Obama administration contradicts Obama's claim that he was unaware of surveillance activities targeting leaders of allies

Obama gets nailed in an obvious clear lie.  
America’s top intelligence official acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama and other senior White House officials were well aware of U.S. surveillance activities targeting leaders of friendly foreign nations — a stark contradiction of the administration’s insinuation in recent days that the president was unaware of such spying. 
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper described the targeting of foreign leaders, including American allies, as a “fundamental” aspect of intelligence gathering, and said neither the CIA nor the National Security Agency can tap into a given leader’s private communications without White House oversight. 
His testimony, made during a series of tacit exchanges Tuesday with members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, came as all sides in Congress have begun seriously examining legislative proposals that would rein in the legal framework surrounding the NSA’s snooping programs. . . .
However, where is the general media pointing this out? Simple news search shows few news stories.


Media Matters falsely claims Blacks don't benefit from Stand Your Ground laws and too many other false points to list in a title

Media Matters continues its hit-and-run tactics.  Their typical approach is: Make a charge, assume no one will check out their claims (after all most Media Matters links are to other Media Matters posts), not respond to any comments placed at other places because that might allow their readers to see those responses, and not allow me to respond to the attacks on the Media Matters website.  For a long list of previous false Media Matters claims see this link here.

The front page of Media Matters website now contains this headline: "Gun advocate John Lott Lashes Out at Trayvon Martin's Mother." Seriously?  I said Martin's mom was one of "two very sympathetic witnesses. . . ."  And that "it's very hard to say anything when you're having to deal with a mother who has lost her son, under any circumstances. I have five kids; I can't imagine what it would be like to deal with that situation."  What I did say was that they were sympathetic women who had undergone a horrible tragedy and that I couldn't imagine going through myself, but that Trayvon Martin's death wasn't caused by Stand Your Ground laws.  How exactly is that lashing out at Sybrina Fulton?

Media Matters responds to my last point about the Stand Your Ground law not being relevant by making a series of points:

Lott's testimony largely argued that African-Americans benefit from Stand Your Ground laws, a falsehood invented by the right-wing media. . . .
If you want to see evidence that blacks benefit more than whites, see my discussions here, here, and here.

As to the claim that Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases occurred because there wasn't the need to retreat, Media Matters claims: 

In Martin's case, Lott employed a right-wing media canard to state on NRA News that because "the defense was never raised," by George Zimmerman's attorneys that the law was absent from the case. . . .
As usual, Media Matters' discussion is at best selective.  I didn't rely solely or even primarily on "the defense was never raised."  In numerous places I have extensively discussed the ability to retreat.  Two options are possible:

1) Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and George Zimmerman was on his back with Martin on top of him hitting him repeatedly. In that case, there would be no chance to retreat, no possibility for that portion of the law to apply.

2) Zimmerman was somehow the aggressor.  If so, the Florida Stand Your Ground law is very clear and I had this in my testimony to the Senate.  Florida law already states that the Stand Your Ground provision is:

not available to a person who . . . initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless: (a) . . . he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant . . .  or (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.”
Isn't it pretty clear that even under Florida law if you initiate the confrontation you aren't allowed to Stand Your Ground.  Indeed, I read that portion of the law during the Senate hearing on October 29th on Stand Your Ground laws and Media Matters has put up a post on that hearing.  The reason why the judge gave the jurors the Stand Your Ground law is so that they could read the above passage. 

Media Matters goes on to assert:

In fact, Stand Your Ground was cited by local officials as the reason Zimmerman wasn't initially arrested, an explanation of the law was included in instructions to the jury, and a juror later cited the law by name as a reason for why Zimmerman was acquitted. . . .
Jacob Sullum has a useful discussion at Reason.com about the jury instruction and Juror B37's comment:
The "stand your ground" language that the jurors heard is part of the standard jury instruction in cases where the defendant claims his use of deadly force was justified. The defense asked for it to be included (why not?), and the judge agreed, but that does not mean it figured in the verdict. While Juror B37 did utter the phrase "stand your ground" a couple of times in the interview to which Fulton refers, she also made it clear that she believed the essential elements of Zimmerman's story: that Martin was the aggressor; that Zimmerman was pinned to the ground, unable to escape, when he fired his gun; and that Martin was assaulting Zimmerman in a way that made him reasonably fear for his life. That scenario has nothing to do with the right to stand your ground, and Zimmerman could have used exactly the same defense in any state, whether or not it imposes a duty to retreat. 
Perhaps the jurors were "confused," as Fulton suggests, misunderstanding what "stand your ground" means. If so, they were not alone.
The issue of the initial arrest was one of simple self defense.  If one actually reads the link provided by Media Matters, there is no specific mention of Stand Your Ground.  Instead, the city notes:
Why was George Zimmerman not arrested the night of the shooting? When the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time.  . . . 
As to the Jordan Davis case, I explained during the hearing that claiming Stand Your Ground defense of not having to retreat is applicable doesn't mean that it actually applies to this case.  I said that if Jordan Davis' Mom is correct and "her son was listening to music and someone shot him simply for listening to loud music.  There was no threat there," the Stand Your Ground law isn't applicable.  There was no threat that a reasonable person would believe risked imminent death or serious injury.

