Streetwise Professor

June 22, 2022

With Friends Like John Cornyn, Who Needs Enemies?

Filed under: Guns,Politics,Punk — cpirrong @ 5:51 pm

Senators have released a draft gun control bill produced as the result of a “bipartisan compromise.” Let me translate: “bipartisan compromise” means a cabal of the uniparty has conspired to screw you. That’s not a conspiracy theory: that’s an empirical regularity.

Some of the bill is unobjectionable. But that conceals its diseased heart: a provision to bribe states to adopt “red flag” laws.

Red flag laws are patently unconstitutional. Fourth Amendment. Fifth Amendment. Second Amendment. Binding on the states by the Fifteenth Amendment. Other than that, great!

It is highly unlikely that these laws can or will prevent lunatics like the Uvalde shooter or the Parkland shooter (whom I will not give any notoriety by writing their names), but they will impose substantial costs on innocent individuals, especially those afflicted with a vengeful spouse or disputatious neighbor.

The “Republican” leader in these negotiations, my own state’s John Cornyn, had the audacity to preen over the bill:

The red flag provision will not reduce the risk of Uvaldes, but it will trounce the Second Amendment. The last sentence is particularly mendacious. “Mental health and school safety bill.” Yeah, right, John. Only nuts will get snared by red flag laws, right? In fact, it’s more likely that nuts will use them against their enemies than it is to disarm murderous nuts.

And “NO NEW RESTRICTIONS”? Please. In fact, I think the all caps are a clear case of thou protest too much. Further, it is an outright lie. Outsourcing unconstitutional and anti-liberty measures to the states (and paying them to take these measures) is cynically dishonest beyond belief. Even for you.

And spare me any of your pompous, pious crap about “due process.” The process is the punishment. It pits the individual against a predatory state. Anyone knows that getting enmeshed in a legal dispute is financially costly and emotionally tortuous: that is especially true in the circumstances that give rise to red flag actions. Even if at the end of the day you “win”–that is, you get your guns back–you lose. And there is no guarantee that you will win. The odds are stacked against you.

If Cornyn were an actual Republican, rather than a member of the uniparty (AKA the government party, the swamp party) he would realize that this is politically idiotic. The Democrats are reeling. They face a disaster in November. Their addled “leader” has, by the last poll, a 32 percent favorable rating. Why give them a victory? Why throw them a line? Just stand there and watch them drown. Or better yet–throw them an anvil.

But no. So by revealed preference Cornyn demonstrates that he is just another uniparty apparatchik.

And indeed, Cornyn has said as much. He was booed at the Texas GOP convention in Houston last week. His stand is highly unpopular among the base. But he said that he doesn’t care what his constituents think.

So also spare me any laments over our dying democracy. It’s people like John Cornyn who are killing it, and who are stoking populism, by betraying those who elected them.

Cornyn is in line to replace Mitch McConnell, and become majority leader in the event of the Republicans regaining control of the Senate. So Tweedledee will replace Tweedledum. Oh Joy! McConnell’s only positive contribution to the Republic is preventing Merrick Garland from ascending to the Supreme Court. Other than that, he’s just another apparatchik for whom Cornyn would be a worthy replacement.

This title of this song is an apt description of our current age. And John–the chorus is all about you.

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  1. What’s a red flag law?

    Comment by dearieme — June 23, 2022 @ 8:23 am

  2. @deari: It allows law enforcement etc to remove firearms from someone deemed to be at risk to themselves or others i.e. a perfectly reasonable arrangement to someone living in the UK, a gross violation of an inalienable human right – nee declaration of war – to anyone living in the US.

    I’m guessing the plan is to broaden the range of people that are able to initiate red flag proceedings against others, hence Craig’s beef. Its possible he may have issues with his neighbours regarding a boundary or errant privet hedge.

    All this Uvalde business is intriguing. What doesn’t make sense is how the police can arrest and disarm a civilian who was attempting to enter the school building to confront the attacker. Talk about catastrophically undermining the “increase gun ownership to prevent mass shootings” argument… The police and armed militia need to get on the same page.

