Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Democrats try to block whistleblower’s Fast and Furious expose

Fox News reports on the latest Democrat cover-up scandal. (H/T Dad)

Excerpt:

The ATF agent who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious has been denied permission to write a book on the botched anti-gun trafficking sting “because it would have a negative impact on morale,” according to the very agency responsible for the scandal.

After first trying to stop the operation internally, ATF Agent John Dodson went to Congress and eventually the media following the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. Two guns found at the murder scene were sold through the ATF operation.

Dodson’s book, titled “The Unarmed Truth,” provides the first inside account of how the federal government permitted and helped sell some 2,000 guns to Mexican drug cartels, despite evidence the guns killed innocent people.

Dodson, who is working with publisher Simon & Schuster, submitted his manuscript to the department for review, per federal rules. However, it was denied.

Greg Serres, an ATF ethics official, told Dodson that any of his supervisors at any level could disapprove outside employment “for any reason.”

[...]Dodson says “The Unarmed Truth” will come out in January, with or without the ATF’s permission.

I hope this book sells a lot of copies.

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New CDC study on gun violence that Obama requested undermines gun control

Here’s an article about the CDC study from the leftist Slate magazine. (H/T ECM)

First – Obama ordered this study, and it was performed by an agency under his control – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article says:

Earlier this year, President Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the existing research on gun violence and recommend future studies. That report, prepared by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, is now complete. Its findings won’t entirely please the Obama administration or the NRA, but all of us should consider them.

The article explains 10 findings of the report.

Here are a few of them:

2. Most indices of crime and gun violence are getting better, not worse. “Overall crime rates have declined in the past decade, and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years,” the report notes. “Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of firearm-related violent victimizations remained generally stable.” Meanwhile, “firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009.” Accidents are down, too: “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century. The number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents accounted for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”

5. Mass shootings aren’t the problem. “The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths,” says the report. “Since 1983 there have been 78 events in which 4 or more individuals were killed by a single perpetrator in 1 day in the United States, resulting in 547 victims and 476 injured persons.” Compare that with the 335,000 gun deaths between 2000 and 2010 alone.

7. Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report. The three million figure is probably high, “based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys.” But a much lower estimate of 108,000 also seems fishy, “because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.” Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

10. It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers. The report concedes that in 1998, “1,020 of 83,272 federally licensed retailers (1.2 percent) accounted for 57.4 percent of all guns traced by the ATF.” However, “Gun sales are also relatively concentrated; approximately 15 percent of retailers request 80 percent of background checks on gun buyers conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” Researchers have found that “the share of crime gun traces attributed to these few dealers only slightly exceeded their share of handgun sales, which are almost equally concentrated among a few dealers.” Volume, not laxity, drives the number of ill-fated sales.

The findings of the CDC study are not aligned with either side of the gun control debate, but considering the source (an agency of the Obama administration), I expect them to be even more liberal than the real state of affairs.

A better place to look for the truth about guns is in the academic literature. Here are two books I really like for that.

Both of those books make the case that permitting law-abiding citizens to own firearms for self-defense reduces rates of gun violence.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Woman opens fire on gang of thugs trying to get into her home

The Pearcey Report linked to this news story from The Blaze. (H/T Nancy)

Excerpt: (links removed)

A group of thugs figured it would be easy to overpower one Kansas City woman. After all, her husband had just left to run an errand, leaving her all alone in the home.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

The woman, later identified as Shirley Roberts, 52, immediately retrieved her gun after she heard someone jiggle the knob of the front door. She also witnessed two additional men heading to the back door.

Looking through the blinds, Roberts saw the men putting on gloves and preparing to force their way into her home. So she trained her firearm on the men and opened fire.

The criminals, scared silly, reportedly took off running. However, they also fired shots toward the house they attempted to break into.

Robert’s husband, Oscar Roberts, later said he and his wife have been going to the gun range to prepare for just that type of situation. “You’ve got to protect yourself,” he told KMBC-TV.

“I told her she’d done the right thing. We practiced that. She’s shook up, though. That’s the only thing about it, she’s very shook up,” Oscar added.

The practice at the shooting range seemingly paid off as police later arrested three men who went to the Research Medical Center, one of which was treated for a gunshot wound to the chest.

Police said the shooting seems to be justifiable self-defense.

“If you’re in fear for your life, most definitely we want you to protect yourself. We don’t want any harm to come to anyone,” Sgt. Marisa Barnes of the Kansas City Police Department told KMBC-TV.

So, a few points about this.

First, a leftist has no help to offer this woman. She can call the police if she has time and then wait 20 minutes for them to arrive. Leftists are more concerned with the safety and well-being of criminals than they are with allowing law-abiding property owners to deter criminals with weapons. It’s very important to see that leftists have nothing to offer this woman except to say “be raped and killed”.

Second, I think it was a good thing for the husband that he trained his wife to use firearms. I have tried to get two women I courted in a row to go to the range with me, and both said no. I hope that more women will reconsider about that, because it sure is great for husbands to know that their wives are able to defend themselves.