Again, to protect against Media Matters re-editing their post, here are screen shots of what they put up.  Click on either to enlarge.

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Electric car sales are pretty weak

From the Detroit News:
General Motors Co. said Friday that Chevrolet Volt sales fell 32 percent in October in the face of falling gas prices. 
The Detroit automaker said Volt sales fell to 2,022, down from 2,961 in October 2012. For the year, U.S. Volt sales are now down 2.7 percent to 18,782. 
At the same time, Nissan Motor Co.’s all-electric Leaf sales were up 27 percent in October to 2,002 and are up 167 percent for the year to 18,078. 
"We are seeing sluggish sales of some plug-in hybrids such as the Ford C-Max — down 21 percent — and Chevy Volt — down 32 percent. The most likely culprit responsible for the decline is gas prices and enticing traditional gas-powered vehicles that achieve 40 mpg plus. With fuel prices expected to fall further, the auto industry will be watching carefully to see if the pattern continues,” said Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs. . . .
Toyota Motor Corp. said sales of its Prius plug-in hybrid were up 7 percent to 2,095 and are up 4.6 percent for the year to 10,069. In early October, Toyota said it was cutting the price of the slow-selling vehicle by $2,010 for the entry model and $4,620 for the more expensive model with more options. 
So how do these numbers compare to total US sales?  The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) has been pretty high.
 The SAAR eased to 15.22 million last month. The figure was down from September's 15.26 million and below most forecasters' expectations in the mid-15 million range. . . .
The SAAR for Volt, Leaf, and plug-in Prius thus come to a total of 73,428, or about .48% of total sales.  Tesla has a goal of "21,000 units of Model S this year."  Adding that in raises the percent to 0.62%.


New piece at National Review: For healthcare there is "No Such Thing as a Free Lunch"

My new piece starts this way:
Obamacare, even with massive Democratic supermajorities in Congress, would never have passed if Americans thought that they would be forced to give up their current plans. 
The reason is simple. To begin with, Americans were overwhelmingly happy with the quality of their health care. 
That is reflected in surveys: For example, shortly before the November 2006 election, the Kaiser Family Foundation, in conjunction with USA Today and ABC News, released the results of a survey. It found that 89 percent of Americans who were insured were satisfied with “their own personal medical care.” Ninety-three percent of those who had recently been seriously ill were satisfied with their medical care, as were 95 percent of those who suffered from a chronic illness. Surprisingly, even most of the uninsured were happy with the quality of the health care that they were receiving. . . .


A very partial list of examples where guns have stopped mass public shootings

Before its news has a list of examples here (though it ignores the various school and other shootings that have been stopped by permit holders):
Plans to slay everyone in the Muskegon, Michigan, store and steal enough cash and jewelry to feed their “gnawing hunger for crack cocaine” fell apart for a band of would-be killers after one of their victims fought back.
Muskegon Shooting Link 
The mass church shooting in Colorado Springs was stopped by the shooter being shot by a church member with a CCW permit.
New Life Church Link 
The Santa Clara gunshop shooting in 1999 was stopped by an armed citizen after the shooter declared that he was going to kill everyone. Police found a list of intended victims in his car. Only the perpetrator, Richard Gable Stevens was shot.
Santa Clara Gunshop Link 
The December, 1991, Anniston, Alabama defense where a CCW holder stopped armed robbers who were herding employees, customers, and his wife into a cooler. He shot both robbers, killing one.
Anniston Shoney’s Shooting Link 
July 13, 2009, in Virginia at the Golden Food Market: The gunman tried to shoot several people, was stopped by a CCW carrier.
Golden Food Market Shooting Link 
Just recently, in Early Texas, armed citizen Vic Stacy shot and stopped a deranged man who had just murdered two neighbors and was firing at police with a rifle. Stacy made a very long shot with his revolver, three times as far as the perpetrator was from the police officer, who had an AR-15 type rifle.
Early Texas Peach House Shooting Link . . .
Something from the Portland Mall Shooting at the end of 2012 (from Investors Business Daily):
Before the tragedy in Connecticut, a shooter at an Oregon shopping mall was stopped by an armed citizen with a concealed carry permit who refused to be a victim, preventing another mass tragedy.
In the target-rich environment of the Clackamas Town Center two weeks before Christmas, the shooter managed to kill only two people before killing himself. A far worse tragedy was prevented when he was confronted by a hero named Nick Meli.
As the shooter was having difficulty with his weapon, Meli pulled his and took aim, reluctant to fire lest an innocent bystander be hit. But he didn't have to pull the trigger: The shooter fled when confronted, ending his own life before it could be done for him.
We will never know how many lives were saved by an armed citizen that day. . . .
Another version of the Portland Mall Shooting here:
While reports of Tuesday's shooting at the Clackamas Town Center Mall in Oregon, dominated the national media, until Friday's horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, one very important detail has been repeatedly (and intentionally) left out of the MSM's coverage.
The shooter, Jacob Tyler Roberts, was confronted with an armed citizen, at which time he ran away and shot himself. By the time police arrived on the scene, Roberts was already dead. . . .
Other cases

