Category Archives: Licensing

“Common Sense” Legislation to Curb Gun Violence?

Like most people who value individual liberty, I listened to President Obama’s speech about reducing gun violence with a great deal of trepidation. He presented several ideas such as limiting the size of magazines to 10 rounds, banning “military-style assault weapons” (i.e. any gun that looks scary to progressives who know almost nothing about firearms), and “universal” background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun just to name a few “common sense” reforms. In so many words he basically said that anyone who doesn’t favor these proposals is getting in the way of preventing future gun violence (Why even St. Ronald Reagan was even in favor of some of these proposals!)

One point of particular irritation for me is this notion being promoted by the Left that AK-47’s and other “weapons of war” should not be made available to “civilians.” President Obama rightly pointed out that these weapons with these magazines “ha[ve] one purpose: to pump out as many bullets as possible, to do as much damage using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage.”

Well if we civilians do not “need” these weapons, why should the police have them? Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the local police also considered “civilian”? (i.e. civilian law enforcement). Why do the police “need” these awful “weapons of war” which “inflict maximum damage” to serve a warrant for a late night drug bust?* If everyone else should be limited to certain weapons with magazines containing 10 rounds or less, they too should be limited to what weapons are permissible (or at the very least, what situations these weapons should be used). To suggest otherwise would be to suggest that the police are “at war” with the “civilians” since war is all these weapons are good for.

As some who are critical of the president’s approach have correctly pointed out, these reforms would not have prevented the killing at Sandy Hook Elementary. Obama and his allies like to say “if these proposals save only one life…” but they fail to recognize that these reforms might save one life in one situation but might cost a life in another situation (such as a home invasion; the homeowner runs out of rounds due to smaller magazine capacity etc.). Most, if not all of these reforms are meaningless measures to prevent guns from falling into “the wrong hands” (at best) so that the president can say he’s “doing something” to prevent mass shootings.

Some of these proposals do seem reasonable based only on the broad outlines (as always, the devil is in the details). I don’t have a problem with person-to-person background checks** in the abstract. Why shouldn’t an individual be subjected to the same background check as when buying from a gun dealer when s/he is buying from someone who posted his firearm on Craig’s List? I would think that the seller would want to have the peace of mind and/or limit any exposure to liability for any misuse of the firearm.

There are many proposals that are being floated that need to be thought through rather than rushed through to score cheap political points. These proposals go well beyond the 2nd Amendment into areas such as free speech (i.e. censorship), doctor/client privilege (privacy), state’s rights, and more. I do think that we supporters of the right to bear arms need to try to offer up some “common sense” solutions of our own to reduce illegitimate force that either enhance liberty or at the very least, do not tread on the liberties of others.***

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Show Support For Your Team With Bud Light!

Fan Can
With the start of college football barely over 24 hours away, those of us who are rabid fans are salivating for some action… And for many of us, that pavlovian response to college football has us salivating for a tasty adult beverage as well. What better way to show our support than by drinking our beverage of choice* in team colors?

Well, apparently some schools have an issue with this, including my alma mater, Purdue:

Purdue University officials have joined a coalition of colleges in calling for Anheuser-Busch InBev to stop selling its “fan can” — a regular-size aluminum can of beer decked out in school colors.

Lafayette-area liquor stores and bars are now selling Bud Light in the cans mirroring Purdue’s black-and-gold colors.

“We feel like it implies that Purdue is associated with that certain type of product,” said Teri Lucie Thompson, Purdue’s vice president for marketing and media. “We have sent a letter to ask them to cease and desist.”

Now, as someone who bleeds Old Gold & Black when cut, I have a more than tangential emotional attachment to those colors. But are they legally defensible in a trademark battle? Prior to 2008, one might think that a color scheme is not defensible. In Nov 2008, though, the 5th Circuit Court ruled that school colors were defensible against a company marketing apparel. This is still not necessarily relevant here, as one of the tests of the court was that of confusion:

The three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit appeals court took very much the same stance as the lower court. In their ruling, the judges laid out the two major criteria the universities had to meet to prove trademark infringement: to “establish ownership in a legally protectible mark,” and to “show infringement by demonstrating a likelihood of confusion” between Smack’s apparel and the universities’ own products.

