by Tyler Cowen
on December 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm
1. Prizes for Dubai drivers who do not commit traffic infractions, hat tip Yana.
2. The expiration of the US. assault weapons ban increased violence in Mexico.
3. How fragile are we?
4. Illinois re-confronts the Coasian problem.
5. There is structural unemployment in Chennai too, robot fortune teller. Note the multiplicity of religions in the photo. And note that Junior Khuppanna has excellent food from the interior of TN.
#4 A market for GPS controlled cattle shock collars?
Stray from pasture? Zap!
I see a market for this in child-minding. I could eliminate the need for a babysitter, by watching them from my smartphone and zap! … when they get too close to [fill in blank].
Why in God’s name would you do that?!? An Indian could watch them via the internet.
I wouldn’t trust a stranger lacking in emotional connections to my children to zap them strongly enough. (“To know them is to want to zap them”?)
Eventually, Google will have the big data and algorithms to do this optimally. Your emotion and subjective judgement will pale in comparison to petabytes of history gathered from billions of children on shock level, repetition rate, vibration-only mode warnings, etc. Reinforcing signals will be personalized for the child, taking into account age, IQ, Myers-Briggs scales, etc. as well as real-time data from heartbeat, galvanic skin response, voice stress analysis, etc. This is 21st-century parenting!
It will work on adults, too.
There is more wisdom in your missive than I’ve seen in actual formal child care. For example you mention Myers-Briggs. True story, I told my kid’s teacher that our kid requires more positive reinforcement than average. Her response was “oh, we already give all the kids encouragement.”
Bring on the robots!!!
Seriously, though, the “Illinois fence law” link and it is totally flawed and non-Coasian: the authors incorrectly assert that when a cattle rancher erects a fence to prevent stray cattle from trespassing on his neighbor’s land, the neighbor receives no benefit from the erection of the fence and thus should not be required to pay for any part of the fence — but this is analysis is wrong (as Coase showed in social cost paper) — by building a fence to fence-in straying cattle, this reduces property damage to the neighbor and this provides a benefit to the neighbor
3 makes no sense, as they ban didn’t actually ban assault weapons, mostly just cosmetic features.
I suspect its a spurious correlation.
Heh: Millions of lovely liberals, including some cretin posing as an Ass. Prof. at U of RI: Erik Loooooooomis!, are sooooo distraught over the “Sandy Hook” murders. They are calling for the murders of National Rifle Association’s 4.3 million members. No: some of them only want to kill Wayne LaPierre.
No way! Obama and Holder are nor responsible for “Fast and Furuious” terrorist murders or Brian terry’s killing. But, I’m responsible (NRA member) for the massacre in CT.
At least that idiot gun-lovin’ mom of the CT maniac got what was coming to her. If she were still alive I bet her position on gun control would be different today.
She some kind of hero to you, T. Shaw?
As you mention below, “It’s the caliber/capacity/character of the one holding the weapon.”
Well the caliber/capacity/character of a dumbass mom letting her disturbed son have access to her arsenal that she parades in front of him is fair to question. Also she deserved to die.
The latest news (of course news on this case seems to be contradicted pretty frequently) is that she was trying to get him involuntarily committed, and that might have been what pushed him over the edge. Apparently it’s not easy to get someone involuntarily committed. I note that in this case there was no issue of money – they were well-off.
Now, I’ll agree that it seems like a bad idea to have a bunch of guns in the house with your crazy son, but I think “deserved to die” is putting it too strongly. I don’t think that’s right.
It’s possible, that she *gasp* actually loved her son. Because she loved him, she perhaps didn’t recognize the danger that he actually was and thought she had enough time and could reason him well enough to make the transition. from the outside looking in, It’s a very difficult concept to grasp… but even Hitler had a mother…
This one is plain as day, folks. The gun lobby is always claiming it’s not the guns that are the problem, that NRA folks are responsible gun owners, not criminals. That lady was NOT a responsible gun owner. And I daresay there are a ton more like her, nuts who think if one gun is good 5 is better. Oh and who don’t take precautions to prevent tragedies like CT.