    Comment by David Mercer — June 23, 2022 @ 9:55 am

  3. It sounds line For in is beginning to sound like the Brit Corbin. His transition will be complete when we hear : “Its the Jews!”.
    Or maybe he is just trying to be a NYC den of a certain vintage with his farcical Edmund Burke wannabe performance.

    In NYC the loonies were known in the Democratic Party were organized (?) Into the New Democratic Coalition, or the NDC; sort of like the squad, but even less attuned to, say, getting elected. Nat Hentoff described them as November Doesn’t Count.

    Comment by Sotosy1 — June 23, 2022 @ 3:38 pm

  4. First responders are a misnomer-especially given Uvalde. Police are SECOND or THIRD responders. The person on the scene is the first responder.

    Comment by Jeffrey Carter @pointsnfigures1 — June 23, 2022 @ 6:45 pm

  5. John Lott points out that there were no mass shootings in the 1950s when there were proportionately as many psychopaths, no restrictions on gun ownership, guns were common gifts to kids at their 12th birthday, and some schools had a bring your rifle to school day.

    He also points out that all the shootings are at gun-free zones.

    More Guns, Less Crime is well-established. The cure to mass shootings is obvious. No gun-free zones. But, of course, the issue is disarm the public, not that they be safe.

    Comment by Pat Frank — June 23, 2022 @ 11:38 pm

  6. “John Lott points out that there were no mass shootings in the 1950s”. That seems to me to be potentially a key point. We foreigners can all enjoy ourselves saying “What do you expect of a population descended from religious fanatics and the sort of people who flee their wives, the bailiff, and the magistrate?” But in the 1950s they didn’t commit these lunatic mass shootings. What changed? Television? LBJ? Cannabis? Dunno, but it might be more fruitful to enquire into the matter than to fantasise about disarming a country where the population owns guns by the hundreds of millions.

    One other thing: suppose that I accept that no such shootings occurred in the fifties. What about other mass killings by, say, arson or explosives? How often did those occur over a couple of generations from, say, 1900 to 1960?

    Comment by dearieme — June 24, 2022 @ 11:05 am

  7. In the third paragraph of this post, where you refer to the “Fifteenth Amendment,” you mean the Fourteenth, which is held to incorporate the Bill of Rights and make them enforceable against the states. The Fifteenth Amendment is about voting rights.

    Comment by djf — June 24, 2022 @ 11:12 am

  8. @5 Dearieme, Rocque and Duwe (2018) “Rampage shootings: an historical, empirical, and theoretical overview” Current Opinion in Psychology 19, 28-33

    Report: “According to some researchers, 1966 marked the beginning of a mass murder wave, for that was the year in which massacres were committed weeks apart from each other in Chicago and Austin, and each was dubbed the ‘Crime of the Century’. Killing 16 and wounding 30 more at the University of Texas in Austin, the attack committed by Charles Whitman was, at that time, the worst mass public shooting in American history. The Whitman case proved to be a bellwether for the overall increase observed in mass public shootings over the last 50 years.

    “In the 50 years before the massacre committed by Whitman, there had been 24 mass public shootings in the United States. One study reported, for example, that four mass public shootings took place between 1915 and 1929. At least nine mass public shootings occurred during the 1930s, followed by eight during the 1940s. Between 1950 and 1965, there were only three that took place. In the 50 years since the Whitman massacre, however, there have been 135 mass public shootings in the U.S. In the next section, we review trends in their prevalence since the mid-1960s.”

    The naive ratio is that mass killings have increased by 5.6 times in the most recent 50 years over the prior 50 years.

    According to Katsiyannis, et al., “Historical Examination of United States Intentional Mass School Shootings in the 20th and 21st Centuries: Implications for Students, Schools, and Society”

    Figure 2 shows that mass shootings at schools were pretty much non-existent prior to the mid-1970s, after which the incidence increased steadily.

    Comment by Pat Frank — June 24, 2022 @ 2:51 pm

  9. The first report abstract states: ”Theories regarding the perpetration of rampage shootings center on masculinity, mental illness, and contagion effects. No mention of gaming, social media, economic deprivation i.e. the usual go-to excuses? It goes on to state: ”Policies aimed at preventing rampage shootings remain somewhat controversial and not well-tested in the literature. No mention of Lott?

