Public Elementary School confiscates birthday cupcakes with toy soldiers on them

Can't public school teachers differentiate between a real threat and a toy soldier?  Of course they can.  But the point here is to traumatize kids over anything that involves guns.  Toy soldiers were "insensitive"?  From CBS Detroit:

A 9-year-old boy’s birthday cupcakes sparked a school controversy that just keeps growing, with scores of people lining up against a school principal who found the cupcake’s topping “inappropriate.”
The boy was chided, and so were his parents, for cupcakes featuring little green Army men on the top.
Schall Elementary School principal Susan Wright called the parents at home and said the cupcakes were insensitive in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. School staff pulled off the Army men before they were served. . . .


Democrats want to ban veterans from having certain guns because they might have PTSD?

So if the background checks for mental illness are passed would Feinstein they all retired military veterans to own these guns?  I suspect not.  
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: If I understand this, this adds an exemption of retired military. As I understand our bill, no issue has arose in this regard during the 10 years the expired ban was in effect and what we did in the other bill was exempt possession by the United States or a department or agency of the United States. So that included active military.  
The problem with expanding this is that, you know, with the advent of PTSD, which I think is a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War, it’s not clear how the seller or transferrer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member, or a veteran, and that there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this. . . .

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Another Obamacare proposal that didn't deliver promised cost savings

If making medical records electronic really saved money, doctors would do this without the subsidies.  The fact that they are being forced to do this should make it clear that there are not the promised cost savings.  From Bloomberg:
Most doctors who install electronic medical records systems will lose money in the first five years, according to a study that suggests a multibillion-dollar effort to computerize care in the U.S. may not live up to its promise. 
A survey of Massachusetts physicians indicated an initial loss of $43,743 on the investment, researchers said today in the journal Health Affairs. Almost two-thirds of the 49 practices using electronic records would lose money even with subsidies included in President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, the researchers said. 
The 2009 law set aside $27 billion to help doctors and hospitals go digital, ballooning sales along the way for technology providers including Epic Systems Corp. and Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (MDRX) The Massachusetts results show companies and politicians may have oversold the potential gains, said Julia Adler-Milstein, the study’s lead author. . . . 
Even the doctors who would have made money dispute the premise pushed by supporters that electronic systems can help reduce U.S. health costs, she said. Practices projected to gain did so mainly because they were able to see more patients or get more claims approved by insurers, the study found. . . .


Some places are mandating gun ownership

This might be largely for show since these laws do really force people to buy a gun, but it tells potential criminals something about the mindset of the town. Tomas Philipson and Richard Posner at the University of Chicago have a paper some years ago that looked at Kennesaw, Ga and found a reduction in crime from these laws.  From US News:

. . . An individual's freedom to decide whether or not to buy a gun, however, may soon be taken from residents of small towns in Maine, Georgia, and Utah. 
In Nelson, Ga., city officials are mulling a proposal to mandate that its citizens take up arms for personal protection. Nelson, with a population of around 1,000 people, has just one police officer, WSB-TV reports, who patrols for eight hours a day. 
"When he's not here we rely on county sheriffs—however it takes a while for them to get here," Nelson City Councilman Duane Cronic explained to the WSB. . . .  
A vote on the Nelson measure is scheduled for April 1. . . .  
Hundreds of miles away, a 145-person Maine town called Byron is considering a similar proposal. 
The Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal reports that all three selectmen on the town's governing body support a proposal to making owning a gun required.  . . . 
Spring City, Utah, is also mulling a measure that would turn the right to bear arms into a duty. In the 1,000-person town there's a debate brewing between a resolution encouraging gun ownership and an ordinance writing the encouragement into law. . . . .

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"South Dakota governor signs bill allowing armed teachers in the classroom"

From Fox news:
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Friday signed a bill allowing teachers to carry guns in school, making his state the first to enact such a law since the Newtown shooting tragedy. 
The bill was pushed by gun-rights supporters who say arming teachers could help prevent tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School . . . . The law, which goes into effect July 1, will allow school districts to arm teachers and other personnel. 
But the measure prompted intense debate in the capital, as several representatives of school boards, school administrators and teachers opposed the bill during committee testimony last month. They said the measure could make schools more dangerous, lead to accidental shootings and put guns in the hands of people who are not adequately trained to shoot in emergency situations. 
The issue of guns in schools has been a contentious one. The National Rifle Association, several days after the Newtown shooting, proposed installing armed officers or guards in schools across America -- an idea that was met with derision by gun control advocates. 
Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington have since moved ahead on gun control legislation, including an anti-trafficking measure that passed out of Senate committee Thursday -- while at the state level, Republican-led states have tried to enhance gun-rights protections. . . . .

