Continued media misinformation on gun-free zones at restaurants? Have Sonic and Chili’s really banned customers from bring firearms into the restaurants?

The problem with these stories (such as ones I read at MSNBC, IBTimes, or other places) is that they don't make it clear whether the stores will actually post that people aren't allowed to carry in their restaurants.  The stories seem more aimed at pushing gun control than actually informing readers.

The changes at StarbucksJack in the BoxChipotle, Wendy's, and Applebee's have changed in practice.  The same may be here too, but from the way the stories are written you would never know.

However, I will say that I actually believe that those who are carrying long guns into restaurants really want to try to have guns banned.


"Wide support for 'gun violence restraining orders'"

First, let me say that it isn't obvious how accurate this poll is for one simple reason: it was done right after a tragic attack (of course, the poll doesn't mention that half the victims were stabbed to death or that most of the injuries were due to the car that the killer was driving).  When you do a poll right after an attack it shows you about the worst numbers that you can show on the gun control front.  YouGov has a poll showing strong support for taking away people's guns if they have "mental illness."  California is considering taking away people's guns "if they are mentally troubled and their behaviour is reported to the authorities by friends of family."  Given current judicial precedent,  I have a hard time believing that someone's guns can be without a judicial hearing.  The incentives that this rule would create to harass people that relatives aren't happy with could create all sorts of bad consequences.

Regarding overall gun control, 49 percent want more gun control and 45 percent want things to either stay the same or be loosened.  If this is the worst that these numbers are right now, there is still a general trend against more gun control.


Seriously? Father faced criminal penalties for having a disobedient son walk an entire mile home

Is it really a horrible punishment to make a son who is misbehaving have to walk for an entire 15 to 20 minutes?  How can that be so horrible?  Are children considered by the courts to be so sensitive that they can't walk for that long of a period of time?  From Fox News:
A judge sentenced a Hawaii man to one year of probation and a $200 fine for making his son walk a mile home from school as a form of discipline.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe called the punishment "old-school" and no longer appropriate, the Garden Island newspaper reported Thursday.
Robert Demond of Kilauea said he picked up his son from school and asked about a matter that had been brought to his attention. When the son didn't respond, Demond made him walk home to think about his actions.
The age of the boy is unclear. Demond's attorney and a prosecutor didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment from The Associated Press.
Demond was also ordered to attend a parenting class after being convicted of endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor. Demond pleaded no contest and said he would handle the situation differently now after the case went through two courts. . . . .



Media Matters gets things wrong again: "Gun Researcher John Lott Relies On Falsehoods To Downplay Gun Violence Threat To Women"

Media Matters defense of the recent Moms Demand Action is available here.

On May 24th, Shannon Watts, the president of Moms Demand Action, put out a tweet concerning violence against women in the US compared to other countries.  The impression surely created was that the US is the worst country in the world in terms of violence against women.  On two separate times I tweeted her back to ask her where she got the data for this claim (most recently asking about it two days ago).  In neither case did I get a response.

Moms Demand Action Misinformation on Female Homicides Across Countries

In a piece that I published today at National Review Online, I pointed out that the "Data from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) allows you to break down murders either by the sex of the victim or by whether firearms are used, but it doesn’t allow users to identify both these categories simultaneously."  For many years the World Health Organization also hasn't provided such data.  While Moms Demand Action never responded to my questions about their data source, it turns out that they were pointing to homicide data from 1994 to 1999, not recent data.  Just as an aside, the US homicide rate was about 60 percent higher over that period than it was last year.

Now let's get to the main points.

