continue to put on hold executions in the US for years.

What about the claim that the second injection that paralyzes the killer before he is executed is unnecessary? I can think of several good reasons for it, but the primary one is why would you want the criminal making gestures and thrashing around during the execution?

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Another example that incentives matter



It is difficult for me to understand what the "business" reason would be for this. I guess that I have never heard of the company that processes credit card transactions facing liability so that also seem out of the question. Not processing non-firearm transactions for companies involved with firearms? This seems a bridge too far. So is it just political?


National Shooting Sports Foundation

January 7, 2008

REFUSES TO PROCESS TRANSACTIONS . . . Citi Merchant Services and First Data Corp. are refusing to process any credit card transactions between federally licensed firearms retailers, distributors and manufacturers -- a move which will severely limit available inventory of firearms and ammunition to military, law enforcement and law-abiding Americans.

The first company to be affected by this decision appears to be firearms
distributor CDNN Sports Inc.
"We were contacted recently by First Data/Citi Merchant Services by a June Rivera-Mantilla stating that we were terminated and funds were being seized for selling firearms in a non-face-to-face transaction," said Charlie Crawford, president of CDNN Sports Inc. "Although perfectly legal, we were also informed that no transactions would be processed in the future, even for non-firearms. I find this very frightening."

To voice your concern to Citi Merchant Services and First Data Corp., please contact June Rivera-Mantilla at 631-683-7734 or her supervisor Robert Tenenbaum at 631-683-6570.

To change to an NSSF-affiliated credit card processing program, contact
Payment Alliance International at 1-866-371-2273 (ext. 1131).

Thanks to Dan Gifford for this information.

UPDATE: At least one person is dropping his Citi bank card.


Clinton's Muskie Moment, Or was it planned?

If it was not an Ed Muskie moment — Mrs. Clinton did not cry (or look like she was crying) — she was certainly on the verge of it after a woman asked her, at a round table discussion at a coffee shop here, how she managed to get out of bed and soldier through each day.

How will voters react to a candidate who cries about having a hard time in the campaign? If it was a man, he would be out of the race very quickly. With a woman, will people feel sorry for her? Do they think that she needs to show even more toughness?

Here is the big question. I hate to be really cynical about all this, but with the desire to make Hillary appear more human and likable is there any chance that her crying was planned? I guess that I wouldn't be surprised.

UPDATE: In the interest of fairness, here is Clinton's response to the concern that this display of emotion was staged. If you go to that link, Major Garrett has a video up of him asking her directly about this.

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Another sign of Global Warming: Snow Flurries Reported Along Daytona Beach Coast

As someone who grew up in Florida, this is pretty amazing. Snow along the ocean coast? This is a third of the way down the coast. The ocean also tends to mitigate temperature changes.

Snow Flurries Reported Along Daytona Beach Coast

POSTED: 7:17 am EST January 3, 2008
UPDATED: 12:28 pm EST January 3, 2008

Elsewhere in the state, temperatures dropped into the 20s in north Florida. The lowest temperature recorded in Florida was 20 in Cross City, about 90 miles southeast of Tallahassee, the National Weather Service said. Snow flurries were reported near the Daytona Beach coastline, the first in Florida since 2006.

For slightly more systematic evidence see this:

University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, a specialist in temperature and heat flow, notes in the Washington Times that "unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007." Johannesburg experienced its first significant snowfall in a quarter-century. Australia had its coldest ever June. New Zealand's vineyards lost much of their 2007 harvest when spring temperatures dropped to record lows.

Closer to home, 44.5 inches of snow fell in New Hampshire last month, breaking the previous record of 43 inches, set in 1876. And the Canadian government is forecasting the coldest winter in 15 years.

Now all of these may be short-lived weather anomalies, mere blips in the path of the global climatic warming that Al Gore and a host of alarmists proclaim the deadliest threat we face. But what if the frigid conditions that have caused so much distress in recent months signal an impending era of global cooling?

Thanks to the DrudgeReport for the Florida link and Gus for the Boston Globe link.

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Evaluating Michigan's Right-to-carry Law After 6 years

Dawson Bell, a reporter at the Detroit Free Press, has a very interesting news article evaluating Michigan's experience after 6 years with the law. While these articles are frequently seen six months or a year after a right-to-carry law has gone into effect, it is really extremely rare to see this type of analysis piece done after that point in time. Here is about half the article, but the entire piece is definitely worth reading:

Michigan sees fewer gun deaths — with more permits
January 6, 2008
Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold.
But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics.
The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined.
More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records.
About 25,000 people had CCW permits in Michigan before the law changed in 2001.
"I think the general consensus out there from law enforcement is that things were not as bad as we expected," said Woodhaven Police Chief Michael Martin, cochair of the legislative committee for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. "There are problems with gun violence. But ... I think we can breathe a sigh of relief that what we anticipated didn't happen."
John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland who has done extensive research on the role of firearms in American society, said the results in Michigan since the law changed don't surprise him.
Academic studies of concealed weapons laws that generally allow citizens to obtain permits have shown different results, Lott said. About two-thirds of the studies suggest the laws reduce crime; the rest show no net effect, he said.
But no peer-reviewed study has ever shown that crime increases when jurisdictions enact changes like those put in place by the Legislature and then-Gov. John Engler in 2000, Lott said.
In Michigan and elsewhere (liberal permitting is the rule in about 40 states), those who seek CCW permits, get training and pay licensing fees tend to be "the kind of people who don't break laws," Lott said.
Nationally, the rate of CCW permits being revoked is very low, he said. State Police reports in Michigan indicate that 2,178 permits have been revoked or suspended since 2001, slightly more than 1% of those issued.
Another State Police report found that 175 Michigan permit holders were convicted of a crime, most of them nonviolent, requiring revocation or suspension of their permits between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006.
But even if more armed citizens have not wreaked havoc, some critics of Michigan's law chafe at how it was passed: against stiff opposition in a lame duck legislative session and attached to an appropriation that nullified efforts at repeal by referendum. . . .

I liked the title of the piece.

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