Jul 102015

US News & World Report had a nice piece on the debate over whether gun violence should be considered a “public health” issue, and they quoted me as explaining why it should not be:

But some medical providers say doctors should stay out of the debate. Dr. Paul Hsieh, co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine, says he views gun crime and violence as predominantly about criminal justice and individual rights.

“I remain deeply skeptical of any attempts to frame important public policy debates as also ‘public health’ issues, especially when it concerns a long-running political controversy,” says Hsieh, who writes on health care policy from a free-market perspective for Forbes.com. “Pretty much any public policy issue will ultimately have some sort of effects on the lives and well-being of Americans – but that doesn’t mean they should all be considered topics of ‘public health.’”

People are concerned that sharing information about gun ownership with doctors may not remain private, he wrote in a Forbes piece. “In short, I believe this undermines the critical doctor-patient trust necessary for the good practice of medicine,” he says.

I thought they characterized my views fairly, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they even turned the quote into one of the lead article graphics!



My latest piece for PJ Media, “Herd Immunity Applies to Guns as Well as Vaccinations“:

The medical theory of “herd immunity” posits that enough vaccinated individuals in a population can reduce the risk of contracting a disease — even for those who aren’t vaccinated. From the experience in Illinois and around the country, a relatively small number of armed people can similarly reduce the risk of crime — even for those who aren’t armed.

The “payoff” may be even better for gun ownership than vaccination.  In the case of Illinois, even a relatively small 1% of people with new concealed carry licenses has resulted in a dramatic decrease in violent crime rates.

For more details, read the full text of “Herd Immunity Applies to Guns as Well as Vaccinations“.



Coming Out Stories

 Posted by on 8 January 2014 at 10:00 am  Character, Firearms, GLBT
Jan 082014

I loved some of these stories about coming out in 2013, but I particularly enjoyed the comments of these two men:

First, “Chris Cheng, the Season 4 Champion of the History Channel’s Top Shot, came out of the closet in mid-December in an interview with gun magazine Recoil.” He said:

I was pleasantly surprised when other competitors found out I was gay. They were either indifferent or accepting. The most common response I received was “Chris, we don’t really care that you’re gay, we care about how well you can shoot…the better we all shoot, the more exciting the competition will be…” I suppose this affected the house dynamics in that I never heard any gay pejoratives during my six weeks there.

The shooting community was honestly one of the last places I expected gay acceptance on any level. That really caught me off guard, in a good way. It’s how life should be, where no one cares if you’re gay, straight, or somewhere in between. We should be evaluated and judged based on our skills and accomplishments. While I was hoping to break some stereotypes, some of my own stereotypes regarding the shooting community were also broken. It was an enlightening experience.

That’s awesome, and not surprising to me, based on my experience with fellow gun enthusiasts. Here’s another tidbit from him:

While it’s something my friends and family have known for years, I believe now that I have become a television personality and public figure, it is important to be honest and upfront about who Chris Cheng is. Thankfully, tolerance and acceptance are contagious. Being gay is no longer something to hide…One reason why I chose to come out publicly is that I’m a gay guy in a gun world. Hunters, sport shooting enthusiasts, and collectors are too often stereotyped as part of efforts to politicize guns as we witnessed last week on the anniversary of the horrific Newtown tragedy. Take it from someone who in a single package is not only gay, but Chinese, Japanese, California-born, a college graduate, a tech geek who worked on cool Google projects, a gun enthusiast and a passionate 2nd Amendment advocate. Our community is as diverse as anyone’s.

Second, “Irish actor Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty in the BBC1 series Sherlock alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time in November when asked about Legacy, a BBC2 drama about spying between the UK and USSR during the Cold War years.” He said:

There isn’t a huge amount of footage of Russians speaking English as a second language, so I started looking at Vladimir Putin videos on YouTube. But then Putin introduced anti-gay legislation this summer – so, being a gay person, I switched to Rudolf Nureyev videos instead. It was another Nureyev defection of sorts! … Mercifully, these days people don’t see being gay as a character flaw. But nor is it a virtue, like kindness. Or a talent, like playing the banjo. It’s just a fact. Of course, it’s part of my make-up, but I don’t want to trade on it. I am a private person; I think that’s important if you’re an actor. But there’s a difference between privacy and secrecy, and I’m not a secretive person. Really I just want to get on with my job, which is to pretend to be lots of different people. Simple as that.

