Freedom Book of the Month for August, 2003:

"The Bias Against Guns"
by John R Lott Jr
Regnery, 2003, hardcover, 349 pp.

Review by Sunni Maravillosa

For those of you who may not already know it, I'm a "gun nut". I like guns, I own guns, and my partner and I take our young children shooting as often as we can. Hoppe's No. 9 may be the sexiest scent a man can have about him.

I haven't always been a gunnie, though. Once upon a time, I was a left-leaning, touchy-feely type who thought that guns were a major source of evil and pain in the world. Then I started thinking about the issues more critically, challenging what I'd heard on the nightly news. I also started thinking about what I'd do if I were attacked by someone. It wasn't too long after that that I learned how to shoot, and got my first firearm, a twelve-gauge cover

My point in divulging all this is to demonstrate that minds can be changed on firearms issues, if the individual is willing to think rationally about the evidence. Of course, individuals need sound evidence in order to reach rational conclusions. The right to keep and bear arms (RKBA) movement just got a potent infusion of that evidence with John Lott's latest book, The Bias Against Guns.

The title is a bit of a misnomer, in that it only reveals half of the book's value. To be sure, The Bias Against Guns more than amply demonstrates that many journalists let a bias against firearms influence their writing and the coverage a given story gets. Lott also investigates the effects of "safe" gun storage laws, gun show laws, assault weapons bans, and similar laws on crime rates. Since gunnies already know of the media's -- and the U.S. government's -- biases against responsible firearms possession and usage, they may find the second half more informative, if also somewhat more academic. (But, gunnies, don't neglect reading the first half, because you may be surprised by some of the findings Lott reports. For example, did you know that many so-called scientific studies on "gun control" are commissioned by the media and cooked to yield a pro-victim-disarmament outcome?)

Lott can't be easily dismissed as some loony right-wing kook, because he's done his research -- and he's done it impeccably. He asks penetrating questions, and, as an economist, knows how to do sound research to answer them. He does this for many questions in The Bias Against Guns. reporting his research methods and statistical tests. He then presents his findings in language that even mathophobes can understand. Lott even explains what makes for good (i.e., scientific) research.

Distilled down to its essences, The Bias Against Guns strongly makes two points:

* The more firearms are taken out of the hands of the law-abiding, the more crime an area has. Gun-controlling laws kill more innocent people than they protect.
* There is a deliberate, determined effort by the U.S. government, with the aid and blessing of the mainstream media, to marginalize gun owners, and to vilify this country's proud heritage of the individual's unalienable right to keep and bear arms.

The fact that Lott makes these points in a book which, except for its title, could be read by all but the most rabid and unreasonable anti-gun individuals is remarkable. When I first saw the book cover, I cringed, thinking that the title doomed it to premature dismissal by those who most need to read it. But perhaps the shock value will prompt them to pick it up and read it. If that happens, The Bias Against Guns could prod many individuals out of their previously-unexamined anti-gun views. We can but hope.

Order The Bias Against Guns from Laissez Faire Books, $19.50

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

Mother Jones article


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

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