1999 Gun-shop employee prevents massacre -- The Santa Clara gunshop shooting in 1999 was stopped by an armed citizen after the shooter declared that he was going to kill everyone. Police found a list of intended victims in his car. Only the perpetrator, Richard Gable Stevens was shot.

July 13, 2009, in Virginia at the Golden Food Market: The gunman tried to shoot several people, was stopped by a CCW carrier.

May 27, 2010 Shooter with hit-list shot dead in AT&T store

College Park, GA, May 4, 2009. Two gunman entered a party and ordered the men separated from the women. Then they started counting bullets. “The other guy asked how many (bullets) he had. He said he had enough,” said Bailey. When one of the assailants prepared to rape a girl, a student was able to access a handgun and engage the two attackers in a firefight, driving one off and killing the other before the thug could rape his girlfriend. “I think all of us are really cognizant of the fact that we could have all been killed,” said Bailey.

Winnemucca NV shooting, 25 May, 2008 The shooter, Ernesto Villagomez, entered the Players Bar and Grill and killed two people. He reloaded and was continuing to shoot when a citizen with a concealed carry permit shot him and stopped the killing.

Parker Middle School Dance Shooting 1998 -- 14 Year old Andrew Jerome Wurst Killed one person and wounded three others when he was confronted by James Strand who subdued Wurst with a shotgun and held him until police arrived.

Destiny Christian Center Shooting, April 24, 2012 -- Kiarron Parker rammed his car into another in the church parking lot, got out and attempted to kill multiple church members. He was only able to kill one before a member of the congregation, the nephew of the lady killed, and an off duty police officer, drew his handgun and shot Parker, stopping the killing.

Other cases available here.



Greg Gutfeld: Does owning a gun make you a racist?

Gutfeld does a great job here in discussing the push to demonize and tax gun ownership.

UPDATE:  Jeff Poor has a discussion of Gutfeld's segment as well as a partial transcript available here.

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Newest piece at Fox News: Are you a racist if you own a gun?

This is the way my newest piece at Fox News starts:
If you believe a new study, whites who own guns do so because they harbor racist feelings towards blacks. Indeed, in the study, four Australian and British psychologists also claim that racism is associated with opposition to gun control. 
The lead paragraph on this study in Friday's New York Daily News summed up the claim this way: "Racism and guns go together." 
So how is racism measured? Well, you are apparently “racist” if you don't agree that the legacy of slavery still has a great impact on how blacks are faring today. After all, slavery was abolished 158 years ago. 
Besides, blacks were doing relatively better on many dimensions, such as family stability, during the early 1960s than today.  
Of course, people might disagree with these points, but that doesn’t mean that they are racist. 
OK, so conservatives are more likely to own guns than liberals (big surprise there), and they are more likely to believe that people are more responsible for how well they do in life than something that happened to their ancestors over a century and a half ago. . . .
The rest of the piece is available at Fox News

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The reason why Obama repeatedly lied about people being able to keep their current plans and doctors is obvious: Obamacare wouldn't have passed

With millions losing their health insurance policies despite President Obama's repeated promise that wouldn't happen under Obamacare, a lot of people are understandably pretty upset.  It seems clear that Obama himself didn't believe that he could have gotten the law passed if it wasn't for that promise.  For those who don't remember, John Dickerson points out the obvious:
During the debate over the law, the president had a difficult balancing act. He had to argue that the status quo in health care was a disaster while at the same time not threatening the status quo for those people who were happy with their health care or who feared it would get worse under his changes. A CBS poll at the time showed that people were quite afraid that whatever the president did, it would hurt their plans. Sixty-nine percent worried that the ACA would affect the quality of their care. Almost three-quarters thought it would limit their access. There was a lot of pressure on the president to send the message that nothing would change. . . .
How does Obama think that he can get out of the current problem?
That wasn't what the president promised. But wait, the president can explain. It's not what we think. People won’t have the same insurance—they will have better insurance, administration officials assure. That's not the way some of the people receiving these letters see it. The president's original promise was so ironclad and repeated so often that any explanation now sounds like dissembling. . . .
Of course, we could require that everyone buy Porsches to drive.  I think that it would be great fun to buy a Porsche and for almost everyone a Porsche would clearly be a "better" car.  But would requiring people to buy Porsches make people better off?  Of course not.  Not even close.  The point I would have made is that people could always buy that "better" coverage before Obamacare, but they chose not to do so.  Economists call this "revealed preference," and it is clear that people didn't think that buying that increased coverage was going to make them better off.

