Public School "tells Mother to get Daughter Breast Reduction after Harassment"

If the daughter is supposed to get her breasts reduced so that the harassment can be stopped, what is the recommendation for the boy who has severe scars from his surgery?  This extreme recommendation seems to indicate that the school is admitting defeat.  From Moline Acres, Missouri:
. . . Tammie Jackson says her daughter Gabrielle is being sexually harassed because of her large breasts at Central Middle School in Moline Acres. She says the sixth grader has been dealing with bullying since last semester. 
Jackson called the Riverview Gardens School District to complain and was shocked by what she was told. 
“It makes me feel like now you are telling me it’s my fault, it’s God’s fault the way he made her. The lady on the phone said they could transfer my daughter and said her boobs were so large she will always get teased. And the only suggestion she had for me is to have my daughter get a breast reduction,” said Jackson. 
FOX 2 stopped by the school district for a response and we’re told they’re working to counsel students to resolve the bullying issue. As for the claims about the surgery, we’re told they are still looking into it. 
Jackson also says her 9-year-old son Elijah has bullying issues. He has a rare heart condition and she says kids make fun of his surgical scars, causing him to make suicidal comments. . . .

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Speculating about why politicians push more more gun control

Allysia Finley has this interesting take on why politicians push more gun control.


Maybe Americans really do understand that more guns mean less crime

From Fox News:
Nearly twice as many voters say there would be less violent crime if more law-abiding Americans owned guns, than if guns were banned.   
In addition, while American voters generally favor strengthening gun laws, 71 percent do not think tougher laws can stop shootings like the one last month in Newtown, Connecticut.  Some 22 percent say new laws can prevent the next Sandy Hook.
These are just some of the findings from a Fox News poll released Friday. 
Majorities of gun owners (81 percent), non-gun owners (58 percent), Democrats (58 percent), independents (72 percent) and Republicans (85 percent) say the people who do these kinds of things “will always find the guns” to commit violent acts. . . .

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What might be interesting is a picture that showed the ratio of news coverage to deaths

From US News available here.


"Voters pessimistic as Obama prepares for second inauguration"

Almost four years into a "recovery" and Americans are still uncertain about their economic future?
President Obama is entering his second term with many of the nation’s voters still pessimistic or unsure about their economic prospects, a new poll for The Hill has found. . . . 
Sixty percent say they do not expect to make major economic strides during Obama’s second term, compared to just 38 percent who expect to be better off in 2016.  
Despite the lingering pessimism about the trajectory of the nation’s economy, the poll does offer a silver lining for the president as he prepares to take the oath of office again — by a 2-to-1 margin, voters blame Congress, instead of him, for the nation’s woes. 
Fifty percent of those polled blamed Congress the most, compared to just 25 percent placing blame squarely at the feet of Obama. Another 10 percent apiece blamed voters and the media the most. . . .

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Democrats uncomfortable about Obama's gun control measures?

The Hill Newspaper has comments from seven Senators.
Some vulnerable Senate Democrats are balking at President Obama’s new push on gun control, reflecting the tough position many will be in if Congress takes up major firearms legislation. 
The responses indicate how tough it will be for any legislation to move through Congress — and how tricky an issue it is for some rural-state Democrats facing reelection.
Here’s a rundown of what some of those Democrats . . . 
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that he’s not eager to pass new gun control legislation.  
“I think they’ve got a long haul here … There are some of us who just fundamentally believe in a Second Amendment right,” he said. “To be frank, I feel like it’s going to be hard for any of these pieces of legislation to pass at this point.” . . .
Other comments from Senators Pryor, Baucus, Tim Johnson and others.
From Fox News:
President Obama's gun-control package was always going to be a tough sell in the Republican-led House -- but the plan is already running into resistance, or at least hesitation, from moderate Democrats in the Senate.  
The lukewarm response in the Senate to Obama's highly anticipated anti-gun violence plan portends an uphill climb for the legislation. And it underscores how, as the president's backers prepare to launch a veritable campaign to promote the plan, they will be pressuring members of their own party as much as reluctant Republicans.  
No Democrat in the Senate came out against Obama's gun plan. But several appeared to be on the fence or noncommittal, even as the president's allies in the House cheered the package as a long-sought solution to America's gun violence problem.  
"We must find a way to balance our Second Amendment rights with the challenges of mental illness, criminal behavior and the safety of our schools and communities," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said in a statement, noting Louisiana's tradition of hunting, target shooting and gun collecting. She said she would give the proposals "serious consideration."  . . .
Senator Al Franken: "I support 'principle' of assault weapon ban" -- there seems to be some wiggle room in Franken's previously strong support for a so-called assault weapon ban.