1) "Lott further misled by claiming that the proper comparison between countries would involve examining 'homicide rates'"

The "84% of female firearm homicides in 25 countries are in US" claim compares the total number of homicides for women without adjusting for population.  To be included in their list of countries (p. 1): "We used data from only those high-income countries that had populations over 2 million."  By contrast, in 1995, the US population was about 265 million people.  As I pointed out in my piece: "Moms Demand Action’s claim doesn’t make much sense anyway; they shouldn’t compare the raw number of homicides, since that doesn’t account for differences between countries in population size. Comparing homicide rates makes a lot more sense. Map 1.6 from the UNODC shows that in 2012 the U.S. had one of the world’s lower rates of homicide against females."  As far as I can tell, Media Matters never explains why it is misleading to compare rates than the total number of homicides.

For all the countries in the world the United Nations provides this Figure (click on it to make it larger).  Not only is the US in the lowest of the six grouping of countries provided by the UN, but within this homicide rate of 0 to 3 per 100,000 women, the rate for the US is about 1 per 100,000 women.

Media Matters claims: "Lott's purpose was to distract from violence perpetrated against women."  But as far as I can tell, I was looking at total homicides committed against women.  I am not sure how that distracts from the issue of "violence perpetrated against women."

2) Homicide rates in developed countries.

As to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, the normal way to break these comparisons down is by developed versus non developed countries.  In this figure are the female homicide rates for developed countries in 2011 using the UNODC data.  If one cares about total homicides and not how the homicides were committed, you can see the numbers here.  By the way, looking at homicides and not murders biases the numbers somewhat against the US because of the inclusion of justifiable homicides.

(Click on figure to make it bigger.)

3) "The fact is the murder rate in the United States is much higher compared to other high-income nations, with the discrepancy being largely driven by gun murders."

For a discussion on this point please see these two posts here and here.
4) "[m]ore than twice as many women are killed with a gun used by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than are murdered by strangers using guns, knives, or any other means."

What isn't explained here is that intimate acquaintances include crime involving prostitutes and johns or pimps.  On the more general point, the real risk factor is whether the attacker has a violent criminal record, not whether a gun is owned in the home.
UPDATE: Possibly some context is needed here.  One of the points of Moms Demand Action's claim is to make people fearful of guns in the home.  The response that I made is that many of these deaths are not involving events between what most people are thinking about regarding "their husbands or intimate acquaintances."  Being a prostitute is simply a more dangerous occupation than most women engage in, and thus women can reduce their risks by not engaging in this type of work.
5) Further note on the the Journal of the American Medical Women's Association study.

The study uses the percentage of suicides committed with guns as their proxy for gun ownership rates.  Unfortunately, since the method of suicide varies greatly by gender and other social characteristics, the measure is more a proxy for demographics than it is a measure of gun ownership rates.

Since Media Matters regularly rewrites their pieces after I have posted my comments, I have been taking screen shots of their original posts (click on screen shot to enlarge).

Labels: ,

House Democrats consider pushing gun control this year

Apparently Democrats think that this is a good issue to force in an election year.  From Politico:
House Democrats are considering attaching an amendment to an appropriations bill that would force stricter background checks for gun purchases.
Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said top Democrats are in “discussions” on an amendment but have not decided what the language would say specifically.
He said the amendment would likely be an effort to strike the “prohibition on requiring gun sellers to report on multiple sales on assault-type weapons.” . . .


Economy shrinks by 1 percent in First Quarter

Pretty amazingly bad news today.
The economy in the U.S. contracted for the first time in three years from January through March as companies added to inventories at a slower pace and curtailed investment. 
Gross domestic product fell at a 1 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, a bigger decline than projected, after a previously reported 0.1 percent gain, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The last time the economy shrank was in the same three months of 2011. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.5 percent drop. . . .
Do you want to see what Obama's "recovery" looks like?  This is the first recovery in US history where the gap between trend GDP and actually GDP has been getting bigger over time.


