July 14, 2003, in The National Review
Guns & Other Freedoms
By Michael Potemra
SECTION: Books, Arts & Manners; Vol. LV, No. 13
HEADLINE: Guns & Other Freedoms
BYLINE: By Michael Potemra
Each of us has a favorite part of the Bill of Rights; for me -- as for many others -- it's the First Amendment. But a good rule of thumb is to consider that particular freedom most important which, at a particular time, is most under attack. And that's why John R. Lott Jr. of the American Enterprise Institute deserves the status of Hero of the Constitution in our time: He stands up for the embattled Second Amendment, the section of the Bill of Rights most hated by today's smart set. Try the following thought experiment. Imagine a fellow who goes on TV and says, "Muslims tend to be violent and creepy," and another who says, "Gays tend to be violent and creepy." In both cases, there would be a justifiable explosion of outrage at the proclamation of such unfair and bigoted stereotypes. But now try to imagine a third fellow, who declares that "gun advocates tend to be violent and creepy." His outburst would probably occasion, at most, a press release from the National Rifle Association; the mainstream media and the public at large would likely see nothing exceptionable in his statement.
In his new book, The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong (Regnery, 349 pp., $27.95), John Lott explains how the defenders of gun ownership have been saddled with this undeserved reputation -- and provides the statistical truths that the anti-gun activists don't want you to know. The picture he paints is quite striking. Gun ownership is an important factor in reducing the crime rate; it makes ours a less, not more, violent society. For example, states with concealed-carry laws have seen large decreases in the number of multiple-victim public shootings; which only makes sense, because a violent criminal intent on a murder spree is more likely to shoot at targets he can confidently assume to be unarmed. This is part of the more general benefit of allowing citizens to engage in defensive gun use. One study found that in the ten states that adopted concealed-carry laws between 1977 and 1992, overall murder rates fell after the laws were passed. Lott's book is full of information of this kind -- which is highly inconvenient for media outlets that want to traffic in gun scaremongering.