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The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the National Research Council Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy

March 3, 2015 Comments off

The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy
Source: Social Science Research Network

For over a decade, there has been a spirited academic debate over the impact on crime of laws that grant citizens the presumptive right to carry concealed handguns in public – so-called right-to-carry (RTC) laws. In 2004, the National Research Council (NRC) offered a critical evaluation of the “More Guns, Less Crime” hypothesis using county-level crime data for the period 1977-2000. 15 of the 16 academic members of the NRC panel essentially concluded that the existing research was inadequate to conclude that RTC laws increased or decreased crime. One member of the panel thought the NRC’s panel data regressions showed that RTC laws decreased murder, but the other 15 responded by saying that “the scientific evidence does not support” that position.

We evaluate the NRC evidence, and improve and expand on the report’s county data analysis by analyzing an additional six years of county data as well as state panel data for the period 1979-2010. We also present evidence using both a more plausible version of the Lott and Mustard specification, as well as our own preferred specification (which, unlike the Lott and Mustard model presented in the NRC report, does control for rates of incarceration and police). While we have considerable sympathy with the NRC’s majority view about the difficulty of drawing conclusions from simple panel data models and re-affirm its finding that the conclusion of the dissenting panel member that RTC laws reduce murder has no statistical support, we disagree with the NRC report’s judgment on one methodological point: the NRC report states that cluster adjustments to correct for serial correlation are not needed in these panel data regressions, but our randomization tests show that without such adjustments the Type 1 error soars to 22-73 percent.

Our paper highlights some important questions to consider when using panel data methods to resolve questions of law and policy effectiveness. We buttress the NRC’s cautious conclusion regarding the effects of RTC laws by showing how sensitive the estimated impact of RTC laws is to different data periods, the use of state versus county data, particular specifications (especially the Lott-Mustard inclusion of 36 highly collinear demographic variables), and the decision to control for state trends.
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Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations-Movie Theaters; Movie Captioning and Audio Description

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations-Movie Theaters; Movie Captioning and Audio Description
Source: Mercatus Center (George Mason University)

With this Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) the DOJ proposes amendments to Title III of the ADA concerning captioning and audio description services at movie theaters.1 Title III of the ADA applies to places of “public accommodation,” such as movie theaters, restaurants, schools, and doctors’ offices.2 These covered entities are prohibited from discriminating against any individual “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.”3

In particular, Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as movie theaters, from affording unequal or lesser service to individuals with disabilities.4 As a result, these entities must “ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently . . . because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services.”5

Colorado Department of Revenue — Marijuana Annual Update 2014

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Marijuana Annual Update 2014
Source: Colorado Department of Revenue

• 833 Retail Establishment Licenses and 1,416 Medical Business Licenses as of December 2014
• Approximately 110% increase in Retail Business Licenses and 6% increase in Medical Business Licenses
• 15,992 Occupational Licenses as of December 2014
• 68% non-renewal rate for Occupational Licenses
• 109,578 pounds of medical marijuana flower sold
• 38,660 pounds of retail flower sold
• 1,964,917 units of medical edible products sold
• 2,850,733 units of retail edible products sold
• Approximately 3,200 MED Due Diligence and Complaint Investigations performed and closed
• 98.2% pass rate for potency tests on edibles
• 99.2% pass rate for homogeneity tests on edibles

New Guidance to Help Protect Student Privacy in Educational Sites and Apps

March 3, 2015 Comments off

New Guidance to Help Protect Student Privacy in Educational Sites and Apps
Source: U.S. Department of Education

When signing up for a new technology, digital service, or app, there’s a simple little check box near the end that most of us don’t give much thought. But for schools and districts, agreeing to a terms of service agreement could have big implications for student privacy.

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Education released model terms of service guidance to help schools identify which online educational services and apps have strong privacy and data security policies to protect our students.

Some terms of service agreements are a tough read, even for lawyers, so the hope is that our new guidance will help school officials decide what’s right for their school and students.

Today’s guidance helps officials look for provisions that would allow the service or company to market to students or parents, provisions on how data is collected, used, shared, transferred, and destroyed, and it also guides schools on making sure they’re satisfying parental access requirements, as well as proper security controls.

Equation Group: Questions and Answers

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Equation Group: Questions and Answers (PDF)
Source: Kaspersky

The Equation group is a highly sophisticated threat actor that has been engaged in multiple CNE (computer network exploitation) operations dating back to 2001, and perhaps as early as 1996. The Equation group uses multiple malware platforms, some of which surpass the well-known “Regin” threat in complexity and sophistication. The Equation group is probably one of the most sophisticated cyber attack groups in the world; and they are the most advanced threat actor we have seen.

Why Patent Reforms Are Needed: Intellectual Property Abuses Threaten Innovation and Cost Consumers Billions

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Why Patent Reforms Are Needed: Intellectual Property Abuses Threaten Innovation and Cost Consumers Billions (PDF)
Source: Heartland Institute

The past several years have given rise to an industry of patent stockpiling – often referred to as “aggregation” – and patent assertion, filing either frivolous or mostly baseless lawsuits. These efforts have the effect of thwarting legitimate innovation and discouraging competition, both of which are essential to a thriving economy.

The potential financial gains of patent stockpiling and assertion have driven some struggling, well-known consumer brands to shutter their manufacturing operations entirely and shift to full-time patent assertion. Internationally, governments are forming their own patent assertion entities (PAEs) and using them as weapons of protectionism and government subsidization of private enterprise.

The White House, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), courts, and a growing number of state legislatures have taken action against patent abuse. Congress has made a number of reform attempts that have fallen short. With new leadership entering the Senate, legislative action on Capitol Hill is expected.

Part 1 of this paper briefly reviews the economic impact of stockpiling and assertion, and Part 2 describes the several forms such patent abuse can take. Part 3 describes the America Invents Act of 2011 – the most significant overhaul of the patent system in decades – and discusses the likelihood of new action on patent reform in the 114th Congress. Part 4 summarizes policy recommendations.

Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains information on provisions in constitutions and other founding documents specifying an ethnic or religious identity for an Asian or European country. Section I covers twenty countries and includes those indicating an ethnic identity and in some cases also a religious one. Section II covers four countries for whom those documents mention only a religious identity, not an ethnic one, and whose constitutions indicate that the specified religion is the basis for legislation. Section III covers thirteen countries that specify a religion, without necessarily indicating that religion is the basis of legislation and without any single ethnic identity.

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