Kansas' new law to nullify federal gun controls faces challenges, asks for original interpretation of Constitution & Bill of Rights

My take is that the people who wrote the US Constitution and who voted for the Bill of Rights would support Kansas' new law.  It seems very clear that in that sense Kansas is in the right.  The problem is that in the past the US Supreme Court has ignored the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution and have so misinterpreted the Commerce clause as to make it meaningless.  Will Eric Holder or the Courts rehabilitate these parts of the Bill of Rights or the Constitution?  Don't hold your breath.  

Some important parts of the Kansas law are as follows:

(a) The tenth amendment to the constitution of the United States guarantees to the
states and their people all powers not granted to the federal government elsewhere in theconstitution and reserves to the state and people of Kansas certain powers as they wereunderstood at the time that Kansas was admitted to statehood in 1861. The guaranty of those powers is a matter of contract between the state and people of Kansas and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States was agreed upon and adopted by Kansas in 1859 and the United States in 1861.
(b) The ninth amendment to the constitution of the United States guarantees to the people rights not granted in the constitution and reserves to the people of Kansas certain rights as they were understood at the time that Kansas was admitted to statehood in 1861.  The guaranty of those rights is a matter of contract between the state and people of Kansas and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States wasagreed upon and adopted by Kansas in 1859 and the United States in 1861. (c) The second amendment to the constitution of the United States reserves to the people, individually, the right to keep and bear arms as that right was understood at the time that Kansas was admitted to statehood in 1861, and the guaranty of that right is a matter of contract between the state and people of Kansas and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States was agreed upon and adopted by Kansas in 1859 and the United States in 1861. . . .
This discussion of the Commerce clause doesn't make the same defense of how it should be read, but clearly they are just assuming that people understand that it should be read as it was up until the Roosevelt court.

From The Hill newspaper:
The Obama administration is on a collision course with the state of Kansas over a new law that claims to nullify federal gun controls.
Attorney General Eric Holder has threatened litigation against Kansas over the law in what could the opening salvo of a blockbuster legal battle with national ramifications.
“This is definitely a case that could make it to the Supreme Court,” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Friday afternoon. “There is nothing symbolic about this law.” 
Kobach, a former constitutional law professor, helped craft the statute, which bars the federal government from regulating guns and ammunition manufactured and stored within Kansas state lines. . . .
There is a later discussion in The Hill newspaper piece that quotes Mr. Winkler in support of Holder's position.  Given that the Federal government has complete regulation these days to regulate  everything by claiming that everything has some impact on interstate trade, Winkler is right.  However, it would be nice if just as newspapers fell that it is necessary to identify experts as "conservative," it would be nice if they would identify people such as Winkler as liberal or at least someone who consistently supports gun control.

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Some evidence that vast majority of people who failed to kill themselves through suicide really didn't want to die

Apparently only 12 percent of those who unsuccessfully try to commit suicide end up killing themselves through suicide.  Is it possible that it is so low because they got help or treatment or because the reason that they really didn't intend to kill themselves to begin with?  I don't see any obvious measure of treatment here, but what is clear is that those who tried to kill themselves through the most "effective" means but who failed were apparently most likely to try again (this next time successfully).  That seems consistent with the choice of suicide being endogenous with whether people wanted to be successful to begin with.  A synopsis is available here:


Method of attempted suicide as predictor of subsequent successful suicide: national long term cohort study.

Runeson BTidemalm DDahlin MLichtenstein PLångström N.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Division of Psychiatry, St Göran, SE-112 81 Stockholm, Sweden. bo.runeson@ki.se



To study the association between method of attempted suicide and risk of subsequent successful suicide.


Cohort study with follow-up for 21-31 years.


Swedish national register linkage study.


48,649 individuals admitted to hospital in 1973-82 after attempted suicide.


Completed suicide, 1973-2003. Multiple Cox regression modelling was conducted for each method at the index (first) attempt, with poisoning as the reference category. Relative risks were expressed as hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals.