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Firearms Manufactured, Exported and Imported to US

The big increases in production right before the Brady Act and the Assault Weapon Ban as well as when Obama was elected are quite noticeable.  The data for this and the other categories is available here.


A doctor speaks out on Obama efforts to get doctors involved in his gun control policies

Dr. Manny Alvarez has this discussion at Fox News:
One of the 23 executive actions Obama approved Wednesday was to "clarify" that the federal health care overhaul "does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes." 
An overview of the plan said "we should never ask doctors and other health care providers to turn a blind eye to the risks posed by guns in the wrong hands." 
Coupled with the language on asking patients about guns was a decision to "clarify" that no federal law prevents doctors from warning law enforcement about "direct and credible threats of violence." 
Physicians are already overwhelmed with bureaucratic rules and regulations that they are responsible for, which continues to limit their ability to practice medicine. . . . 
So, you see, Mr. President, we are just too busy to become a regulatory line in your gun control debate. . . .

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Two multiple victim public shootings have taken place where guns were concealed handguns are allowed

I had put this in my previous post on the consensus that these attacks are occurring where guns are banned, but it is important enough that I have included the relevant part as a separate post here.

Based on Jake's research it appears that I had one case classified incorrectly (the attack at the International House of Pancakes restaurant in Carson City, Nevada in 2011) so that there was a second case in the US where an attack occurred where guns weren't banned. What appears to have happened there is that one of the five who died was the killer himself and I don't count the death of the killer in my totals of those killed.  Secondly, the fourth victim who died after the attack (the original story that I used was here (original post here)) and I hadn't gone back to double check on that case, as I admittedly should have done.

My statement on multiple victim public shootings should now read:

Since at least 1950, with two exceptions, all the multiple victim public shootings in the US in which more than three people have been killed have taken place where guns are banned.  All the shootings in Europe since at least 1980 also fall into that pattern.


Consensus and disagreement on Multiple Victim Public Shootings (Correction to my earlier work also included)

I found this important series of quotes in an article by Jake Berry at the Nashua Telegraph.  The amazing thing to me is that you can see such a very consistent pattern and all these individuals still just think that it is due to randomness.
. . . Once again, Lott’s findings show that each mass shooting, except the Giffords incident, took place in “gun-free zones.”
“Killers go where victims can’t defend themselves,” Lott wrote last week in an email to The Telegraph, using this year’s Aurora movie theater shooting as an example. “Out of seven theaters showing the Batman movie premiere within 20 minutes of the suspect’s apartment, only one banned permitted concealed handguns. The suspect didn’t go to the closest nor the largest, but to the one that banned self-defense. Time after time, the story is the same.”
On the whole, Lott’s colleagues – both in the media and academia – don’t dispute his findings.
“I suspect that most places that mass public shootings could logically occur are ‘gun-free zones’ either determined by the government (schools) or by private businesses and institutions,” David Hemenway, director of the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University, wrote in an email.
But they do debate Lott’s conclusions, and Hoell’s point that a location’s “gun-free” status actually attracts shooters.
“There is no evidence, to our knowledge, of any mass shooter specifically selecting his location based on its likelihood of being ‘gun-free,’” Mary Vriniotis, a research specialist for the Harvard school, wrote in an email.
“Schools might be a likely target because that is where a mass of people congregate and those people involve a lot of troubled adolescents who may harbor bad feelings toward the people there who bullied them, were unfair to them, etc,” added Daniel Webster, director of Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University. “The shooters in these instances didn’t say, ‘Hey, I’ll find a gun-free zone where I can shoot a lot of people.’ No, they went to a place for reasons wholly unrelated to gun-free zones.”
Some of the documentation of these cases can be found in my original research with Bill Landes that studied the period from 1977 to 1999 and it is available here.  Here is the problem with Hemenway's and Webster's response: Whether it is something like the Colorado movie theater shooting where the killer went to the single movie theater out of seven within a twenty minute drive of the killer's apartment that banned concealed handguns or the various mall shootings where the killer went to the one place where guns were banned, there were lots of similar targets and the killers went to the place where victims couldn't defend themselves.  In right-to-carry states people can usually carry their concealed handguns almost anywhere and yet the attacks keep taking place in those small areas where guns are banned.  The paper with Landes and my subsequent research continues to show that this isn't random. As to Vriniotis' claim, I have also found other evidence that in at least a few cases, such as Columbine, the killers knew about the gun free zone and even actively opposed legislation letting potential victims carry guns.