Take one of the benefits that Obama is not even allowing to take place on time.  Obamacare promised limits on out of pockets health care costs.  Limits on co-pays will increase the cost of insurance for two reasons: 1) in the simple case, you are willing to pay more of your treatment costs as you go along the insurance company won't have to charge you as much up front and 2) larger co-pays cause people to be a little more careful on what treatments that they receive.  If the insurance company were to pay 100% of the cost of any treatment, people would get treatment in many cases when there might be cheaper ways to solve the problem or they might get treatment for problems that are very trivial.  Both of those actions would increase total costs to the insurance company and mean more money would have to be charged in the annual premium.

The fact that Obama has put off this part of the law simply means that some of the increase in insurance premiums won't hit until next year.

The newest explanation for the lost insurance coverage is that it is the fault of greedy insurance 
Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or use minor preexisting conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy.  So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.  
Before the Affordable Care Act, the worst of these plans routinely dropped thousands of Americans every single year.  And on average, premiums for folks who stayed in their plans for more than a year shot up about 15 percent a year.  This wasn’t just bad for those folks who had these policies, it was bad for all of us -- because, again, when tragedy strikes and folks can’t pay their medical bills, everybody else picks up the tab.  
Now, if you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, you’re able to keep it.  That’s what I said when I was running for office.  That was part of the promise we made.  But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, what we said under the law is you've got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage  -- because that, too, was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning.

Shortly before the November 2006 election, the Kaiser Family Foundation, in conjunction with USA Today and ABCNews, released the results of a survey of health care consumers. It found that 89 percent of Americans who were insured were satisfied with “their own personal medical care.” Ninety-three percent of those who had recently been seriously ill were satisfied with their medical care, as were 95 percent of those who suffered from a chronic illness.  Despite these extremely high rates of satisfaction, only 44 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the “overall quality of the American health care system.”  The logical explana- tion for this discrepancy is that most people, despite receiving good care themselves, believe others must not be getting what they need. In particular, people are concerned about the uninsured. You would think that if Obama was correct about these "substandard plans," the sickest people would actually be the ones most upset with their medical care.  But obviously that wasn't the case.

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Sanford, Florida Police Department bans Neighborhood Watch members from carrying permitted concealed handguns

The Sanford, Florida police department is instituting two changes to the Neighborhood Watch.  From the Chicago Tribune:
The Florida city where neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin is changing the rules on how civilian patrols can operate to help prevent a recurrence and revive the program's reputation. 
The new rules, to be released at a community meeting on November 5 in Sanford, Florida, will state explicitly that residents acting under the authority of neighborhood watch may not carry a firearm or pursue someone they deem suspicious
"Neighborhood watch was always intended to be a program where you observe what is going on and report it to police. In light of everything that has gone on, that's what we're really going to go back and push. That's what this program is and that's all it is," said Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Sanford Police Department. . . .
Andrew Branca has a useful discussion available here about the myth that Zimmerman "chased/followed" after Trayvon Martin. 
Zimmerman did not exit the vehicle until he was asked by the dispatcher which way Martin was running.  Because Martin had run around the corner of a building and was now out of sight, Zimmerman exited the vehicle in order to be able to observe where Martin had gone.
So, not only is it untrue that Zimmerman “chased/followed” Martin contrary to police instructions, he was in fact seeking to obtain information explicitly requested by the dispatcher. . . .
Channel 13 in central Florida has this:
Sanford's new police chief, Cecil Smith, said the neighborhood watch program as it was operated while Zimmerman was part of it was dysfunctional and had no accountability.
"In this program, it is clearly stated that you will not pursue an individual," Smith explained. "In this new program, it clearly indicates that you will not carry a firearm when performing your duties as a neighborhood watch captain or participant." 
Smith said when he took over as Sanford's chief of police in April, the neighborhood watch program Zimmerman was part of was still operating the same way it was when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin more than a year earlier. 
Though Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in July, Smith said the program needed to be re-evaluated, so he stopped it completely until changes could be implemented. . . . .
How do these changes increase accountability?

What do you think banning Neighborhood Watch members from being able to carry is going to do to their willingness to patrol dangerous areas?  Remember how long it took for the police to arrive on the scene after Martin attacked Zimmerman?  Might this be just another example of how political correctness endangers people's lives? 

This decision appears to be politically motivated, much like the discussion at the Senate hearing last Tuesday, and that these political decisions will harm safety and make people less inclined to join neighborhood watches.  People can still walk their neighborhoods carrying their permitted concealed handguns as long as they aren't members of the Neighborhood Watch, but this new policy will simply mean that they can't have as close of contact with the police as they have had in the past.  Is that really a step forward?

