Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley today signed a bill banning the sale of assault weapons, limiting magazines to 10 bullets, requiring handgun purchasers to submit fingerprints and get a license, and creating penalties for people who don’t notify police when their firearms are lost or stolen. The Baltimore Sun reports that gun control advocates are now planning Baltimore-area TV ads to bolster support among Maryland voters, in case of a future referendum or campaigns to oust lawmakers who backed the bill in the General Assembly.
This ad buy begs the question: Could Maryland’s anti-gun control community gather enough support to change course in the state? The NRA’s threats “scared the pants off Congress,” says Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC. But, he clarifies, the national stage and state are different matters.
Asked about potential efforts to remove legislators who supported the gun control bill, Norris noted, “Whether that will work in Maryland, I’m not so sure. My gut tells me no. They might be able to knock off a few people, but I think it’s very much a long shot.”
In his latest opinion column for the Baltimore Sun, UMBC political science professor Thomas F. Schaller takes on accusations surrounding the recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security purchase of large quantities of ammunition (up to 1.6 billion rounds in some reports)—including claims that the Obama administration is arming itself while simultaneously trying to disarm the citizenry through gun control legislation.
In researching the purchase, Schaller found:
It turns out the order is closer to 750 million rounds and covers a five-year period and the 70,000 federal officers who require firearm certification or retraining. That’s roughly 2,200 rounds per officer per year; recreational gun users often dispense several hundred rounds during a single firing range visit.
Schaller concludes that this “scandal” is more conspiracy than legitimate critique of government overreach. He suggests that gun advocates would benefit from ignoring such distractions and instead focusing on what he identifies as real examples of government abuse of power, or addressing the risks that can come with gun ownership.
Economics professor Scott Farrow is co-author and co-editor, with Richard Zerbe, Jr., of the new book, Principles and Standards for Benefit-Cost Analysis (Edward Elgar Publishing 2013). The book website notes:
Benefit–cost analysis informs which policies or programs most benefit society when implemented by governments and institutions around the world. This volume brings together leading researchers and practitioners to recommend strategies and standards to improve the consistency and credibility of such analyses, assisting analysts of all types in achieving a greater uniformity of practice.
Reviewer John D. Graham of Indiana University writes, “This book is a superb textbook treatment of benefit-cost analysis. It is well designed for students in public policy, public administration, public health, social work, environmental affairs, law and business.”
Larry DeWitt, public policy Ph.D. student and former public historian for the U.S. Social Security Administration, has published the new book The Other Welfare: Supplemental Security Income and U.S. Social Policy (Cornell University Press 2013) written with co-author Edward D. Berkowitz.
The book offers a comprehensive history of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), from its origins in 1972 as part of President Nixon’s social reform efforts to its pivotal role in the politics of the Clinton administration.
Reviewer Christopher D. Howard (College of William & Mary) writes, “Calling The Other Welfare one of the best histories of a U.S. social program would be true, but that would not be strong enough praise…Edward D. Berkowitz and Larry DeWitt take a relatively unknown social program and make its history seem absolutely central to the history of U.S. social policy.”
Stress Testing the USA: Public Policy and Reaction to Disaster Events, a new book by professor of public policy John Rennie Short, arrives in stores tomorrow!
Stress testing is a procedure, common to fields from medicine to engineering, that is used to reveal a system’s weaknesses. In his new book, Short applies this concept to analyzing four serious traumas the United States experienced at the start of the 21st century: the invasion of Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the financial meltdown, and the BP oil spill.
In Stress Testing the USA (Palgrave MacMillan), Short identifies specific structural flaws with the potential to fracture our nation: a large, active military that promotes a state of permanent war; an aging physical infrastructure with bridges and roads that receive failing grades; financial and corporate deregulation; and a blind acceptance of institutions’ increasingly risky behavior.