Some of my posts with information on the Colorado movie theater shooting, the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin, the business shooting in Wisconsin, Mall shootings (see here, here, and here), cafe and coffee shop shootings (here), and other places (here and here).  I have a long list of over 325 other postings here and here.

Based on Jake's research it appears that I had one case classified incorrectly (the attack at the International House of Pancakes restaurant in Carson City, Nevada in 2011) so that there was a second case in the US where an attack occurred where guns weren't banned. What appears to have happened there is that one of the five who died was the killer himself and I don't count the death of the killer in my totals of those killed.  Secondly, the fourth victim who died after the attack (one of the many original stories that I used is here (original post here)) and I hadn't gone back to double check on that case, as I admittedly should have done.

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Newest piece at US News: "Obama's Gun Proposals Ignore the Facts"

My piece begins this way:
President Obama believes that people who oppose his gun control regulations do so "because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves." That they will do "everything they can to block any commonsense reform" that is necessary "to protect our communities and our kids." 
Sorry, but we all are motivated by the same concern to save lives. I may believe that Obama's views are wrong-headed and that they will endanger public safety, but that is quite different from accusing him of allowing children to die because he will benefit from those deaths. 
Two things stand out as particularly disappointing in Obama's offering of new gun control regulations: 1) his willing to make so many false claims and 2) his inability to acknowledge that gun control regulations have real costs. Take his first couple "facts" during his presentation. . . .

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Newest piece in the WSJ: "The Facts About Assault Weapons and Crime"

Correction noted here.

My piece starts this way:
Warning about "weapons designed for the theater of war," President Obama on Wednesday called for immediate action on a new Federal Assault Weapons Ban. He said that "more of our fellow Americans might still be alive" if the original assault weapons ban, passed in 1994, had not expired in 2004. Last month, in the wake of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) promised to introduce an updated version of the ban. She too warned of the threat posed by "military weapons." 
After the nightmare of Newtown, their concern is understandable. Yet despite being at the center of the gun-control debate for decades, neither President Obama nor Ms. Feinstein (the author of the 1994 legislation) seems to understand the leading research on the effects of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. In addition, they continue to mislabel the weapons they seek to ban. . . .
Copies of the studies discussed are here and here.  Feinstein's website is here.

On the most read list:

The WSJ published two letters on my op-ed.
Many thanks to John R. Lott Jr. ("The Facts About Assault Weapons and Crime," op-ed, Jan. 18). The arbitrary designation of "assault weapon" masks true capabilities and limitations among disparate weapons. As a former Marine, I learned the hard way which guns were most dangerous while battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Insurgents with assault weapons such as AK-47s were easily dealt with, while the most dangerous rifle encountered was the British-made Lee-Enfield caliber .303 that could fire accurately from more than six-hundred meters away. They were traditional, wood-stocked, hunting-style rifles, bolt action, and many over a hundred years old.
Daniel Barbeau
Irvine, Calif.
Another day, another opinion article bemoaning the likely ineffectiveness of proposed gun legislation. John Lott bases his argument on the fact that the previous Federal Assault Weapons Ban barely affected the murder rate. Of course it didn't, for two reasons. Most murders are committed using handguns, and it wasn't a ban on the weapons, it simply banned the sale of new ones. The Australians understood this, which is why, after their own horrific mass killing, they not only banned the sale of these weapons, they also banned ownership, and financed a buyback program. And the result—no new mass killings in 17 years—has been what they hoped for.
Most of your contributors decry the proposed legislation without proposing an alternative. To his credit, Mr. Lott has an alternative, and it is chilling: citizens armed with semiautomatic weapons literally everywhere. I have been to countries where there are armed guards at every building, and I have been to ones where even the police don't normally carry weapons. I know where I feel safer.
Martin Herrington

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Interview with Sun TV on Obama's Gun Control Proposals


WSJ: "Extra Pounds Mean Lower Chance of Death"

This is too funny.