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Concealed carry permit holder saves Police Officer

Permit holder saves a police officer from what would certainly be serious injury if not worse.  From WAFB 9 News in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
. . . East Baton Rouge Sheriff's spokesman Greg Phares says Officer Brian Harrision was escorting a funeral procession Friday when he pulled Temple over and wrote him a ticket for breaking into the procession.  According to Phares, that's when Temple attacked Harrison.  Police say Perry Stevens was walking outside of the Auto Zone on Greenwell Springs Road when he heard Harrison yelling for help.  Harrison was reportedly on his back with Temple on top of him.  That's when Stevens went to his car and grabbed his .45 caliber pistol.  
According to Col. Greg Phares, "[Mr. Stevens] orders Mr. Temple to stop and get off the officer.  The verbal commands are ignored and Mr. Stevens fires four shots, all of which struck Mr. Temple." 
Perry Stevens fired four shots into Temple's torso.  Officer Harrison had already fired one shot into Temple's abdomen.  With Temple still struggling with the officer, Perry continued to advance toward the scuffle. 
"He again orders Mr. Temple to stop what he was doing and get off the officer.  Those commands are ignored and he fires a fifth shot and that hits his head.  The incident is over with, and as you know, Mr. Temple is dead." 
Police are calling the shooting death justified.  Perry Stevens has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. . . .

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Piece at Fox News: "The truth about assault weapons bans and background checks"

This piece starts this way:
With the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting this week, it's likely that new gun control bills will be drafted very quickly. There are in essence two parts to the bills: the part that deals with the  “assault weapon ban” and the part that deals with “universal background checks.” The first one faces long odds of passage, but the second might well pass. 
Democrats will undoubtedly push for an assault weapons ban. The ban has become a central tenant of the Democratic party, with Obama's calls "to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets" and even Michelle Obama claiming crimes are being committed with “automatic weapons.” Senator Dianne Feinstein is pushing hard to reinstitute the earlier assault weapon ban, which she had originally enacted in 1994. 
Proponents of an "Assault Weapons Ban" often argue their point by posing the question: "Why do people need a semiautomatic Bushmaster to go out and kill deer?" . . .


New Fox News piece: "February's jobs report only looks good because our expectations are so low"

My newest piece starts this way:
The new unemployment numbers released Friday look reasonable only because our expectations have are so low. 
In February, the 236,000 new jobs added beat out the 166,000 increase in the working age population, but the labor force participation rate remains stuck at a level that is so low Americans haven't seen anything like it for decades. It simply isn't making a dent in the huge number of people who have simply given up looking for work.  
Even this last month didn't really help. The number of unemployed Americans fell by about 300,000, but 99 percent of that drop can be  explained by an increase in the number of people who are no longer in the labor force. 
Millions of people have simply given up looking for work. 
And they have good reason to be discouraged. Job growth has only grown by an anemic 2.5 percent during this recovery. That’s compared to 9.2 percent during the average recovery since 1970 and 12 percent after severe recessions. . . .


The number of hires per month continues to be incredibly low


How long are people looking for work?: Stuck way to high


How hard is it to get a job?


How bad are the newest job growth numbers?



Gun control organizations closely involved in Obama's gun control efforts

If the NRA was this closely involved in White House decisions, the press would make a big deal of it.  From Politico:

In exchange: a voice in the discussions, a role in whatever final agreement is made and weekly meetings at the White House with Biden’s chief of staff, Bruce Reed — provided they don’t discuss what happens there. 
“The implication is very, very strong when they are calling these meetings and we are all sitting there,” said one regular attendee, who like the others, would only speak about them anonymously. “It’s not like they’re being bullies, it’s them bringing everybody together, not being one-off meetings with groups that might be interested in things other than the bottom line, not providing the forum for that kind of stuff.” . . . .



