Glenn Beck w/ John Lott author of "At The Brink"

Beck: "John Lott is one of my favorite thinkers, especially when it comes to facts.  When it come to facts and figures, he probably is know for his work on guns.  Guns by the numbers.  The name of his books is 'More Guns, Less Crime.'  And it is the standard bearer for that kind of stat."  


Colorado's background check law prevents law-abiding woman getting back her gun

This woman has every legal right to own her gun, but she is being prevented from owning it for self defense.  From the Reporter-Herald in Loveland, Colorado:
The last time Sara Warren saw her personal handgun was in the ambulance after an accident on March 28. The police have refused to give the firearm back to her. 
The Loveland resident was taken to the Poudre Valley Hospital where her personal firearm was turned over to Fort Collins Police Services — where it's been ever since. 
Due to advice from the city attorney's office based on the Colorado gun transfer laws that went into effect July 1, 2013, the police have been unable to return her property. 
"I'm told there are other people in this situation," Sheriff Justin Smith said. "It's terrible when a law-abiding citizen gets caught up in something like this and it causes them to lose faith in their government." 
Warren said she used her Ruger compact SR9 handgun as protection during her work as a maid, entering strangers' homes alone. She has had to turn down work, not willing to risk her safety. 
"We had an opinion from our city attorney and district attorney not to return firearms without a (Federal Firearms License) check, and we don't have an FFL person in our office," said Fort Collins deputy chief Jim Szakmeister. . . . . 
GIven that this woman is a maid, forcing her to have to buy a new imposes a really high cost on her.  Even making her have to a fee for the transfer seems too much.


More De Blasio hypocrisy, he cracks down on pedestrian jaywalking and then jaywalks himself

You might remember that right after De Blasio announced his crackdown on traffic safety his car was  seen violating a number of traffic laws (running stop signs, speeding).  This from a guy who when he announced the proposal proclaimed: “We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard.”

Now De Blasio has done the same with jaywalking.  From the New York Post:
Mayor de Blasio, who has been lecturing about pedestrian safety since he stepped foot in City Hall, strolled across a Brooklyn street against the light Friday in a blatant jaywalking violation.
Hizzoner was gabbing on his old-school flip-phone as he slowly made his way across 11th Street on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope — and his NYPD detail faithfully jaywalked with him.
A Post reporter caught the foot faux pas on video a day after de Blasio’s SUV was filmed blowing through two stop signs in Queens and twice going 15 mph over the speed limit.
A prickly de Blasio went for the walk after punting questions about his lead-footed detail to the NYPD, saying the maneuvers were a matter of police “security protocols.” . . .
It is hard to see what the security claim could be regarding this walking.  In any case, if having De Blasio walk on the streets is a safety risk, possibly he should consider getting a treadmill.



So much for the claim that people are retiring early as the explanation for the drop in labor force participation, drop in participation rate for 25 to 54 year olds

Click on figure to make it larger.



Tea party donors audited at 10 times the rate of other taxpayers

From the Washington Times:
Despite assurances to the contrary, the IRS didn’t destroy all of the donor lists scooped up in its tea party targeting — and a check of those lists reveals that the tax agency audited 10 percent of those donors, much higher than the audit rate for average Americans, House Republicans revealed Wednesday. . . . 
Republicans said 24 conservative groups were asked for their donor lists. The IRS initially told Congress that those lists were destroyed, but when they went through their files they discovered three lists that weren’t destroyed. 
Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, asked the IRS to review the names on those lists to see whether any had been audited. The IRS reported back that 10 percent were audited — substantially higher than the average rate of 1 percent of average Americans who are audited each year. . . .
The IRS audit rate for tea party donors is three times the rate for those making above $200,000 per year.  You have to hit an income of over a million dollars a year before you audit rate gets to be about 10 percent.  To put it differently, only if all the Tea Party donors are making over $1 million per year, would you expect them to reach the audit rate that is observed.  Instead I suspect that Tea Party individuals were pretty much all middle income individuals, so the actually rate of auditing is well obviously dramatically higher than 10-to-1.  Even if they were audited at the same rate as the average taxpayer, the rate would actually be 11.4-to-1.  The Washington Times thus very likely understated the bias against conservative donors.

