Freedomnomics

Article published Sunday, July 19, 2009, at Fox News.

ANALYSIS: States Hit Hardest by Recession Get Least Stimulus Money

By John R. Lott, Jr.

Massive majorities in the House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, voted to eliminate the gun ban in national parks. The new federal law is hardly radical, as it simply defers to state law. If a state allows people to carry permitted concealed handguns, permit holders can carry their guns in the national parks in that state.

Opponents worry about the possibility that permit holders will accidentally shoot others or use their guns to commit crimes such as poaching. But this isnít the first time people have been able to carry guns in national parks. They were allowed to do so for over two months this year, from January through March, and absolutely no problems were reported.

When concealed-handgun laws were originally passed, gun control advocates then also warned that permit holders would lose their tempers and there would be blood in the streets.

Obviously that never happened. We now have a lot of experience with concealed-handgun permit holders. In 2007, about 5 million Americans were permitted to carry concealed handguns.

Take Florida, for example. Between Oct. 1, 1987, and March 31, 2009, Florida issued permits to 1,480,704 people, many of whom renewed their permits multiple times. Only 166 had their permits revoked for a firearms-related violation ó about 0.01 percent.

Even though the adoption of right-to-carry laws was highly controversial in some states, the laws were so successful that no state has ever rescinded one. Indeed, no state has even held a legislative hearing to consider rescinding concealed-carry.

Everyone wants to keep guns away from criminals. The problem is that law-abiding citizens are the ones most likely to obey the gun control laws, leaving them disarmed and vulnerable and making it easier for criminals to commit crime.

Police are extremely important in deterring crime ó according to my research, the most important factor. But the police almost always arrive after the crime has been committed. In national parks, with vast land areas and few roads, this problem is exacerbated. Even if one can quickly reach park rangers by using a cellphone, it can be hours before they can arrive at the crime scene.

Wild animals also sometimes do attack humans, and guns can come in handy. According to a study by Professor Gary Mauser at Simon Fraser University, guns were used about 36,000 times a year to stop animal attacks in Canada.

Here is a prediction. Just like the ruckus over passing concealed handgun laws, the fears about guns in national parks will soon be forgotten.

*John Lott is the author of Freedomnomics.

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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