5740 individuals (12%) committed suicide during follow-up. The risk of successful suicide varied substantially according to the method used at the index attempt. Individuals who had attempted suicide by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation had the worst prognosis. In this group, 258 (54%) men and 125 (57%) women later successfully committed suicide (hazard ratio 6.2, 95% confidence interval 5.5 to 6.9, after adjustment for age, sex, education, immigrant status, and co-occurring psychiatric morbidity), and 333 (87%) did so with a year after the index attempt. For other methods (gassing, jumping from a height, using a firearm or explosive, or drowning), risks were significantly lower than for hanging but still raised at 1.8 to 4.0. Cutting, other methods, and late effect of suicide attempt or other self inflicted harm conferred risks at levels similar to that for the reference category of poisoning (used by 84%). Most of those who successfully committed suicide used the same method as they did at the index attempt-for example, >90% for hanging in men and women.


The method used at an unsuccessful suicide attempt predicts later completed suicide, after adjustment for sociodemographic confounding and psychiatric disorder. Intensified aftercare is warranted after suicide attempts involving hanging, drowning, firearms or explosives, jumping from a height, or gassing.



My interview at National Review on my new book "At the Brink" is available here

My interview at National Review starts this way:
After the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey background-check bill, and the subsequent demonization of the Senate, Senators Manchin and Toomey are reportedly back at work on bipartisan legislation addressing gun control. John R. Lott, author of the new book At the Brink, who has been researching gun policy for decades, talks about the state of the debate with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez. 
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Gabby Giffords has accused the Senate of being in the grips of the gun lobby. Is there another explanation for the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey bill? 
JOHN R. LOTT: Yes, there is. The politicians were simply representing the voters in their districts. 
The accusation that politicians were attempting to please the gun lobby at the expense of their constituents, which is based on the oft-repeated assertion that 80 to 90 percent of the public say they favor background checks, is simply not credible. The survey questions on which this statistic is based proved nothing more than that respondents wished to disarm criminals. The questions posed were about a hypothetical, idealized system of background checks, not about the actual legislation facing Congress. . . .
 The rest of the interview is available here.

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Accuweather: "Amazing, Historic Snowstorm Texas to Michigan"

So how will global warming advocates.  Accuweather has this:

The list containing the number of locations that have received record May snowfall from a storm that brought up to 2 feet of snow over the central Rockies continues to grow.
The storm is still going on Thursday and could reach even more unlikely locations over the Plains, Midwest and the South before it is all said and done.
Omaha, Neb., Mason City, Iowa, and Rochester, Minn., are but only several cities that have been clobbered by their biggest May snowfall on record. In many cases in the major cities in the Plains, those records date back to the 1800s. . . .


White House stonewalling on not letting Benghazi whistleblowers to speak out

So much for the much promised Obama transparency.  The video is available here.

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An interesting video illustrating how easy it is to fire a gun seven times when one is acting in self defense

The video is also available here.


While Democrats are claiming that gun control is hurting Republicans, how come Obama is so far underwater on the issue?

I have been very skeptical of the claims that Republicans have been hurt by their opposition to the Senate gun control bill.  Yet, it is curious that Obama's low approval rating on the gun issue isn't getting similar attention.  From Politico:
On gun policy, some 52 percent disapprove of his approach, while 41 percent approve. That could be due in part to the loss in the Senate of the gun control proposal he pushed for expanded background checks for gun buyers. . . .
BTW, it is interesting to see that Obama's handling of immigration is also underwater.

Compare the media coverage with Senator Kelly Ayotte and her vote on guns with the media coverage with Obama's low standing on the gun issue.  This also from Politico:

Pro-gun control activists, who attended the meeting, were incensed. Security brushed aside two women who approached Ayotte and demanded to speak with the first-term Republican about her vote against expanded background checks for commercial gun sales, underscoring the lingering controversy that continues to hover over the New Hampshire senator. . . . 
The emotional fight threatens to transform Ayotte — a young conservative Republican woman whose star is on the rise — into a polarizing figure back home on a contentious issue. Instead of taking up the banner of gun rights, Ayotte is seeking a lower profile on the subject in a state where she’s become the last Republican in the all-female congressional delegation. 
“It hurts her,” said Kathy Sullivan, a longtime Democratic operative and former head of the state party here. “Elections are won in New Hampshire with the vote of independents, particularly independent women. Independent women will not favor a candidate who does not believe in background checks. Will it be the only issue? No, but it will be an issue.” . . .

