Weekend pictures: Chicago March for our Lives

Some pictures from the Chicago March for Our Lives. Feel Free to use any of these. Just make sure to include the acknowledgement that I took these.

by Harold Pollack, Union Park, Chicago, March 24, 2018


by Harold Pollack, Union Park, Chicago, March 24, 2018


by Harold Pollack, Union Park Chicago, March 24, 2018

Continue reading “Weekend pictures: Chicago March for our Lives”

The Tokugawa gun control plan

A cheap buyout of gunmakers as a gun control strategy.

Japanese musketeers, 16th century

Early firearms were heavily used in Japan in the civil wars of the 16th century, including by the Tokugawa faction that came out on top in 1600 and established the shogunate that lasted until the Meiji restoration of 1868. The Tokugawa ideal was a rigidly stratified and static traditional society, isolated from the outside world. Guns were among the disruptive European innovations that threatened this model, and had to be tamed as part of the overall strategy. The Tokugawa plan for gun control was one of slow strangulation. Gunmakers had to move to the capital Edo and work for the court. Demand was thus steadily shifted to luxury weapons, produced in smaller numbers. Guns did not disappear, but they were successfully marginalised in a now peaceful and regimented society.

American gun control advocates have focused entirely on demand, to little effect. It’s time to take a look at supply. A comprehensive policy would have to cover manufacture, distribution and imports. Let’s start with manufacture. Continue reading “The Tokugawa gun control plan”

The heroism of a school worker, at once unfathomable and the most logical thing in the world

(Reposted from two old pieces, sadly evergreen).

Yesterday in Sweden [October 24, 2015], a 20-year-old teaching assistant named Lavin Eskandar was stabbed to death while he was protecting children from a deranged sword-wielding assailant who was attacking the school where Eskandar worked. One other person was killed before police intervened.

A conspicuous number of teachers, professors, and school workers have put their lives on the line to protect students when such horrors have occurred. At one level, I am left speechless by such courage and sacrifice. Yet after all these years in the classroom, I kind of get it, too. We pour so much of our lives into our students. I find it quite sane and comprehensible that someone would make that split-second decision: If you’re coming for my students, you have to go through me first.

Lavin Eskandar, RIP
Lavin Eskandar, RIP

Below the fold is a piece I posted in 2012, remembering two other people who made similar sacrifices: Liviu Librescu and Victoria Soto. I wouldn’t change much in that piece. There is no greater love.

Continue reading “The heroism of a school worker, at once unfathomable and the most logical thing in the world”


A semiautomatic assault rifle with a big magazine, let alone pockets full of them, is a military arm and has the unique purpose of killing a lot of people. Not punching paper, not killing deer (unless you’re after venisonburger); killing a lot of people, especially people who might be shooting back at you, including peace officers.  If personal protection is what you’re about, you want a shotgun, not an AR-15.

This distinctive purpose entrains the secondary function of watering and fertilizing the sick imaginations of sick people.

The purpose of the NRA is to enrich firearms manufacturers and secondarily to elect Republicans. Not freedom, not firearms recreation, not personal protection: enriching gun makers and merchants.

Target shooting, including trap and skeet, are sports with a long and respectable histories. So is hunting, with a license and appropriate tools (and steel shot, please). I have enjoyed all of these without guilt. But there is no Olympic event of shooting at body outline targets with higher scores for hitting vitals, and a civilized society is not obliged to tolerate whatever hobby any of its citizens wish to pursue (dogfighting, auto donut sideshows, catcalling women in the street…).

I’m not sure what I think about revolvers or automatic pistols with reasonable magazines. Pistol target shooting is very challenging. But in view of the cost in lives and heartbreak of having them around and about as we do, I’m increasingly doubtful as the years go by and the body count goes up.

The NY Times Posted a Lott of Crap

So John Lott is promoting guns again, this time in an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times. But this time he’s taking a different tack. Some years ago Lott maintained that a survey he conducted on defensive gun use showed its benefits. However, no one could check it; he said that he lost the data in a hard drive crash – but he couldn’t even provide evidence that he hired and paid interviewers to perform the survey.

He also used published crime statistics to promote his idea that relaxed gun laws prevented homicide. He subsequently was found to have misused the statistics in, shall we say, “innovative” ways, to “prove” that more guns leads to less crime.