Newest piece at National Review Online: "Bloomberg’s Bogus Gun-Control Numbers"

My newest piece starts this way:
Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Moms Demand Action couldn’t let the tragedy in Santa Barbara pass without interjecting more false information into the gun-control debate. 
Given the Santa Barbara killer’s hatred of women (though four of the six victims were men), it is quite understandable that the topic of violence against women has been raised. Moms Demand Action tried fueling the fire with the claim that “84% of female firearm homicides in 25 countries are in US.” 
It is hard to see how Moms Demand Action could even make this comparison across all countries. Data from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) allows you to break down murders either by the sex of the victim or by whether firearms are used, but it doesn’t allow users to identify both these categories simultaneously
Moms Demand Action’s claim doesn’t make much sense anyway; they shouldn’t compare the raw number of homicides, since that doesn’t account for differences between countries in population size. Comparing homicide rates makes a lot more sense. Map 1.6 from the UNODC shows that in 2012 the U.S. had one of the world’s lower rates of homicide against females. . . .

Labels: ,


Newest Fox News piece: Memo to gun-control advocates: Even Elliot Rodger believed guns would have deterred him

The newest Fox News piece starts this way:
How can we prevent mass murderers? Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six innocent people this past Friday in California, is causing everyone to ask that question, yet again.
Rodger spent over a year and a half meticulously planning his attack. 
His 141-page “manifesto” makes it clear that he feared someone with a gun could stop him before he was able to kill a lot of people. 
Consider his discussion about where he thought the best place to attack people was: 
“Another option was Deltopia, a day in which many young people pour in from all over the state to have a spring break party on Del Playa Street. I figured this would be the perfect day to attack Isla Vista, but after watching Youtube videos of previous Deltopia parties, I saw that there were way too many cops walking around on such an event. It would be impossible to kill enough of my enemies before being dispatched by those damnable cops.” 
Many gun-control advocates have long dismissed the notion that guns can deter these killers. . . . .

Labels: ,


This is getting very embarrassing: After first not responding to the Financial Times' questions, Thomas Piketty now engages in name calling.

I have written about Piketty's letter to the Financial Times about the mistakes in his book.  Now Piketty has gone from not answering the Financial Times' questions to name calling.  You know that Piketty is in a lot of trouble.  From The Guardian:
In an interview with the Agence France-Presse news agency, the economist said: "The FT is being ridiculous because all of its contemporaries recognise that the biggest fortunes have grown faster."
While the available data was imperfect, it did not undermine his central argument about widening inequality, he said. "Where the Financial Times is being dishonest is to suggest that this changes things in the conclusions I make, when in fact it changes nothing. More recent studies only support my conclusions, by using different sources." . . .
As to Piketty's claim that the FT is being dishonest about the impact that these have on his numbers, all one has to do is look at the figures and how they flatten out the claimed inequality for the Britain, Europe, and the top 1% of Americans.


Do you want an idea of how difficult it is to use mental health screening to figure out who is going to engage in these mass public shootings?

If you are interested in some numbers on how hard it is to accurately screen out those who are a real danger to others, check out this link.


Do mentally ill, multiple victim killers purposefully pick targets where victims are most vulnerable?: The case of Elliot Rodger

For gun control advocates who actually read the Elliot Rodger’s manifesto, they will be in for some real surprises.  There appears to be real evidence that he picked the place to attack precisely because he didn't think that the victims would be defended.  


My review of Piketty's book at Amazon

For those interested, here is the review that I posted on Piketty's book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century."

Labels: ,


Piketty's incredibly weak response to the Financial Times finding of errors, Piketty doesn't directly address any of the problems

The Financial Times did a devastating job pointing to errors in Piketty's new book (I had an initial discussion available here).  Now Piketty has published a response letter in the FT available here.  If I were to summarize Piketty's response: it is a nonresponse and he doesn't deal directly with any of the problems raised.

