October 15, 2015

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Given the current gun debate, the news of a Harvard Law Journal publishing a study showing more privately owned guns would reduce crime, was bound to find its way to Pickings. However, the blog pointing out the study, Belief Net, was new to us so we did some checking. We actually found the PDF version of the study which was published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Checking further, we learned that the journal was published by Harvard law students of a libertarian bent. So, given all that, the study is a welcome addition to the gun debate. Here’s Belief Net;

According to a study in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which cites the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Nations International Study on Firearms Regulation, the more guns a nation has, the less criminal activity.

In other words, more firearms, less crime, concludes the virtually unpublicized research report by attorney Don B. Kates and Dr. Gary Mauser. But the key is firearms in the hands of private citizens.

“The study was overlooked when it first came out in 2007,” writes Michael Snyder, “but it was recently re-discovered and while the findings may not surprise some, the place where the study was undertaken is a bit surprising. The study came from the Harvard Journal of Law, that bastion of extreme, Ivy League liberalism. Titled Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?, the report “found some surprising things.”

The popular assertion that the United States has the industrialized world’s highest murder rate, says the Harvard study, is a throwback to the Cold War when Russian murder rates were nearly four times higher than American rates. In a strategic disinformation campaign, the U.S. was painted worldwide as a gunslinging nightmare of street violence – far worse than what was going on in Russia. The line was repeated so many times that many believed it to be true. Now, many still do.

Today violence continues in Russia – far worse than in the U.S. – although the Russian people remain virtually disarmed. “Similar murder rates also characterize the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and various other now-independent European nations of the former U.S.S.R.,” note Kates and Mauser . Kates is a Yale-educated criminologist and constitutional lawyer. Dr. Mauser is a Canadian criminologist at SimonFraserUniversity with a Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine. “International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error.” …




Kevin Williamson says there is one strengthening of gun laws he would favor – more stricter curbs on “straw purchasing” of guns. That’s were someone with no criminal record purchases a gun for someone who could not pass a background check.

This week in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County Circuit Court is hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by two police officers, both of them shot in the head by a young man named Julius Burton back in 2009. The officers are suing the former owners of the defunct gun shop that sold the pistol Burton used to a straw purchaser, Jacob Collins. Burton was at the time too young to legally purchase a handgun.

Like many other jurisdictions, Wisconsin doesn’t really take straw purchases of firearms very seriously. At the time of Collins’s crime, the offense was only a misdemeanor. (Subsequent legislation has upgraded straw purchasing to a low-level felony.) The crime was, and is, seldom prosecuted, and, before the Burton-Collins incident, offenders would “typically get probation or less than a year in prison because of their clean records and the notion they have not committed a violent crime, according to a review of five years of federal court records,” as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2010.

Wisconsin isn’t alone in its nonchalance. California normally treats straw purchases as misdemeanors or minor infractions. Even as the people of Baltimore suffer horrific levels of violence, Maryland classifies the crime as a misdemeanor, too. Straw buying is a felony in progressive Connecticut, albeit one in the second-least-serious order of felonies. It is classified as a serious crime in Illinois (Class 2 felony), but police rarely (meaning “almost never”) go after the nephews and girlfriends with clean records who provide Chicago’s diverse and sundry gangsters with their weapons. In Delaware, it’s a Class F felony, like forging a check. In Oregon, it’s a misdemeanor. …




Townhall columnist Susan Brown writes that the president’s response to the Oregon shooting shows he wishes to take away our guns. 

We hear you loud and clear about guns, President Obama. It’s a little odd though, that you’d make insinuations about taking our guns away after the recent college shooting in Oregon, especially now that the EU Times reports the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) listed the shooter as an “American black-Islamist terror suspect” not quite the “white Republican” some initially suggested. ISIS also allegedly claimed culpability.

According to EUTimes.net, Chris Harper Mercer “had previously been identified by electronic intelligence specialists within the Foreign Intelligence Service as being an Islamic State adherent after he had attempted to gain passage to Syria via Turkey during the first week of September 2015.” The report went on suggesting the Obama regime refused to accept this terror list from the Federation and “Mercer was able to accomplish his terror act” at UmpquaCommunity College.

We get you, Mr. Obama. If you were really angry about the right things, you’d be angry that witnesses say Mercer religiously profiled people, executing Christians. You conveniently didn’t mention that detail in your anti-gun rant October 1 in Washington. Instead you said it was time to politicize the event. Politicize. …



David Harsanyi weighs in on the gun debate.

After the horrific mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, President Obama made an impassioned case that gun violence is “something we should politicize”—and why should this be any different:

This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.

Everything in that statement is wrong.  What happened in Oregon is tragic, and the nation should comfort families and look for reasonable and practical ways to stem violence, but there is only one murderer. Now, if government somehow bolstered, endorsed, or “allowed” the actions of Chris Harper-Mercer—as they might, say, the death of 10,000-plus viable babies each year or the civilian deaths that occur during an American drone action—a person could plausibly argue that we are collectively answerable as a nation. …



John Hinderaker spots Bernie’s gun foolishness. He doesn’t want to see a whole bunch of guns going to one spot. Kinda like someone getting concerned if “a whole bunch of chemical weapons are moving around . . . ”

Bernie Sanders represents Vermont, the freest state in the union where firearms are concerned. So it shouldn’t be surprising that his record on guns is not as liberal as most national Democrats’. At the same time, some have exaggerated his support for the Second Amendment. While it is true that the NRA supported Sanders in his 1990 House race, his record since entering Congress has been mixed.

But one of his pro-gun votes was in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields manufacturers from civil liability when guns function properly. Now that he is running for president, Sanders is tacking to the left on the one issue where he does not already hold down his party’s port flank. Thus, on Meet the Press this morning, Sanders retreated on his 2005 support for the PLCAA:

“That was a complicated vote and I’m willing to see changes in that provision. Here’s the reason I voted the way I voted: If you are a gun shop owner in Vermont and you sell somebody a gun and that person flips out and then kills somebody, I don’t think it’s really fair to hold that person responsible, the gun shop owner.

On the other hand, where there is a problem is there is evidence that manufacturers, gun manufacturers, do know that they’re selling a whole lot of guns in an area that really should not be buying that many guns. That many of those guns are going to other areas, probably for criminal purposes. So can we take another look at that liability issue? Yes.”

What on Earth does that mean? …