How much are you willing to pay in exchange for gun law reformation?

By: *Jaclyn Crittenden

Blog Topic: The Economics of Gun Control

How much are you willing to pay in exchange for gun law reformation?

While there are many ways to change gun control laws, I will summarize one of the proposal, that every gun purchaser has gun insurance.[1]  The problem with this method is that just like any other kind of insurance, compliance is unenforceable because it can easily be cancelled or may lapse right after the sale.

Additionally, without people having insurance, this will mean that fewer guns will be sold. As a result, this will cause prices and sales taxes to increase for guns, licenses, ammunition, magazines, and other accessories. Potential excessive rates and taxes would eventually make it so only wealthy people could afford guns.[2]  Wealthy people are generally law-abiding citizens as they have assets that can be seized and paychecks that can be garnished.

The legal firearm market would be negatively affected by increases in costs because it creates more demand for the illegal black-market, straw purchases, and gun thefts.[3]  For example, judgment proof felons convicted of gun-related crimes can illegally buy guns at a lower price, thus gaining access to firearms while avoiding insurance requirements and the related sales tax.[4]

Middle-class, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens end up bearing an average of $100 billion for every gun purchase under this proposed provision; I agree that something must be done, however, not by means that will financially burden the majority of citizens. That is just not the way to do it![5]

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Jaclyn Crittenden is a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Jaclyn, click here to visit her page.



[3]Shapiro RJ, Hassett KA, The Economic Benefits of Reducing Violent Crime: A case Study of 8 American Cities, Center for American Progress, Washington, DC, June 2012

[4]Supra note 2.

[5]Supra note 3.

Liability Insurance for gun purchases

By: Candace Embry

Blog Category: The Economics of Gun Control

Liability Insurance for gun purchases

With the latest gun-related tragedy in Newtown, CT, gun control has resurfaced as a topic of conversation and many Americans are ripe for change. Now that gun violence has affected our budding youth, “there is a moral price to be paid for inaction.”[1]  So, let’s get to work America!

John Wasik of Forbes magazine describes President Obama’s solutions of banning assault weapons, multiple-ammo clips, and gun-show sales as “low-hanging fruit approaches.”[2]  The President also proposed increased funding for law enforcement and providing easier access to mental health care.[3]  Will any of these really work? John Wasick says, “No.”

Instead, Wasik suggests an approach focused on forcing gun owners and sellers to take on the financial burden that gun-ownership poses to all Americans. Wasik argues that gun owners should bear the associated risks and costs through the mandated purchase of liability insurance.[4]  Gun violence is harmful not only to one’s physical well being, but also to our economy. When a household acquires a gun, the imposed costs on society are between $100 and $1,800 per year.[5]  However, the impact in the aggregate is actually much greater. The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research reported that gun violence impacts quality of life, emotional trauma, and even property values.[6]  Considering these broader effects, gun violence resulted in a $100 billion cost to society in 1998.[7]  These are the costs for which gun owners and sellers should be held liable.

Wasik’s plan would work much like car, homeowners, or health insurance plans requiring gun owners to shop for and secure a liability insurance policy prior to even making the purchase. Rates would be determined by actuaries’ calculations of risk based on factors like age, residency, history of mental illness, and the type of gun. Those most at risk to commit a gun crime would be quoted higher rates, and, ideally, this will create an economic disincentive and make gun-ownership too expensive for those who pose the greatest risks to society. This is not the first time the idea has come up. In fact, a similar law was proposed in the Illinois legislature in 2009, but it was quickly defeated.[8]

While insurance is not a solution to all problems presented by gun violence in America, if combined with the President’s suggested changes, mandatory insurance policies could actually fund greater protections to prevent more tragedies like the one in Newtown, CT. Most importantly, Wasik posits this plan would likely survive a second amendment challenge.

So, what’s the verdict? Will we sacrifice morality for another round of inaction? Or will we challenge gun owners to put their money where their guns are?

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

*Candace Embry is the 2013-2014 Articles Editor (DE) on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race Journal. To learn more about Candace, click here to visit her page.
[1] John Christoffersen, Joe Biden: Gun Control Views Have Changed Since Newtown, HUFFINGTON POST (Feb. 21, 2013, 6:48 PM),
[2] John Wasik, Newtown’s New Reality: Using Liability Insurance to Reduce Gun Deaths, FORBES (Dec. 17, 2012, 7:34 PM),
[3] Now is the Time to do Something about Gun Violence, THE WHITE HOUSE,
[4] Wasik, supra note 2.
[5] Brad Plumer, The Economics of Gun Control, THE WASHINGTON POST (Dec. 28, 2012), generally Philip Cook & Jens Ludwig, The Social Costs of Gun Ownership, 90 JOURNAL OF PUB. ECON. 379-91 (2006) available at
[6] The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR GUN POLICY AND RESEARCH (Oct. 2012),
[7] Id.
[8] Wasik, supra note 2.

