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Licensed Handgun Carry Wins in Kansas

Over-riding the Governor’s veto, the Kansas legislature has enacted a “Shall Issue” law for issuing licenses to carry a concealed handgun for lawful protection. Before, Kansas was one of only four states without any provision for issuing concealed handgun licenses. One of the remaining three states, Nebraska, appears poised to enact a similar law, which the Governor has said he will sign.
Kansas is now among the 39 states which have a fair procedure to allow citizens to carry handguns for protection. Along with the three states (Nebraska, Wisconsin, IIllinois) that currently do not issue permits, eight other states issue permits according to the whim of a local official (Hawaii, California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Delaware). A Shall Issue bill is moving through the legislature in Delaware. Rhode Island already has a Shall Issue law, although the law is nullified by administrative practice.
In Wisconsin, a Shall Iissue bill has been vetoed twice, with the vetos sustained by only one or two votes. In every state where Shall Issue proponents have gotten as close as they have in Wisconsin, the state has always eventually enacted a Shall Issue law–although sometimes the process can take a while.
So of the eleven remaining states that are not Shall Issue, two of them (Nebraska and Wisconsin) are nearly certain to change at some point in the future, and there is reasonable possiblity of change in Delaware. All that Rhode Island needs to change is the election of Attorney General who will not interfere with the state law that local goverments must issue carry permits to qualified applicants.
So the number of Shall Issue states could be 43 in the not too distant future. In the seven hold-out states, Shall Issue has passed one body of the legislature at least once in the three largest states: California, New York, and Illinois.
Every year, more and more Shall Issue states create “reciprocity” with each other, so that a person with a permit from her home state can carry her firearm lawfully in a other state while visiting. Currently, a carry permit issued by one state is valid in over half of all states. (See for details.)
As the combined total of “no issue” or “whimsical issue” states declines into the single digits, and reciprocity continues to spread, it seems hard to deny that America is concluding that Shall Issue is sensible gun control — one that regulates firearms carrying but does not infringe the right to self-defense.
For more on the Kansas law, see this excellent article in the Wichita Eagle.

Sensible Public Health

Here’s a story about a public health intervention that:

1. Appears to have reduced the rate of sexually transmitted diseases.
2. Especially by encouraging people to have a check-up.
3. Appears to have been fairly inexpensive.
4. Involved no coercion.

The Bay Area Reporter offers a story about a costumed character who promotes sexual disease control (sort of like Smokey the Bear encourages people to prevent forest fires). But the particular costume would scandalize many people. Read the whole article before you make up your own mind.

Major Development in Syria

The opponents of the Assad regime have announced a united front coalition. The expatriate Syrian blogger Ammar Abdulhamid analyzes the coalition, and concludes that, even though the coalition leaders are hardly white knights, the coalition offers the best chance to lead a transition to a post-Assad state that does not degenerate into warlordism.

human rights = allah

The Brussels Journal points out the close resemblence between the Arabic word for “Allah” and the logo of the UN Human Rights Commission, which may have been imposed by ” a high-ranking Muslim UN official .” Even if “Allah” is not the official UN Human Rights Commission logo, the UN acts as if it were. Brussels Journals points to “last week’s common declaration signed by EU Foreign Policy Coordinator Javier Solana, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The three men pledged to rewrite the UN Human Rights Charter to ‘protect the sanctity of religions and the prophets.'”

Today’s Courageous Feminists

Cinnamon Stillwell observes International Women’s Day by observing that:

the real radical women in the world go largely unremarked by the feminist movement. Today’s true heroines are those who do battle with the gender apartheid, violence and oppression practiced against women in the Muslim world. There, women face not just phantom infringements to their civil rights and perceived slights to their sensitivities, but threats to their lives.

Read the whole article for an inspiring litany of women putting lives on the line by speaking out against Islamist oppression.

