Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Hober Short 1:01 am on 23 April 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Interesting data point: in this week’s Downrange Radio Michael Bane, who’s probably the gun journalist most connected with the industry, is saying that gun companies aren’t coming out with many new products because they can’t keep their current products in stock. For reasons no one really knows, Americans are buying guns at a steadily increasing pace and have been for about two years.

    Around the time Barack Obama was elected and took office, sales of guns and ammo skyrocketed, causing prices on most things but particularly AR-15 pattern rifles to shoot through the roof. Interesting side note: although prices rose as supply did for guns themselves, ammo shortages were pervasive despite price increases. Given that this happened over a 3-6 month time frame, I’ve never understood why stores didn’t raise prices until they could guarantee they’d at least have some in stock. It’d make a good topic of an economics paper.

    Mid-to-late 2009, though, the bubble popped and ARs came back down in price by ten or twenty percent (this history and these numbers are all from memory, so I’d be glad to see some solid stats on this stuff) and gun and ammo sales basically bottomed out before beginning the slow and steady rise they’ve been on since then. For the most part, prices have stayed fairly constant because the increased demand has been steady and predictable (remember, a healthy economy requires accurate prediction) and supply has been steadily ramping up. For example, Smith and Wesson recently added a third shift to their factory, a sign of economic recovery that’s pretty few and far between these days.

    What’s causing it? I tend to agree with Bane that the zeitgeist isn’t yet that of stocking up before the election. What’s been driving people to guns, and in particular defensive shooting and competition over the past two years? I’m really not sure. But I’m glad it’s happening.

  • Hober Short 2:52 pm on 16 April 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Ken over at Popehat (an excellent blog that occasionally intersects the law) uses his professional experience as a trial lawyer to absolutely skewer the indictment of George Zimmerman:

    An affidavit shows proper attribution when it explains how the affiant knows each piece of information in the affidavit. That doesn’t mean that a proper affidavit can’t be based on second-hand or even third-hand or fourth-hand information — it can. But a proper affidavit must explain how each link in the chain gained the information — how everyone knew what they knew — so that the judge can make an intelligent assessment of the sufficiency of the evidence.

    For example, a properly attributed affidavit might say “On April 13, 2012, I spoke with Officer Smith, one of the other officers on the case. Officer Smith told me the following: a few hours before he spoke with me, he interviewed witness Jane Doe. Ms. Doe told Officer Smith that she was walking down Main Street when she saw a man she recognized from the neighborhood as Dastardly Dan running out of the bank.”

    By contrast, a bad affidavit would say “Witnesses indicated that Dastardly Dan was seen running out of the bank.” An even worse one says “Dastardly Dan ran out of the bank,” and offers nothing to indicate the basis for knowledge.

    And then gives examples on exactly how bad the Zimmerman indictment is. I have no particular interest in the Martin/Zimmerman case, but I always find it fascinating to get a glimpse in to the inner workings of something like our legal system.

  • Hober Short 1:55 pm on 12 April 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    I find it hard to wrap my head around using a constitution (state or federal) to restrict individual liberty, but it bears remembering that the people of North Carolina voted in a landslide to do just that in 2010: the constitutional amendment to prevent felons from serving as sheriff passed with 85% of the vote.

    • Robert Berry 10:13 am on 13 April 2012 Permalink | Reply

      One of the most dangerous political misconceptions around is the notion that a constitution is just a kind of “super-law.” This kind of thinking leads to constant campaigns for amendments intended to address issues that would be better handled through statute, or through the ballot box. Instead of being a blueprint for government and an enumeration of governmental powers, the constitution becomes diluted and is just another part of the legal code. The worst part is that when bad “laws” get added to a constitution, it’s that much harder to undo the damage (see: Prohibition).

      I voted against the amendment you mention because, if sheriffs are to be elected, I see no reason why voters shouldn’t be allowed to decide whether they want an ex-con in that job. If there are good arguments to be made against the idea, they should be made during the election campaign.

  • Hober Short 6:31 pm on 9 April 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    I’m conflicted on this.

    UNC journalism bails/bales on historic/historical spelling test

    For almost 40 years, journalism students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have had to pass a spelling and grammar test in order to get a degree. Now, in the age of spell check, the university is changing the test, which some say will make it even more difficult to pass.

    . . .

    “The content of the test came up last fall when several faculty members were talking about the introductory News Writing course, which is where many students first take the exam,” Bechtel wrote. “In those conversations, I suggested that memorizing a spelling list wasn’t the best measure of competence in our craft. Why not use a set of questions about word choice instead? Other faculty members agreed to the idea.”

    Beginning this fall, spelling will no longer be included on the exam. Instead, students will be tested on grammar, punctuation and word usage in a sentence, such as ordinance/ordnance, wither/whither, allude/elude and eminent/imminent.

    On the surface this might look like UNC softening the test by removing spelling portion, but the way Bechtel is quoted talking about “memorizing a spelling list”, it makes me think they actually dropped a pretty shoddy test of critical writing and editing.

    After all, as the students in the article point out, spell check is incredibly common these days. The errors that slip out are more commonly word choice problems, like “your” versus “you’re” or “loath” versus “loathe”.

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