All I want to do is bang, bang, bang, bang, and kkaaa ching and take your money!

By: Brittany McCants

Blog Topic: The Economics of Gun Control

All I want to do is bang, bang, bang, bang, and kkaaa ching and take your money![1]

Given the recent catastrophes involving gun violence much consideration has been given on how to prevent, or at least significantly decrease the chances of similar events occurring again.[2]  When brainstorming suggestions on how to control gun violence, suggestion range from imposing higher taxes on guns and bullets, doing risk assessments on those who purchase guns to requiring those who purchase guns to purchase insurance that could cover any subsequent incidents.[3]

There are various subjects included when you consider the phrase the economics of gun control. Of course consideration is given to the actual costs that will incur in regards to putting forth any type of gun control plan. With all of these task forces and methods proposed to prevent the horror of having another life loss due to senseless gun violence, the idea of where the funding for these ideas can, at times, get pushed to the back of the mind.

Sure we can think of a million ways to control gun violence and if we as a country are fortunate enough to come to an agreement regarding how these controls will be implemented the possible benefits become tangible. What is also important to consider when thinking of economics and gun control is the effect that pulling or putting money towards gun control will have in other areas of this country.

For example money that could possibly be spent on tasks forces for developing jobs, giving aid to families in need, or bettering local schools has the chance to be diverted elsewhere when gun control takes center stage. Of course, arguments can be made that gun violence can effect each of the above named categories of life, but only the best torts professor will allow you to take your “but” arguments so far. Since their victims span larger numbers than initially expected, one question remains, are gun wielding killers who create pubic fear with their spurts of unexpected violence winning in more ways than were imagined?

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Brittany McCants is a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To Learn more about Brittany, click here to visit her page.

[1] M.I.A , Paper Planes, XL Interscope Records (Feb. 11, 2008).

[2] Brand Plumer, The Economics f Gun Control. Dec. 28, 2012.

[3] John Wasik, Newton’s New Reality: Using Liability Insurance to Reduce Gun Deaths. Dec. 12, 2012.

The Walking Dead & Gun Control

By: *Sara Horatius

Blog Category: Gun Control

The Walking Dead & Gun Control

The walking Dead

In AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” the main protagonist, Rick Grimes and a group of survivors fight their way through the city of Atlanta, Georgia against zombies who feed on the flesh of the living, whether it is a human or an animal, to satisfy their constant hunger for flesh. Rick Grimes and the rest of the survivors fight these zombies with knives, clubs, axes, and anything that can be used to smash the zombies brains out so that they can really die; however, when a large herd of zombies come their way, the most effective weapon is a gun. Whether it is a handgun, a rifle, etc., a gun can take out 2-3 zombies at the same time and it is a more accurate way to kill zombies. Even though killing zombies with a gun will make a lot of noise and attract more zombies, it will allow a person to kill a couple of zombies and have a better chance to get away. Any type of gun during a zombie apocalypse is a necessity and a must to defend oneself from being eaten alive.

Flash forward to today and to reality. The United States Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller & McDonald v. Chicago held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. However, it seems as if Americans are confused as to what kinds of guns are allowed in our homes. Does it just include a hand gun? Assault rifles? Military style weapons? Semi-automatic weapons? Shotguns? Bazookas? Of course the 2nd amendment gives us the right to own a weapon to defend ourselves and our loved ones, however, it is not an unlimited right in my opinion.

From Columbine (1999), to Virginia Tech (2007), to Gabrielle Gifford (2011), to Aurora, Colorado (2012), and then to Newton, CT (2012), mass shootings are on the rise in America. However, gun violence has been an issue even before these mass shootings became sort of the “norm.” Have we forgotten movies like, “Boys in the Hood” or songs like “Many Men” by rapper 50 Cent? Gun violence has been on the rise in our urban cities even before hip-hop or “hood” movies portrayed this fact to the general masses. One urban city that has been hit hard by gun violence has been the city of Chicago. In 2012, 506 people were killed in Chicago due to gun violence. In January 2013, 44 people had already been killed due to gun violence. The sad part is most of the people being killed by guns are young children & teenagers, one being 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton, who was gunned down while hanging out with her friends at a park in Chicago on Jan. 29, 2013.

With all these mass shootings & the constant violence in our urban cities, one has to wonder is it all worth it? Is having a high capacity magazine or assault rifle worth all of those precious lives in Newton, CT or every single life lost in our urban cities every single day? Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles said: “we know that statistics show that you’re more likely to have your gun used in an accident or stolen than you are using it to protect yourself against an intruder.” Alex Gonzalez, a resident of Los Angeles said at the LA gun buyback, ” All these accidents that have been occurring lately, I don’t think it’s worth it to have one at home.”