UPDATE: Andrew Branca also has another post on the new Sanford, Florida policy over at Legal Insurrection.


A useful discussion that I had with Piers Morgan on how gun laws help cause these mass public shootings

This is a clip from a show that I did with Piers immediately after the Newtown tragedy.  If I had an extra minute, I would have explained why gun free zones increase crime: law-abiding citizens are disarmed relative to criminals, and the bans actually make it easier for criminals to commit crimes.  That said, I am frequently asked why I appear on Piers' show.  I hope that clips such as this indicate even in the few times that I can talk I get facts out that otherwise wouldn't get into the popular discussion.

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Bryan-College Station, Texas: Violent ex-boyfriend held at gun point until police arrive

An ex-boyfriend may face over 100 years in prison for his attack.  With the anecdotal claims about the risk of guns to women, here is another case where a gun saved a woman from the attack of an ex-boyfriend.  From the Bryan-College Station Eagle:
A 24-year-old Bryan man assaulted a woman and burglarized a home after she broke up with him, police said. 
Logan Samuel McMann was being held at gunpoint when deputies arrived at the home in southeast Brazos County on Monday, according to court documents. 
Authorities said McMann, upset about a break-up, made his way into the home where the woman had rushed to after he had jumped on her car, shattering her window. 
The homeowners told authorities they had heard screaming and knocking on their back door and let the woman in, according to the arrest report. 
One of the homeowners retrieved a handgun as McMann made his way into the home making comments about killing his ex-girlfriend, authorities said. 
The woman told investigators McMann had grabbed onto her car window as she tried to leave and tried to strangle her, authorities said. . . .



Stunning: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Doesn't Understand Difference between Machine Guns and Semi-automatic guns

This C-SPAN clip shows Justice Paul Stevens explaining that since the Supreme Court recognizes the right of the federal government to ban machine guns, it is possible for the "automatic weapons" used in mass shootings in the US.
Justice Stevens: "the 2nd Amendment provides no obstacle to regulations prohibiting the sort of automatic weapons used in the tragic multiple killings in Virginia, Colorado and Arizona in recent years."
The reference that Stevens is making at the beginning of the clip is to Justice Scalia's opinion in Heller stating:
That would be a startling reading of the opinion, since it would mean that the National Firearms Act’s restrictions on machineguns (not challenged in Miller) might be unconstitutional, machineguns being useful in warfare in 1939. We think that Miller’s “ordinary military equipment” language must be read in tandem with what comes after: “[O]rdinarily when called for [militia] service [able-bodied] men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. The traditional militia was formed from a pool of men bringing arms “in common use at the time” for lawful purposes like self-defense. . . .  We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns. . . . 
Obviously, this argument can't be made to semi-automatic weapons such as those used in the very attacks that Justice Stevens discusses for the very reason that semi-automatic weapons are indeed typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.

How could Stevens write an opinion in the Heller case without him having a clue about the types of weapons that he was writing about?

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"Rural Colorado school allows teachers to carry concealed weapons"

Slowly more and more places are letting teachers carry guns.  From the Daily Caller:
School administrators in the tiny Colorado town of Briggsdale will allow an unspecified number of teachers to carry concealed handguns in the classroom as long as they agree to participate in ongoing training. 
Participants must commit to hitting the firing range for a minimum of 100 rounds per month. 
Briggsdale, located in northeastern Colorado, is too small to have it’s own police department and it’s at least 20 minutes away from the nearest emergency response.
It’s the isolation that makes arming teachers important, superintendent Rick Mondt told the Greeley Tribune. 
“I don’t have a two-minute or minute-and-30 response time,” he said. “That would be the only reason that I would think this would be somewhat of a necessity.” . . .

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Ranking Concealed Carry States

In the second and third editions of More Guns, Less Crime, I have made a big point about how different right-to-carry states are.  The application fee, training time, and places that you could carry a concealed handgun were the differences that I concentrated on.  To me the important consideration, was trying to figure out the permit issuance rate and how that is changing over time.  Other factors that could be include reciprocity and how difficult it is to own guns.

Guns & Ammo editors have used many of these same factors to rank concealed handgun laws by state.  Here are the top 15 states in their ranking.
1. Arizona 
2. Utah 
3. Wyoming 
4. New Hampshire 
5. Vermont 
6. Alaska 
7. Pennsylvania 
8. Alabama 
9. North Dakota 
10. Indiana 
11. Virginia 
12. Montana 
13. Kentucky 
14. Texas 
15. Missouri
The numbers assigned here seem pretty arbitrary.  For example, my research has found a large drop in permit issuance when you go from 8 to 9 hours of training as you are making the people have to come in for training on multiple days, but Guns & Ammo editors assume that anything from 7 to 9 hours is effectively the same.  I would probably use the percentage of the adult population with a permit as my rough measure, but at least the ranking is suggestive and helpful.