Maybe she didn’t ‘deserve’ to die, but it’s justice that she did.
And if her example gets other gun nuts to take better fucking care of their arsenals, she won’t have died in vain.
I can’t even bring myself to contemplate the kids who were murdered. It’s too much for me.
So, anyone who helps their kid learn to drive and dies in a crash with them deserves to die. In some metaphysical sense, I suppose so. In other ways of thinking, remarkably dim.
She paid the price. What more do you want of her?
Did the principle deserve to die since she didn’t put enough Georgian Wired/Wire Cast glass between the dangerous world and the kids?
Fundamentally, a claw hammer would do to the security system and the human body what an AR-15 can do. So, to me a better entryway security system is not even a cost because there is no alternative.
Obviously the primary variable is that a bunch of defenseless people are corralled into a kill zone. We can argue over the rest of the ancillary details, but again, a claw hammer could do the same damage once you are inside the kill zone.
Do they turn their noses up at the SWAT guys that show up 20 minutes late? Of course not.
This doesn’t mean that eliminating AR 15s wouldn’t reduce these long-tail type events. But again, AR 15s are not breaching tools. Wired Cast glass and multiple electronic doors would slow down the attacker. Why peoples’ minds go directly to gun control really is bizarre.
I’m confused: is msgkings trolling, or is he insane, and do we need to have guns removed from the houses of everyone he knows?
Yeah, clearly msgkings should be prevented from ever owning any weapons.
> Yeah, clearly msgkings should be prevented from ever owning any weapons.
Leaving aside the gun control theater for a moment, this mental illness thing is a real problem. But what do you do about it? msgkings said a few things that indicate he’s angry and not the clearest thinker but there’s a long distance between that and a real threat. I understand the idea behind de-institutionalizing the mentally ill, particularly as those institutions seemed cruel and ineffective. But we’ve pretty clearly swung too far. I would have thought the Virginia Tech massacre would have lowered everyone’s tolerance for dark and unstable folks. But you only have to look at who shows up when Bryan Caplan starts talking natalism to see that there are plenty of scary people out there. If you want effective action to prevent things like Newtown, this is probably where you should start.
Reinforced doors. Bars, wire, whatever.
The idea that since we can’t keep guns or crazies out of school so we have to start with keeping them out of everywhere is…maybe the word is illogical.
We shouldn’t have to make schools into bunkers with strong doors and barred windows. We probably can’t make malls, subway stations, churches, and businesses into bunkers. We could increase the number of people who concealed-carry (and thereby reduce the severity of the super-violent events) but probably at the cost of more fights and arguments ending in a fatality.
We can however be marginally less tolerant of the hateful, violent, not-thinking-clearly folks. We can institutionalize them and offer them medically assisted suicide if that floats your boat. This is probably better for everybody, including the folks who get institutionalized.
We do have to. This is where the discussion goes off the tracks into wackiness.
You have to not let people into your property. All the more efficient because there are so many kids in the box and you can’t let them out. You already have to have one way in. It is nearly costless to make that door impenetrable.
There are 700 kids at the school. There is no cop. I went to a concert and saw about a hundred cops around a few thousand people. This is wackiness.
“We probably can’t make malls, subway stations, churches, and businesses into bunkers. ”
And we don’t need to. Schools are a unique case. It’s a box that necessarily has one way in and one way out (except for exit only emergency doors). Noone has any business being there who is not supposed to be there. Making it impenetrable is a nearly trivial consideration. Making sure someone inside can slow down an attacker is equally trivial. The other places are not targeted, are less vulnerable, and can largely handle themselves.
Identifying crazies is fine. Largely separate.
There are still windows and walls. Bunkering is hard.
An armed cop is a plausible suggestion, though I’d wonder about cost-effectiveness. These events are pretty rare. Severity of incident is basically a function of how long it takes a good guy with a gun to show up, right?