Senator Schumer says that background checks are unenforceable without gun registration

Schumer is apparently going forward with an expanded background check bill without any Republican co-sponsors.  I would guess that makes it likely that the bill will die.  From The Hill newspaper:
Schumer has negotiated for weeks with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to reach a bipartisan deal on background checks, but the talks stalled over the thorny question of how to implement an expansion of background checks. 
Schumer argues expanded background checks are unenforceable unless sellers or gun dealers who perform the checks are required to keep records. Coburn says gun owners will not accept the bureaucratic onus of keeping paperwork for exercising their Second Amendment rights. . . .

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Audio from my radio interview on Istook Live Yesterday to discuss "At the Brink"

The link to the Istook Live interview is available here.

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Drudge Report links to article on my new book "At the Brink"!

Click on picture to make it larger.  The article that Drudge is linking to is available here.


This is just too funny: The British have found a way to reduce people's fear of crime

Instead of letting people defend themselves, the Brits have found that the solution is to hang pom-poms from trees.  Some obviously silly Brits don't think that this will work.
Hundreds of pom-poms and knitted items have been strung from trees and lampposts to help reduce the fear of crime in an area of Leicester.
Leicestershire Police hope the "guerilla knitting" or "yarn bombing" will encourage more people to use Bede Park and Great Central Way.
Some of the park's users told BBC Radio Leicester the items - including tree warmers - do not make them feel safer.
But criminologist Charlotte Bilby said they could have a positive effect.
'Something silly'Ms Bilby, a senior lecturer in criminology at Northumbria University, said: "I think that making an area look cosier certainly makes an area feel safer.
"If you see something that makes you smile, that makes you think that other people have enjoyed being in that space and have done something funny, something silly in that place, then that's going to change your perception about what it is to be in Bede Park."
Sgt Simon Barnes said: "I am really hopeful that the actions will reduce the fear of becoming a victim of crime, as the perception really is much different to the actual reported levels of crime." . . .

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Hugo Chávez’s family fortune at around $2 billion

Apparently, being a communist dictator pays very well.  Castro's family has also gotten extremely wealthy.
Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), a risk assessment and global analysis firm in Miami, estimated in a recent report that the Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has “amassed a fortune” similar to that of the Castro brothers in Cuba. 
According to Jerry Brewer, president of CJIA, “the personal fortune of the Castro brothers has been estimated at a combined value of around $2 billion.” . . .



People feel the economy is getting worse

People feel the economy is getting worse.


Race and concealed handgun permits

Here are a few states with high fees to get permits
Texas 2012 permit fee $140
Black share of population 12.2%
Black share of permits issued 7.2%

Louisiana 2009 permit fee $100
Black share of population 32.4%
Black share of permits issued 12%

Oklahoma 2011 permit fee $125
Black share of population 7.7%
Black share of permits issued 2.8%

Some other relevant information is available here.

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More nutty zero tolerance policy in our public schools

More attempts by public schools to traumatize children about guns.  This story from an incident in Baltimore.
Josh said, "It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn't."  
Josh takes full responsibly for trying to shape his breakfast pastry, but admits it was in innocent fun. He told FOX45, "All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn't look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda." 
When his teacher saw the strawberry tart he knew he was in trouble, he recalls, "She was pretty mad…and I think I was in big trouble." 
Josh's dad received a phone call from the school saying that Josh has been suspended for two days because he took his breakfast pastry and fashioned it into a gun. Josh's dad was astounded to learn the school chose such a harsh punishment, even after no one was hurt. 
Late Friday afternoon a letter went home with students explaining the incident saying, "A student used food to make an inappropriate gesture."  . . . .


Obama administration pushing legalize cellphone unlocking

Sure people like to own cell phones without restrictions on the network that you can use them on.  But the Obama administration apparently doesn't realize that without locking phones to a particular network they never would have gotten AT&T to adopt the iPhone.  This type of action by the Obama administration could stop future iPhone break throughs from occurring.  See also here.

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Republican House "made clear if the Senate acts on gun control legislation, the House will consider it."

From The Hill newspaper:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he has "made clear if the Senate acts on gun control legislation, the House will consider it." 
"But we need to look at more than just guns. We need to look at violence in our society. You know, we've got a violent society," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." 
Boehner said lawmakers need to examine how to stop people with mental illnesses from obtaining firearms. 
"And if you've looked at all these mass shootings, what you see is the people who perpetrated these crimes all had a history of mental illness," he said. 
"So where's the nexus? And how do we ensure that we keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them?" . . .



