Taking Gun Rights Campaign to Schools

What a good contrast, your editorial "Each Tragedy Has a Name" (July 13) and John R. Lott Jr.'s commentary, "Letting Teachers Pack Guns Will Make America's Schools Safer" (Commentary). Your editorial is correct; we can know the name of every victim. But can we know the name of each person who has avoided robbery, rape or home invasion because he or she had a gun? There is an inherent bias in your editorial, framed as the old joke about "only bad news makes the newspapers." What about the good news?

Perhaps Utah has the best plan, to allow schoolteachers to (potentially) pack guns. If the potential gang members don't know when or if a teacher may have a gun, it may deter them from bringing their own guns to class.

Joe Cobb

Dana Point


It sounds unbelievable, but the gun lobby's answer to school violence is to put more guns into our children's schools. It could give a whole new meaning to "Raise your hands, children." But seriously, this is the primary agenda of those in the gun lobby, and they are pushing hard all across the country. And it is not just about teachers — they want to let almost anyone carry guns into schools, shopping malls, baseball games, day-care centers, hospitals, neighborhood parks and even bars.

The threat is real. Just this year, the gun lobby has pressured several states into enacting laws that let people carry guns almost anywhere they want. And now it is bringing this extreme agenda to California.

Unless more people get involved and fight back against the gun lobby's armed agenda, our schools and public spaces may soon become free-fire zones.

Mary Leigh Blek
President Emeritus
Million Mom March
Laguna Hills


My Comment:

It is nice that the LA Times published the favorable letter. As to the other letter, Ms. Blek is correct about one thing: the argument that I made in the Los Angeles Times applies to gun free zones besides schools. Two points should be made:

1) But what about the evidence?

As I noted in my LA Times piece, the evidence in chapter 6 in my book, The Bias Against Guns, shows that multiple victim public shootings fall dramatically once right-to-carry laws are passed. Whether one looks at two or more people killed or injured as well as three or more people killed, the drops are huge and quite statistically significant. Only when you examine multiple victim public shootings involving four or more people killed is the number of deaths so small that the drops are no longer statistically significant (for a recent paper that gets the same lack of results I do when this much more narrow definition is used see Duwe, Kovandzic and Moody, “The Impact of Right-to-Carry Concealed Firearm Laws on Mass Public Shootings,” Homicide Studies, November 2002), they obtain a similar result when examining the few cases where four or more people are killed, though it would have been more useful if they had looked at cases where there were more observations). The best that Blek can point to is a perceived fear that something might go wrong, but the more direct evidence is the actual experience.

2) What about the logic of the argument?

Sure permit holders might start shooting people in a public place, but that is extremely easy to disprove by simply pointing to our experience which is that permit holders are extremely law-abiding. If someone is intent on doing harm, it is not necessary for them to even get a permit. The logic of deterrence never seems to be addressed in these responses. For example, who is most likely to obey the "gun free zones"?

Taking Gun Rights Campaign to Schools

Johnlott.org (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

Academic papers:

Social Science Research Network

Book Reviews:

For a list of book reviews on The Bias Against Guns, click here.

List of my Op-eds

Posts by topic

Appalachian law school attack

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Mother Jones article

Vin Suprynowicz quote


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's EconLinks.com

Interview with National Review Online

Lyonette Louis-Jacques's page on Firearms Regulation Worldwide

The End of Myth: An Interview with Dr. John Lott

Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

An interview with John R. Lott, Jr. author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws

Some data not found at www.johnlott.org:

Updated Media Analysis of Appalachian Law School Attack

Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been added to Nexis:

There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use increase from 2 to 3 now.

Journal of Legal Studies paper on spoiled ballots during the 2000 Presidential Election

Data set from USA Today, STATA 7.0 data set

"Do" File for some of the basic regressions from the paper