Category: Crime and Guns

On Guns: Obama’s Moment of Futility

Critics of Republican attempts to attach a repeal/defund-Obamacare rider to must pass legislation complain that it, and all the votes to do the same before it, were futile and a waste time and effort since these provisions and/or the bills they are attached to will never pass the Senate or get by a promised veto by the President.

Where are these critical voices now that the Secretary of State John Kerry signed a controversial U.N. gun control treaty which U.S. Senators have warned for years is dead on arrival.

For any treaty to become binding on the U.S. or for the President to impose regulations and rules to make a treaty effective, it must be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate – 67 votes.  Earlier this year, President Obama and his anti-gun allies in the Senate were unable to muster the 60 votes necessary to pass universal background checks, much less a simple majority to ban assault weapons.  So what makes him think the Senate would go along with a U.N. sponsored treaty that could be used to do even more harm individuals’ right to keep and bear arms?  Especially after multiple Senators have repeatedly stated that the treaty can’t pass the Senate.

Quite aside from the politics, as I have written before, that the treaty is bad as a matter of policy, so it’s good, in this case, that we have the Senate to check the administration’s ambitions.

I only wish more Administration rules, regulations and laws required a 2/3 majority to become the law of the land – that could result in the truly limited government our founders envisioned.

Obama Puts Politics ahead of People on Guns

On guns, President Obama is either willfully ignorant or just doesn’t get it.  According to a report commissioned by his own CDC,

  • ·         Most indices of crime and gun violence are getting better, not worse.
  • ·         Handguns, not so called assault weapons, are the tools of criminals. 
  • ·         Mass shootings aren’t a problem. 
  • ·         Gun suicide is a bigger killer than gun homicide. 
  • ·         Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. 
  • ·         It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers.

More recently, a study in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy makes the compelling case that neither banning nor reducing the number of firearms would reduce the number of murders or suicides.  This study examined both domestic and international data and found no link between violence and firearms ownership.

So Harvard and the Administration’s agency have come out against the myth that guns cause crime yet that Administration persists in pushing ineffective gun control policies as a salve to the grief of the public affected by violence committed by evil people with firearms.

Why ineffective?  Because the two new executive orders would do nothing to prevent criminals from using firearms.  One order would end the import of military surplus weapons – not machine guns, mind you, but military looking semi-automatic rifles.  More than 250,000 of these weapons have been imported and sold since 2005 and not a single one has been linked to a crime.

Second, Obama would force corporate board members and officers to undergo background checks if a gun was to be registered to the corporation, foundation or trust.  Once again, when is the last time anyone has heard of a foundation trustee or CFO use a gun registered to a corporation in the commission of a crime.  The answer – never.  Certainly, not in any of the mass shootings that have prompted the current flurry attempted gun control measures.

Once again President Obama seems intent on trumping fundamental rights based on political calculations concerning the public’s emotional reaction, not a reasoned assessment of the facts.

One shouldn’t be surprised since the President’s administration long ago broke Obama’s promise to be the most transparent and open administration in history and to follow science, not politics, in matters where science can comment.

Gun Control through the International Terminal

Ambassador John Bolton and UC-Berkeley legal scholar John Yoo have written a timely piece in the Wall Street Journal concerning the Obama Administration’s efforts to get gun control through to back door after his failure to ram it through Congress earlier this year.  To quote:

Even before his most ambitious gun-control proposals were falling by the wayside, President Obama was turning for help to the United Nations. On April 2, the United States led 154 nations to approve the Arms Trade Treaty in the U.N. General Assembly. While much of the treaty governs the international sale of conventional weapons, its regulation of small arms would provide American gun-control advocates with a new tool for restricting rights.

I wrote about similar efforts previously.  The Bush administration had rejected the treaty, but with a few minor tweaks and a new administration, the U.S. is on board – or at least the executive branch is.  Thankfully, it takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to ratify the treaty and give it the actual force of law; something that is highly unlikely to happen with the current make-up of the Senate.  However, until a vote the Obama administration is likely to treat it as law via executive orders.  Much mischief can be done and vigilance for those who actually believe that the Constitution means what it says, as in “ . . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, ” is necesessary.

Stand your Ground on Stand Your Ground Laws.

Self-defense is a natural right, and I can’t think of a single country where it is not also a legal right recognized for all people.