It took him 15 rounds to shoot through the glass beside the door. That is half a magazine and probably about minute just to get in. What if they had 2 doors? 2 of these fail doors and you still have him waste a full magazine and give responders precious minutes. What if they were wire reinforced? Now let’s get really crazy. What if between these two doors the principal simply had some pepper spray and a way to inject it like the 10 or so ports that exist on every armored car. I know, crazy talk. Just doors then. That is even allowing for the aesthetics of glass that they like to put on these new opulent schools. That’s not a requirement. My school doors as a kid were just metal. The pertinent answer is frustratingly and heart-breakingly simple. We have to prevent one or two of these a year and only at the highest occupancy vulnerable venues. Why are people talking about irrelevancies?
I don’t think the doors are a bad idea where practical (small school, young kids, one entrance, few windows), but they’d slow, what, 10 percent of these things? Most of them don’t occur at elementary schools. They occur on campuses, in public places, in businesses, etc. You’ve got to do something about the means and tendency of the whole population to materially affect the numbers. You may decide that’s not worth the harm it causes, because these events are rare.
But I’d argue that we should institutionalize more than we do and investigate blatant anti-social behavior more than we do. I don’t want a police state at all. But if your mom is saying “I think he’s a danger to others” we should look very carefully at the situation.
Yes, they always shoot themselves or get shot as soon as FIRST responders arrive. FIRST responders is apropo because these guys never challenge them.
It’s not a bunker. Go anywhere and see how many people have bars on their windows. It’s not that hard when you consider what these incidents are really like. These guys get only as long as it takes for responders to arrive. So, just slow them down. There is no reason for anyone to be on school property. Confront them on the lawn.
If you paid $100k for a cop spread over 1000 people that would be $100 per year per person. You don’t really need a cop, you just need someone, but for some reason humans seem more comfortable when you call the trained and armed person a cop. They take on some magical quality at that point that gives people warm fuzzies. In reality, if everyone had pepper spray and a few had tazers that would be a good start.
For the record, Hitler favored confiscating guns from idiot moms armed to the teeth in suburban Connecticut and their lunatic sons.
His policy proposals were remarkably specific.
Some of the features were indeed basically just cosmetic, but other aspects of the ban, like magazine capacity, are less so. I don’t know much about drug cartel shootouts, but maybe having to stop to reload every 10 rounds effects things.
To me, the main problem has to do with sorting out changes in the levels of drug cartel violence during the time period in question and the geographical regions being studied. Here’s the relevant passage for how the authors dealt with those potential influences:
“Two alternative events in Mexico are occurring in the post-AWB time period that could
be biasing the results. First, promptly after taking office in December 2006, President Calderón
deployed federal troops to combat drug violence. This initially reduced the homicides rate in
2007, before further escalating the conflict in 2008. To ensure that the initial results are not
driven by the deployment, I examine whether the result holds after removing the 2007 and 2008
post-deployment years from the sample. The estimate remains similar to the baseline result.
Second, conflict between the Juarez Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel has led to the two states in which
the cartels are based, Chihuahua and Sinaloa, to be home to the highest levels of post-AWB drug
violence. I remove these two states from the sample to verify that the result is not being driven
by this inter-cartel conflict, and again, the results are similar to the initial estimates. I also
remove both the post-deployment years and the Chihuahua and Sinaloa observations.”
What are your theories on why the estimation process / identification scheme is invalid? It’s just a standard difference-in-difference model. There’s nothing fancy or weird about it. Like all Diff-in-Diff’s you have to check to make the standard assumptions hold, so I’d at that part of the paper if you’re looking for evidence that something’s amiss.
I do not think that magazine capacity of rifles and pistols has anything to do with the assault weapon ban (the ‘‘Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act’’). Once you have a detachable magazine of any sort, it’s cosmetic changes that tip you into the bad sauce.
I can’t comment on statistical techniques that are mechanism-free analysis, but what would be the mechanism? All the >10 round magazine production capacity ramped up and fed Mexico?