Hear, hear!


Forbes has just published my latest OpEd, “The Single Most Important Lesson Gun Owners Should Learn From The George Zimmerman Case“.

Here is the opening:

I am a gun owner. I support the 2nd Amendment and the right to self-defense. Although I’m not a police officer or a gun expert, I am one of the 8 million Americans with a concealed weapons permit. And the most important lesson I’ve learned from the George Zimmerman case is, “Don’t go looking for trouble”…


Jul 192013

I’ve been wondering about the conviction of Marissa Alexander in Florida, as she got 20 years in what seemed from the headlines like a matter of self-defense. However, this article — No, Marissa Alexander’s Conviction Was Not a “Reverse Trayvon Martin” Case in Florida — strongly suggests that her actions were aggressive, not defensive.

It begins:

In the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, many media outlets have focused their attention on Marissa Alexander, an African-American woman in Florida who unsuccessfully asserted a so-called “Stand Your Ground” defense in 2011 and is now serving a prison sentence of 20 years on multiple accounts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Although those media outlets, and many local politicians like U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), have suggested that Marissa Alexander got a raw deal compared to George Zimmerman, who was acquitted, the actual facts in the two cases bear little resemblance.

At first glance, the two cases share many superficial similarities. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, claimed self-defense after fatally shooting a young African-American man who had punched him several times. After firing what she says was a warning shot near the head of her abusive husband, Alexander claimed she was only trying to protect herself from another attack. In both cases, controversial state prosecutor Angela Corey led the charge against the gun owners who claimed self defense. And in both cases, professional race hustlers rushed to television cameras to claim that race was a primary factor preventing justice from being served.

“Why did Marissa Alexander get a 20-year sentence despite invoking ‘Stand Your Ground’?” MSNBC asked shortly after the Zimmerman verdict of not guilty was announced..

“For Black People and Women, Very Little Ground Left to Stand On,” a Gawker headline blared on Sunday afternoon.

“When Marissa Alexander was charged with firing a gun in front of her allegedly abusive husband, she tried to use Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as a defense — just like George Zimmerman,” BuzzFeed wrote in 2012. “But for her it didn’t work. Now some are asking if her case is a ‘reverse Trayvon’ situation.”

A closer examination of the facts in Marissa Alexander’s case, however, reveals why a judge rejected Alexander’s pre-trial “Stand Your Ground” defense — a specific defense under Florida law that George Zimmerman never asserted — and why a jury eventually convicted her on multiple charges, resulting in a mandatory prison sentence of at least 20 years. If Alexander’s case suggests a failure of the legal system to mete out appropriate justice, then the problem lies with Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, not with the state’s self-defense laws.

Here’s the critical bit of analysis:

First, although she had ample opportunity to exercise non-lethal options when she claimed to believe her life was at risk — exiting through the front door, back door, or garage — Alexander chose to remain in the home. She later claimed that the garage door was broken, eliminating her ability to leave when she initially entered the garage, but officers found no evidence to suggest that it was not working.

Second, Alexander’s claim that she fired only a warning shot, as opposed to firing at Gray and merely missing, also rings somewhat hollow. Her claim that she fired a warning shot, instead of a shot at center mass to stop the aggressor’s attack, suggests that she did not believe that deadly force was actually necessary.

Third, the fact that Alexander never called the police after the incident also suggests that she did not reasonably fear for her life. A victim of a near fatal attack would almost certainly alert authorities so that they might apprehend the attacker.

Fourth, the fact that Alexander voluntarily returned to Gray’s home repeatedly after the incident — against explicit court orders which Alexander promised to obey — also suggests that she may not have actually feared for her life when she fired at Gray.