In response to the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, there has been criticism of state “stand-your-ground” laws that say individuals do not have a duty to retreat if they are attacked.  This is ridiculous since Zimmerman’s actions have been found justified not once, but twice.

Charles W. Cooke, on National Review online, says that such laws simply affirm a preexisting individual right of self-defense, rather than granting any new or special right.   Cooke’s views echo my own.  A good argument that stand your ground beats the alternative “duty to retreat,” has also been made recently.

There is no good argument to rescind these laws, and a number of good reasons to think enacting them in all states would make the average person (unless they plan to commit a crime) safer.

A major NCPA study found that firearms play an important role in self-defense against criminals.

A second NCPA piece found that concealed carry holders were more law-abiding than the average citizen.

Miranda Lambert’s song is on the mark.


The Truth about Guns Shoots Down Obama’s Claims

guns pic

When a government report, one that you, as President of the United States, ordered, undermines claims you’ve been making for months to gain support for new regulations, well . . . you’re in trouble.

This is just what happened to President Obama this week.  In the aftermath of the horrific mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut President Obama issued more than 20 executive orders related to gun control.  Among them, the President required the CDC to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.  The study was carried out by The Committee on Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence under the National Research Council.  The press is largely ignoring the studies result.  Why, with such a high profile topic?  Perhaps, because the findings undermine recent efforts, backed by the President, Democratic Party Leadership and the mainstream media, to implement new gun control laws.

Slate magazine looked at the study and reported it found a number of  troubling results – troubling, that is, if you are arguing for more gun control based on any one of a number of false claims.  The report found:

  • Most indices of crime and gun violence are getting better, not worse. 
  • Handguns are the problem. 
  • Mass shootings aren’t the problem. 
  • Gun suicide is a bigger killer than gun homicide. 
  • Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. 
  • It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers. 

For other findings or more details about the findings listed above, go to Slate.

The funny thing is, these are not new findings.  Gun rights advocates have been laying out these facts for years, only to have their arguments ignored or mocked, outside of law journals.  One might hope that with the government’s own researchers showing that the gun control proposals favored by the administration would be unlikely to reduce violence committed with guns President Obama and his allies in Congress might reexamine their knee jerk anti-gun premises and look to anew on proposals made by gun rights advocates – but I won’t be holding my breath.


More Guns, Less Crime: Lott once again proven right!

My colleague and friend, noted economist Dr. John Lott has been telling anyone who would listen for the past decade and a half that more guns in law-abiding hands (especially when carried) result in lower crime rates.  His data driven argument flies in the face of liberal claims that more guns result in more violence and crime — and when it is proof vs. liberal dogma, for the mainstream media, the dogma always wins.

This being said, it is with great joy that I get to tweak gun control advocates and anti-gun politicians noses once again with continuing proof that more guns and lower crime rates are compatible (and plausibly have a causative connection).

This week the Pew Research Center released a widely cited study demonstrating that crime involving firearms has declined by almost half over the past twenty years.  If gun control advocates were correct, then the number of guns in private hands should have fallen dramatically over this time period, but in fact, just the opposite has occurred.  The number of privately held guns has soared from approximately 220 million to more than 300 million over the same time period.

Indeed, in recent years under President Obama, while violent crime and murder has continued to decline, gun sales have regularly hit record year over year and month over month highs and now all states but Illinois allow the concealed carry of firearms.

John, take a bow and shout out a loud “I told you so!”

On Government Ammo Purchases, Do the Math

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder about the Obama administration’s recent run on ammunition.

Beginning in the summer of 2012, various federal agencies began purchasing large amounts of ammunition – agencies which aren’t often thought of as having a law enforcement capacity, much less a substantially armed policing force:   the Social Security Administration, the National Oceanic and and Atmospheric Administration and between 450 million and 1.6 billion rounds over the next five years for the Department of Homeland security.  Mainstream media sluggards didn’t cover this story for more than 2 months after it first appeared in the blogosphere and then only to parrot the administration’s explanation for the timing and extremely large amount of the ammunition purchases.