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Democrats outraged by this RNC ad that criticizes Obama for not getting gun control passed

Let me get this straight, Obama uses children from the Newtown tragedy in photo-ops and claims that since Republicans opposed the gun control regulations Obama supports they don't care about people killing kids like those at Newtown (note: even though the background checks would have had nothing to do in stopping the attacks), but this Republican ad is "disgusting"?  As I have written previously, Obama could have easily passed the gun control legislation if he really wanted to pass it, but it appears that he may have wanted to save it for a political issue.  From The Hill newspaper:
The ad, called "The First 100 Days," criticizes Obama on the failure of his legislative agenda, including gun control, so far in Congress. It features a voiceover saying that Obama’s agenda has “already suffered a string of defeats,” and a black and white photo of the president reaching to embrace Nicole Hockley, the distraught mother of a victim in the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. 
Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse called the ad “disgraceful” in a tweet and “disgusting” in another. . . .
Just curious, but how many times has Obama attacked the "do nothing" Congress and made it seem as if it the lack of legislation was all the fault of the Republicans?

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Yet, more nutty zero tolerance over guns

From Princeton, NC (WTVD Raleigh-Durham, NC):
A Johnston County high school student has been expelled for bringing a gun onto school property, but the school's student body is coming to his defense.
David "Cole" Withrow is a senior at Princeton High School. He was set to graduate in just a few weeks, until his arrest Monday for bringing a gun to school.
Cole, who is an Eagle Scout and an honors student, said he forgot to take his gun out of his truck after skeet shooting. When he got to school and realized the gun was in his car, he went into school to call his mom so he could leave and take the gun home.
The school found out and Cole was arrested and expelled.
Now his classmates and members of the community are speaking out in his defense. . . .


Ann Coulter on "America's Most Feared Economist"

Ann's newest piece starts this way:
You can tell the conservatives liberals fear most because they start being automatically referred to as "discredited."  Ask Sen. Ted Cruz. But no one is called "discredited" by liberals more often than the inestimable economist John Lott, author of the groundbreaking book More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws 
Lott's economic analysis of the effect of concealed-carry laws on violent crime is the most thoroughly vetted study in the history of economics, perhaps in the history of the world.  
Some nut Dutch professor produces dozens of gag studies purportedly finding that thinking about red meat makes people selfish and that litter leads to racism -- and no one bothers to see if he even administered questionnaires before drawing these grand conclusions about humanity.  
But Lott's decades-long studies of concealed-carry laws have been probed, poked and re-examined dozens of times. (Most of all by Lott himself, who has continuously re-run the numbers controlling for thousands of factors.) . . .
Read the rest available here.

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The Real Unemployment Rates by State, and they are very high

Click on the above figure to make the figure larger.  This figure relies on what is called the U6 measure of unemployment, the rate that is most similar to how unemployment is measured in Europe.  Traditionally the unemployment rate in the US only says someone is unemployed as long as they are actively looking for work, but most of the recent drop in the unemployment rate is due to people giving up looking for work.  The U6 measure tries to take the number of discouraged workers into account, but even this measure isn't perfect as if the unemployed person is discouraged for more than a year even the U6 measure drops that person from the count.  Fourteen states have a real unemployment rate that is above 15 percent.  The data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Note the states that are doing the best are doing well no thanks to the current government policy.  North Dakota and to a lesser extent South Dakota are benefiting from the oil boom.

The real unemployment rates in Los Angeles and New York City are over 20 and 15 percent each.

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Zero tolerance destroys promising student's life: Science experiment "explosion" pops top off container creates smoke, girl arrested and expelled

The principal thought that nothing was intentional and that no harm was done.  So why didn't he prevent her from being arrested?  Regulations.  "Wilmot was arrested Monday morning and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school property and discharging a destructive device."  The "weapon" "caused the top [of a small plastic water bottle] to pop up."  Seriously?  That is it.  From the New Miami News:
Kiera Wilmot got good grades and had a perfect behavior record. She wasn't the kind of kid you'd expect to find hauled away in handcuffs and expelled from school, but that's exactly what happened after an attempt at a science project went horribly wrong. 
On 7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused. 
According to WTSP, Wilmot told police that she was merely conducting a science experiment. Though her teachers knew nothing of the specific project, her principal seems to agree. . . . 
After the explosion Wilmot was taken into custody by a school resources officer and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She will be tried as an adult. 
She was then taken to a juvenile assessment center. She was also expelled from school and will be forced to complete her diploma through an expulsion program. . . .