Let’s try to compromise. There’s nothing wrong with background checks, mental health evaluations, criminal sanctions for selling guns to criminals and banning certain guns, like military style weapons. That’s better than making ALL guns illegal.
As stated previously, during a zombie apocalypse, having any type of gun is extremely important if one wants to survive the zombie apocalypse. Nevertheless, to my knowledge, there is currently no zombie apocalypse and it doesn’t seem as if the apocalypse is going to fall upon us today or tomorrow…maybe even never (unless you are like those people on the infamous show, Doomsday Preppers, on National Geographic). Therefore, there is no need to have these “zombie killing machines” in our homes. Look at it this way, with these mass shootings and the rise of gun violence in our urban cities, those events did not involve people shooting and killing zombies; living & breathing people and children were the ones who were shot & killed by those guns.

Ummm…I think we should all sit down and really think this one through.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Sara Horatius was the Web & Technology Editor (2012-2013) on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.
To learn more about this topic see:
Dist. of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)
McDonald v. City of Chicago, Ill., 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010)

The Olympics & Gabby’s Hair

By: *Staci Pesin

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

I would consider myself quite the expert in pop culture.  My weekly subscriptions to Us Weekly and People magazine would not normally lend to a professional blog topic, but in this case I had the perfect source.  US weekly featured an article in the “Beauty” Section that focused on Gabby Douglas, two time Olympic gold medalist.   However, this article was not published to praise the sixteen year old on her accomplishments as a world champion.


During the 2012 Summer Olympics, Douglas was a hot topic in the media for her athletic accomplishments and surprisingly for her personal appearance.  The controversy specifically centered on the African American community criticizing Douglas for her hairstyle during the Olympics.  Douglas was seen throughout the Olympics wearing her hair in a ponytail with barrettes and gel. Her hair was chemically-straightened.  Douglas, according to critics, did not properly represent her culture with this hairstyle.


Gabby Douglas is a gymnast, an Olympic champion, a world class athlete, and most importantly, a role model to young girls. She was competing in the Olympics, not a beauty pageant.  The fact that Douglas needs to worry about responding, and in some essence defending herself, for wearing her hair a certain way while competing is “disrespectful and ignorant,” according to Douglas.  I agree with her.  Anything that people say to make headlines seems to be the trend.


Actress Gabrielle Union and Olympic athlete Serena Williams have defended Douglas on Twitter.  Hey, if people are “tweeting” you have to be pretty popular.  For Douglas, the negative publicity seems to have subsided, however, the good thing is that she is still making headlines for her athletic accomplishments.


The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Staci Pesin is currently the Senior Managing Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Staci Pesin, click the link to view her page: Staci Pesin

To read more about this topic visit the following website:


Bridging the Digital Divide

Blog Category: Race and Economics in the Media

By: *Alison Palmer

With a continuous increase of everyday events and services taking place in cyberspace, the government, most recently the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), has been scrambling to determine the best way to bridge the digital divide.  The digital divide refers to the 40% of Americans lacking access to broadband internet, a divide leaving many low-income, black and Latino households on the side, lacking access due to the high cost of internet service.

The government has recognized that with jobs, classes and even many government services now taking place primarily on the internet, there is a need for all Americans to have access to this technology.  Despite this observation, past attempts to increase the availability and free or cheaper access to the internet have largely failed.  The FCC’s Chair, Julius Genachowski, stated earlier this year that it plans to apply its Lifeline program to broadband internet.  Lifeline is an FCC-run program seeking to ensure that phone-access is available to all Americans as it is an essential communication device and this same idea would be applied to providing internet access to those who cannot afford it.

There are anticipated problems with implementation of a Lifeline program to bridge the digital divide, though, including the FCC’s difficulty in regulating the internet as it is not deemed an “essential” communication device at this point, in 2012, despite its ubiquitous image.  Furthermore, concerns exist over whether the program can even reach enough people to bridge the divide, as only ten million participants are included in the current Lifeline phone program and approximately one hundred million Americans lack internet access.

Though smart phones have helped low-income individuals bridge the gap, a need continues for home-based internet access which provides a more participatory experience in society and democracy.   The FCC seems to be on the right track, but will it be enough?


The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Alison Palmer is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Alison Palmer, click here to view her page: Alison Palmer

To read more about the socioeconomic digital divide, read:

The FCC is Trying to Close the Digital Divide- Sort Of, by Jamilah King in Colorlines


“Talking Around Race: Stereotypes, Media and the Twenty-First Century Collegiate Athlete”

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

By: *Kevin P. Diduch

Generally, people watch a sport to get away from their daily lives and enjoy one of America’s many pastimes, not to discuss race-related issues and their prevalence in society.  Although sportscasters try to avoid discussing these important issues, there is no true escape – racial stereotypes have continuously infiltrated their way into the dialogue.  How has this happened?  The Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy recently answered this question in an article entitled, “Talking Around Race: Stereotypes, Media and the Twenty-First Century Collegiate Athlete,” focusing on the various ways the NBA and NFL have put minority collegiate athletes at an educational and social disadvantage – and the way sports broadcasters have stereotyped those athletes by “talking around” the issue.

I partially agree with the article’s conclusion that the issues adversely affecting minority athletes have been “talked around,” but only to the extent that sports broadcasters are reluctant to address the issue directly during broadcasts such as SportsCenter and SportsNite.  Broadcasters may simply prefer to discuss these issues in a different forum outside of the sports world.

To read more about the article, and a means of forming your own opinion, click here.


The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Kevin P. Diduch is currently the Bluebook & Research Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Kevin Diduch, click here to visit his page: Kevin P. Diduch

Light Skin v. Dark Skin: Is this issue still relevant?

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

By: *Jade Morrison

We have long seen the struggle between “house” and “field Negros” as they were divided based on skin complexion. Spike Lee highlights this phenomenon in his 1988 film entitled “School Daze.” Lee in this film shines light on racism based on skin tone and hair texture in the African American Community.[1] More recently, the African American community took to social media to discuss Gabrielle Douglas’ hair texture, referring to it as “unkempt,” after she won the gold medal during the Olympics.[2] Is colorism still alive? Is the legal community taking this issue seriously?

Are wealthy African Americans expected to look, dress and speak with a certain dialect? Trina Jones in a recent article discussed the social and economic desirability of African Americans (and other ethnic minorities) with lighter skin tones.[3]  Jones shares a case study highly relevant to the legal profession:

A typical example might involve two African- American female associates at a law firm: L.K. Johnson and Shymeka Smith. L.K. Johnson, has permed hair, wears understated jewelry and dresses conservatively. She socializes with her coworkers, avoids committee work involving racial or gender issues. . . . L.K. lives in a predominantly White suburban neighborhood and is very careful to always use standard, crisply enunciated, English. Shymeka Smith has long, flowing dreadlocks and wears African-inspired attire and bold, colorful jewelry. Shymeka tends not to socialize with her coworkers, has been vocal and actively involved in the firm’s diversity committee, lives in the inner city . . .”L.K. is promoted to partner and Shymeka is denied promotion.

Assuming roughly the same talent level, one could argue that Shymeka was passed over because she chose to embrace her racial identity rather than to downplay or distance herself from that identity. That is, Shymeka was harmed because her identity performance did not conform to mainstream norms. According to Professor Kenji Yoshino, Shymeka failed to “cover;” that is, she failed to “mute the difference between herself and the mainstream.”[4] Instead of reflecting racial differences, what Shymeka should have done was to minimize those differences by adopting a racial performance closer to Johnson’s. [5]

Does colorism affect the socioeconomic class of African Americans? Although most courts today recognize colorism claims under Title VII on the grounds of interracial discrimination, however, only a few plaintiffs actually recover under this theory. [6] Colorism claims are mostly seen in the context of employment discrimination. The legal community must take this phenomenon seriously. Colorism affects African Americans and other racial minorities in their everyday lives. The Media and professional establishments have created a stereotypical ideal African American image throughout the course of history. This image is demonstrated by L.K. Johnson in Jones’ article. African Americans should not be forced to choose between their cultural identities and their profession.  Lawyers should not shy away from pursuing colorism claims because of the low rates in which plaintiffs succeed. These claims will help move toward equality for African Americans within their own communities. This will create true diversity, not a superficial concept of diversity based on one’s skin complexion of an organization’s employees.


*Jade Morrison is currently the External Managing Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Jade Morrison, click here to visit her page: Jade Morrison

[1]        SCHOOL DAZE (Columbia Pictures 1988)

[2]        Gabrielle Douglas Responds to Her Hair Critics, (Aug. 12, 2012)

[3]        Trina Jones, Intra-Group Preferencing: Proving Skin Color and Identity Performance Discrimination, 34 N.Y.U. REV. L. & SOC. CHANGE 657 (2010).

[4]        Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights; Devon W. Carbado & Mitu Gulati, Working Identity, 85 CORNELL L. REV. 1259 (2000);

[5]        Kenji Yoshino, Assimilationist Bias in Equal Protection: The Visibility Presumption and the Case of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” 108 YALE L.J. 485, 500 (1998).

[6]        See Hansborough v. City of Elkhart Parks and Recreation Dept., 802 F.Supp. 199 (1992); Walker v. Secretary of Treasury I.R.S, 713 F.Supp. 403 ( 1989); Burch v. WDAS AM/FM, No. CIV.A. 00-4852, 2002 WL 1371703 (E.D. Pa. MAR. 12, 2003); Brack v. Shoney’s, Inc., 249 F. Supp. 2d 938 (W.D. Tenn. 2003).