Now, less only six months later the DHS is putting out a bid for another 1.6 billion rounds.  That’s 5 rounds for every American or equal to the amount of ammunition needed for 24 years of the Iraq war at its peak.    When they address it at all, the major media has once again trotted out the Administration’s explanation for the purchases rather than doing an independent investigation.  The administration claims, for example, that the DHS they uses 15 million rounds a year in during practice and qualifying;, but do the math, at that rate they have enough ammo for 100 years – yet in these times of tight budgets they have to have all 1.6 billion in the next four years.  Maybe the government got a 1 billion round price break.  Must have a large storage facility with a great shelf life.  Prices have skyrocketed and civilian ammunition has dried up  — now I’m not suggesting an ulterior motive for the huge purchases but you’ve got to wonder.

Another  set of issues  to make one  think:  while this inexplicable ammo buying binge is going on, the Obama administration and several state governments are pushing new gun control bills.  Private sales would have to go through the same background check system as purchases from licensed gun dealers – evidently the government believes that criminals will break all other laws but the one they will obey is the one have the FBI check on them before they buy, sell or steal guns.  Gun owners recognize this push for universal background checks as a step towards registration – and believe, based on ample historical precedence, that registration inevitably leads to confiscation.  Indeed,  a recent government report argues that universal background checks would do little or nothing to reduce crime unless it was accompanied by gun registration.  Concerning the administration’s other proposals, it finds that none would be particularly useful in preventing crimes – so why expend so much political capital to pass them unless there is an ulterior motive (note another opening one could drive a truck through if one believed the government was out to subvert the second amendment).    While long time gun control advocates and New York Senator Chuck Schumer and various state legislators and governors have argued that background checks will not lead to registration or confiscation, their words belie  their actions.  For instance, in Washington state, legislation was introduced allowing local Sheriffs to enter private homes to see that only legal guns are owned and that they are stored properly.   (Some might recognize this as an assault on another constitutional right, the Fourth: prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure and the need for probable cause before search warrants are issued – oh, well, what’s one more Constitutionally protected right on the bonfire.   ).

Finally, have you seen the multimillion dollar order for targets that the Homeland security and other domestic law enforcement agencies have requested.  Look at the targets and see what you think:


When the government wants to “target” (pun fully intended but not funny at all) little old ladies in house coats, small boys, pregnant women and little girls, we are supposed to ignore what the targets represent. And the admonishment on the targets – “No More Hesitation!”  Is this really the attitude we want law enforcement agencies to take, shoot first, ask questions later?   This is what security now means, your average citizen, men, women and children are all targets?

Like I said, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder what the heck is going on and why the mainstream media is not all over this, playing its self-appointed role of the fourth estate (the independent guardian of the people against abuses by government).  One pleads for the old printing presses helmed by the likes of Thomas Paine, William Bradford, Isaiah Thomas, Hannah Bunce Watson, Samuel Adams and the Committees of Correspondence.  These were the bloggers of their day.  They uncovered and disseminated widespread government wrong doing and suspicious activities whereas today’s popular press excuses it as long as it is their “party” in power.


Obama’s gun proposals: Much Sound and Fury signifying nothing

Nothing can make up for the lost and shattered lives which occur every time there is a public shooting. Sandy Hook and all the senseless massacres before it cry out for explanation and justice.  Everyone agrees that action should be taken to reduce the likelihood of such shootings or, when they occur, the amount of carnage that results.  However, when I hear politicians state in support of some proposed law “If it saves just one life, it will be worth it,” I cringe and am angered because I know that they are cynically playing the public, not responding seriously to the problem.  Millions of laws could be passed that would “save just one life,” but they are not worth passing because they have huge costs in terms of liberty, convenience and yes even in terms of greater lives lost.  Enacting a national speed limit of two miles per hour would save countless lives, but at what cost?  Disarming the police, and not allowing doctors to practice medicine would equally prevent thousands, if not tens of thousands of premature deaths each year (see the stats for wrongful shootings and medical errors resulting in deaths) but at vastly greater costs in terms of lives lost.  Saving lives, one or hundreds, is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for a law to be enacted, though it could be one starting point for a law to be considered – and all politicians know this.

In this instance, the question is not simply what actions are most likely to reduce mass shootings in particular or shootings or violence in general , per say, but rather what laws would do this without violating Constitutionally protected liberties or producing even worse, unanticipated, harms.

The President’s proposals fall into three categories (with some overlap).

1)     Small gestures, that might be helpful and at worst are innocuous.

2)     Grand gestures that play to his constituency but have already been tried and proven ineffective (old wine in new bottles)

3)     Proposals that could threaten constitutionally protected rights and civil liberties but would do little or nothing to prevent the types of gun violence generating the current attention paid to firearms policy.

In short, the President’s proposals would not prevent the types of horrific incidences experienced at Sandy Hook Elementary and in Colorado.  Our children and the public in general deserve better, more focused, proposals.

Some of the executive orders the President signed might be a slight improvement over current regulations.  Improved sharing of between federal agencies and between federal and state agencies, increased specialized training for emergency response teams and improved emergency response plans, increased prosecution of crimes involving guns, increased effort to trace guns and producing and sharing data concerning lost and stolen guns, for instance,  all seem fairly sensible.  Other executive orders, however, have little or no relevance to public school shootings – finalizing regulations pertaining to certain aspects of Obamacare, for example.  In addition, asking the CPSC to review safety standards for gun safes and locks would have had little or no effect on public shootings – gun storage hasn’t been an issue.  There are, in general, two types of gun safes: Expensive, heavy and difficult to break into; inexpensive, light, relatively easy to carry off or break into.  Even the latter safe is better than nothing and will dissuade smash and grab thieves and all but the most committed criminals from stealing the owners’ guns.  If the CSPC, however, decides that such inexpensive safes must be more secure, their costs will soar as more expensive materials and locking mechanisms will have to be used.  As the costs of safes rise, fewer gun owners of moderate incomes will use them, meaning easier illicit access to guns. Other executive orders may compromise public health or threaten civil liberties. For instance, while nothing in the orders require doctors to ask about guns or make off the cuff mental evaluations, the fact that doctors may feel either pressured to at least freer to do so may reduce communication between doctor and some of his patients leading to ineffective or harmful care.  In addition, it might reduce a patient’s trust in his/her physician and lead to fewer doctor visits despite medical need.  Directing the AG to review new categories for denying people their gun rights, combined with the medical concerns raised above, could violate civil liberties, especially if the new categories result in patients being treated for mental health concerns routinely being flagged and disallowed from owning firearms despite no procedural findings of incompetence or being a threat to themselves or others – the ACLU has expressed similar concerns.

The President’s more comprehensive proposals would require Congressional action to become law: all private sales requiring background checks; a permanent, 10 round limit on ammunition magazine capacity; and a ban on the manufacture and sale of new military styled rifles (weapons the President refers to as assault weapons due to their appearance rather than performance).   This seems unlikely for a couple of reasons.  First, millions lawful gun owners would be negatively affected, and Congress is already hearing of their displeasure concerning the proposals – Congress critters that want to stay in office in the off-year elections will be unlikely to vote in favor of the proposals.  Second, and as importantly, the latter two proposals have already been tried for 10 years, and multiple studies have shown that they had no appreciable effect on gun violence in general or mass shootings in particular.  These proposals are feel good measures, that don’t warrant further serious consideration.  Though in some instances, children have stolen their parents guns to commit mass murder, in no instances that I’m aware of have parents passing their guns down to their children or neighbors selling a spare rifle to neighbor had anything to do with mass shootings – such transactions haven’t been the source of guns used.  And gun research has consistently shown that criminals don’t get their guns from gun shows (indeed, less than 2 percent of guns linked to crimes originated from gun shows).

On the other hand, President Obama has not just ignored but rather derisively dismissed proposals that might actually have a positive effect of reducing gun violence: either allowing teachers or school staff authorized to carry concealed firearms in their state to carry concealed in school or, as the NRA has proposed, having armed officers or security guards in every school.  The President’s response to the NRA’s serious proposal was: “I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in our schools.”  First, no one ever said it was the only answer.  Second, all guns are not equal.  Guns in the hands of good guys are not the same as guns in the hands of bad guys – otherwise, why would we arm police?  For police, intelligence is the key to solving crimes after the fact but armed officers in an area are the prime disincentive we offer criminals to prevent criminal acts.  Indeed, almost all multiple shootings only ended after the assailant was confronted with an armed citizen, or an armed police response – even in those incidences where the shooting ended in the with the assailant’s suicide, the killer didn’t kill himself until an armed response appeared.  Despite widely hyped fears, there have been no instances of mass shootings where an armed response, either by the police or by private citizens, has resulted in worse results or innocents being shot in a cross fire between responders and the killers.