Several of my radio interviews from Wednesday about Obama's Gun Control Proposals

Another op-ed in Investors' Business Daily: "More Guns = More Murders? A Myth. More Guns = Fewer Murders"

My new article starts this way:
In the wake of the recent shootings, the liberal media have concluded we need more gun control. President Obama just signed 23 executive actions related to guns, and promises to do more later.To them the logic seems obvious, that more guns mean more deaths, suicides, and accidents.
And the U.S. supposedly has very high murder rates, they argue, because our nation is teeming with guns. So with stricter gun control, we would suffer fewer murders and less violence.
As Charles Blow recently claimed in the New York Times: "America has the highest gun homicide rate, the highest number of guns per capita ..."
Or as the New York Times earlier this month put forward the notion: "Generally, if you live in a civilized society, more guns mean more death." The claim is all over the news from CNN to various "Fact Check" articles.
It would be nice if things were that simple. . . .
 A more complete discussion is available here.

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Boy, that NRA sure makes a lot of donations, right?

The Washington Post has this set of graphics illustrating the NRA's corrupting influence on politics.  In 2011-2012 election cycle, the NRA gave almost $600,000 spread across 236 Republican candidates (an average of $2,473 per candidate) and $74,000 to 25 Democrats.

Pretty impressive numbers until you look at donations by other groups such as lawyers.  I would have liked to have found donations by just trial lawyers, but these donations are still lopsided towards Democrats by a huge amount that completely dwarfs donations by the NRA.  Still, I suspect that the Washington Post isn't going to run a similar spread on these numbers.  Just donations to Democratic Senator Killibrand dwarfs the NRA's donations by 3.2 times.

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Talking about Obama's gun policies on KMOX

The audio of my appearance on KMOX with Mark Reardon is available here.

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"Nerf toy causes lockdown at Long Island school"

Does this look like a real gun?  Is it that difficult for school administrators to differentiate this gun from other weapons?  Here is a story from Long Island, NY:

A lime-green Nerf toy gun caused an hours-long lock-down at a Long Island school on Tuesday.
A 911 caller told Nassau County Police she saw a suspicious teen at about 7:38 a.m. Tuesday wearing a black jacket and carrying a black backpack at Elmont Memorial high School in Elmont.
The caller said he was also carrying a lime green gun.
A SWAT team searched the school room by room.  Parents were allowed to pick up their children early Tuesday afternoon. . . .


NRA ad: "Protection For Obama's Kids, Gun-Free Zones For Ours?"


Obama's four proposals: Universal background checks, gun tracing, high cap mags, assault weapon ban

Of course, we have tried three of these four programs previously with no evidence of success.  Even the background checks have been tried, though not universal checks.  Still one would expect if background checks on almost all guns didn't help, why should it matter to expand it slightly.  Obviously, that is the reason for the grossly exaggerated claim that 40% of gun sales are done without background checks -- they want to make it appear as it this law would make a big difference.  From Politico:
The White House told gun-control advocates Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s wide-ranging gun control proposals will include a new federal gun trafficking law — long sought by big-city mayors as a way to keep out-of-state guns off their streets. 
The proposal, which has not been discussed in detail by the White House up until now, will be unveiled Wednesday, along with Obama’s call for universal background checks for all new gun purchases, as well as new bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, according to a person who was in the room for the presentation to gun control advocates. . . .


CNN Officially decides to report Opinion as News

Personally, to me it isn't a question of having an opinion, that doesn't bother me.  What bothers me is the lack of civility and dishonest behavior.
CNN president Jeff Zucker told CNN New York staff today that he supported Piers Morgan's decision to speak in favor of gun control, sources at the network tell POLITICO. 
During a town-hall meeting with staff, Zucker was asked about CNN expressing opinion, something it has traditionally tried to avoid. Zucker said he was in favor of it where it was appropriate, citing Morgan's stance on gun control as one example, sources said. . . .