Here is some information on audit rates.
As incomes climb, so does the audit coverage rate. The IRS selected 3.26 percent of returns for examination from taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 in 2013 compared to 0.88 percent for taxpayers with incomes under $200,000. Both percentages reflected a drop from 2012, when the IRS selected 3.70 percent of returns for examination from taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 and 0.94 percent of returns for examination from taxpayers with incomes under $200,000.
The audit rate for taxpayers with incomes over $1 million also fell in 2013. The IRS selected 10.85 percent of returns for examination from taxpayers with incomes above $1 million . . . . 
More on this case from Fox News


Newest piece at National Review: "The Shaky Case against the Death Penalty"

My newest piece starts this way:
After the recent mishandled execution in Oklahoma, in which the murderer ended up dying from a heart attack, death-penalty opponents pounced.  
Not surprisingly, the Sunday-morning talk shows focused on whether we should keep the death penalty. ABC News’s This Week was hardly a balanced panel, with four members wanting to abolish the death penalty and the fifth wanting “maybe a halfway point between eliminating it” and what we currently have. 
Let’s analyze the three main arguments made on ABC against the death penalty. 
1. “Support for the death penalty has fallen from 80 percent in 1993 [actually 1994] to 60 percent in 2013.” 
Has support for the death penalty fallen since 1994? Sure, but what ABC News didn’t explain was that the years chosen were carefully cherry-picked. Support for the death penalty in 1994 was the highest ever recorded, according to Gallup. But consider instead all the 43 surveys from 1936 to 2012. Those surveys showed that an average of 63.8 percent of Americans supported the death penalty. Sixty percent in 2013 is down slightly from the average over the preceding 76 years, but it was hardly an earth-shattering change. . . .

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Missouri to vote on revised state constitutional protection of right to keep and bear arms

In the next election, the voters in Missouri will vote on this amended wording.  From the Washington Post:
That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned[; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons]. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The current wording is as follows:
That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons. 


Ratio of self identified Republican to Democrat journalist falls to new low in latest poll

Image courtesy of The American Journalist in the Digital Age

In 1971, the ratio of self-identified Republican to Democratic journalists was 0.72. 
1982: 0.49
1992: 0.37
2002: 0.50
2013: 0.25

These are numbers compiled from various polls by Lars Wilnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana.


Federal Election Commission warns that it wants to regulate media discussion of candidates as campaign contributions

Note that the current chairman of the FEC is a Republican and that he is upset by the pressure from others in the FEC for the government to regulated the content of media coverage because of concerns that it benefits different political candidates.  From Fox News:
The chairman of the Federal Election Commission warned Wednesday that officials at the agency want to start regulating the media, despite a longstanding congressional ban on doing so.  
"The impulse to regulate the media within the FEC is alive and well," Chairman Lee E. Goodman told FoxNews.com in an interview.  
Goodman pointed to several recent decisions and developments that stoke concerns about the commission -- which is supposed to regulate money in federal elections -- sticking its nose in the affairs of the press. . . . 
But Goodman voiced concern that it was seriously considered at all, saying the commission was in the position of trying to "second guess the editorial decisions" of the network.  
The consideration, he said, "clearly indicates that there are people in the FEC who believe we have the power to regulate the media."  
Goodman also pointed to recent cases where the FEC was deadlocked, 3-3, on cases he argues should have been unanimously struck down. This includes a 2010 complaint about "The Sean Hannity Show" over an endorsement that went out on the radio show's distribution list. . . . 


Why gun control will be a very major issue in the 2016 presidential election

Hillary Clinton has this:
We have to rein in what has become [an] almost article of faith, that anybody can own a gun anywhere, anytime. And I don’t believe that."
With Obama already putting lots of anti-self-defense judges on the federal courts, including Supreme Court Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, four more years of a Democrat presidency could pretty much doom and reverse any recent wins over the right of people to protect themselves in either the Heller or McDonald decisions.

If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, gun issues will be front and center in the 2016 presidential election.  My own belief is that Bloomberg, Soros, Obama and others are planning a huge flood of gun control studies in 2016 to help protect Hillary in that election (see quote on page 3, paragraph 3 in the study linked here).

More on the issue of Hillary and gun control is available here.

