Posted: April 4, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Food & Drink, Global | Tags: Asia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, China, Cruelty to animals, Dog, Dog meat, Felony, Guangxi, Idaho, Rong'an County, South Korea, State Food and Drug Administration
Animal rights activists are seeking to shut down an annual summer dog meat festival in southern China blamed for harming the country’s international reputation as well as fueling extreme cruelty to canines and unhygienic food handling practices.
Christopher Bodeen reports: Activists from a coalition of groups said Monday that they will continue press for the festival to be banned as well as legislation outlawing the slaughtering of dogs and cats and the consumption of their meat.
While an estimated 10 million-20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China, the June 20 event in the city of Yulin has come to symbolize the cruelty and lack of hygiene associated with the largely unregulated industry.
Yu Hongmei, director of the VShine Animal Protection Association, said China needs to follow the example of the vast majority of developed nations that have banned eating dog and cat.
Restaurant owners say eating dog meat is traditional during the summer, while opponents say the festival that began in 2010 has no cultural value and was merely invented to drum up business. Since 2014, the local government has sought to disassociate itself from the event, forbidding its employees from attending and limiting its size by shutting down some dog markets and slaughter houses.
A man lights a cigarette as dogs roast at a restaurant in Yulin in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Animal rights activists are seeking to shut down an annual summer dog meat festival in southern China, which they call extreme cruelty to canines. AP
“China needs to progress with the times,” Yu said. “Preventing cruelty to animals is the sign of a mature, civilized society.”
[Read the full story here, at the The Kansas City Star]
Still, as many as 10,000 dogs, many of them stolen pets still wearing their collars, are slaughtered for the festival held deep inside the poor, largely rural Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Some are trucked in hundreds of miles stuffed six or seven to a crate or small metal cage without food or water. Slaughtering takes place in front of the animals, usually with a club to induce the pain and fear that restaurant owners claim makes their adrenaline-rich meat tastier.
“Psychologically and mentally, they have already died many times,” said Peter J. Li, Humane Society International’s China policy specialist. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 5, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Guns and Gadgets, Politics, Self Defense, Think Tank | Tags: Barack Obama, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Civil Rights, Death, Emily Miller, Executive order, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gun Deaths, Gun laws, John R. Lott, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, New York, Public health, San Bernardino, United States
You Know Less Than You Think About Guns
Brian Doherty writes: “There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America,” President Barack Obama proclaimed after the October mass shooting that killed 10 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. “So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work—or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns—is not borne out by the evidence.”
In this single brief statement, Obama tidily listed the major questions bedeviling social science research about guns—while also embodying the biggest problem with the way we process and apply that research. The president’s ironclad confidence in the conclusiveness of the science, and therefore the desirability of “common-sense gun safety laws,” is echoed widely with every new mass shooting, from academia to the popular press to that guy you knew from high school on Facebook.
[Order Emily Miller’s book “Emily Gets Her Gun” from Amazon]
In April 2015, the Harvard gun-violence researcher David Hemenway took to the pages of the Los Angeles Times to declare in a headline: “There’s scientific consensus on guns—and the NRA won’t like it.” Hemenway insisted that researchers have definitively established “that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be…that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime…and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates.” He concludes: “There is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide.”
But the science is a lot less certain than that. What we really know about the costs and benefits of private gun ownership and the efficacy of gun laws is far more fragile than what Hemenway and the president would have us believe.
More guns do not necessarily mean more homicides. More gun laws do not necessarily mean less gun crime. Finding good science is hard enough; finding good social science on a topic so fraught with politics is nigh impossible. The facts then become even more muddled as the conclusions of those less-than-ironclad academic studies cycle through the press and social media in a massive game of telephone. Despite the confident assertions of the gun controllers and decades of research, we still know astonishingly little about how guns actually function in society and almost nothing at all about whether gun control policies actually work as promised.
Do More Guns Mean More Homicides?
“More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote on August 26, 2015, just after the grisly on-air murder of two television journalists in Virginia. It’s a startling fact, and true.
[See John R. Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics) at Amazon]
But do the number of guns in circulation correlate with the number of gun deaths? Start by looking at the category of gun death that propels all gun policy discussion: homicides. (Gun suicides, discussed further below, are a separate matter whose frequent conflation with gun crime introduces much confusion into the debate.)