And if what was happening could be described as arming one side of the drug war that’s a little different than the image of “increased violence.” The key factor would seem to be the drug war, especially considering the dropping crime rates in the US. If the weapons caused crime then it would be seen here.
In other words, if you’re not going to look at the mechanism, you could just pick any law passed or repealed in 2004 and the study would have the same result.
You don’t reload after 10 rounds, you change magazines. Of course, you don’t have to change magazines as often if they contain 30 rounds rather than 10. However, there is an element of unreality to these discussions. Mexican drug cartels supposedly use fully automatic weapons. Such weapons are practically impossible to get in the U.S. (the details are complex, but the simple statement is essentially correct). The cartels are either obtaining fully automatic weapons from elsewhere or modifying U.S. weapons (not trivial, but possible).
If the cartels can either obtain fully automatic weapons from the ROW (Rest of World) or undertake engineering modifications on U.S. weapons, getting 30 rounds magazines is going to be trifle.
It didn’t actually ban guns that accepted high capacity magazines.
I think it was actually the ban itself that made people go apeshit buying after the sunset of it once they became available again.
There is a presumption here that guns are not portable and/or tradeable. In other words, the supply of weapons on the Mexican side of the border with California is constrained by what can be purchased (or not purchased) in California and then smuggled into Mexico (American guns are generally illegal in Mexico).
Is it really plausible that Mexicans in Baja can’t cross the border elsewhere to obtain guns? Is there no trade (presumably illegal) in weapons in Mexico? Can the authors show that weapons were more expensive in Baja than in other areas of Mexico after the AWB was lifted?
If we were talking about non-portable goods (housing or hay) this argument might have some merit. Guns are very portable. They are relatively small and valuable. That makes them highly tradeable.
Why different homicide rates in different part of Mexico after the AWB was lifted? The cartel wars took off in Mexico after 2000. The Mexico – California border is more tightly controlled than the borders with Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Presumably the cartels took their business (and funerals) elsewhere.
A useful note here is that most drug cartel weapons do not appear to be of U.S. origin. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Drug_War
“Research has asserted that most weapons and arms trafficked into Mexico are from gun dealers in the United States. In response to a 2009 GAO report that claimed 87% of Mexican crime guns traced to U.S. origins, the DHS pointed out that DHS officials believe that the 87 percent statistic is misleading (i.e.: out of approximately 30,000 weapons seized in drug cases in Mexico for 2004-2008, 7,200 appeared to be U.S. origin, approximately 4,000 were found in ATF manufacturer and importer records, and 87 percent of those—3,480—originated in the United States)”
Number 3 is unadulterated BullS*&t. It cherry picks the ending date of the end dates to make its results more dramatic.
Some basic facts:
*the US is the source of less than 20% of guns used in crimes in Mexico.
*the most dangerous cartel weapons, machine guns, grenades and explosives, are basically unavailable in the US.
*the primary source of arms for the cartels is the Mexican government, and weapons from war zones south of Mexico.
It is not “unadulterated BullS*&t.” It supports the agenda.
I brought #2 up to Jennifer Rubin in an e-mail after seeing her on This Week declare that the assault rifle ban had no effect on violence. Shockingly I did not receive a response.
Probably because you are cherry-picking a single study and ignoring the dozens showing no link to violence in the US.
Now, go up and write on the board one hundred times “correlation does not equal causation”.
It isn’t the caliber/capacity/cosmetics of the weapon that one is holding that’s the problem. It’s the caliber/capacity/character of the one holding the weapon.
Based on survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.
According to approximately 5,000 recent survey responders, an estimated 162,000 incidents a year Americans would “certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” This figure excludes “military service, police work, or work as a security guard.”
People have a very broad interpretation of “defending themselves” in these studies. Escalating argument, pulled the gun, “self defense.” Any time someone has pulled their gun they will consider it self defense, even if they weren’t being physically threatened, much less threatened with a gun. Even drug dealers could claim “self defense” when they used their gun.
Ha, yeah, I’m laughing at anyone suggesting that the murder rate would go up by an order of magnitude without guns.