By 72% to 27% margin American voters support death penalty for Boston Bomber

According to a new Washington Post survey, 61% of voters strongly support the death penalty for the Boston bomber.  Another 11% somewhat support the death penalty.  Only 19% strongly oppose the death penalty.  Next time an academic strongly opposes the death penalty please realize how extreme they are.



Italy moves to more government spending as the solution for economic growth

Italy is going back to the policies that got it in trouble to begin with.  I wasn't a fan of the higher taxes and it would have been nice to see some real cuts in government spending, but this will be worse.  From the NY Times:
Mr. Letta is part of a growing European effort to question the austerity policies championed by Germany as the medicine to deal with the economic malaise in Europe, where unemployment has surpassed Great Depression levels in some places in the south and recession is creeping toward the once-resilient economies in the north. . . .


Democrats' reasonable fear about what Obamacare will do to their 2014 election hopes

Here is another quote by a candidate running for the special election Tuesday in South Carolina who distanced herself from Obamacare.  From Politico:
South Carolina’s Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a favorite of the Democratic left, couldn't get away from the law fast enough, calling Obamacare “extremely problematic” — a quote that got wide play from GOP groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee. . . . 
. . . On Tuesday, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed just 35 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the law, right as the administration is planning to roll it out. 

All the panic forced President Barack Obama to rush to the law's defense, saying at a news conference Tuesday: “Even if we do everything perfectly, there'll still be, you know, glitches and bumps. … And that's pretty much true of every government program that's ever been set up.” 
Obama’s goal was to dismiss what he called “all the hue and cry and, you know, sky-is-falling predictions about this stuff.” 
Don't bet on that happening. Democrats have been fretting about the law since it passed, and they're not exactly falling in love with it now either. . . .
The problem is that while Democrats are distancing themselves from Obamacare now, they virtually voted for it before.  The law wouldn't have passed if all the Democrats in the Senate hadn't voted for it.



Is gun control an issue that Democrats want to win or just campaign on?

President Obama claims that those who oppose the Senate gun control bill didn't want to "protect the lives of all our children," so if the president is recruiting candidates who oppose that legislation, doesn't that mean that Obama is supporting candidates who don't value protecting the lives of all our children.  From The Hill newspaper:

Democratic leaders are wooing staunchly pro-gun candidates to run in pivotal Senate races at the same time they are discussing a strategy for bringing gun control legislation back up for debate. 
The two-pronged effort has prompted Republicans to accuse the Senate Democratic leadership of hypocrisy, but Democrats say it is simply smart politics. 
The question is whether two of the Democrats’ most promising potential candidates in Montana and South Dakota will pay a price for the leadership’s political maneuverings in Washington. Or will recruiting candidates who do not support President Obama’s gun control agenda have any effect on Democratic fundraising efforts? 
Brad Dayspring, the communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, took a swipe at Democrats for playing both sides of the gun issue. 
“Washington Democrats preach gun control, but are recruiting adamantly pro-gun candidates like Schweitzer & Herseth-Sandlin. Can't be both,” he posted on Twitter. . . .


Ethnic diversity among Democrats and Republicans

This might have been obvious before, but it is nice to see that the media is acknowledging this central fact.  From Politico:
The situation is particularly embarrassing situation for Democrats, to whom black voters give the vast majority of their support. Until Sen. Mo Cowan (D-Mass.) was appointed in February, the only African-American in the Senate was a Republican — Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.  And it’s not lost on high-profile Democrats that the GOP now enjoys more ethnic diversity among its statewide leaders than the party whose president is both an illustration and a beneficiary of America’s changing face. . . .
After all, what party has the most Hispanic governors (NM and NV) and senators (FL and TX) and Indian governors (SC and LA)? As well as a Black US Senator (SC)?


Fraud in Unemployment Insurance System

The St. Louis Federal Reserve has released a study showing $3.3 billion was made in over payments for unemployment insurance.  It seems to me that this is just one type of fraud, not the type where people are lying about whether they are eligible and that all the information is properly reported.  Identity fraud might also be occurring.  With all the concern of the $44 billion in budget cuts from the sequester, this one type of fraud in one program equals almost one percent of those cuts.  You would think that this would get some attention.  From the St. Louis Fed:
The unemployment insurance program in the U.S. offers benefits to workers if they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. In 2011, this program cost $108 billion, of which nearly $3.3 billion was spent on overpayments due to fraud. 
Unemployment insurance fraud occurs when an ineligible individual collects benefits after intentionally misreporting his or her eligibility. Recent headlines have brought attention to extreme forms of fraud, such as the collection of unemployment benefits by prisoners. The dominant form of unemployment insurance fraud, however, is what's called concealed earnings fraud. This fraud occurs when individuals collect unemployment benefits while they are employed and are earning wages. The overpayments due to concealed earnings accounted for almost $2.2 billion in 2011, two-thirds of the total overpayments due to all categories of fraud. . . .