On the corrected European data not showing an increase inequality since 1970, the problems were data not matching the sources that he claimed he obtained the data from, observations being used that don't exist in the sources he cites, and him linking series that are incompatible.  His response is:

I certainly agree that available data sources on wealth are much less systematic than for income. . . .
As I make clear in the book, in the on-line appendix, and in the many technical papers I have published on this topic, one needs to make a number of adjustments to the raw data sources so as to make them more homogenous over time and across countries. I have tried in the context of this book to make the most justified choices and arbitrages about data sources and adjustments. I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future (this is why I put everything on line). . . .
First note that he doesn't directly respond to any of the critiques.  He comes closest when he says that "one needs to make a number of adjustments," but a more helpful response from him would have been to specifically give one single example.  His response clearly doesn't even try to explain data that isn't available in the sources he cites nor is this really a justification for why he would link inconsistent data series.  

For example, take Giles statement that: "Here’s a list of constructed data, where there appears to be no source or where the source is not described either accurately or fully."  A response on the unexplained data would have been something like: if Chris Giles had looked at Appendix B in XXX, he would have clearly seen the source of the data for years XX and XX.  

An explanation for the adjustments would have read something like this: while the data in the original source XX doesn't show an increase in inequality, the reason that my series added 2 percentage points to the share of wealth held by the top 1 percent in the United States in 1970 is largely due to my adjusting for YY and ZZ that were not accounted for in the original data source.  Clearly, YY has to be done because of AAA.

I would really appreciate if someone could point to one place where Piketty's letter actually addresses Giles' points.

As to the US data, again Piketty doesn't explain why he would arbitrarily add on percentages to the US data.

Finally he then says that all this data is really besides the point because it leaves out certain information, which if we had it, would surely show that he is correct ("Finally, let me say that my estimates on wealth concentration do not fully take into account offshore wealth, and are likely to err on the low side.").

Even Piketty's defenders, such as Neil Irwin at the New York Times, have had to concede that Piketty isn't really responding to the points raised.

He did not specifically address the accusations of data-entry errors or give detailed responses to some of Mr. Giles’s criticisms about questionable assumptions that underlie Mr. Piketty’s broader work. . . .
Instead, the defense is one of tone rather than substance.
But in his e-mail to me, he wrote with an almost jovial tone: “Every wealth ranking in the world shows that the top is rising faster than average wealth,” adding, “If the FT comes with a wealth ranking showing a different conclusion, they should publish it!” . . .
Not only is this besides the point, it is also clearly wrong.  As Giles notes:
In constructing his long-run series (in blue), Prof. Piketty migrates from the Kopczuk-Saez data to that of Wolff (19942010) and Kennickel (2009), even though these are measured on a very different basis. The result is that his line does not have the fall in inequality seen by Kopczuk-Saez but instead shows a rise.  
Looking at the two papers by Wolff, which provide estimates from 1960 to 2010, the top 1 per cent wealth share appears to be essentially flat, going from 33.4 per cent of total wealth in 1960 to 34.6 per cent in 2010. Wolff’s papers describe a modest increase in inequality, significantly gentler than Piketty’s graph shows. . . .
Paul Krugman also takes Piketty's approach to defense and doesn't directly address Giles point that different series can show different results for the US.  A proper response from Krugman would have been to point to why one measure is better than another.  Krugman completely ignores the papers by Kopczuk-Saez  and Wolff directly cited by Giles above.

There are two other points to make:

1) The changes in inequality that Piketty is focusing on are small.  I don't think that inequality is bad -- people are getting paid what others think that they are worth.  But compared to historical values, the recent changes, even if Piketty was right, are small.

2) Despite people claiming that Giles points aren't that important, I think that anyone who looks at the graphs for the UK or the top 1 percent in the US will see that they make a big difference, though the top 1 percent of the US was already relatively flat.

For Europe as a whole, the very small increases in inequality changes to becoming basically flat.

Labels: , ,

The push for gun control after the Santa Barbara attack

As usual, the media news stories got fundamental facts wrong here.  Of particular interest, half the people killed here were stabbed to death.  Also, you won't hear this much in the news, the magazines that the killer used were also apparently limited to holding no more than 10 rounds (note that the Sheriff said that all the magazines were legal under California law).  Obviously neither point fits the gun control check list.