Number of homicides in America in 2008: 16,799
Homicide rate per 100,000: 5.5
Add in the “certainly would have been killed” number: +162,000 = 178,799
New homicide rate per 100,000: 58.5
Homicide rate in the Ivory Coast (highest homicide rate in Africa): 56.9
(Admittedly, Honduras and El Salvador are higher, and we’re only counting unlawful death here–so not war zones).
The Ivory Coast had a problem with rebellions. Honestly, the United States would not be among the most violent place on the planet without guns… or if it would be, then we have no right to be a superpower, with or without guns. This statistic doesn’t pass the smell test at all.
Are you going to include the increased levels of domestic murders, accdental deaths, and suicides due to owning guns? We have more deaths by gun suicide than we do by gun homicide. Anybody owning a gun out of “self-defense” is seriously deluded, as the late Ms. Lanza can testify.
You probably shouldn’t count suicides. They seem like a different sort of problem and there are lots of close substitutes in means.
The trouble is you’re comparing the probability of a bunch of events that are way out in the tail of the distribution. For example, Mrs. Lanza was supposedly something of a prepper. What should her probability estimate have been for societal collapse within her lifetime? I think most rational people would think “pretty low.” But it must still have been orders of magnitude higher than the probability her son would do something like this.
And you should go write on the board that a lack of correlation doesn’t imply a lack of causation. There can be causation without correlation. I’m not saying that’s the case here. It’s just annoying how frequently the “correlation does not imply causation” line is thrown out by people to dismiss anything they don’t like. Maybe you know your statistics, maybe you don’t. In general, I find internet comments sections, even on econ blogs, are not the place to look if you’re interested in insightful takes on identification strategies and causal inference.
Actually a lack of correlation would imply a lack of causation and a correlation does imply causation!
I think the only way #2 can be correct is if there is no trade inside of Mexico of arms as the central claim is that regions of Mexico that border states with ‘assault weapon’ bans have lower violence. This seems highly.
Repeat of prior post.
Regarding #3, here’s another response to Crabtree:
The assault weapons ban didn’t ban anything and it didn’t ban assault weapons.
The law only restricted the sale of certain types of new weapons and magazines, but it did not remove any of the existing supply nor did it ban the sale of these items on the secondary market. At worst, it raised the prices of these items. High capacity Glock magazines went from $50 to $150 each.
It also didn’t change the shooting characteristics of weapons. The law defined an assault weapon as a rifle that had three or more of the following characteristics: pistol grip, folding stock, bayonet lug, flash suppressor, grenade launcher. Manufacturers simply took off the useless bayonet lug and flash suppressor. Few people possessed a grenade launcher. In effect, it stopped the manufacturer of things that looked like assault weapons. Hunting variants of weapons with identical actions were unrestricted.
After the high capacity magazine ban, manufacturers began to develop smaller framed pistols in large calibers with the ten round capacity. It boosted the popularity of concealable pistols in .40 and .45 caliber. It also single handedly revised the market for revolvers, especially small frame .357 magnums. Concealed handgun permits soared along with sales.
It is also worth noting that so called assault weapons were used in less than 2% of all firearm related crimes.
The problem with so many empirical studies is that they are bald comparisons over time with numerous contemporaneous factors. From my description above of the real impact of the law on the market, there is no theory underpinnining the attribution of the drop in crime with the enactment of the law or a rise in crime with the repeal of the law.
Mexico had a rise in crime because Mexico was overrun by organized crime. They may have bought weapons from the US, but they hardly needed to and they had the money to buy elsewhere. I don’t think market price alone was a substantial factor. What is the price elasticity of demand for weapons by a drug cartel? Fairly low, I suspect.
There’s very good evidence that the assault weapons ban worked: The Spectacular Spider-Man, circa issue #153, has a bad guy about to shoot Spider-Man, but his gun jams because the assault weapon ban stopped his ability to get good quality weapons.
The assault weapon ban arguably triggered the destruction of a federal office building in Oklahoma.