Public opinion polls indicate that the public recognizes this fact and supports armed guards even if the President doesn’t.  More importantly, these same polls show that while there has been a temporary (now declining) support for guns restrictions like those proposed by the President, the public recognizes that these laws would be unlikely to prevent or reduce the number or harm from mass shooting.  Only good people with guns, can discourage action by or reduce the carnage from bad people intending harm with guns.


Guns, Global Warming and Gore: Irony on display

My first post in the New Year covers a number of interesting items that I’ve noticed receiving too little coverage in the past few days.

Guns: Despite what the general public is led to believe by media coverage (perception is not necessarily reality folks) rifles, including the faux military rifles, are used to kill fewer people yearly than either hammers or hands.  Don’t believe me?  Check with the FBI.

While any number of murders is too many, I hear no calls to ban the real killing tools, hammers and the hands that wield them.

Global Warming: Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal (and Matt Ridley) did everyone favor once again by publishing important news that other news sources – one would presume because it violates their bias – didn’t touch.  The news: the forthcoming report by supposedly the one and only authoritative body speaking on climate change, the U.N.s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, estimates that future warming due to human causes will be approximately half their most recent predictions and much lower than the amount of warming predicted in IPCC’s first three reports.  According to the IPCC a doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of just 2.9 to 3.1 0F, significantly lower than the 5.4 to nearly 7 degree warming most recently estimated.

This brings the IPCC’s estimates much closer in line with estimates made for the past few years by Virginia climate scientist Pat Michaels than their own previous estimates.  The more we learn – and follow the evidence not rhetoric, flawed models or altered data – the less we have to fear.

Gore: It seems that the former failed presidential candidate has found a new way to make money: BIG OIL!  Gore, who’s family originally made their money through wielding political power and growing tobacco, is perhaps best known as the world’s foremost (and highly publicized) climate alarmist.  Gore never met a fossil fuel, or fossil fuel company that he didn’t bemoan.  For Gore, oil companies were the Devil – paying shills to deny climate science.  Well the Devil may be a bad fellow and all, but evidently not bad enough that Gore wouldn’t get into bed with him and, more importantly, take his money.  Gore refused to sell his company flailing television station Current TV to Glenn Beck; too unsavory a character evidently.  Rather, he sold the company for $500,000,000 (with Gore pocketing $70,000,000 – $100,000,000) to Al Jazeera, a Qatar owned television station.  Where does the Al Jazeera get its funding?  From the oil rich Qatar government – more than half its revenue comes from oil — and the royal family.

Imagine that, Gore the planet’s champion taking filthy, oil-soaked, lucre.  Evidently the green of money trumps saving green mother nature.

Appeals Court Overturns Illinois Ban on Concealed Weapons: NCPA cited in ruling

In a major victory for gun rights advocates, the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, on Tuesday December 11, struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois, the only remaining state where carrying concealed weapons is entirely illegal.

In issuing its ruling, among other cases and papers, the Appellate court cited the NCPA’s 2000 study, Texas Concealed Handgun Carriers: Law-abiding Public Benefactors.

The case before the court combined two cases brought by multiple parties including the Illinois State Rifle Association, the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation on behalf of two different sets of Illinois resident’s affected by the Illinois carry ban.   In issuing its ruling, the majority opinion written by Judge Richard Posner, found that the lower courts had clearly ignored the fact that two recent rulings by the Supreme Court: Heller and McDonald (versus Chicago) which made clear the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right and that, since one reason was for self-protection, people had the right to self-defense outside the home as well as inside.  The court ruled that the lower courts was not, as is typical, remanding the case to the lower courts for evidentiary proceedings since the case did not concern evidence but the law and as a matter of law the Supreme Court of the United States had spoken.  The case was sent back to the lower courts with a directive to declare the Illinois bans unconstitutional and issue a permanent injunction.  It did stay the implementation of the ruling for 180 days in order to allow the legislature  time to write a law that legalizes carrying firearms outside the home.

In May 2011, a strong majority of the Illinois House voted on a bill to legalize concealed carry by a 65-32 vote. Seventy-one votes were necessary for passage of the legislation, House Bill 148, which was lobbied against by Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  With upstate Illinois, especially Chicago’s, antipathy towards the reasonable exercise of individual’s fundamental gun rights, it is likely that Chicago’s mayor will work with Governor Pat Quinn and upstate legislators  to make concealed carry as difficult as possible for Illinois residents.  This is the next battle ground for freedom.