    The second report concludes: Deliberate and sensible policy and legislative actions, such as expanded background checks and a ban on assault weapons, along with expanded support to address mental health issues among adolescent students and adults and other related preventative measures will likely reduce the occurrence of such events in the future. So nothing revelatory there then about ‘more guns’.

    I find a good test as to whether something is really good for your country is to find out who funds their lobby, specifically any foreign adversaries who have an active interest in upending your society. That fact Russia chose the NRA speaks volumes IMO – they weren’t funding this out of some ideological alignment or general sympathy with the cause. Similarly, I’d wager there’s all manner of Chinese money sloshing around the pharma lobby.

    Comment by David Mercer — June 25, 2022 @ 4:21 am

  10. @djf. Correct. I caught myself yesterday but haven’t had time to correct. I appreciate the heads up.

    Comment by cpirrong — June 25, 2022 @ 9:57 am

  11. @Pat Frank. I have followed John’s work for a long time, and I consider him a friend. He has paid dearly for his heterodox opinions, but has stuck to his guns (pun intended). I respect him a lot for that.

    We co-authored an OpEd in the Dallas Morning News about concealed carry on campus 11 or 12 years ago. When I was on the faculty senate at UH at the time campus concealed carry was before the TX legislature, and the faculty senate was debating whether to send a letter opposing the measure, I was the only senator to speak against the letter and in favor of campus carry. The other senators looked at me like I had four heads, all of them grotesque. One of the points I made was that mass shootings occur disproportionately in gun free zones. They were not convinced. A bigger collection of bedwetters I’ve never seen.

    Comment by cpirrong — June 25, 2022 @ 10:03 am

  12. @Pat Frank. John Lott (whom you mentioned earlier) and Bill Landes (a former boss, and a giant in law & economics scholarship) authored an article about mass public shootings back in 2000. The first sentence still holds true: “Few events obtain the same instant national and even worldwide news coverage as when several people are shot and killed in a public place.”

    Their findings are interesting, and the empirical work is carefully done (not surprisingly). Alas, it has only 39 citations. That’s a telling statistic.

    Comment by cpirrong — June 25, 2022 @ 10:11 am

  13. @11 Craig “A bigger collection of bedwetters I’ve never seen.

    I guess you’ve never been to Stanford. 🙂

    I picked up Lott’s book years ago on the remainder shelf at the Stanford bookstore. I was skeptical of the thesis until I read the book. It was utterly convincing.

    I looked up the papers that disputed his results, and the further papers written in reply. From what I could see, the replies in defense of Lott’s work carried the day. One response showed that data published in a refutational paper actually supported Lott’s thesis.

    Following the Uvalde shooting, I did a little more research and found J. S. Lewis (2018) The Relationship between Gun Control Strictness and Mass Murder in the United States: A National Study 2009-2015 International Social Science Review 94(2), Article 4.

    Lewis found a weak negative correlation between strict gun laws and GPW murders, but went on to write that, “There was no statistical difference, but the states with the ten strictest gun laws (M = 2.50, SD = .791) had more than four times as many non-GPW mass murders as the states with the ten least strict gun laws (M = .364, SD = .505), t(19) = 1.61, p = .125.” which is a lovely irony.

    It seems that if states restrict guns, murderers find another way to carry on.

    GPW is ‘guns as primary weapon.’

    Comment by Pat Frank — June 25, 2022 @ 4:53 pm

  14. The two lunatics whose killings prompted the banning of pistols in the UK were both – it seemed to me – obviously inspired by the American models they’d seen on TV. So at the time I argued that the sensible thing wasn’t to ban pistols but to ban the British TV channels from wallowing in the American cases.

    Extending that point: in the US the Left is currently obsessively keen on censorship. So why don’t they advance my argument? After all some obsolete constitutional clause written by slave-owning white men a couple of centuries ago needn’t be paid any heed. The answer, I imagine, is that they have no interest in inhibiting such atrocities since they assume they will gain from them.

    Comment by dearieme — June 25, 2022 @ 6:52 pm

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