Expressive voting, more gun control or fewer gun free zones

If you want fewer mass shootings, reduce the supply of gun free zones where even the craziest gunmen have been able to find despite being tormented by the voices as John Lott explains

Time after time, we see that these killers tell us they pick soft targets. With just two exceptions, from at least 1950, the mass public shootings have occurred in these gun-free zones. From last summer’s mass public killers in Santa Barbara and Canada, to the Aurora movie theatre shooter, these killers made it abundantly clear in their diaries or on Facebook how they avoided targets where people with guns could stop them.

And even when concealed handgun permit holders don’t deter the killers, the permit holders stop them. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mass public shooting at a liquor store in Conyers, Ga., was stopped by a concealed handgun permit holder.

The USA is in an arms race between criminals and law-abiding citizens. Both have lots of guns so the only people who gain from disarmament to those who obey the law to have fewer guns. They are in a high gun equilibrium where it very difficult to get out of this arms race.


Demands for more gun control and bans on specific weapons postpone the hard work of how to reduce mass shootings in a society with easy gun access. It is expressive politics at its worse.

An Australian politician today in an unrelated context regarding universal health insurance in Australia called Medicare made this point about politics is hard work, not political theatre

It’s so much easier today to be a cynical poseur than a committed democrat, it’s easier to retreat to observer status than convince your friends of the merits of incremental change.

It required hard slog to ensure those institutions could survive the heat of adversarial politics. Then it took election campaign after election campaign, tough political negotiation, administrative effort, and the making and breaking of careers and governments to finally make Medicare stick,” she said.

The creation of Medicare took more than a hollow-principled stand, it took more than just wishful thinking, it took more than slogans, it took more than protests. It took real, tough politics. It took idealists who were prepared to fight to win government.

Expressive politics is about what voters boo and cheer, not whether policies actually work if adopted. Voters want to feel good about what they voted for and find a sense of identity in who they oppose and what they support. After a mass shooting, voters feel they must do something, cheer for something better and cheering for more gun control is an easy way to feel better.

Gun control is not going to happen in the USA because of the poor incentives for law-abiding individuals to retreat from high levels of legal private gun ownership when criminals will keep their guns. Harry Clarke pointed out that:

The political popularity of guns is strengthened by Prisoner’s Dilemma disincentives for individuals to retreat from high levels of gun ownership.

Accepting a gun buyback would be unattractive to citizens who would recognize high levels of overall gun ownership in the community and, hence, their own personal increased vulnerability if those with criminal intent acted rationally and kept their weapons.

If you want fewer mass shootings, fewer gun free zones is the way to go. That might have other  unintended consequences but more mass shootings is not likely to be one of them. Ready access to guns in moments of despair increases suicide rates. Suicides in the Israeli Defence Force fell 40% when young soldiers were not allowed to take their guns home at the week-end. Suicides do not increase during the week so the lack of weekend access to guns got them through dangerous moments of despair where ready access to a firearm would have led to a suicide.


The last thing spree killers want is to be quickly shot down like the dogs they are such as at an American church in 2007. The last wannabe jihadist to try it on in Texas died in a hail of gunfire.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey showed the risk of serious injury from a criminal attack is 2.5 times greater for women offering no resistance than for women resisting with a gun. 97% of murders are by men. Any arguments about gun control should be about gun control for men.

The sharemarket perception of gun control is every time there are calls for more gun controls, the share prices of gun manufacturers surge of the back of an anticipated spike in sale. Buying two gun shares on the first trading day after 12 recent mass shootings and selling them 90 days later produces a return of 365% over a nine-year period compared to 66 percent for the S&P 500 Index. A buy-and-hold bet on Smith & Wesson stock starting in January 2007returns 137%.

The key to the success of Australian and New Zealand gun laws was low levels of gun crime and minimal use of guns for self-defence. There was no arms race as compared to the USA where criminals and civilians are both armed. It is easy to control an arms race that has not started. The New Zealand, Australian and even the British police rarely have to discharge their weapons.


Martin Luther King was a gun owner for obvious reasons. Tom Palmer was the lead litigant in the recent Supreme Court case on gun control in the USA. He saved himself and a fellow gay man from a severe beating in 1987 by gang of 20 men by pulling a gun on them. Pink pistols has been in the thick of anti-gun control litigation in the USA.

@billmaher on Liberal Values vs. Islam


When it comes to lowering the bar, @realdonaldtrump really raised the bar.

The Evolution of Australian States

Source: The Evolution of Australian States – Vivid Maps.

What would victory in the War on Poverty look like?


Bob Murphy writes, “Surely to actually “win” the War on Poverty would mean that the government could stop spending money, because every household were self-sufficient. The criterion can’t be, “After you account for how much money we’re still throwing at it, the net result is better.”” and presents this chart:


The poverty rate in the U.S. is measured as pre-tax pre-transfer income (the green line). I’ve always thought that was silly because one’s actual living standard depends only on post-tax post-transfer income. If we care about how actual poor people are living, only the black line in the chart matters.

A “War on Poverty” centered on transfers only makes the green line increase! One of the fundamental principles of economics is that people respond to incentives. If you pay people who don’t work, people will respond by working less. People who work less earn less. Economists call this the…

View original post 176 more words

The Problem with Poverty Lines


Poverty lines are frequently used to mislead readers. Poverty percents across countries are compared without any reference to the fact that poverty lines in different countries might be different by a factor of ten or more. Furthermore, readers are often left in the dark as to whether the poverty lines are pre- or post-tax and pre- or post-transfers. The official U.S. poverty rate does not include tax breaks such as the EITC, or in kind transfers, like food stamps or Section 8 housing. Since both welfare and tax rates vary greatly between countries, this is vital information to be able to compare the living standards of the poor between countries.
Text: The biggest declines in Chinese poverty were from 1980s to early 90s, well before it became a major trade player.

Well the problem with that is that the Chinese poverty line is based on $1 per day. Once…

View original post 208 more words

#Brexit – A big decision, but not a difficult one

Tallbloke's Talkshop

freedom Leeds Leave EU

Excellent opinion piece in the Telegraph by Charles Moore. This is the conclusion:

The 21st century is supposed to be the age of people power, yet we, in Britain, have less of it than did our grandparents. The EU is leading us away from democratic modernity. There is no evidence that it will change direction: indeed, it is so constituted that it can’t.

Because of David Cameron’s elaborate political calculations, we now have this referendum. We cannot dictate any detail by our vote, but we can mandate our Government to leave, or permit it to stay. Trepidation about leaving is understandable, because we cannot know exactly what would happen next. The Parliament whose freedom we would recover needs massive re-equipping for the task. But we have, for one brief moment, recovered the power that has gradually been removed from us. If we vote Leave, we maximise it; if…

View original post 67 more words

Liberals & conservative media habits

Mobile phone access in #Afghanistan, #Iran, #Iraq and #Somalia

Anarchy and war are no break on mobile network companies.


Dataset: World Indicators of Skills for Employment  – Data extracted on 17 Jun 2016 22:43 UTC (GMT) from OECD.Stat

Ronald Coase on good regulation



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