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What is it with Bloomberg trying to take over national holidays? First Thanksgiving, now Mother's Day

Last year Michael Bloomberg pushed to have people raise gun control issues on Thanksgiving.  Now we have Bloomberg's Moms Demand Action trying to take over Mother's Day.  What is the deal with Bloomberg trying to hijack national holidays?  Unlike what they did regarding Thanksgiving, at least they are not yet demanding that Mother's Day dinner conversations have to be about political issues.  From a Moms Demand Action press release:
In advance of Mother's Day on May 11, 2014, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today announced a 'Week of Action' to demonstrate the power of moms fighting to pass common-sense reforms that will prevent gun violence and save lives. The week includes the 2nd annual 'Moms Take the Hill' and more than 150 house parties taking place across the country. Throughout the week's activities Moms will also recruit Americans to join the Gun Sense Voter campaign that will – for the first time – mobilize at least one million voters to go to the polls in November and vote for candidates with gun sense – the simple idea that we can do much more to keep our families and communities safe from gun violence. . . .
Yet another of their press releases from this week is available here.

Of course, Bloomberg's groups are not alone.  Last year Michelle Obama also advised people to "be persistent" and "start the conversation early" about bringing up political talking points during Thanksgiving conversations. 


Response to Jack D’Aurora's column in the Columbus Dispatch on the supposed dangers of concealed handguns

Every few years lawyer Jack D’Aurora seems to go after me in his column in the Columbus Dispatch, and I have responded previously.  D’Aurora takes cherry picking to a new level.  Not only does he pick a couple of studies, but he then he ignores those very similar studies when it comes to other gun control efforts that he favors.  Most disappointingly in his personal attacks he proves himself to be a very sloppy lawyer who made claims that he would have realized were false if he had actually read the briefs in the case.  D’Aurora's piece was published on April 21st:
Almost every day we read about gun deaths. What’s behind this problem? The National Rifle Association tells us, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Let’s go with that. The FBI reports that in 2012, people killed 144 babies, 422 kids age 12 and under, 1,327 teenagers, 96 husbands, 498 wives, 140 mothers, 126 fathers, 168 boyfriends, 494 girlfriends and thousands of others, for a grand total of 12,723 people — with guns. 
The numbers will not go down dramatically until we change focus. If we’re serious about reducing gun deaths, we need to stop debating whether more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens result in less crime. It’s the wrong issue, and the evidence is inconclusive. 
Economist John Lott was perhaps the first to champion the idea that more guns means less crime; others are in his camp. In response, scholars Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue III and others have refuted Lott’s conclusion. The National Research Council concluded in 2004 that there is “no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime.” The council also found that statistics concerning defensive gun use were unreliable because of “ disagreement over the definition of defensive gun use and uncertainty over the accuracy of survey responses to sensitive questions and the methods of data collection.” . . .
From the beginning of my response on May 3rd:
In his recent op-ed, Jack D’Aurora cherry-picks a couple of old studies from 2003 and 2004 (“ Focus needs to be on reducing gun deaths,” April 21). He conveniently ignores the massive body of research conducted for well over a decade and a half. But even doing that, the worst that D’Aurora can claim is that concealed-carry laws do not increase crime. 
Consider peer-reviewed studies by criminologists and economists that examined national data. Twenty of them found right-to-carry laws reduced violent crime; 11 indicated no discernible effect. But absolutely none found that concealed-carry laws increase murder, rape or robbery rates. 
When the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ ban on concealed handguns in December 2012, Judge Richard Posner, writing for the majority, noted: “Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden.” 
D’Aurora’s column cited a 2003 non-peer-reviewed article by Ian Ayres and John Donohue, who claimed to have found a small temporary increase in crime, followed by a downward trend. Their conclusion was that concealed-carry really had no effect on crime rates. . . .
The editor slightly changed the conclusion of my letter.  The conclusion was originally: "D’Aurora cherry-picks studies that are closest to his views and then ignores that same research when it doesn’t support the gun laws he supports."

In case the link to my letter gets broken, you can click on the screen shot below.