In 1994 Americans owned around 192 million guns, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice. Today, that figure is somewhere between 245 and 328 million, though as Philip J. Cook and Kristin A. Goss in their thorough 2014 book The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press) wisely concluded, “the bottom line is that no one knows how many firearms are in private hands in the United States.” Still, we have reason to believe gun prevalence likely surpassed the one-gun-per-adult mark early in President Barack Obama’s first term, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report that relied on sales and import data.
Yet during that same period, per-capita gun murders have been cut almost in half.
One could argue that the relevant number is not the number of guns, but the number of people with access to guns. That figure is also ambiguous. A Gallup poll in 2014 found 42 percent of households claiming to own a gun, which Gallup reports is “similar to the average reported to Gallup over the past decade.” But those looking for a smaller number, to downplay the significance of guns in American life, can rely on the door-to-door General Social Survey, which reported in 2014 that only 31 percent of households have guns, down 11 percentage points from 1993’s 42 percent. There is no singular theory to explain that discrepancy or to be sure which one is closer to correct—though some doubt, especially as gun ownership continues to be so politically contentious, that people always reliably report the weapons they own to a stranger literally at their door.
The gun murder rate in 1993 was 7.0 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (Those reports rely on death certificate reporting, and they tend to show higher numbers than the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, though both trend the same.) In 2000 the gun murder rate per 100,000 was 3.8. By 2013, the rate was even lower, at 3.5, though there was a slight upswing in the mid-00s.
This simple point—that America is awash with more guns than ever before, yet we are killing each other with guns at a far lower rate than when we had far fewer guns—undermines the narrative that there is a straightforward, causal relationship between increased gun prevalence and gun homicide. Even if you fall back on the conclusion that it’s just a small number of owners stockpiling more and more guns, it’s hard to escape noticing that even these hoarders seem to be harming fewer and fewer people with their weapons, casting doubt on the proposition that gun ownership is a political crisis demanding action.
In the face of these trend lines—way more guns, way fewer gun murders—how can politicians such as Obama and Hillary Clinton so successfully capitalize on the panic that follows each high profile shooting? Partly because Americans haven’t caught on to the crime drop. A 2013 Pew Research Poll found 56 percent of respondents thought that gun crime had gone up over the past 20 years, and only 12 percent were aware it had declined.
Do Gun Laws Stop Gun Crimes?
The same week Kristof’s column came out, National Journal attracted major media attention with a showy piece of research and analysis headlined “The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths.” The subhead lamented: “But there’s still little appetite to talk about more restrictions.”
Critics quickly noted that the Journal‘s Libby Isenstein had included suicides among “gun-related deaths” and suicide-irrelevant policies such as stand-your-ground laws among its tally of “gun laws.” That meant that high-suicide, low-homicide states such as Wyoming, Alaska, and Idaho were taken to task for their liberal carry-permit policies. Worse, several of the states with what the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence considers terribly lax gun laws were dropped from Isenstein’s data set because their murder rates were too low!
Another of National Journal‘s mistakes is a common one in gun science: The paper didn’t look at gun statistics in the context of overall violent crime, a much more relevant measure to the policy debate. After all, if less gun crime doesn’t mean less crime overall—if criminals simply substitute other weapons or means when guns are less available—the benefit of the relevant gun laws is thrown into doubt. When Thomas Firey of the Cato Institute ran regressions of Isenstein’s study with slightly different specifications and considering all violent crime, each of her effects either disappeared or reversed.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 5, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics, Self Defense, White House | Tags: Abortion, Abortion clinic, Barack Obama, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gabrielle Giffords, Gun control, Gun politics, Gun violence, Gun violence in the United States, National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood, Republican Party (United States), Roe v. Wade, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
Obama can’t do much on guns, but he has mainstreamed a dangerous idea about governing.
David Harsanyi writes:
…The flow of donations to Second Amendment advocacy groups will almost certainly rise, and gun violence — which has fallen considerably over the past 20 years of gun ownership expansion — will not be addressed.
“Perhaps Obama’s most destructive legacy is the mainstreaming of the idea that if Congress ‘fails to act’ it’s okay for the president to make law himself.”
