John R. Lott

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John R. Lott (b. 1958) is a scholar who published his research demonstrating that an increase in gun ownership results in a reduction in crime, because guns save more lives through deterrence and self-defense than they kill.[1] The title of his 1999 book, which became a class on the issue of guns, is "More Guns, Less Crime."[2]

As Lott explained in an interview concerning his book:[3]


Criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. There is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens with permits and the crime rate—as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent.

Concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime for two reasons. First, they reduce the number of attempted crimes because criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves. Second, victims who have guns are in a much better position to defend themselves.

Lott also observed how large newspapers and major media outlets consistently underreported the defensive use of guns to save lives. He found that factual accounts of the defensive use of guns would be reported in small rural newspapers but omitted from stories in larger papers, and stories that appeared days or weeks later.[4]

Lott has responded to claims that guns result in tragic accidents, even against children, as follows:[5]

Children 14 to 15 years of age are 14.5 times more likely to die from automobile accidents, 5 times more likely to die from fire or drowning, and 3 times more likely to die even from bicycle accidents than they are to die from gun accidents. In 1991, for example, only 145 children between the ages of 1 and 14 years died of accidental gunshot wounds, while 310 children died from choking (suffocation), 1,075 children died from fire and burns, 1,104 drowned, and 3,271 died from car crashes. Firearm accident rates in the United States (including those for children) have been declining steadily since the turn of the century, particularly after 1975.

Opposing views

Some liberals have attempted to find flaws in Lott's work.[6]

One professor, Michael Bellesiles, wrote a book supportive of the gun control position that was entitled Arming America, The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000). Gary Wills praised it in The New York Times, but admitted later that "I was took. The book is a fraud."[7] Bellesiles resigned from his position as Professor of History at Emory University in Atlanta when an independent committee of scholars examined his work and concluded that "his scholarly integrity is seriously in question."[8]

Lott gained press scorn after using a pseudonym[9] to praise his book and teaching. Pretending to be a former student of Lott's, Lott called himself "the best professor I ever had".[10] He also earned criticism from conservative Michelle Malkin, [11] who refused to engage in a radio debate with Lott. [12]

See also

References

  1. http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493636.html
  2. Lott's book on Google Books
  3. Interview with John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime
  4. John Lott's Website
  5. John Lott, Jr. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws (1998).
  6. Ian Ayres, John J. Donohue III: The Latest Misfires in Support of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis
  7. Jonah Goldberg, Reports of the 2nd Amendment's death have been greatly exaggerated ... Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Apr. 8, 2007.
  8. History News Network: Summary of the Emory Report on Michael Bellesiles
  9. "Mary Rosh"
  10. "Scholar Invents Fan To Answer His Critics", Richard Morin, Washington Post, Saturday, February 1, 2003; Page C1
  11. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=30873
  12. http://johnrlott.tripod.com/malkinsoped.html
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