Identifying these systemic problems clarifies a broader concern for Short: our tendency to sideline unpopular perspectives or more subtle voices that might alert us to possible threats. “For every event there was a small group of people who new exactly what was happening,” says Short, “we just didn’t listen to them. So the point of the book is we should be more careful and more attentive to alternative, dissident voices.”
His book website notes, “Illuminating and relevant, Stress Testing the USA is a guide to what ails the United States and what needs to be done to fix it that proves essential to any scholar of public policy, current affairs, or disaster management.”
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown is widely expected to officially announce his candidacy for governor today in his home county of Prince George’s. Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, told the Baltimore Sun that support from current Gov. Martin O’Malley is one of the reasons Brown is the “odds-on favorite” for the job.
“He’s going to have the governor’s endorsement, and he will have access to the governor’s election organization,” Norris said, in an AP story on the anticipated announcement. These factors could give him a notable advantage over potential opponents, such as State Attorney General Doug Gansler.
In May of 1968, nine individuals shook the conscience of the nation as they burned U.S. Selective Service records with homemade napalm on the grounds of the Catonsville, Maryland Knights of Columbus hall. The fire they started erupted into an infamous trial and influenced similar dynamic actions across the country.
The UMBC community is invited to a Social Science Forum exploring this action, and the trial that followed, on Friday, May 10th, at 2:30 p.m. in the Proscenium Theater (Performing Arts and Humanities Building). Joining us will be a panel of scholars, activists and two members of the Catonsville Nine. The event, cosponsored by the Department of American Studies will feature a film screening (3:00 p.m.) and dialogue (4:30 p.m.).
For more information on the project and to hear a WYPR interview with organizer Theodore Gonzalves (chair of American Studies), see the BreakingGround blog.
This week, UMBC’s Erickson School is spearheading the Executive Director Leadership Institute (EDLI) at the annual conference of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) in Charlotte, North Carolina. The program has expanded from 40 to 200 participants in just one year. It offers a rigorous curriculum designed for rising community leaders in the senior living industry.
Chris Hollister, Southern Assisted Living co-founder and senior fellow at the Leadership Institute at the Erickson School, serves as EDLI 2013 co-leader; Erickson School Dean Judah Ronch serves on the EDLI faculty. Their curriculum will address topics from senior community culture to best practices for memory-impaired residents.
“The worst kept secret in Maryland is that Martin O’Malley is running for president,” says Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, in a Washington Jewish Week article on O’Malley’s recent visit to Israel and Jordan. He suggests, “One of the important bases that has to be touched is showing you have foreign policy experience. Another is going to Israel. He’s doing a twofer.”
Formally, the 8-day visit was a trade mission; the O’Malley administration notes that in 2012 Israel was Maryland’s 43rd largest trading partner. Twenty Israeli companies already have offices in Maryland and three additional tech will open offices in the state soon.
Norris also this week commented in a Gazette story on a change to Maryland’s GOP leadership with the election of Dels. Nicholaus Kipke (R-Dist. 31) of Pasadena and Kathy Szeliga (R-Dist. 7) of Perry Hall to the positions of minority leader and minority whip. Norris suggests the selection of Kipke, a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, might indicate the Maryland GOP is moving further to the right. This could make GOP candidates less electable in the Democratic-leaning state and, Norris argues, “guarantees the party’s total irrelevance in Maryland.”
Hilltop Senior Research Analyst Michael Abrams was co-author on a presentation made recently at an international meeting focused on schizophrenia research (see citation below). The work demonstrates that among women with serious mental illness who are engaged in Maryland Medicaid, those with substance use disorders are at elevated risk for missing breast cancer screening. By somewhat surprising contrast, women with other mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia and depression), were not at elevated risk for missing such screening. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reference: Sullivan K, Abrams M, Feldman S, Myers S, McMahon R, Kelly D: “Analysis of Maryland Medicaid Data to Estimate Effects of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders on Breast Cancer Screening Utilization and Breast Cancer Prevalence,” 14th International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, April 14, 2013, Orlando, Florida (Poster Presentation).