But more consequentially — and this may be the most destructive legacy of the Obama presidency — is the mainstreaming of the idea that if Congress “fails to act” it’s okay for the president to figure out a way to make law himself. Hillary’s already applauded Obama’s actions because, as she put it, “Congress won’t act; we have to do something.” This idea is repeated perpetually by the Left, in effect arguing that we live in direct democracy run by the president (until a Republican is in office, of course). On immigration, on global warming, on Iran, on whatever crusade liberals are on, the president has a moral obligation to act if Congress doesn’t do what he wants.
“If President Bush had instituted a series of restrictions on the abortion industry — since it has a loud, well-organized, and well-funded lobby that wants to make abortions ‘effortlessly’ available — without congressional input, would that have been procedurally okay with liberals? You know, for the children? I don’t imagine so.”
Perhaps Obama’s most destructive legacy is the mainstreaming of the idea that if Congress ‘fails to act’ it’s okay for the president to make law himself.
To believe this, you’d have to accept two things: 1) That Congress has a responsibility to pass laws on the issues that the president desires or else they would be abdicating their responsibility, and 2) That Congress has not already acted.
In 2013, the Senate rejected legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases and to ban certain weapons and ammunition, and they would almost certainly oppose nearly every idea Obama has to curb gun ownership today. Congress has acted, just not in the manner Obama desires.
“Is it really is the work of ‘citizenship’ to cheer on a president who single-handedly constrains Americans from practicing one of their constitutional rights?”
“Change, as always, is going to take all of us,” Obama theorized the other day. “The gun lobby is loud and well organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well organized in our defense of our kids. That’s the work of citizenship — to stand up and fight for the change that we seek.”
[Read the full text here, at TheFederalist]
Get it? You can be with the loud and reprehensible gun lobby who supports allowing criminals to obtain guns “effortlessly,” or you can stand with the kids. Your choice!
Well, not exactly your choice. As a reactionary, I wonder is it really the duty of “citizenship” to cheer on a president who single-handedly constrains Americans from practicing one of their constitutional rights? If President Bush had instituted a series of restrictions on the abortion industry — since it has a loud, well-organized, and well-funded lobby that wants to make abortions “effortlessly” available — without congressional input, would that have been procedurally okay with liberals? You know, for the children? I don’t imagine so.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 5, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics, Self Defense, Think Tank | Tags: 2nd amendment, Agence France-Presse, anti-gun, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Civil Rights, Crime Rates, Gun control, Gun Grabbers, Gun Homicide Rate, Gun safety, Guns, homicide, murder, Pew, Pew Research Center, Statistics, United States, University of Oxford, Violent crime
Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew.
By D’Vera Cohn, Paul Taylor, Mark Hugo Lopez, Catherine A. Gallagher, Kim Parker and Kevin T. Maass
Chapter 1: Overview
National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Beneath the long-term trend, though, are big differences by decade: Violence plunged through the 1990s, but has declined less dramatically since 2000.
Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.
Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s; the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. The victimization rate for other gun crimes plunged in the 1990s, then declined more slowly from 2000 to 2008. The rate appears to be higher in 2011 compared with 2008, but the increase is not statistically significant. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall also dropped in the 1990s before declining more slowly from 2000 to 2010, then ticked up in 2011.
Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, today 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower.
Looking back 50 years, the U.S. gun homicide rate began rising in the 1960s, surged in the 1970s, and hit peaks in 1980 and the early 1990s. (The number of homicides peaked in the early 1990s.) The plunge in homicides after that meant that firearm homicide rates inthe late 2000s were equal to those not seen since the early 1960s.The sharp decline in the U.S. gun homicide rate, combined with a slower decrease in the gun suicide
rate, means that gun suicides now account for six-in-ten firearms deaths, the highest share since at least 1981.
Trends for robberies followed a similar long-term trajectory as homicides (National Research Council, 2004), hitting a peak in the early 1990s before declining.
This report examines trends in firearm homicide, non-fatal violent gun crime victimization and non-fatal violent crime victimization overall since 1993. Its findings on firearm crime are based mainly on analysis of data from two federal agencies. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using information from death certificates, are the source of rates, counts and trends for all firearm deaths, homicide and suicide, unless otherwise specified. The Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, a household survey conducted by the Census Bureau, supplies annual estimates of non-fatal crime victimization, including those where firearms are used, regardless of whether the crimes were reported to police. Where relevant, this report also quotes from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (see text box at the end of this chapter and the Methodology appendix for more discussion about data sources).