Chicago Tribune opinion piece for Tuesday's Senate hearing: "In defense of stand your ground laws"

My piece at the Chicago Tribune coincides with the Senate hearing on Stand Your Ground laws tomorrow.  The article starts this way:
As Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) Judiciary subcommittee hears testimony on "stand your ground" laws Tuesday, charges of racial discrimination will be the central focus. Two black women, one of them Trayvon Martin's mom, are expected to testify about losing their sons to gunshots by white or Hispanic men. It's anticipated that a Harvard law professor will also emphasize race. 
This racial angle is nothing new. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have already weighed in, linking race and these laws. 
Nevertheless, Trayvon Martin's tragic death, which motivated this debate, had nothing to do with stand your ground laws. These laws allow people who face serious bodily harm or death to defend themselves without first having to retreat as far as possible. George Zimmerman was on his back and had no option to retreat, so the law was completely irrelevant. 
Who benefits from the law? Actually, since poor blacks who live in high-crime urban areas are the most likely victims of crime, they are also the ones who benefit the most from stand your ground laws. The laws make it easier for would-be victims to protect themselves when the police can't arrive fast enough. Therefore, rules that make self-defense more difficult disproportionately impact blacks. . . . 
The rest of the piece is available here.

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Senate hearing: "Durbin “Stand Your Ground” hearing Tuesday: Trayvon Martin’s mother to testify"

Tomorrow at 10 AM the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a hearing on Stand Your Ground laws.  A copy of my testimony is available here.  From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will chair a hearing Tuesday on the controversial “stand your ground” laws that played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, will be testifying. 
Durbin is holding the hearing in his role as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The hearing was originally scheduled for September. 
From Durbin: “These laws, one of which played a key role in the trial surrounding the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, give individuals permission to use lethal force in public places to protect themselves if they feel their life is in danger, without first attempting to retreat from the situation. . . . 
Witnesses: Panel one will include: Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH); Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL); Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). 
Panel two will include: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis; David LaBahn, President, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; Ronald Sullivan, Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School; John Lott, President, Crime Prevention Research Center; Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow, CATO Institute.

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Despite promises, Obama adm knew 50 to 75 percent of 14 million consumers who buy insurance individually would receive a “cancellation”

At the same time that Obama was attacking political opponents as lying, he knew that they were right about his promise that people could keep their health plans if they wanted to keep them.  Anyone who doesn't believe that you could get some for free knew that Obama was not being honest, but he got his bill passed.  The damage that this is doing to the country and the quality of health care is huge.  From NBC News:
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years. 
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”   . . . .
The NBC News report gets this next sentence exactly right:
None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. . . . 


Discredited Media Matters offers more misleading information on John Lott's CNN appearance

Media Matters lives in a bubble of its own.  I have given up trying to post responses on its website and they will never directly respond to any posts that I put up on this blog, Fox News (e.g., here, here, and here), or other places.  I have previously directly responded to Media Matters incorrect claims about background checks in posts such as this available here.  Presumably, actually responding to my points or allowing me to respond would let Media Matters' followers know that their points are wrong.

Today, Media Matters has a new post on my appearance on CNN's New Day on Saturday.  What I have argued in the past is that the false positive rate for NICS background checks is probably some place between 95 and 99.8 percent.  The two newest NICS check annual reports under the Obama administration have cut down on the amount of information provided and thus made it even more difficult than it already was to determine the actual number of false positives.  Here is a small portion of one of my previous posts:
Some may remember the five times the late Senator Ted Kennedy was placed on a “no fly list.” If someone is flagged by the NICS system, it is because it appears that they didn’t put down something in their background that disqualified them from buying a gun. Yet, an initial denial does not mean that the individual is actually disqualified from owning a gun. Take the numbers for 2009, the latest year with data available. There were 71,010 initial denials. Of those, only 4,681, or 6.6 percent, were referred to the BATF field offices for further investigation. As a report on these denials by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates, “The remaining denials (66,329 – 93%) did not meet referral guidelines or were overturned after review by Brady Operations or after the FBI received additional information.”  The last two of these three categories are clearly false positives.  The first might involve false positives, but it is possible that the disqualifying offenses are too old (though there are some prosecutions that involve misdemeanor violations that are four decades old so that isn't too obvious).  To put it differently, the initial review didn’t find that these individuals had a record that prevented them from buying a gun. (Numbers for 2010 are available here.) 
Still that isn’t the end of the story. Of these 4,681 referrals, over 51 percent, or 2,390 cases, involve “delayed denials,” cases where a check hasn’t even been completed. Of the rest, 2,291 covered cases where initial reviews indicated that the person should have been denied buying a gun. But the government admits that upon further review another 572 of these referrals were found “not [to be] a prohibited person,” leaving about 4,154 cases. That implies an initial false positive rate of roughly 94.2%. And it still doesn’t mean that the government hasn’t made a mistake on the remaining cases. In some cases for example, a person’s criminal record was supposed to be expunged, and it had not been? 
Of the cases referred to the BATF field offices there were still a number of false positives.  A 2004 sample found out that about 21 percent of these cases were found to be false positives (the percentage is slightly higher if a weighted sample is used). 
Up until this point, no discretion about the merits of the case has entered the picture. If a review of the records indicates that someone is a prohibited individual, they are included. But of these 4,154 cases, only 140 cases involving banned individuals trying to purchase guns being referred to prosecutors, just 60 of which involved providing false information when buying a firearm. Of those 140 cases, prosecutors thought the evidence was strong enough to bring a case only 77 times. . . .
Take the numbers for 2010.