Obama White House: "as [Obama] said yesterday, if even one child's life can be saved by the actions we take here in Washington, we must take those actions"

It doesn't make any more sense to say that we should have a law if it can save even one more life than to say we shouldn't have a law if it loses even one more life.
JAY CARNEY: If these things were easy, they would have been achieved already. If renewal of the assault weapons ban were easily accomplished, it would not need renewing because it would have happened already. The fact of the matter is the president is committed to pushing these proposals. He is not naive about the challenges that exist, but he believes that, as he said yesterday, if even one child's life can be saved by the actions we take here in Washington, we must take those actions.
Some of Obama's quotes: 
Obama (January 14, 2013): if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step. 
Obama (December 16, 2012): If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that -- then surely we have an obligation to try. 


Should target shooting games be sold to children?

I am not sure how this game in anyway encourages violence.  From Mac Daily News:

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy is all upset about the app, but it isn't clear that he has even tried it.
“The NRA seems intent on continuing to insult the families of the victims of Sandy Hook,” the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement. “How could they think it was a good idea to use the one month anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook to release a game that teaches four year olds to shoot assault weapons? No matter what outrageous new tool they use, the NRA cannot make a straight-faced case that sport shooters need military-style weapons to enjoy their hobby.” . . .


"Parents Furious After Young Boys Suspended After Playing With Imaginary Weapon"

No sense of balance or just an attempt to scare young children when they are playing with imaginary guns so that they won't think that playing with guns is fun?  From Baltimore:
Some parents on the Eastern Shore say school officials there went too far in disciplining a couple of six-year-old boys. Derek Valcourt explains the boys got into trouble for bringing an imaginary weapon to school.
What started as a recess game of cops and robbers at a Talbot County school turned into a controversy after two six-year-old boys were suspended for using their fingers to make an imaginary gun.
Many say a suspension is going too far.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Julia Merchant.
And it’s not the first time. Earlier this month, six-year-old Rodney Lynch was suspended from his Montgomery County school after pretending to fire an imaginary gun more than once. . . .


Journalists and Politicians refuse to post gun-free signs on their homes

The video really doesn't start until 1:10 into the clip and the most interesting example starts at 2:29.  It is interesting that people will put up a sign saying that they have a gun when they don't, but the reverse is never true and people without guns don't seem to want to advertise that either.  In all my debates, I haven't come across a gun control proponent who would put up a sign like this in front of their home.


New York's new definition of Assault weapons

Well, if the 10 bullet limit on magazine didn't work, surely the 7 bullet limit will have a big effect.  Is the point of rushing these laws through to make sure that they can't be discussed and analyzed.
Assault weapons -- defined as any rifle with a "military style" feature, such as a bayonet or a telescoping stock -- that are currently owned would be grandfathered and would have to be registered with the state. Magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds and manufactured before 1994, which are currently legal, would have to be turned over to authorities or sold out of state within one year. If a magazine has a capacity between eight and 10, it would have to be retrofitted to only hold seven rounds.   
Under Cuomo's plan, the state would have one year to set up an instant background check system for all ammunition purchases. Law enforcement would be alerted to large purchases of ammunition. . . .

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White House moving forward with 19 executive orders on gun control

How can you use executive orders to institute the same rules that previously required legislation?  Wouldn't Bill Clinton have liked to implement the 1994 assault weapon ban by executive order?  How can you get around the existing legislative prohibitions on gun research by the government health organizations by an executive order?  From Politico:
Later this week, Obama will formally announce his proposals to reduce gun violence, which are expected to include renewal of the assault weapons ban, universal background checks and prohibition of high-capacity magazine clips. But Biden, who has been leading Obama’s task force on the response, spent two hours briefing a small group of sympathetic House Democrats on the road ahead in the latest White House outreach to invested groups. 
The focus on executive orders is the result of the White House and other Democrats acknowledging the political difficulty of enacting any new gun legislation, a topic Biden did not address in Monday’s meeting. 
The executive actions could include giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority to conduct national research on guns, more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws and pushing for wider sharing of existing gun databases among federal and state agencies, members of Congress in the meeting said. . . .


Walter Williams: Are guns the problem?

Walter Williams' new piece on gun is available here:
When I attended primary and secondary school — during the 1940s and ’50s — one didn’t hear of the kind of shooting mayhem that’s become routine today. Why? It surely wasn’t because of strict firearm laws. My replica of the 1902 Sears mail-order catalog shows 35 pages of firearm advertisements. People just sent in their money, and a firearm was shipped. . . .