People don’t blow up buildings, assault weapon bans do?
I’m lowering myself to the level of gun control advocates. But the assault weapon ban definitely increased fear/anti-government sentiment.
Outlawing homicide arguably causes thousands of murders each year.
As the kids say, fail analogy is fail.
On #3: “…suggesting selection on intelligence at least up until very recent times” seems to weaken the first sentence of the next paragraph: “Arguments that reduced intelligence does not impair fitness in modern societies can thus be directly refuted.” Aren’t ‘modern societies’ different from societies before ‘very recent times’?
A thought experiment I’m really interested in is how exactly, one could go about confiscating all existing firearms. If all guns were outlawed tomorrow, how would you go about 1) confiscating all the guns 2) arresting all those gun owners?
> A thought experiment I’m really interested in…
Your real interest seems rather easy to satisfy. Here are the answers. There’s no plausible means of confiscating all existing firearms, There is (in the case of your hypothetical law) no plausible means that society would countenance of arresting all gun owners. So the answer to you experiments are, “exactly” we couldn’t successfully go about it and thus would not try, and likewise to 1) we couldn’t and wouldn’t try, and to 2) we couldn’t and wouldn’t try. These
answers seem really obvious to me, do you really doubt them?
But either way what on earth does this have to do with the sense, or otherwise, in a law outlawing guns? We have laws against murder even though we don’t know how to stop them all or arrest all offenders. Does any criminal law, at all, in the US or elsewhere, pass the test you are suggesting here?
Is there any law, anywhere, that the government actually tries to enforce? I don’t know. Probably.
I suspect most governments try to enforce most laws. But they – rightly don’t consider “you can’t have perfect success, thus you shouldn’t even have such a law” as a sensible argument. We have many laws, maybe murder was a imperfect example, but let’s say traffic violations, drug possession, child pornography possession, that governments are serious about while recognizing there is no plan at all, certainly no societaly acceptable plan, for stopping “all” transgressions. “If we ban child pornography, how _exactly_ do we remove it from every home and every computer?” That’s a pretty silly question.
The answer to the original post is remains no: there is no and will be no “exact” scheme for confiscating all firearms, confiscating all guns, or arresting all owners. But the fact that there is not a universal enforcement regime does not, in the tiniest way, contribute to the argument as to whether or not there should be a law against gun ownership. There are few laws that allow perfect enforcement, and many (as in here) for which perfect enforcement is a utopian stupidity. Which does not by itself say such laws are bad.
If I’m reading the original post too literally, and he just wants to know how such a law could dramatically reduce gun possession (but not _all_ off it) then sure, that has an easy answer too. I would think that it’s fairly obvious that it would, especially over time, and subject to the normal zealousness we try to enforce other laws. It’s pretty obvious, and we also we have international experience to prove it. A skeptic might say it would take a long time – 20, 30, 40 years? – to make a dent; I doubt that but it’s arguable, yet it surely would make a bit dent in gun ownership in the end. Not “all” guns, who on earth would promise otherwise?
“We have laws against murder even though we don’t know how to stop them all or arrest all offenders.”
The difference is that you wouldn’t want to try to round up all gun owners, but you would want to try to investigate all murders.
Actually, we already have laws against most anything you would would ever want a law against, yet people just keep doing those things.
There should be a law against breaking the law! Sort of like a set of Russian nesting dolls, except at the center you have Scalia :^)
3 is a really special kind of stupid. Does that guy think we have children starving in the streets, or did he not spend a second thinking about what he wrote?
#4 — I read the “Illinois fence law” link and it is totally flawed and non-Coasian — the authors incorrectly assert that when a cattle rancher erects a fence to prevent stray cattle from trespassing on his neighbor’s land, the neighbor receives no benefit from the erection of the fence and thus should not be required to pay for any part of the fence — but this is analysis is wrong (as Coase showed in social cost paper): by building a fence to fence-in straying cattle, this reduces property damage to the neighbor and this provides a benefit to the neighbor
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