FBI denials referred to ATF: 76,142
Referred to field: 4,732   (6.2 percent)
Not referred to field: 68,209 (89.6 percent)
Overturned:   3,163  (4.2 percent)

Of those referred to field:
No prosecutorial merit: 1,661
Federal/state guidelines not met: 1,092
Not a prohibited person: 480
Closed by supervisor: 457
No potential or unfounded: 396

Of these 4,732, the 480 for "not a prohibited person" and the 396 for "no potential or unfounded" are clearly false positives.   That 876 accounts for 19 percent of the ones referred to the field offices.

So what does prosecutorial merit mean?  Well, prosecutorial merit is defined as: "Cases involving restraining orders, domestic violence misdemeanors, non-immigrant aliens, violent felonies, warrants, and indictments are most often included in referral criteria."  With the exception of non-violent felonies, this pretty much covers the reasons that a criminal record can keep you from obtaining a gun.  Other misdemeanors don't prohibit one from owning a gun.  It would be nice to know the breakdown here, but misdemeanors that don't prohibit one from owning a gun would also be counted as false positives.

If the guidelines are not met or the case was closed by a supervisor, these cases could also involve false positives.  The more interesting question is can we say from this discussion whether any of these cases are clearly not "false positives" and the answer is "no," not enough information is provided.

So what are we left with?  In 2010, out of 76,142 initial denials, there were 44 prosecutions and the government own only 13 of those.  Were there also state prosecutions?  Sure, the number of those cases appear to be very small and no numbers are provided on them.  In addition, state background check systems also identify other people who have tried to buy guns illegally independently of the federal numbers, but if you want to add in the state denials you end up with initial denials being above the 76,142 shown above.

Media Matters cites the Washington Post on denials, but they leave out the fact that even the Washington Post didn't confirm that these initial denials were justified.  The Washington Post doesn't really take a position on the central question that Media Matters is citing them for.
Even accounting for all of the appeals and overturned referrals, it seems as if 1.5 million people over the last 14 years have been denied a firearm. Whether one believes these were all the “wrong people” is more a matter of opinion, but the president is free to make that assertion. Clearly, that many people were denied a firearm — and we have no way of knowing how many ever obtained one in the future. . . .

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Overestimating subsidies is one way to increase sign ups for Obamacare

From the Seattle Times:
About 8,000 Washington residents who are purchasing health insurance on the state’s fledgling exchange marketplace may be getting less of a subsidy than they thought they had coming to help pay for it. 
The exchange, called the Washington Healthplanfinder, said Friday that a calculator on its website mistakenly overestimated tax credits for about 6,000 applications that cover about 8,000 people, said Michael Marchand, communications director at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates Healthplanfinder. 
The error represents a setback for the state-run exchange, which has received favorable reviews once it got up and running as one of the few online marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act that has a functioning website and is posting strong enrollment figures. . . .


Chris Wallace explains to Juan Williams that there is no free lunch with Obamacare

I had one minor point on Brit Hume's discussion with Juan Williams about the changes in the health insurance mandates under Obamacare.  When Williams said that the new policies were going to be a better deal for people Hume responded that it "may or may not be a better deal for the people involved."  The point I would have made is that people could always buy that increased coverage before Obamacare, but they chose not to do so.  Economists call this "revealed preference," and it is clear that people didn't think that buying that increased coverage was going to make them better off.



More on promises and actuality of Obamacare from Kirsten Powers

So much for you being able to keep your plan if you want and it costing you less at the same time.  High deductible plans are soaring, but Obamacare has delayed the cap on out of pocket payments.