Most of Smack’s shirts and other equipment, he points out, “taunt the opponent” rather than “extol the virtue of a college,” he said, and since “universities tend not to approve or license shirts that taunt their opponents,” Smack is free to make shirts like that.

This suggests that one of the clear delineations in this case might be a question of whether there is confusion over whether the product is competing with officially-license products, in such case as the university does officially license similar products (such as apparel). No university that I am aware of licenses its colors or other logos to alcoholic beverage makers, therefore I think claims of confusion may not exist. In addition, the ONLY identifiable mark on these cans is the colors, unlike the apparel case where the shirts contained many additional marks relating to specifics of the schools’ teams or specific dates and scores of games.

Whether legally defensible or not, though, it seems that the cans are welcomed by fans:

Dan St. John, owner of the four Village Bottle Shoppes in West Lafayette, said he has been stocking the black-and-gold can for a few weeks.

The cans, which retail for $18.49 in a 24-can case, are selling a little better than the regular Bud Light cans, he said.

So far St. John has heard no complaints or been told by his distributor the promotion was over.

For now, the Bud Light “fan cans” are available around Purdue and the popularity is catching on.

Jake’s Roadhouse, a bar in the Chauncey Hill Mall, recently made an order from its distributor to start selling beer in the “fan can,” said manager Shannon Duda.

Without conducting a poll of those in the Lafayette area, my gut instinct is that most purchasers of these cans are not under the assumption that they are drinking officially licensed beer.

I don’t mind the universities calling for Anheuser-Busch to end the promotion, and ratcheting up the public pressure on them to stop. As the story mentions, A-B has already pulled the promotions from a few locales. But I’d prefer to see this handled outside the courtroom.
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The Battle Between the Right to Medical Care vs. Government ‘Medicine’

For decades the cost of medical care has risen relative to prices in general and relative to people’s incomes. Today [1994] a semi-private hospital room typically costs $1,000 to $1,500 per day, exclusive of all medical procedures, such as X-rays, surgery, or even a visit by one’s physician. Basic room charges of $500 per day or more are routinely tripled just by the inclusion of normal hospital pharmacy and supplies charges (the cost of a Tylenol tablet can be as much as $20). And typically the cost of the various medical procedures is commensurate. In such conditions, people who are not exceptionally wealthy, who lack extensive medical insurance, or who fear losing the insurance they do have if they become unemployed, must dread the financial consequences of any serious illness almost as much as the illness itself. At the same time, no end to the rise in medical costs is in sight. Thus it is no wonder that a great clamor has arisen in favor of reform – radical reform – that will put an end to a situation that bears the earmarks of financial lunacy.

Thus begins an essay that noted Objectivist economist George Reissman penned during Clinton’s efforts to ‘reform’ health care.

Given the current debate, it’s a good essay to reread, and the folks at the Mises Institute have obliged by posting it on their fine website.

Reisman argues against many of propositions that are assumed to be true by proponents of govenrment medicine, economic ideas that are based on primitive emotions and have no basis in actual economics: » Read more

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

A Call From The Economist To License Economists


It takes years of schooling and a series of hard exams to become a doctor or a lawyer, but just about anyone, with enough tenacity, can become responsible for billions of dollars. Pretty much anyone can call themselves an economist and opine about fiscal policy. Perhaps even more troubling, there exists no uniform set of standards which entitles someone to work in finance. It makes John Kay wonder if we should introduce professional standards to the finance industry.

A lack of understanding and competence inflicted lots of damage. Could that have been avoided if the industry had required passage of a series of exams in order to become a hedge fund portfolio manager, or a quant, or even a banker (and I mean something more demanding than the likes of the Series 7)?