In addition, the Santa Barbara Sheriff's office had interviewed the killer before the attack after a report from a relative that he might be a danger to himself.  In the press conference by the Sheriff's office, it was described how officers interviewed the killer and did not believe him to be a danger.  As was true in Newtown, Fort Hood, Aurora, and other attacks, the point here is again how incredibly difficult it is to identify these mass killers in advance.  It is so much easier to identify these problems after the fact.

Yet, this hasn't stopped gun control advocates from pushing for more gun control.

Mark Kelly, who is the husband of Gabby Giffords and head of Americans for Responsible Solutions, spoke out the day of the Santa Barbara shooting saying:
"Gabby and I are praying for the victims of last night's horrific tragedy in Isla Vista. Every time we learn of another senseless shooting like this one, our hearts break and we know that no words will bring peace to the families who lost loved ones. Like so many in the Isla Vista community, we are angry and shocked. But we are also grateful to the first responders who acted with such courage last night. We are hoping for strength for those who were injured."
Senator Richard Blumenthal pushes for more gun control on Sunday morning.
 A day and a half after a shooting rampage in California left six victims dead, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Sunday the tragedy serves as a reminder of the legislative efforts to stem gun violence that occurred in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.The Democrat from Connecticut, appearing on CBS’s "Face the Nation," said statements from the California victims' families bring the nation back to "when it seemed like we were on the verge of, potentially, legislation that would stop the madness and end the insanity." . . .
On Sunday morning, CNN panelist focus heavily on gun control issues.
Criminal defense attorney Holly Hughes noted that the availability of guns should also be part of the discussion.“I think it’s time to have a discussion about legislating some of the gun issues,” she explained. “Now, I’m not against having guns, it’s a constitutional right. I own a firearm, that’s great.”
“But the disconnect is, if there is somebody with legitimate mental health issues who’s been institutionalized, who has been diagnosed, who is or should be on medication, is there a way that when you apply for a gun permit, we can give that gun shop owner access to those records?” Hughes continued. “Because they’re not going to tell the truth. And the laws that exist right now says you can’t put it out there.”
Feyerick immediately let her panel know that gun laws were not going including in the debate.
“This is an ongoing conversation, and it’s one that’s never going to be resolved,” the CNN host opined. “It’s got to be about mental health, and not firearms.”
Former New York Police Detective Lou Palumbo interrupted to agree that potential gun owners should be required to pass the same type of background checks and firearms training as law enforcement. . . .
The father of one of the young people who had been killed understandably lashed out:
“Our family has a message for every family out there. You don’t think it will happen to your child, until it does,” Martinez said. Choking on tears, he added, “His death has left our family lost and broken.”
“Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness,” Martinez said. . . . 

Labels: ,

New Breitbart article on the Crime Prevention Research Center

From the Breitbart article by Kristin Tate:
Breitbart News previously reported that economist John Lott will establish the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), an initiative to produce studies focused on the relationship between firearms and crime. Lott is largely funding CPRC with donations from individuals who support his mission. Just one month after launching CPRC's campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, Lott has already exceeded $30,000 in donations. The financial success of Lott's campaign suggests that Americans are hungry for accurate information regarding guns and crime, amid a mainstream media that often vilifies firearms and those who own them. The CPRC is currently the most successful campaign in the education section on Indiegogo and has more than double the number of funders than the other trending education campaigns. Lott's project is additionally the third trending campaign in the education section."You spend years trying to work through data to figure out what saves the most lives, and the support that we are receiving is very gratifying," Lott told Breitbart News. "People care about having an objective source that they can trust. The notes that we have received in the mail have really been encouraging." . . .


In push for gun control, Bloomberg's Moms Demand Action puts out false numbers on violence against women

The Crime Prevention Research Center has information on new false claims that Bloomberg's Moms Demand Action have put out on gun violence against women.  The information is available here.