Even Ezra Klein notes that Obamacare's problems go far beyond its Web site, though the problems are much worse and more fundamental than he acknowledges

I don't think that there is much new here, but at least a left winger like Ezra is noting these points.  From his post at the Washington Post:
Here is what we learned: “To the White House, the difference between success and failure is straightforward: They need to entice a sufficient number of young and healthy adults into the new insurance marketplaces that open Oct. 1.” . . .  
The key to the exchanges was getting enough young and healthy people to turn out. The reason is simple: Insurers price their products at the average expected cost of the people signing up, plus a bit more for overheard, profits, etc. So if the average person signing up is relatively sick, premiums rise. if they're relatively healthy, premiums fall. 
Sicker, older people, the administration figured, would be desperate to sign up for health insurance. In a sense, that was the problem: They'd be so eager that they'd sign up in much greater numbers than the young, healthy people needed to keep premiums low. 
Attracting those young and healthy people was thus the core challenge. The White House figured that if they got 7 million people to sign up for the exchanges in the first year, about 2.7 million needed to be young. 
The Obama health-care team expended enormous effort figuring out how to reach those 2.7 million “young-and-healthies.” . . . 
The problem of course is that the higher premiums for young people don't encourage them to sign up.  In addition, as Politico notes:
During the open enrollment period, someone could get sick or injured and apply for insurance literally on the way to the hospital - and the insurer will still have to accept him or her. That's a risk insurers are accepting in January, February and March of 2014. Add another month of that kind of risk and it's going to significantly add to insurers' costs, they say. Although others argue that the procrastinators are more likely to be young and healthy than sick and costly. . . .
I have also been pointing out for years that no one really has to pay the fines for not getting the insurance.  This point was made this week by Rush Limbaugh.
“[I]f you structure your taxes so that you do not get a refund, you do not have to buy insurance and you do not have to pay a fine ‘cause they can’t collect it from you if you don’t have a refund due — and that is just another nail in the coffin of Obamacare imploding on itself,” Limbaugh said on his show Thursday night, according to transcript. . . .
To make the point more simply, just increase your deductions so that you aren't paying in too much in taxes.  Despite what some people may think, it isn't good to get a tax refund because it means that you have been giving the Federal government an interest free loan. 

I was listening to "This Week" on ABC this morning and of course people were pointing out that while the insurance premiums were increasing they were claiming that the people were getting "better" insurance policies.  Here is the problem: these people didn't value these additional services as much as they cost.  They could have gotten that coverage before Obamacare, but they didn't want to pay the higher prices at that time.  From the LA Times:
Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan throughHealth Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage. 
Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don't qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined. 
"It doesn't seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else," said Harris, who is three months pregnant. "This increase is simply not affordable." . . .
The media is always trying to spin these increased premiums as good news, but it just isn't so.  Here is something kind of amusing from SNL.

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So much for the claim that Obama administration didn't interfere with business decisions by GM

The amazing detail of the government's business decision making is provided in the quote below.  During the Q&A session, former GM President Bob Lutz had this to say (at 2:14:12 to a question from a guy from the Chicago area):
I have been asked that question many times.  The Feds basically wanted to get GM down to Cadillac and Chevrolet. They said, "you don't need all these brands. You need one prestige brand, and one mass-market brand." And we said "well we can't get rid of Buick because Buick is important in China, and if Buick becomes an orphan in the United States then the Chinese are no longer gonna be interested in it." And the Feds said "Fair enough, but everything else goes." We said well we'd also like to keep GMC. They said "well, GMC is basically just like Chevrolet," and we said "that may be true, there may be a lot of shared components, but GMC has an entirely different image, a different customer base, and people are willing to pay different prices for a GMC, and here's the profitability," and the Feds said "whoops, okay, keep GMC." 
So now we had Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and Chevrolet, and then, I wanted, badly wanted, to keep Pontiac, because Pontiac was on its way back, and it had been mismanaged for a number of years, you know, with 'rebuild excitement,' and the excitement was only in the plastic body cladding, mechanically there was nothing about Pontiac in the 90s that would make your heart beat faster. And with the solstice and solstice coupe, and with the Pontiac G8, which was a great car. We were embarked on a strategy of making pontiac different from the rest of GM in that Pontiac wouldn't get any front wheel drive cars, they would all be rear-wheel drive, and the next G6, was going to use the architecture of the cadillac ATS, it was going to be a 3-series sized rear-wheel Pontiac, with basically the Cadillac ATS 'de-premiumized,' obviously, a lot of the cost taken out, but still fundamentally that architecture.  
That was going to be the next G6, and I think we could've moved pontiac away from every other American volume brand and really started positioning it as attractive US alternative to some of the, and obviously at much lower prices than the european rear-wheel drive cars, but the Feds said "yeah, let's just, how much money have you made on pontiac in the last 10 years?" and the answer was "nothing." So, it goes. And, when the guy who is handing you the check for 53 billion dollars says I don't want pontiac, drop pontiac or you don't get the money, it doesn't take you very long to make up your mind. 
But I think it is a shame, Pontiac was on its way back, and it was killed before it, before the plant could really sprout blossoms, you know, it was well on its way. So, I agree with you, I think Pontiac was a great, wonderful history, mismanaged for a number of years in the 80s and 90s and it was clearly on its way back, and we were starting to see a very good customer base in solstices and especially in the G8, which was favorably compared in a lot of road tests to the BMW 5-series, people would say dynamically the car is as good and it's more powerful and way cheaper, but that was too bad. but you can't go through Chapter 11 without some really harmful effects. . . .