The Old-School Liberal

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom” — Friedrich Hayek

Posts Tagged ‘Legislation’

Does the Constitution Also Scare Elizabeth Edwards?

Posted by Poorsummary on December 24, 2007

Gun ControlThe Economist quotes Elizabeth Edwards expressing her fear of Mike Huckabee and Republicans in general:

“[Mike Huckabee] doesn’t believe in evolution and has some nutty views about what it is we should do about ending violence in our inner city—we should make sure all of our young people are armed. Republicans scare me.”

While there are legitimate reasons to fear, or at least disagree with, Mike Huckabee (e.g. his tax reform legislation that doesn’t actually eliminate any existing taxes) and Republicans (e.g. their determination to make criminals of people who use or prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with state laws), the right to bear arms is not one of them. Reading Edwards’ quote above does make gun ownership seem like a silly answer to ending violence, but if one looks at the empirical evidence, there is little reason to believe that making it a crime to own a gun does anything but ensure that the only people who own guns are criminals. Consider the following examples of gun ownership deterring crime:

  1. In 1966 the police in Orlando, Florida, responded to a rape epidemic by embarking on a highly publicized program to train 2,500 women in firearm use. The next year rape fell by 88 percent in Orlando (the only major city to experience a decrease that year); burglary fell by 25 percent. Not one of the 2,500 women actually ended up firing her weapon; the deterrent effect of the publicity sufficed. Five years later Orlando’s rape rate was still 13 percent below the pre-program level, whereas the surrounding standard metropolitan area had suffered a 308 percent increase.
  2. During a 1974 police strike in Albuquerque armed citizens patrolled their neighborhoods and shop owners publicly armed themselves; felonies dropped significantly.
  3. In March 1982 Kennesaw, Georgia, enacted a law requiring householders to keep a gun at home; house burglaries fell from 65 per year to 26, and to 11 the following year.
  4. Similar publicized training programs for gun-toting merchants sharply reduced robberies in stores in Highland Park, Michigan, and in New Orleans; a grocers organization’s gun clinics produced the same result in Detroit.

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Posted in Constitution, Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oklahoma Believes in Free Speech*

Posted by Poorsummary on October 18, 2007

*Not really. It turns out that if you circulate petitions in Oklahoma, but you are not an Oklahoma resident, you owe the state $1,000 and/or a year of your life in a county jail. Here’s the down and dirty in legalese:

“It shall be unlawful for any person other than a qualified elector of the state of Oklahoma [citizens of the United States, over the age of eighteen (18) years, who are bona fide Oklahoma residents] to circulate any initiative or referendum petition to amend, add to, delete, strike or otherwise change in any way the Constitution or laws of the State of Oklahoma, or of any subdivision of the State of Oklahoma . . . . Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed one (1) year, or by both said fine and imprisonment.”

You might think you could circumvent this seemingly unconstitutional law by simply moving into the state, declaring residency, and then moving out after you’ve circulated your petitions. In this case, however, you’d be committing fraud against the state, which will land you up to 10 years– TEN YEARS– in prison, plus a $25,000 fine.

Now this is more than one of those obnoxious, but oft ignored laws, such as not making clam chowder in Boston with a tomato. In fact, grassroots political activist Paul Jacob faces these very charges. And what was the subversive legislation he was trying to pass? State-sponsored Satanism? Federally mandated gay marriage? Nope: Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). That’s right, this guy could end up spending a decade in the slammer because he organized people from other states to help mobilize Oklahoma voters to limit the ability of bureaucrats to dole out taxpayers’ money to special interest groups without taxpayer consent. Remarkable.

Learn more about Paul Jacobs and how you can help end a politically motivated abuse of power here. Learn more about what makes a law a good law here.

Posted in Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics, Rule of Law | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »