The Allen Massacre Underlines the False Promise of ‘Universal Background Checks’

“Yet the perpetrator, who was killed by a police officer at the scene, had been licensed as an armed security guard, which means he passed a background check and was legally allowed to own firearms.
In that respect, the killer was typical of people who commit crimes like this. That is the main reason why expanded background checks cannot reasonably be expected to have much of an impact on mass shootings, contrary to the impression left by politicians who reflexively recommend that solution.

Federal law disqualifies broad categories of Americans from owning firearms, including people who have been convicted of felonies or subjected to court-ordered psychiatric treatment. Background checks are required for all gun sales by federally licensed dealers, and some states extend that requirement to transfers by private sellers.

As several news outlets noted after the Allen attack, Texas is not one of those states. But that detail does not seem relevant in this case: Although the killer bought some guns from private sellers, CNN reported, the rifle he used in the attack was “purchased legally,” meaning he was not a “prohibited person” under federal law.”

Texas Bill Would Legalize Townhouses

“Texas has a well-earned reputation as a place that builds.
The state built 16 percent of the country’s new housing last year despite being home to 8 percent of its population, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders. The Lone Star State managed to build over twice as much housing as the more populous, more expensive California.

Two decades of robust population growth and COVID-era price hikes have nevertheless pushed up Texas home prices and rents. The Legislature is considering a series of reforms intended to keep housing costs down and the growth machine running.

This past week, the Texas Senate approved a bill that allows homes to be built on smaller lots. In the past month, it’s also passed bills that legalize accessory dwelling units (ADUs) statewide and allow private parties to issue building permits.

“The goal is to get government out of the way and allow the private sector to increase the supply of housing so that we can meet demand and bring down the cost,” says James Quintero of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a free market think tank.

Local minimum lot size rules can require homes to sit on lots of 5,000 square feet, 10,000 square feet, a whole acre, or even more. Satisfying these requirements means builders have to consume more land than they otherwise would. They end up building larger, more expensive homes to compensate for those higher land costs.

“The larger the lot size, the larger the price tag,” says Quintero.

There’s a growing body of evidence that Texas builders would make use of smaller lots if they were allowed.

One 2019 study of minimum lot sizes in several Texas suburbs found that typical lot sizes are concentrated at the legal minimum size. Builders also make frequent use of flexible “planned unit developments” to build housing on lots smaller than the legal minimum.

In famously unzoned Houston, several rounds of reform beginning in the late 1990s shrank minimum lot sizes to just 1,400 square feet. The result was a building boom that produced 80,000 new homes in the already growth-friendly city, according to a recent study published by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.”

It Took 15 Years for the Feds To Approve a 700-Mile Electric Line

“While the BLM took longer than anyone else to approve the project, the TransWest Express line suffered from “a ‘spider web of jurisdiction’ across multiple levels of government,” according to Roxane Perruso, the company’s COO. Perruso told EnergyWire, a trade publication, that the project required approvals from state, local, and federal entities—and getting those permits required surveys of over 40,000 acres of land for environmental impacts and 60,000 acres of land for cultural impacts.
All that to get permission to build a power line, which is less invasive than other forms of infrastructure can be. In addition to the BLM and state governments of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, the project needed approval from the U.S. Forest Service, part of the federal Department of Agriculture, and the Western Area Power Administration, which is part of the federal Department of Energy. (In fairness, EnergyWire notes that the project also got snagged by disputes with some private property owners along the planned route.)

With all the permission slips finally locked down, construction on the line will begin later this year, and the 3,000-megawatt line could be operational by 2028, EnergyWire reports. By then, it’ll be 23 years since the project was first proposed in 2005.

To put it simply: It should not take nearly a quarter century to build a supply line connecting renewable electric supply with an area where there is growing demand. But this is a recurring problem in America. A recent Princeton study found that 80 percent of the potential emissions reductions from green energy projects funded by the Inflation Reduction Act would be lost without an expansion of transmission lines.

The time and expense of permitting have slowed or prevented some major renewable energy projects in recent years. “Windmills off Cape Cod, a geothermal facility in Nevada, and what could have been the largest solar farm in America have all been blocked by an endless series of environmental reviews and lawsuits,” Alec Stapp, a co-founder of the Institute for Progress, which advocates for policies that accelerate technological and industrial progress, wrote last year in The Atlantic. “U.S. climate spending could exceed more than half a trillion dollars by the end of this decade—but without permitting reform, those investments won’t translate into much physical infrastructure.””

Biden’s Nominee for Secretary of Labor Wants ‘Wage Theft’ Cops

“”Wage theft” is a catch-all term for not paying workers what they are owed under the law, such as violating minimum wage or overtime regulations. It is a crime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and is enforced by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. It can involve business owners sneakily ripping off employees. It can also result from honest confusion or mistakes regarding what is owed.”

Tennessee just strengthened background checks for guns. They’re still weak.

“The executive order represents incremental progress in a state with some of the laxest gun laws in the country, and comes just as two lawmakers previously expelled from the state legislature for participating in a gun control protest return to their posts.
It requires that new criminal history information and court mental health information be reported within 72 hours for purposes of including it in the state’s background check system. It also directs the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to evaluate how its background check system can be improved.

But it still leaves gaping holes in a background check system. It also wouldn’t have stopped the Nashville shooter, who bought their guns legally from five different local gun stores and had no history of contact with law enforcement or commitment to an institution that would have been flagged on a background check.

The governor has separately called for the state legislature to pass a red flag law, also known as an extreme risk protection law, under which individuals believed to pose a danger to themselves or others can be barred from possessing firearms. But it’s not clear that there is the political will to do so among Republicans in the state, who have in recent years removed permit requirements to carry a handgun in public and pushed legislation that would loosen restrictions on carrying guns on school campuses.”

“The new executive order doesn’t fill a major gap in Tennessee’s background check system: Current law doesn’t require background checks for private gun sales, ones where there isn’t a licensed dealer involved. Those sales can occur at gun shows or online marketplaces such as Armslist. According to an Everytown analysis of 2018 gun ads on Armslist, one in eight prospective buyers in Tennessee wouldn’t have passed a background check.

Currently, 14 states require universal background checks on all gun sales, including those that occur online.”