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Who cares what the Obamacare law actually say, the IRS rules will make sure that the actual law doesn't matter

From CNSNews:

The Internal Revenue Service warned employers in a new regulatory proposal not to come up with clever schemes to avoid Obamacare’s employer health insurance mandate. 
The IRS said it would soon issue “anti-abuse rules” to discourage employers from taking advantage of any regulatory loopholes. 
“The Treasury Department and the IRS are aware of various structures being considered under which employers might use temporary staffing agencies (or other staffing agencies)… to evade application of section 4980H [the employer insurance mandate],” the IRS said in a proposed regulatory announcement issued December 28. 
The IRS said it would issue a so-called “anti-abuse rule” in an attempt to prevent employers from using temp agencies to circumvent the mandate, essentially writing into law that even though an employer hires temporary workers and therefore is not technically under the mandate’s jurisdiction, the IRS would fine them anyway for not providing health insurance. . . .



Biden's gun control proposals to go to Obama tomorrow

From CBS News:
After consulting with a series of stakeholders in the ongoing debate over gun control, Vice President Joe Biden will present his recommendations for reducing gun-related violence in America to President Obama on Tuesday, he said today. 
The vice president, speaking to reporters before a meeting on gun violence with sportsmen and women, and just minutes before another school shooting was reported, outlined a series of the recommendations he said are emerging in the course of his conversations with various stakeholders in the conversation. Among those possible proposals include universal background checks, restrictions on high-capacity magazines, and increased federal capabilities for effectively researching gun violence. Biden also stressed ongoing discussions about the importance of including the mental health community in the conversation.  
"If you look at every one of the tragic events that have attracted so much attention, it's hard to be able to pinpoint what you would have done to assure it wouldn't have happened. But there's also things we know, we know, that there's certain actions we take that have diminished the extent of the gun violence that otherwise would be occurring in the United States," he said. "There's an emerging set of recommendations, not coming from me, but coming from the groups we've met with, and I'm gonna focus on the ones that relate primarily to gun ownership, what types of weapons can be owned." . . .

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Australian gun ownership back up to where it was in 1996, doesn't this gut the claims that Australia's gun buyback

This is actually pretty amazing given the threat that the government could actually again try to confiscate guns in the country.  That imposes a real potential tax on gun ownership.
Australians own as many guns now as they did at the time of the Port Arthur massacre, despite more than 1 million firearms being handed in and destroyed, new research reveals. 
A University of Sydney study has shown there has been a steady increase in guns imported into the country over the past decade, with the number of privately owned guns now at the same level as 1996. . . .
Weirdly, gun control advocates are claiming that the buy back is lowering suicides at the same time that they are upset that gun ownership is back to it pre-buy back levels.  One doesn't need a semi-auto to commit suicide.  While Australia's population grew by 20 percent between 1997 and 2011, apparently its gun ownership rate grew by 45 percent.  If they are right, the pattern should have been clear: suicides with guns should have plunged in 1997 and then quickly grown after that.  Obviously that pattern wasn't what was observed.

Note another inconsistency with the claims that the gun buyback lowered suicides: firearm suicides started falling an entire decade before the gun buyback and the rate of decline was the same both before and after the buyback.  So how can it be that the buyback was the cause?

A final inconsistency is that after the buyback the drop in firearm suicides is about the same size as non-firearm suicides.  By what theory would a gun buyback cause a very similar drop in non-firearm suicides?

Note that homicides have almost the same pattern as suicides.  While there is more variability year to year, firearm homicides actually started falling in the late 1980s and both firearm and non-firearm homicides have been falling since the buyback.  Again, how is this consistent with a large buyback followed by increased gun ownership?  There should have been an immediate large drop and then an increase.

The irony is that Professor Philip Alpers, the author of the University of Sydney study, makes my case here:
He said that because of law changes, the new guns were not military-style semi-automatics, which were banned and surrendered after Port Arthur, and that handguns were now harder to import into Australia. But he said: ''It only takes one bullet, and the great majority of gun deaths are domestics and suicides.''
It doesn't take a "military-style semi-automatic" to commit suicide with a gun.  More information on the claims by Alpers is available here.

Some info on the type of guns that can be owned there, semi-autos are allowed if they are less than 40 caliber and magazines are limited to 10 bullets.  Revolvers were not impacted as much.  Information on ownership across Australia is available here.