Abandoning data and surveys to promote guns, this time he uses a couple of anecdotes relating to individuals. That is, one person who was improperly denied a concealed carry license is more salient to him than the deaths of dozens of schoolchildren across the country.

I first encountered Lott when he began to use crime data improperly and wrote to him explaining the issues. When he did nothing about it, I wrote an article criticizing his research. To counteract my criticism, a woman named Mary Rosh started appearing on the web, who vilified me and who praised Lott as one of the best teachers she ever had. Then it turned out that Mary Rosh was a fiction, a persona created by Lott to debunk his critics. [He even implicated his four children: he admitted that the name “Mary Rosh” was cobbled together using the first two letters of his kids’ names.] In other words, he hid behind the skirts of a woman he created out of whole cloth, just to promote himself and his pro-gun ideology. Here is my take on his actions in 2003.

At the time Lott was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, an organization with which he is no longer affiliated – which makes me look more kindly on AEI. Now he hangs his at the Crime Prevention Research Center, where he is president. I have no idea who funds this center, but I can guess. Those who want to learn more about the organization and Lott should read this article.

I realize that the New York Times is trying to do its best to look at both sides of controversial policies, but this really takes the cake. To publish a person who admitted to lying about his professional life, and who is writing about the policies he lied about, is offensive to me and should be to all those who look upon the Times as a credible source of information.

Bleg on Guns

Some years ago (can it really be 14 years?!) I guest-posted on this website a screed on John Lott, whose integrity, shall we say, leaves a lot of room for improvement. In that same time period I recall seeing a cartoon (it might have been in the NY Times) which had everyone in the street, including babies in their carriages, packing guns. Do any of you remember it, have the URL for it, or have a scan/copy of it? It unfortunately seems to be appropriate once again, with kids shooting kids at an unimaginable pace. If you have copied it but can’t post it here, please send it to me at my gmail address, maltzmd.

Kathy Shorr’s SHOT: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence in America

I mentioned in another post, Kathy Shorr’s beautiful photo book SHOT: 101 Survivors of gun violence in America shows the beautiful human faces of survivors of American gun violence. You should buy a copy to support such humane work.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Shorr

As I mention over at healthinsurance.org,  Shorr’s book provides portraits and brief stories of 101 survivors of gun violence. Her photographs convey the lacerating damage firearms inflict.

I recently met two of the survivors, Mariam Pare and Ondelee Parteet, at a panel on gun violence. There are some nice pictures below the fold.

Both of them required years of costly rehabilitation and costly surgeries.  Tens of thousands of Americans every year experience serious gunshot wounds similar to that experienced by Rep. Steve Scalise and the people chronicled in Shorr’s book. If AHCA passes, it will leave millions of Americans uninsured. We should ask what will happen to gunshot survivors with similarly severe wounds who lack insurance coverage. Continue reading “Kathy Shorr’s SHOT: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence in America”

Three obvious but important thoughts on the Scalise shooting.

Three obvious but important points.

1. Most important, very best to Rep. Scalise and to others wounded in this atrocity. Very best to Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner. The bravery and sacrifice of Capitol Police prevented a tragedy from being much worse. And best wishes for a full recovery to Zack Barth and Matt Mika.

If you want to gain a small sense of what these individuals and their families are going through, you might peruse photographer Kathy Shorr’s beautiful recent book, Shot. Shorr’s book provides portraits and brief stories of 101 survivors of gun violence. Shorr’s photographs convey the lacerating damage firearms inflict. Shown below is Chicagoan Ondelee Parteet.  He was shot in the face by a 14-year-old boy after an incident at a party.

Ondelee Parteet, by Kathy Shorr

Continue reading “Three obvious but important thoughts on the Scalise shooting.”

Theology you can use

Great news: the theologians at Liberty University are about to answer the great question of our time:

what kind of gun would Jesus carry?

The problem up to now has been that theoretical findings, in the ‘queen of sciences’ as in any research, always need empirical, experimental confirmation; now these scholars will be able to go out on the range and do real lab work.  I was going to stock up on a variety of pieces, just to be on the safe side, for the looming bad times, but it won’t be long before we can pack certified Christian heat.

As a side benefit, we may also see that wussy “turn the other cheek” stuff replaced by a moral principle real Americans can stand behind, first articulated by Roger Miller in the magisterial Blake Edwards opus Waterhole #3 as the ‘code of the west‘:

do unto others before they can do unto you.