Fifth, and finally, Alexander’s behavior before and after her arrest in December of 2010 — while she was still awaiting trial for the previous incident — also calls into question whether she actually believed the use of deadly force was necessary to defend herself from Gray in August of 2010. Alexander never called police (in both the August and December encounters, it was Gray or his children who contacted the police) and initially lied about even being present at Gray’s home.

Given Alexander’s behavior and interactions with Gray in the months following her initial arrest, it is not difficult to see why both a judge and a jury may have been skeptical of her claim that the use of deadly force was reasonable and that no other options were available.

Interested? Go read the whole article!


The May 7, 2013 online edition of Forbes published my latest OpEd, “Why 3D-Printed Untraceable Guns Could Be Good For America“.

Here is the opening:

In the past few days, Forbes writer Andy Greenberg broke a pair of dramatic stories on Cody Wilson’s quest to build an untraceable plastic gun using commercially available 3D-printing technology. First, Greenberg published exclusive photos of the completed firearm, then he reported on a successful test firing of a live .380 cartridge.

Although the technology is still in its infancy, Wilson’s innovation has already sparked heated debate. Some gun rights advocates (including Wilson) argue this means current gun laws will soon be obsolete. They welcome the fact that home hobbyists may soon be able to build functioning firearms without any background check or government record. Others are alarmed, concerned that this would enable criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Congressman Steve Israel has already stated his intent to modify current laws to ban such guns.

However, Congressman Israel may be too late. Once thousands of motivated hobbyists start downloading open source gun designs and posting their refinements, we’ll likely see rapid technical advances. But Cody Wilson’s real impact on America may not be technological but political — and in a good way…

(Read the full text of “Why 3D-Printed Untraceable Guns Could Be Good For America“.)


Bob Levy, the Chairman of Cato’s Board, comes out in favor of background checks in the New York Times: A Libertarian Case for Expanding Gun Background Checks.

Extending background checks to unlicensed sellers shouldn’t be cause for alarm. Background checks are already required for purchases from federally licensed dealers, whether at stores or gun shows, over the Internet or by mail. Moreover, gun buyers would be exempt from background checks if they had a carry permit issued within the last five years.

That’s all the argument that he gives on that point, which shows a remarkable lack of concern for the well-grounded fears that background checks lead to registration, bans on sales, and then confiscation. On the other hand, we have this compelling argument:

Gun-rights advocates should use this interval to refine their priorities and support this measure, with a few modest changes. If they don’t, they will be opening themselves to accusations from President Obama and others that they are merely obstructionists, zealots who will not agree to common-sense gun legislation.


Granted, many Objectivist intellectuals have been lukewarm on gun rights, and they’ve said far worse. Still, I think that libertarians like Bob Levy know better — and that’s what makes this kind of aggressive compromise-peddling so worrisome to me. Based on my interview with John McCaskey on libertarianism’s moral shift, I have to think that we’ll see even more such calls for compromise in future.

Stay Classy, Colorado Democrats

 Posted by on 6 March 2013 at 12:00 pm  Activism, Colorado, Firearms
Mar 062013

Amanda Collins was a concealed carry permit holder, but due to university regulations at the time, not permitted to carry on campus. She was raped on campus. She testified against the proposed law that would ban concealed carry on campus in Colorado, and here, you can watch the reaction of a Republican and a Democratic state senator:

As much as I hate on Republicans — particularly our Colorado Republicans — they’re 100% on the side of the angels on this issue.

Reasons for Gun Control

 Posted by on 6 March 2013 at 10:00 am  Firearms, Rights
Mar 062013

I got a chuckle out of this:

I would have written “ignorance” instead… because wow, the most vocal advocates of gun control often seem to be woefully ignorant of the basic nature and workings of weapons, let alone the law and demands of self-defense. It’s just as embarrassing as seeing a creationist rant about how mere randomness couldn’t have created an eye.