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Tracking use of claim that 40% of gun sales take place without a background check (Updated)

The 40% claim seems to be absolutely everywhere.  People are now calling for "universal background checks," the new phrase for what used to be called the "gun show loophole."  It is strange that "universal background checks" are being called for when none of the attacks which are supposedly serving as the motivation for the new law would have been stopped if they had been in place.

NOTE: I have an op-ed that I have written explaining why this claim is wrong.  As soon as it is published, I will post it here.

President Barack Obama, from January 16, 2013:

But it’s hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.  That’s not safe.  That's not smart.  It’s not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. . . .

Vice President Biden, remarks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Jan. 17:
That’s why we need, and I’ve recommended to the president, universal background checks. Studies show that up to 40 percent of the people -- and there’s no -- let me be honest with you again, which I’ll get to in a moment. Because of the lack of the ability of federal agencies to be able to even keep records, we can’t say with absolute certainty what I’m about to say is correct. But the consensus is about 40 percent of the people who buy guns today do so outside the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check] system, outside the background check system.”

New York Times, from January 17, 2013:

New York Times, from January 16, 2013:

Mr. Obama’s plan would require criminal background checks for all gun sales, closing the longstanding loophole that allows buyers to avoid screening by purchasing weapons from unlicensed sellers at gun shows or in private sales. Nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are exempt from the system. . . .
New York Times, from January 15, 2013:
All federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run background checks through the computerized databases that comprise the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But the requirement does not cover guns that are sold by unlicensed sellers at gun shows and in other private sales, which account for about 40 percent of gun purchases in the country. . . .
New York Times, Editorial, from January 14, 2013:
The need for background checks on every gun buyer has never been greater, now that the Internet has made it easy for private individuals to buy and sell guns without screening. The reason that both the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Mayors Against Illegal Guns have made universal background checks their top priority is that 40 percent of gun sales now take place privately, including most guns that are later used in crimes. . . .
Steve Chapman, columnist, Real Clear Politics, from January 17, 2013:
In the category of "possibly helpful" is a new rule requiring private gun sales to include a federal background check -- as purchases from licensed dealers already do. That change, which would cover some 40 percent of all gun transactions, holds the potential of preventing convicted felons from getting guns by stopping them at the point of sale. . . .
Slate, from January 17, 2013:
The [New York] Times reports that "nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are exempt from the system" under the loophole. The paper doesn't cite where that figure comes from, but it appears to be a reference to a 1997 study by the National Institute of Justice on who owns guns and how they use them, the last major relevant study on the topic. . . .

