The Raffleman 8.2

Whatever happened to zero tolerance? Parents in most parts of the country seem pretty eager to see guns banished from schools. But in Bastrop, Louisiana parents have decided to raise money by getting their kids to sell tickets to a shotgun raffle. Sure, it has been only a few weeks since two middle school students in nearby New Orleans shot and wounded each other on school grounds. But the Parent Teacher Organization of Beekman School is going ahead with plans to raffle off a new shotgun to one lucky winner, despite opposition from some parents. This isn't the first gun raffle to be held at the Beekman school. And if some parents have their way, it won't be the last. "The men go nuts for this stuff," one raffle-supporting parent told The Associated Press. "If we could have bought a bass boat and raffled that off, we would, but we could not afford that."

Packing Heat 6.7

If we outlaw guns, as that famous bumper sticker slogan goes, only outlaws will have them. But we don't have to go that far. In fact, a new bill signed into law by Texas Gov. George W. Bush has made it possible for hundreds of convicted criminals to get licenses to carry concealed weapons. Bush and other supporters of the new law, which ends Texas' longtime ban on concealed weapons, would require potential license holders to undergo a rigorous background check. But a recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times revealed that hundreds of violent criminals had somehow slipped through the cracks. Still, one Bush policy adviser told the Times that he considered the law a "smashing success." "There will always be nightmare cases," said Johnny Sutton, Bush's criminal justice advisor. "Somebody will always get through that we wish wouldn't, but not that many slip by."

Holiday Shears 4.6

It's fair to say that most Frenchmen traveling to England don't do it for the food. But
now, The Associated Press reports, they can do it for the vasectomies. A British family planning charity called Marie Stopes International is starting what it calls a "vasectomy tourism service" in an attempt to call attention to an archaic French law prohibiting vasectomies as a form of "self-mutilation." Though the law, which dates back to Napoleonic times, is no longer enforced, it remains on the books. "In the spirit of European togetherness, [we are] offering vasectomy to our French neighbors," a spokeswoman for the charity told the press. "We also hope to raise awareness about the archaic penal codes which limit reproductive choice in France." So far, though, the charity has had only one taker--and both Le Monde and Le Figaro have refused to run ads promoting the service.