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NAT’L – GUN CONTROL – Gun-control activists need to stop demonizing John Lott

The recent reaction of Griffin Dix to the appointment of John Lott as an adviser to the DOJ Office of Justice Program reflects the continued inability of the gun-control advocacy community to address the fundamental issues that prevent us from making an effective response to the problem of gun violence. Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime” has become a flashpoint for arguments on both sides of the gun debate. On the one hand, the book is celebrated by the pro-gun lobby as a justification for ‘stand your ground’ laws and other legal rationales for armed self-defense. On the other hand, the book is condemned by gun-control activists as error-filled propaganda that promotes the false idea that guns are an effective response to fears about personal safety and threats of crime. As a long-time member of the Brady Campaign, Griffin Dix obviously belongs to the latter group. The first edition of John Lott’s book was published in 1998. Over the previous decade, violent crime declined by almost 40 percent. At the same time, the number of states that granted concealed-carry licenses (CCW) without requiring proof of special need doubled from 15 to 30 states. Lott argues that in many jurisdictions that began issuing CCW, violent crime such as robberies and assaults declined while anonymous crimes like burglary increased. He supports this finding with regression analysis that shows that crime rates are more sensitive to CCW issuance than to other demographic or social trends. To counter Lott’s work, Griffin Dix cites a study by respected scholars John Donohue and Ian Ayers who produced seemingly contradictory results by substituting different sets of variables measured through alternate regression analysis models. In fact, producing critiques of Lott’s work has become something of a cottage industry among academic researchers, with critical reviews coming from Daniel Webster at Johns Hopkins, David Hemenway at Harvard, and Franklin Zimring at Berkeley, to name just a few.  [full article]

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