Wall Street Journal from January 16th, 2013:
Mr. Obama also endorsed universal background checks, including for the 40% of gun sales between private parties. . . .
Associated Press, "Schumer pushes background checks for gun sales," from January 14th:
Because enforcing background checks on all gun purchases doesn't change the rules on who can own guns, Schumer says he sees it as "a way to come to the middle and get something real done." Right now, advocates say some 40 percent of gun sales occur without background checks, such as those at gun shows.  Schumer spoke to reporters at the Capitol Monday. . . .
Associated Press, "Del. Gov. Markell calls for background checks for private gun sales in school shooting's wake," from January 14th:
[Gov. Jack] Markell noted that about 40 percent of gun sales in Delaware are private sales not involving federally licensed dealers and therefore not requiring a mandatory background check of the buyer. . . .
Politico, from January 14th:
Gun control groups say 40 percent of guns are sold on the secondary market. . . .
CNN, from January 14th:
Advocates say 40% of gun sales are private transactions, including gun shows. . . .
Politico, from January 13th:
"I think the nation is ready for more thorough background checks so that we cover the 40 percent that now are not covered," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said. 
The discussion came after the liberal Center for American Progress issued a recommendation"to require criminal background checks for all gun sales, closing loopholes that currently enable an estimated 40 percent of sales to occur without any questions asked." The gun-control debate was renewed after the Dec. 14 Connecticut school shooting that left 20 children and six school employees dead. . . .
Fox News Sunday, January 13th:
Chris Wallace: So, let’s talk about universal background checks, because, I was surprised to find out…[that] in 40% of the sales there is no such screen on the person buying the gun. What is wrong with universal background checks? . . . 
ABC News, January 13th:
And, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said some 40 percent of gun sales happen with no background checks, often at gun shows or through private sellers over the Internet or in classified ads. . . .
Los Angeles Times, January 12th:
Vice President Joe Biden, who could make recommendations to the president as soon as Tuesday, said he believed there was support for expansion to cover private gun sales, which make up much as 40% of all purchases but do not require background checks.
Washington Post from January 11th:
“Our top policy priority is closing the massive hole in the background check system that enables 40% of all gun sales to take place without background checks, not only at gun shows, but also with the added anonymity of the Internet,” the Brady Campaign report said. 
Another Washington Post piece from January 12th:
CAP’s top recommendation is to require criminal background checks for all gun sales, closing loopholes that currently enable an estimated 40 percent of sales to occur without any questions asked. . . .
New York Times, January 11th:
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the nation’s leading gun control groups, said its top priority was to close the loopholes that currently allow 40 percent of gun sales to be made without background checks. . . .
New York Times, January 10th:
But background checks are still not required for individual, private sales of firearms — estimated by some lawmakers to make up 40 percent of gun sales in the state. . . . 
Time Magazine, January 11th:
Gun-control advocates say up to 40% of gun buyers in the U.S. sail through the loophole.
New York Daily News, January 10th:
Also, Cuomo would demand universal background checks — so anyone attempting to buy a gun could be screened for a criminal record or mental health history. Now, fully 40% of gun purchases nationwide happen at gun shows and through private deals where no check is required. . . .
The Sun-Sentinel in Florida, January 12th:
"The problem is not gun shows. The problem is you have the ability in place for people to sell a bunch of firearms without background checks," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence. 
He said 40 percent of gun sales nationwide go without background checks, including those made at gun shows by unlicensed sellers and other private sales elsewhere. In some states, gun shows allow private citizens to sell their firearms without running the background checks licensed dealers are required to conduct, he said. . . . 
, January 10th:

It's also encouraging that Vice President Joe Biden, charged by President Obama with responsibility for proposing a comprehensive approach to the problem, is reportedly going big. He is ready to start with the necessary minimum — a renewal of a more effective assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines and extending background checks on private gun sales.The last really matters, since the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns estimates that perhaps 40% of all gun sales are made by unlicensed private dealers. . . .
CNN, January 10th:
What about background checks? 40% of all gun sales in America, gun trades are not covered by background checks. . . . (at 8:15 into this video)  Thanks to Bill Vargas.
Hartford Courant, January 8th:
The bill wouldn't cover the many ammunition purchases made at gun shows, where background checks also don't have to be performed for gun sales between private parties. [Senator] Blumenthal said it's estimated that 40 percent of all gun purchases happen at gun shows, adding that this "gun show loophole" needs to be closed via additional federal legislation. 
Julie Roginsky, Fox News, January 4th:
What’s worse, only licensed gun dealers have to run their customers’ names through a background check. 40% of the guns in this country are not purchased through those licensed dealers – and their buyers are not subject to a background check of any kind.
Dean Obeidallah, Huffington Post
Our current federal law only requires background checks to determine if the purported gun buyer has a criminal record or history of mental illness if the gun is so sold by a licensed firearm dealer. But that only accounts for 60% of the guns legally sold. Meaning, 40% of the guns legally sold are to people who have had no background check at all.
James Rainey, Los Angeles Times
An estimated 40% of all gun sales in America occur without criminal background checks on the buyer, Gross said. Many of the unscreened buyers get their weapons at gun shows, via the Internet or in person-to-person transactions. . . .
ABC News in Baltimore
"Over 40% of guns are not sold through dealers.  They're private transactions, sold at gun shows and internet sales and classified ads.  You could check Craig's List today," said Chief Johnson. . . .
Detroit Free Press:
One of the most significant changes would be requiring universal background checks for all gun sales, not just by sanctioned gun dealers, he said. Around 40% of all gun sales are made by private dealers, he said. . . .
UPDATED: I haven't tried to keep track of these quotes as often recent, but they continue at quite the rapid clip.

USA Today, from January 14, 2013:

the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said some 40 percent of gun sales happen with no background checks, often at gun shows or through private sellers over the Internet or in classified ads. . . .

There are a whole range of other pieces from the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Media MattersLaw Center to Prevent Gun Violenceand the Children's Defense Fund.  Thanks to Merle Harton for providing some of the links.

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