But, as my friend Monica noted in reply to my remark:

Sometimes it’s ignorance, sometimes it’s stupidity, sometimes it’s because people really don’t believe the public can be trusted with weapons, and sometimes it’s because people don’t *want* the public to have weapons. I recently was involved in a thread in which a former military member rambled on about how much he loves operating rocket launchers but your average redneck shooting watermelons from the back of his truck simply can’t be trusted to operate firearms safely. That sort of attitude is fairly uncommon among members of the military, but it exists, and it has nothing to do with ignorance. It has to do with prejudice. I believe such a person belongs in the third or fourth category listed above (I’m honestly not sure which).

Indeed, I’ve definitely seen that kind of prejudice too. That’s part of why I think it’s so important for respected and trusted people to speak out to their friends and neighbors about guns, self-defense, and gun rights. Also, you might want to listen to — and share — tonight’s interview with Ryan Moore on How Guns Save Lives!

Colorado Governor Wavering On New Gun Laws

 Posted by on 23 February 2013 at 10:00 am  Activism, Colorado, Firearms, Politics
Feb 232013

CO Governor Hickenlooper is now wavering on some of the proposed new gun laws, in part due to the threat of Magpul Industries to leave the state if they pass and because of insensitive comments made by Democrats about women and rape that have made national news.

This is the perfect time for Colorado residents to contact his office and register an “AGAINST” position on the various gun bills.

Go to Contact the Governor. Then on the “Jurisdiction” dropdown menu, select “Legislation”. On the “Bill” dropdown menu, select the various gun laws up for consideration. You can then select “AGAINST” in the “For/Against” menu and leave a comment. (You also have to indicate your name, address, etc.)

I’ve already submitted my “AGAINST” comments. Comments don’t have to be long, because they’re mostly just tallying for/against. But I said the following:

On HB13-1224 (magazine restrictions): “If law enforcement officials might need more than 15 rounds to protect themselves and other innocent people, so might homeowners faced with multiple intruders.”

On HB13-1226 (concealed carry on college campus): “Experience from Colorado State University shows that concealed weapons holders can be responsible. Please don’t disarm women who the state of CO has already agreed are fit to carry a handgun for self-protection.”

Update from Diana: Here’s the text of the two emails that I just submitted to Governor Hickenlooper. Feel free to make use of them in crafting your own emails.

Please VETO HB13-1224

Please veto this bill. Just as law enforcement might need larger-capacity magazines, so might concealed-carry permit holders and people defending their homes against criminals.

This law is nothing but security theater, and it would not do anything to prevent mass shootings. Most people in Colorado know that. They support the right to self-defense, and they won’t support politicians who forcibly disarm law-abiding citizens.

Please VETO HB13-1226

Please support the right to self-defense on campus by vetoing this bill. Here’s what I wrote about it on my blog earlier this week:

When I was a graduate student at CU Boulder, I had to walk a few blocks off-campus, through a residential neighborhood, to get to my car. I took classes in the evening on occasion, and during those times, my walk was dark and lonely. Like other students, I’d receive periodic reports of sexual assaults just off-campus, and that worried me.

The police chief’s advice of carrying a “safety whistle” was pure absurdity to me. If I was attacked, that wouldn’t do me a lick of good. Also, I knew that I couldn’t hope to outrun my attacker: I’m a slow sprinter, and even in elementary school, I only ever beat the fat girl in running the 50-yard dash. Really, I wanted my “safety Ruger” — because that could have actually kept me safe! Instead, I often took Kate, my German Shepherd with me to those late classes. She probably wouldn’t have helped much if I’d been attacked, but she might have deterred a criminal.

Moreover, in the wake of school shootings, I hated to think of being disarmed and defenseless, particularly as a teacher in a classroom full of terrified students. I’d have an obligation to protect my students as best as I could, yet I’d be unable to do much of anything. I hated that with a passion.


Again, please support the right of people on campus to defend themselves. This laws will not prevent shooting on campus. It will only prevent the victims from defending themselves.

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