One reason so many smart and ambitious types entered the industry, as opposed to medicine or law, was the high compensation relative to the years of necessary training. Higher standards probably would have discouraged some people from entering the industry, but it would have provided some screening for intellect, ability, and determination.

Of course… It’s for the integrity of the system…

Despite what Milton Friedman would say:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who may be a plumber.

There were many causes of the mess we’re in… But I don’t think we have any recourse to say that it would have been solved by licensing. It was often those with the highest intellect, ability, and determination who led the charge into the abyss.

The Brady Bill Was Only Step 1

Remember the “good old days” of the Brady Bill and the instant background check? It turns out that the gun grabbers in the 111th Congress no longer believe these gun control measures go far enough. Introducing perhaps the gravest threat to date against the Second Amendment: H.R. 45 Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009.

The primary goals of H.R. 45 are to license every firearm for every firearm a gun owner owns and regulate the buying and selling of firearms through licensed dealers. To apply for a firearms license, the applicant would have to provide the following:

(a) In General- In order to be issued a firearm license under this title, an individual shall submit to the Attorney General (in accordance with the regulations promulgated under subsection (b)) an application, which shall include–
(1) a current, passport-sized photograph of the applicant that provides a clear, accurate likeness of the applicant;
(2) the name, address, and date and place of birth of the applicant;
(3) any other name that the applicant has ever used or by which the applicant has ever been known;
(4) a clear thumb print of the applicant, which shall be made when, and in the presence of the entity to whom, the application is submitted;
(5) with respect to each category of person prohibited by Federal law, or by the law of the State of residence of the applicant, from obtaining a firearm, a statement that the individual is not a person prohibited from obtaining a firearm;
(6) a certification by the applicant that the applicant will keep any firearm owned by the applicant safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(7) a certificate attesting to the completion at the time of application of a written firearms examination, which shall test the knowledge and ability of the applicant regarding–
(A) the safe storage of firearms, particularly in the vicinity of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(B) the safe handling of firearms;
(C) the use of firearms in the home and the risks associated with such use;
(D) the legal responsibilities of firearms owners, including Federal, State, and local laws relating to requirements for the possession and storage of firearms, and relating to reporting requirements with respect to firearms; and
(E) any other subjects, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate;
(8) an authorization by the applicant to release to the Attorney General or an authorized representative of the Attorney General any mental health records pertaining to the applicant;
(9) the date on which the application was submitted; and
(10) the signature of the applicant.
(b) Regulations Governing Submission- The Attorney General shall promulgate regulations specifying procedures for the submission of applications to the Attorney General under this section, which regulations shall–
(1) provide for submission of the application through a licensed dealer or an office or agency of the Federal Government designated by the Attorney General;
(2) require the applicant to provide a valid identification document (as defined in section 1028(d)(2) of title 18, United States Code) of the applicant, containing a photograph of the applicant, to the licensed dealer or to the office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable, at the time of submission of the application to that dealer, office, or agency; and
(3) require that a completed application be forwarded to the Attorney General not later than 48 hours after the application is submitted to the licensed dealer or office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable.
(c) Fees-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Attorney General shall charge and collect from each applicant for a license under this title a fee in an amount determined in accordance with paragraph (2).
(2) FEE AMOUNT- The amount of the fee collected under this subsection shall be not less than the amount determined by the Attorney General to be necessary to ensure that the total amount of all fees collected under this subsection during a fiscal year is sufficient to cover the costs of carrying out this title during that fiscal year, except that such amount shall not exceed $25.

I haven’t had time to read the rest of the bill, but from this and the titles of the remaining subsections (i.e. Sec. 302 Failure to Maintain or Permit Inspection of Records, Sec. 304 Failure to Provide Notice of Change of Address, Sec. 405 Inspections, etc.) it’s probably much worse than I think. This is like a bad marriage between the Real I.D. Act and the Brady Bill.

If the Brady Bill was step 1 and H.R. 45 is step 2 what are we then left with for step 3 but the outright repeal of the Second Amendment and complete prohibition for individuals to own firearms?

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