Third, it’s a great thing that the police aren’t giving her any trouble about self-defense. In the UK, which is very feminized and socialist, this woman would have been challenged by the police if she had so much as brandished a kitchen knife at her attackers. If she actually owned a firearm, she would be arrested. And if she fired at them, she would be sent to prison.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Thomas Sowell: Guns can be used defensively to save lives

Economist Thomas Sowell

Economist Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell’s latest column is up at National Review. If you’ve ever read any of Dr. John Lott’s books, you’ll know that his central argument is that allowing law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms has a net positive effect, when compared with restricting or banning gun ownership. How could that be? What good effect could there be to allowing people to own guns? Well, that’s what Tom Sowell – a former pistol marksmanship instructor – is going to explain to us in his article.

Excerpt:

We all know that guns can cost lives because the media repeat this message endlessly, as if we could not figure it out for ourselves. But even someone who reads newspapers regularly and watches numerous television newscasts may never learn that guns also save lives — much less see any hard facts comparing how many lives are lost and how many are saved.

But that trade-off is the real issue — not the Second Amendment or the National Rifle Association, which so many in the media obsess about. If guns cost more lives than they save, we can always repeal the Second Amendment. But if guns save more lives than they cost, we need to know that, instead of spending time demonizing the National Rifle Association.

The defensive use of guns is usually either not discussed at all in the media or else is depicted as if it means bullets flying in all directions, like the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. But most defensive uses of guns do not involve actually pulling the trigger.

If someone comes at you with a knife and you point a gun at him, he is very unlikely to keep coming and far more likely to head in the other direction, perhaps in some haste, if he has a brain in his head. Only if he is an idiot are you likely to have to pull the trigger — and if an idiot with a knife is coming after you, you had better have a trigger to pull.

Surveys of American gun owners have found that 4 to 6 percent reported using a gun in self-defense within the previous five years. That is not a very high percentage but, in a country with 300 million people, that works out to hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns per year.

Yet we almost never hear about these hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns from the media, which will report the killing of a dozen people endlessly around the clock. The murder of a dozen innocent people is unquestionably a human tragedy. But that is no excuse for reacting blindly by preventing hundreds of thousands of other people from defending themselves against meeting the same fate.

Although most defensive uses of guns do not involve actually shooting, nevertheless, the total number of criminals killed by armed private citizens runs into the thousands per year. A gun can also come in handy if a pit bull or some other dangerous animal is after you or your child.

 

This is an important article that expresses the central argument for allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families from criminals.

It’s worth noting that both Thomas Sowell and John Lott are economists, and economists use quantitative methods to evaluate policies. It would be great if everyone who talked about policies like gun legislation argued from logic and evidence, like economists do. We need to ask what effects and incentives are created for all groups of people when policies are adopted. And that’s what economists do.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

Violent crime rate more than doubled in the four years after the 1997 UK gun ban

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[...]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people.

I found this interesting article from August 2011 by Dr. Malcolm in the Wall Street Journal, where she catches us up on what it is like to live in the UK under draconian gun control laws.

Excerpt:

As wild gangs of youths burned homes, shops and cars and severely beat anyone who tried to stop them last week, English people tried to defend themselves. Their desperation triggered a 5,000% increase in purchases of baseball bats from Amazon.

This is a sad symbol of the failure of the British approach to crime—with its sympathy for offenders, intolerance of self-defense, and unwillingness to pay for adequate crime control. A people once proud of their peaceful country and unarmed policemen had to resort to clubs to protect life and limb.

Great Britain’s leniency began in the 1950s, with a policy that only under extraordinary circumstances would anyone under 17 be sent to prison. This was meant to rehabilitate young offenders. But the alternative to incarceration has been simply to warn them to behave, maybe require community service, and return them to the streets. There has been justifiable concern about causes of crime such as poverty and unemployment, but little admission that some individuals prefer theft to work and that deterrence must be taken seriously.

Victims of aggression who defend themselves or attempt to protect their property have been shown no such leniency. Burglars who injured themselves breaking into houses have successfully sued homeowners for damages. In February, police in Surrey told gardeners not to put wire mesh on the windows of their garden sheds as burglars might hurt themselves when they break in.

If a homeowner protecting himself and his family injures an intruder beyond what the law considers “reasonable,” he will be prosecuted for assault. Tony Martin, an English farmer, was sentenced to life in prison for killing one burglar and wounding another with a shotgun during the seventh break-in at his rural home in 1999. While his sentence was later reduced to five years, he was refused parole in 2003 because he was judged a danger to burglars.

In 2008, a robber armed with a knife attacked shopkeeper Tony Singh in West Lancashire. During the struggle the intruder was fatally stabbed with his own knife. Although the robber had a long record of violent assault, prosecutors were preparing to charge Mr. Singh with murder until public outrage stopped them.

The UK experience with gun control really shows where the anti-gun people would take us. This is their view – this is what the gun control supporters want. People who refuse to permit and promote responsible gun ownership by law-abiding citizens side with the criminals. They want criminals to be free to threaten, assault and murder law-abiding citizens. That’s the truth of it. I would also say that if a man does not believe in using any and all means necessary to protect his family, and others, by opposing aggression by criminals in his own home, then he is not a man to marry. Ladies, avoid him.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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