Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003, in The National Journal (subscription required)

Taking Gun-Control Advocates To Task

By Meg Kinnard

National Journal Group Inc.

With terrorist attacks, school shootings and crime rates scaring America, the issue of personal weapons possession seems lodged in the national consciousness.

One author, however, fears that one side of this divisive debate is getting short shrift. In "The Bias Against Guns," American Enterprise Institute scholar John R. Lott Jr. states his case that guns "make us safer" -- an argument he fears Americans do not hear often enough.

Lott's subtitle, "Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong," adequately sums up his intent: to explain why the "defensive" benefits to gun ownership are seemingly rarely discussed in public debate, as opposed to the obvious dangers of accidental shootings or guns getting into criminal hands. In fact, Lott argues, gun control laws disarm "law-abiding citizens more than criminals."

"The Bias Against Guns" is divided into two distinct sections. The first deals with the allegation that a bias against gun owners exists in America, while the second dissects the reality of the situation based on various studies and data. Lott has chosen four key issue areas -- reduction of terror attacks, increase in home gun ownership, gun show "loopholes" and bans on assault weapons -- as focal points for his study, which, he says, he has conducted from the perspective of a cost-benefit analysis rather than a philosophical one.

In each section, Lott draws heavily on media accounts, personal anecdotes and nationally-compiled data to make his case for the benefits of gun ownership.

Of particular interest is the chapter on terrorism, in which Lott explores the post-Sept. 11 American emphasis on preparedness against personal attack. In this section, Lott also takes note of ways in which other terrorism-afflicted countries, such as Israel, handle personal gun ownership.

In "Guns," Lott has chosen to defend what could be perceived as the politically incorrect position on one of the nation's most controversial issues. His analysis is both thoughtful and provocative, however, and worth a look by anyone interested in the gun control debate.

--Meg Kinnard,

Book Review on The Bias Against Guns
Home (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

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William Sjostrom

Dr. T's

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

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