Democrats keep trying to take guns away from the poor

My research shows that the people who are most likely to be victims of violent crime benefit the most from owning guns. Overwhelmingly that tends to be poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas.  But when I was in Colorado a couple of weeks ago, Democrats were pushing through a tax on gun purchases (they call it a fee) and they voted down a Republican amendment that would have exempted poor people from having to pay the fee.  The Obama administration was actively involved in lobbying state House members to vote for that and other gun control bills.  I suspect that there is a fee in Maryland's proposed gun licensing law (see here with 16 hours of training and a $25 fee, with 8 hours for renewal and a $20 fee) that will also work to reduce gun ownership.  As of right now it looks like there might only be one place in the state to do this registration as no additional funds are provided to the state police to set up shop other than at their state headquarters in Pikesville, MD.  Poor residents in downtown Baltimore would have to travel to about 15 miles to get there.  Others from around the state could face even much longer trips. 

From The Hill newspaper:
A prominent Chicago Democrat will propose legislation this week designed to ban the production of low-quality handguns, known informally as "Saturday night specials." 
Although Washington's gun-control debate has focused largely on more imposing weapons, like military-style assault rifles, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is going after the handguns that are used much more frequently by violent criminals, particularly in urban settings like his hometown, where shootings are a daily plague. . . .  
Under current federal law, foreign-made handguns that fail to meet certain safety criteria outlined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are not allowed into the United States. In determining whether a handgun is legal for import, the ATF weighs features like firing-pin locks, loaded-chamber indicators, the quality of grip and what type of metal was used in construction. 
But the same standards to do not apply to handguns produced domestically. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Act explicitly exempts firearms and ammunition from its consumer-safety rules.  
The gun lobby and other supporters of the current law say the smaller, lighter handguns are ideal for self-defense, and that efforts to apply tougher standards on manufacturers are misguided. . . . . .
Of course, you have the few handgun permits that are given out in Chicago and DC to wealth individuals or the concealed handgun permits in NYC.  

From the Washington Post, you can see a mention of the costs over and above the licensing fees:
In the District's poorest, most crime-scarred precinct, Ward 8 in far Southeast, residents have registered about 140 guns. In Ward 3 in upper Northwest, where the violent-crime rate is nearly 10 times lower and the average family income is more than five times higher, about twice as many firearms have been registered. . . . 
In the District, the middleman is Charles Sykes Jr., the city's only licensed firearms dealer. He works quietly, without advertising, in a hard-to-find office in Southeast. 
After Grinage picked out his Glock at a store in Maryland, he arranged for it to be shipped to Sykes's office. That allowed him to formally buy the gun in the District, for which Sykes charged a $125 fee. Skyes has said that he acts only as an intermediary and doesn't stock firearms at his office on Good Hope Road. . . . .
I couldn't find the original article in the Washington Post, but this summarizes it pretty well.
When a Post reporter tested the registration process, he found that it cost $834 — dwarfing the cost of most weapons. Moreover, registration required 16 hours, four trips to the police department, two background checks, fingerprints, photos, a vision test, a five-hour class and a 20-question examination. No wonder only 1,400 firearms have been registered since June 2008 in a city of 600,000 people. . . .


Video of my appearance on NBC's Today Show from December 22, 2012

This is a discussion that I had on the show with the Attorney General from the state of Connecticut.  Sorry that it has taken me a while to post this, but I just got it today.

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"New Australian Study Shows More Guns, Less Crime"

I haven't read this study yet, but this has apparently gotten a hold of data showing the increase in gun ownership in Australia that I have been pointing to previously.
New research shows there are more guns but less gun crime in New South Wales, Australia. Although the number of legally owned firearms has increased substantially over the past decade, firearm crime has decreased. 
The study, in press with an international peer-reviewed journal, found that the number of murders with a firearm, shoot with intent to murder offences, and armed robbery with a firearm have all declined steadily despite ongoing rises in legal firearms ownership. 
The author of the study, Dr Samara McPhedran, said “Typically, Australian firearms legislation has been based on a ‘less guns, less crime’ view, which assumes that reducing the number of legally owned guns in society will lead to reductions in firearm misuse.” 
“However, the results from this study suggest there is little, if any, relationship between the number of legally owned guns in Australia’s most populous jurisdiction, and levels of gun crime in that state.” . . .

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Federal government want drones that will determine if citizens are carrying guns

CNET has this fun warning:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show. . . . .


An explanation for why the sequester is good for the economy

Jeff Miron has an explanation available here that is similar to what I have in "At the Brink."

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