Whoopie Cushion Chair Prompts Lawsuit

Today’s Times of London reports an employment law claim by a teacher who chair made flatulent noises whenever she moved. The teacher, who resigned her position, is claiming constructive dismissal, and asking for one million Pounds in compensation.

Asked why she did not sort out the problem, she told the tribunal: “It’s a health and safety issue for an employer to ensure you have a comfortable chair.”

A chair that forces a person into bad posture might well be a health and safety issue, but a chair that merely causes embarassment is plainly not a health and safety issue — although the chair should still be replaced.

Lawsuit over Denial of Federal Financial Aid to College Students with Drug Convictions

Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit alleging that the federal law which denies federal financial aid to any student with a drug law conviction is unconstitutional. Personally, I think the federal law is atrocious, and would vote to repeal it. But I think the prospects for victory in court are very slim. The SSDP press release points out several good policy arguments, but raises only two legal points:

The law punishes individuals twice for the same infraction. Affected students have already been dealt with by the criminal justice system. Taking away their access to education after they’ve already paid their debt to society is unnecessary. This violates the “double jeopardy” clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Commenters are welcome to correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that the Fifth Amendment has ever been interpretted to prohibit governments from choosing to make persons with criminal convictions ineligible for welfare programs, including student aid for higher education.
Second, SSDP argues:

Putting up roadblocks on the path to education does nothing to solve our nation’s drug and crime problems; it only makes them worse. Forcing students convicted of drug charges to drop out of school makes them more likely to fall into drug abuse or commit crimes (thus becoming costly burdens on the criminal justice system) and less likely to become productive taxpaying citizens (thus reducing the nation’s economic productivity). Congress has no rational basis to attach student aid eligibility to drug convictions, especially since murderers, rapists, burglars, and arsonists can still receive financial aid. This violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment’s “due process” clause.

The first half of the paragraph is really a policy argument. The second half — that it is irrational to deny aid to a person with a misdemeanor marijuana conviction, while giving aid to a person with a felony rape or arson conviction — seems more plausible. In an article in the Journal of Contemporary Law, I have argued for taking the rational basis test seriously. But whether courts will do is uncertain.

Health Insurance Doesn’t Matter. Medicaid Should be Scrapped:

John Goodman, of the National Center for Policy Analysis, comments on a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine: “Who is at Greatest Risk for Receiving Poor-quality Health Care?” Contrary to many previous studies, the NEJM study found that, in Goodman’s words:

– Among people who seek care (actually see a doctor), there is virtually no difference in the quality of care received by the insured and uninsured.

– There is also very little difference in the care provided by different types of insurance – Medicaid, managed care, fee-for-service and so forth.

The study is consistent with Dallas-area data reported by Goodman in his book Lives at Risk. Goodman summarizes the implications of the NEJM study:

The entire Medicaid program (at a cost of $1,000 per person for every man, woman and child in the country and a huge crowd out of private insurance) is predicated on the conventional wisdom that being insured matters. Now we know that what really matters is seeing a doctor. Two deterrents are rationing by waiting and physician fees. Both hurdles could be overcome with funded health savings accounts.

Another conventional wisdom is that the uninsured need sky-is-the-limit coverage just like the United Auto Workers. But since the low-income uninsured have few assets to protect, why do people with modest means need such expensive coverage? They don’t. A scaled down plan could give them ample choice of doctors and allow entry into the system for much lower premiums.

Journal on Fireams & Public Policy now accepting submissions

I am the Editor of an iinterdisciplinary academic journal, the Journal on Firearms and Public Policy. The Journal is now accepting submissions for its next volume, our 18th year of publication. Some sample issues, in PDF, are here. (We hope eventually to put all volumes on-line.) Because we are interdiscplinary, articles may be written in a variety of academic and citation styles, including law, history, social science, philosophy, and so forth. The JFPP’s circulation is vastly larger than most academic journals. If you would like to submit an article, or send a query about possible submission, please write me at the e-mail link on the lower-left column of my website.