Researchers have studied the decline in firearm crime and violent crime for many years, and though there are theories to explain the decline, there is no consensus among those who study the issue as to why it happened.
There also is debate about the extent of gun ownership in the U.S., although no disagreement that the U.S. has more civilian firearms, both total and per capita, than other nations. Compared with other developed nations, the U.S. has a higher homicide rate and higher rates of gun ownership, but not higher rates for all other crimes. (See Chapter 5 for more details.)
In the months since the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December, the public is paying close attention to the topic of firearms; according to a recent Pew Research Center survey (Pew Research Center, April 2013) no story received more public attention from mid-March to early April than the debate over gun control. Reducing crime has moved up as a priority for the public in polling this year.
Mass shootings are a matter of great public interest and concern. They also are a relatively small share of shootings overall. According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics review, homicides that claimed at least three lives accounted for less than 1% of all homicide deaths from 1980 to 2008. These homicides, most of which are shootings, increased as a share of all homicides from 0.5% in 1980 to 0.8% in 2008, according to the bureau’s data. A Congressional Research Service report, using a definition of four deaths or more, counted 547 deaths from mass shootings in the U.S. from 1983 to 2012.
Looking at the larger topic of firearm deaths, there were 31,672 deaths from guns in the U.S. in 2010. Most (19,392) were suicides; the gun suicide rate has been higher than the gun homicide rate since at least 1981, and the gap is wider than it was in 1981.
Knowledge About Crime
Despite the attention to gun violence in recent months, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is markedly lower than it was two decades ago. A new Pew Research Center survey (March 14-17) found that 56% of Americans believe the number of crimes involving a gun is higher than it was 20 years ago; only 12% say it is lower and 26% say it stayed the same. (An additional 6% did not know or did not answer.)
Men (46%) are less likely than women (65%) to say long-term gun crime is up. Young adults, ages 18 to 29, are markedly less likely than other adults to say long-term crime is up—44% do, compared with more than half of other adults. Minority adults are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to say that long-term gun crime is up, 62% compared with 53%.
Asked about trends in the number of gun crimes “in recent years,” a plurality of 45% believe the number has gone up, 39% say it is about the same and 10% say it has gone down. (An additional 5% did not know or did not answer.) As with long-term crime, women (57%) are more likely than men (32%) to say that gun crime has increased in recent years. So are non-white adults (54%) compared with whites (41%). Adults ages 50 and older (51%) are more likely than those ages 18-49 (42%) to believe gun crime is up.
What is Behind the Crime Decline?
Researchers continue to debate the key factors behind changing crime rates, which is part of a larger discussion about the predictors of crime. There is consensus that demographics played some role: The outsized post-World War II baby boom, which produced a large number of people in the high-crime ages of 15 to 20 in the 1960s and 1970s, helped drive crime up in those years.
A review by the National Academy of Sciences of factors driving recent crime trends (Blumstein and Rosenfeld, 2008) cited a decline in rates in the early 1980s as the young boomers got older, then a flare-up by mid-decade in conjunction with a rising street market for crack cocaine, especially in big cities. It noted recruitment of a younger cohort of drug seller with greater willingness to use guns. By the early 1990s, crack markets withered in part because of lessened demand, and the vibrant national economy made it easier for even low-skilled young people to find jobs rather than get involved in crime.
At the same time, a rising number of people ages 30 and older were incarcerated, due in part to stricter laws, which helped restrain violence among this age group. It is less clear, researchers say, that innovative policing strategies and police crackdowns on use of guns by younger adults played a significant role in reducing crime.
Some researchers have proposed additional explanations as to why crime levels plunged so suddenly, including increased access to abortion and lessened exposure to lead. According to one hypothesis, legalization of abortion after the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision resulted in fewer unwanted births, and unwanted children have an increased risk of growing up to become criminals. Another theory links reduced crime to 1970s-era reductions in lead in gasoline; children’s exposure to lead causes brain damage that could be associated with violent behavior. The National Academy of Sciences review said it was unlikely that either played a major role, but researchers continue to explore both factors.
The plateau in national violent crime rates has raised interest in the topic of how local differences might influence crime levels and trends. Crime reductions took place across the country in the 1990s, but since 2000, patterns have varied more by metropolitan area or city.
One focus of interest is that gun ownership varies widely by region and locality. The National Academy of Sciences review of possible influences on crime trends said there is good evidence of a link between firearm ownership and firearm homicide at the local level; “the causal direction of this relationship remains in dispute, however, with some researchers maintaining that firearm violence elevates rates of gun ownership, but not the reverse.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 1, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News | Tags: Barack Obama, Capitol Hill, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, East Room, Jason Chaffetz, Pierson, Secret Service, Tareq Salahi, United States Secret Service, White House
The resignation came less than a day after lawmakers from both parties assailed Ms. Pierson’s leadership and said they feared for the lives of the president and others in the protection of the storied protective agency.
“Under intense questioning on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Ms. Pierson admitted that those charged with securing the White House failed to follow numerous security protocols, allowing a man armedwith a knife to penetrate deep inside the mansion.”
A 30-year veteran of the Secret Service, Ms. Pierson was supposed to have been the one to repair the agency’s reputation after scandals that raised questions about a culture that gave rise to incidents involving drinking and prostitution during overseas trips. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 31, 2014 Filed under: Self Defense, U.S. News | Tags: CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Death, Gun control, John Lott, Mortality rate, Twitter
AWRHawkins reports: According to the 2010 Death and Mortality numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children under the age of ten are unintentionally killed in fire or water-related incidents than are killed in accidental gun deaths.
Gun scholar John Lott pulled together various CDC tables showing that thirty-six children under the age of ten were killed in firearm-related accidents in 2010.
The number of children under the age of ten killed in “unintentional fire/burn deaths” was 262, and the number killed in “unintentional drowning” incidents was 609.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 22, 2013 Filed under: History, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fareed Zakaria, Federal Reserve System, Hurricane Katrina, Marshall Plan, New Deal, Paul Light, Paul Volcker
Fareed Zakaria writes: Washington is having one of its odd debates as to whether the Obama administration’s rollout of HealthCare.gov was worse than the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. But whatever the answer, if there is one, the real story is that both are examples of a major, and depressing, trend: the declining competence of the federal government. Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has been saying for years that most Americans believe their government can no longer act effectively and that this erosion of competence, and hence confidence, is a profound problem.
“The federal service is suffering its greatest crisis since it was founded in the first moments of the republic,” scholar Paul Light writes in his book “A Government Ill Executed.”
Over the past decade, the federal government has had several major challenges: Iraq, Afghanistan, a new homeland security system, Katrina and Obamacare. In almost every case, its performance has been plagued with mismanagement, massive cost overruns and long delays. This was not always so. In the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, federal agencies were often lean, well managed and surprisingly effective.Paul Hoffman, the administrator of the Marshall Plan, pointed out that his monumental project came in on time and under budget.
Some federal agencies still maintain a culture of high performance, including NASA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Reserve System and the Defense Department’s research arm, DARPA. But they are now islands in a sea of mediocrity.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 19, 2013 Filed under: Law & Justice, Self Defense, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gun control, Joyce Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, United States, Violence Policy Center
Massive financial commingling of federal tax dollars, hidden billionaire donors and gun-ban foundations, here’s a taste of the “Alice in Wonderland” world to come: Gun ownership is treated as a contagious disease.
Wayne LaPierre writes: With the stroke of his royal pen, President Barack Obama declared that federal law in the form of a 17-year congressional funding ban on gun-control “research” at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was trumped by his personal decree through an executive order restoring the CDC’s junk-science agenda.
Were I to choose a single word to define this action, it would be “outlaw.” The law forbidding expenditures by CDC to promote gun control still stands. It cannot be erased by an executive order. But this is President Obama, his rule and his rules.
As with so many other Obama executive actions disregarding federal law or ignoring Congress or the courts, this one has born poisonous fruit in the form of a voluminous manifesto. In this case, it’s entitled, Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearms-Related Violence.
Produced by the National Academy of Sciences (for the CDC), the research agenda was “supported by awards between the National Academy of Sciences and both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation, the California Endowment, the Joyce Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, one anonymous donor …”
Anonymous donor? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg or George Soros perhaps? After all, the deep-pocket largesse of the Joyce Foundation is the only reason the Violence Policy Center can keep its doors open. Read the rest of this entry »