Shaming people for crimes: Websites showing people's mugshots

The cost of committing crime for certain people may have gone up.  Some people can't be shamed, but for others (and we can guess who that might be), the cost of committing crime just went up.  I am not saying that this is good, just discussing the potential impact.  From Fox News:
Jaclyn Lardie did what many do when looking for a job: she Googled her name to see what a prospective employer would find. The search results devastated her. 
At the top of the page was an old photo from a night she'd rather forget -- a college-era mugshot from an underage drinking bust. Lardie was never convicted and had put the incident behind her. But commercial mugshot websites pounced on her photo and published it online, demanding a fee to remove it. 
"I was hugely surprised. My heart sank," Lardie said. "I felt like I was being unfairly painted as a criminal." 
With no options, she paid the fee, only to see her mugshot pop up on another site. That's when she realized she couldn't win this battle. Profiting from shame is the business model for mugshot websites. 
"I personally believe it's a legalized form of blackmail," said Lardie, whose photo now resides on Mugshots.com under her maiden name. The website charges $399 for removal. . . .

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Appearance on Judge Jeanine's show on Fox News: Why Chicago's Crime Rates are so high


Can someone name me one college where faculty have protested over a Democratic administration figure giving a commencement address?

From Fox News:
"An overwhelming number of the students were disappointed in Condoleezza Rice no longer being the commencement speaker after a small minority of the student body and intolerant faculty members at Rutgers University protested loudly over the past month ... A university should be a place where free ideas are exchanged and a diversity of opinions are encouraged," Coughlan said in the letter. 
Rice withdrew her name as speaker on Saturday following protests from a group of Rutgers University students, who staged a sit-in at a school administration building in New Brunswick last week to protest the school's decision to invite Rice to speak at the university's commencement later this month. Rice made the announcement via Facebook on Saturday. 
The school's Board of Governors voted to pay the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush and national security adviser $35,000 for her appearance at the May 18 ceremony, where she was expected to be awarded an honorary degree. 
But several faculty members and students wanted the invitation rescinded because of Rice's role in the Iraq War. Rutgers' New Brunswick Faculty Council passed a resolution in March calling on the university's board of governors to rescind its invitation. . . .
If the university is serious about free speech, they will pick someone who is viewed as even more conservative than Miss Rice. 

Jake Tapper points out that there was a case at the University of Notre Dame, though as he points out it was primarily something involving students.
WSBT correspondent John Paul reports that students attending the vigil reflected on their last days on campus, with some saying the protests have led to healthy discussions and debates, and that the attention hasn't taken away from their achievements. 
"It hasn't overshadowed it too much anyway," said student Brian Desplinter, who attended the vigil. "I think our student body on campus has handled the controversy particularly well, in contrast to some of the outside parties. . . .

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My son Maxim has a piece on Gary Becker at Fox News

The piece at Fox News begins this way:
Gary Becker, an influential economist who pioneered the use of economics in fields as diverse as crime, marriage, and education, died Saturday at the age of 83 following complications from a surgery.
Using economics to uncover lessons about everyday life is now common. But before Becker, economists limited their research almost exclusively to matters of finance and money.
Becker won a Nobel prize in 1992 for having “extended the domain” of economics, and is remembered by many.
“If there’s one central figure in the revolution that broke apart the fetters around economics, it was Gary,” said Edward Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard who learned economics from Becker.
Becker’s thinking revolutionized many areas. One was crime.
“In the 1950s and 1960s intellectual discussions of crime were dominated by the opinion that criminal behavior was caused by mental illness and social oppression, and that criminals were helpless ‘victims,’” Gary Becker said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1992.
“Such attitudes began to exert a major influence on social policy, [reduced] the apprehension and conviction of criminals, and provided less protection to the law-abiding population.”
Becker argued, that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, criminals are often more rational than people give them credit for. . . .



The calm before the storm: polls moving in the right direction on guns, but the battle is about to get fierce

From Danny Franklin in the Washington Post has this piece of good news:
In 2000, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 51 percent of those surveyed believed having a gun in the house made it a more dangerous place to be, while only 35 percent believed it made a house safer. In a poll of 800 voters I conducted recently, opinions were almost perfectly reversed: Fifty-three percent now believe a gun makes a house safer and 35 percent more dangerous. . . .
He also argues:
The problem is that supporters of new gun restrictions have traditionally approached the issue of gun violence as a political problem to be answered by changing laws. Instead, we need to start looking at guns as a public health problem to be answered by changing minds and habits. . . .
I interpret this as confirming what I already knew: gun control advocates are planning a big push to control the facts used in the gun control debate.  With literally hundreds of millions of dollars coming from the likes of Bloomberg, Soros, the Obama administration, and others, this battle is far from over.

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