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Push to get expanded background checks through the initiative process

I worry that with all the misinformation out there about background checks (and here) that bad legislation will be passed.  Anyway, the Associated Press has this sobering piece of news.
On Monday, proponents of universal background checks in Washington will announce their plan to launch a statewide initiative campaign that would require the collection of some 300,000 signatures, according to a person involved in the initiative planning who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the official announcement. The advocates have scheduled a fundraiser in Seattle at the end of next month and hope to have a campaign budget in the millions of dollars. 
Ballot measures may be an option elsewhere, too. Hildy Saizow, president of Arizonans for Gun Safety, said an initiative is one of the things the group will be considering as it reconsiders strategies. An organizer in Oregon was focused on the Legislature for now but wouldn't rule out a ballot measure in the future if lawmakers fail to pass a proposed bill there. . . .  
Brian Malte, director of mobilization at the national nonprofit lobbying group Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said passage through Congress is the ideal in order to have a national solution and so that states with strong gun laws aren't undermined by nearby states with weaker standards. He noted that initiative campaigns are costly endeavors that can drain important, limited resources.  
Still, Malte said, the ballot measures are an option to consider. . . .
Thanks as always to Tony Troglio for this link.

On the other hand, given the misleading polls and the sad support that gun control supporters often get (see this with the "Five sad pictures from today's anti-NRA march"), possibly initiatives are the way to show that these ideas can be defeated.


California seeking to ban lead in ammunition

California is dredging up old studies to justify banning lead bullets.  Just to get people up to speed on this issue, here is an EPA report from 1999.  An Associated Press story noted:
A 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and the North Dakota Department of Public Health concluded with a recommendation that lead is so prevalent in meat harvested through hunting that pregnant women and children should never eat it.  Gun supporters say that those studies have never conclusively linked consumption with illness in humans. . . .
But if you look at the North Dakota study, you will find this:
The lead levels among study participants ranged from none detectable to 9.82 micrograms perdeciliter. . . 
No attempt was made to account for other sources of lead poisoning and obviously there are multiple sources of lead in the environment (the mean level of lead in the blood in the US is 3 micrograms, not zero).  In addition, the highest level of lead in the blood for one of the 738 people sampled in the North Dakota study was less that what the government defines as elevated even for children.
Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes.  An elevated blood lead level in a child is defined as 10 or more micrograms of lead in a deciliter (μg/dL) of blood. . . . Children are more vulnerable to lead than adults.  While all children are at risk from lead, children living in older housing and in poverty are at the greatest risk.  Children who eat paint chips or breathe dust from flaking or peeling lead-based paint are the most likely to develop a problem.  Children may also develop high blood lead levels by drinking water contaminated with lead that may be in the plumbing system or by being exposed to contaminated soil or other lead hazards. . . . .
 From the New York Health Department these are the numbers for adults.
It is hard to look at these numbers from the North Dakota study and view even the highest level of lead found as a danger, and there is no reason to believe that outlier is a result of hunting.  It seems likely that in the US as a whole more than 1 out of every 738 people have lead levels equal to or above the highest person in this sample.  Take Detroit.  In 2012, apparently 2,900 children under age 18 had lead poisoning.  With about 186,500 children under age 18, that implies a poisoning rate of 1.6% (down 70% from what it was just in 2004).  Given that the North Dakota data doesn't have anyone reaching the lead poisoning rates found in Detroit and that only 0.136% even reach 9.82 micrograms, Detroit has much more to be concerned about.  (Note that I am making the assumption here that the Scientific American article on poisoning means those under age 18 when it mentions "kids."  If in fact that refers to younger ages, the poisoning rate would be substantially higher.)

A similar Minnesota study that was done at the same time found: "As a result, the Minnesota DNR conducted the first-of-its-kind lead fragmentation study to simulate how different types of bullets commonly used for deer hunting might fragment."

See more on the general issue here.

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