Freedomnomics

Article published Tuesday, December 15, 2015, at Los Angeles Times.

Think background checks prevent gun violence? Think again.

By John R. Lott, Jr.

To the editor: Adam Winkler claims that we can reduce violent crime by requiring background checks on private gun transfers. This just isn't the case. ("Why banning assault rifles won't reduce gun violence," Opinion, Dec. 11)

Indeed, California, Colorado and Oregon sites of the three most recent mass public shootings already have such laws in place. The same is true of mass public shootings that have occurred in France, Belgium, Norway, Germany and other European countries.

Peer-reviewed research by criminologists and economists consistently shows that background checks don't reduce any form of violent crime. Law-abiding citizens, not gang members, are the ones paying for these background checks, with fees that frequently range between $60 and $80.

What these laws do is disarm the law-abiding poor, disproportionately blacks, and prevent them from being able to defend themselves.

Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of "More Guns, Less Crime" (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

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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