Concealed Carry Killers

Clayton Cramer has send me a link to a copy of his latest paper taking on VPC’s concealed carry killers. I was suffering from a bit of insomnia last night, so I grabbed the iPad I keep next to the bed and read the whole thing. I encourage readers to do the same if you’d like to feel a bit of Shadenfreude.

The Violence Policy Center maintains a website titled CONCEALED CARRY KILLERS as part of their effort to show that many Americans who receive licenses under the increasingly popular ―shall-issue‖ concealed license laws are not only disreputable figures, but a threat to public safety. This list included, as of May 12, 2012, a total of 374 deaths—and at first glance, it is quite disturbing. (Unaccountably, the primary web page listed these as 12 law enforcement deaths and 228 civilian deaths, although perhaps they simply neglected to recalculate based on the data they had.)2

This paper provides a detailed analysis of the incidents, finding that many are incorrectly described. A few of the criminal cases have been settled in favor of the accused. Some are criminal cases that are still pending. Many of the incidents are single suicides, which while sad, are not criminal matters or public safety concerns, nor relevant to may-issue vs. shall-issue concealed carry licensing. A number involve situations where possession of a concealed weapon license is completely irrelevant to the tragedy that unfolded. In some cases, these incidents involve licenses issued in ―may-issue‖ states, and licensees who are retired police officers, who are almost always issued such licenses even in the strictest of ―may-issue‖ jurisdictions.

Keep in mind this is an academic paper, with complete citations, intended for audiences that may not be thoroughly indoctrinated into the issue. But there is plenty of worthwhile data in the paper. For instance, the death count drops by 45% of you exclude single suicides.

A surprising number of the incidents listed by VPC involve a concealed handgun licensee who committed suicide, apparently with no one else killed. Some of these suicides VPC derived from annual state concealed handgun licensure reports; it is unclear how many of the other incidents that VPC reports which end in a suicide are included in those aggregates, and are thus double-counted.70 It is not even certain that all of these 129 suicides were committed with firearms. Because we cannot verify these 129 suicides derived from state reports, and determine how many actually duplicate other entries in VPC‘s collection, there seems little point in giving much credence to them as indicative of a problem with shall-issue. Removing these aggregate suicides alone reduces the total death count by 45%—a most dramatic change.

The same old tricks. You have go wonder how far the anti-gun movement could have gotten if they had been honest, instead tricking the American people into gun control through deception and subterfuge. What’s even more amazing to me, faced with the utter failure of their movement, like a one-trick pony, they keep doing the same thing.

Shameless NRA Bashing

Eric Erickson’s Red State is a well known booster of Larry Pratt’s Gun Owners of America, which has shown up from time to time here. There are many legitimate criticisms of NRA to be had out there, but the notion that they were responsible for health care, the day after the Robert’s Court decision, reeks of incredulity at its highest.

As other conservative and right-of-center groups have come to realize the folly of endorsing Democrats – even marginally conservative ones – because the party as a whole is dedicated to radical progressive values, the NRA has insisted on endorsing pro-gun incumbent Democrats. In addition to allowing the NRA to claim the charade of “bipartisan,” the tactic also pads the NRA PAC’s endorsement/win ratio, always a key thing for establishment operatives playing an insider’s game.

I’ve been an outspoken proponent of NRA not succumbing to the same kind of partisan hackery that is found among other center-right organizations in DC. In this respect they are not perfect, but they are a sight better than other organizations in D.C. For the most part, when it comes to political endorsements, PAC money, grading, and scoring legislation, they’ve remained pretty true to their single issue mission. Most of my issues with NRA’s grading have been “Well, you gave this guy a X when it should have been a Y,” or, “Really? You’re going to endorse (or not endorse) that guy?” I’ve never thought “Have you ever met a Democrat who was pro-gun enough for you?”

I think that’s been relatively good for the Second Amendment. Indeed, that’s about the only center-right issue I think isn’t going to hell in hand basket these days.

It’s time for the conservative movement to start embracing full spectrum conservatism, realizing that no individual principle of conservatism may survive alone and apart from the support of other principles.

And how’s that strategy working out for you? Second Amendment seems to be doing pretty well from my point of view. We’re still winning, and have been even in the Democratic Congress. The partisan “conservative” strategy this author at Red State is advocating is a recipe for disaster. It has been a disaster. When was the last time you felt like conservative principles, other than gun rights, were advancing? I can’t think back that far. The entire center-right coalition as it stands today is an abject failure for freedom, and they ought not be lecturing the one part of the movement that’s seen success on how it should be done. We’re the recipe for it. It’s you who should pick your cause and move it forward in a bipartisan, but ruthlessly political manner.

The Problem of Bias Ruining Your Story

When most gun owners think of bias in the press, they think of the mainstream media reporters who only sometimes bother to grudgingly show up to their assignments covering pro-gun rallies or events. There’s even a joke that’s pretty common in serious gun circles that if you go to a pro-Second Amendment event and wear a suit or otherwise look normal, there’s no way a reporter will talk to you. However, if you deck yourself out in camo and carry crazy-sounding signs, they’ll line up and then claim you’re a spokesman for the entire movement of gun owners.

But bias happens on our side, too. Case in point, last month’s “Letter from the Editor” in America’s First Freedom by Mark Chesnut assumes that nearly everyone with a press identification badge covering the NRA Annual Meeting and all of the activities associated with it are looking to demonize NRA members or miss out on what he considers the real story of the yearly NRA event.

While taking a break in the pressroom during the recent NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in St. Louis, I overheard some members of the press lamenting the fact that they couldn’t find a good protest to cover.

One mentioned he had walked several blocks attempting to find a planned protest, but never found it. Another mentioned that she, too, had walked all the way around outside the convention center in hopes of running across protesters, but she, too, had come up empty-handed.

They looked demoralized. Their quest for the Holy Grail of the NRA meeting–rabid anti-gunners vehemently protesting the hated “gun lobby”–had ended in failure.

There’s just one problem with his premise about these people looking to promote the anti-gun agenda while ignoring the rest of the story of NRA’s weekend events. The woman he mentions? That was me, a life member of NRA and volunteer with both ILA and the Foundation. The guy? Thirdpower, an NRA endowment member and volunteer for the Illinois State Rifle Association, the NRA state association in his home state. In fact, with a quick peek at our press badges or, even better, a quick question as a reporter, he would have found out that his assumptions about what he overheard were actually the complete opposite of what the conversation was actually about.

How can we be sure that Mr. Chesnut was listening to us? Well, his description fits perfectly if you take out his misinterpretation of the full conversation. Also, the descriptions fit since both Thirdpower and I did retreat to the press office to sit down for a bit with some hot coffee (for me) to warm up after running around in the rain. We also know for a fact that the only mainstream media photographers assigned to cover the story of the protests left the premises after the anti-gun groups failed to show. We know this because we talked to them and even worked together for a time to try and find the protest.

So why would Mr. Chesnut assume we “looked demoralized” if we weren’t actually looking to promote anti-gun causes? I’d say it probably had something to do with the fact that running about a quarter mile around the outside of the convention center in the rain may have left us looking a little less than perky.

If he detected any disappointment, it was largely in jest. Though I’ve been covering protests at NRA conventions since Pittsburgh in 2004, so I do have an appreciation of the entertainment value of protests. Not to mention, it’s a little frustrating when anti-gun groups spend weeks promoting an event and then fail to show up due to a little rain when more than 70,000 NRA members managed to handle the drizzle. We wanted to get the real story to share with readers, that’s why we tried to find the protesters. When no anti-gun people showed up, we were happy to share it with readers. We did provide the real story when mainstream media relied on press releases and spokesmen.

So while Mr. Chesnut may have been trying to make a point about bias in mainstream coverage of the NRA event, his targets and facts were misplaced because of his own assumptions and biases. He only chose to hear half the story instead of stopping to talk to actual NRA members and supporters who were taking the time to report the full picture. A lesson in media coverage indeed.

Thirdpower’s story about his longer walk down to the Arch and back is here.

Google Becoming More Anti-Gun?

So reports The Firearms Blog. Go read to see. Unlike other outfits on the Internet, I’m not going to scrape the majority of Steve’s post, even though it’s quoting. Might be legal, but it’s not within what I find to be acceptable blogger ethics.

H.Res 711, Holder Contempt, Being Voted on Now

For real this time. No CNN-like mistake. Looks like a number of Democrats are walking out. Result shortly.

Passes 255 to 67, with 17 Democratic defections. There was one GOP defection to vote against the contempt resolution. One member voted present. Many Democrats did not vote.

UPDATE: NRA’s statement here. They were scoring the vote.

UPDATE: Final vote count here. Glad to see Reps. Altmire and Critz, both Pennsylvania Democrats, voting yes.

Constitutional Amendment?

Given the recent Supreme Court decision expanding Congress’ powers to tax, would it be worthwhile to get behind an effort to amend the Constitution to clarify what a direct tax is? The mandate is hated enough that there might be enough states that would get on board. We need not reach issues like repealing the 16th Amendment, but just to clarify that any tax applied directly to individual citizens or property, and not relating to the sale or purchase of goods (excise taxes), importations or exportations (tariffs), and other than taxes explicitly authorized by the Constitution (taxes on incomes), are forbidden to Congress. Note that this would also eliminate the apportionment requirement, but has Congress ever even used that? What would be good proposed language? Here’s a quick off the cuff stab:

Section 1. The power of Congress to weigh and levy taxes shall under no circumstance be interpreted to allow persons or their property, to be directly taxed, regardless of whether such a tax is apportioned among the several States. Direct taxation shall include all taxes levied directly upon a person, regardless of purpose, and shall include, but is not limited to, capitations, taxes on real and personal property, and any tax levied against an individual directly, whether a capitation or not, which is intended to be punitive in nature, or not intended specifically for the purpose of raising revenue.

Section 2. The first section shall not be construed to interfere with Congress’ power to weigh and levy indirect taxes, such as excise taxes on the sale or manufacture of goods, tariffs on importation or exportation of goods, nor interfere with the power to tax incomes in the manner explicitly authorized by this Constitution.

Section 3. Nothing in the first section shall be construed to interfere with Congress’ power to set fines or other criminal penalties in the exercise of its enumerated powers under this Constitution.

Much like Progressives in the first part of the 20th century, I think in the 21st, those in the center-right coalition ought not fear amending the Constitution to deal with excesses of government. Feel free to debate this language, or add your own in the comments.

Contempt Vote Happening Now

254-173. The contempt motion passes. There were about 15 Democratic defections.

UPDATE: Sorry, I’m told this was the vote on the rules of debate, but that the final vote will happen later, and will be roughly the same.