Four letters to the editor:

John Lott, in his July 13 editorial-page commentary "Unequal Punishment," suggests that it is unconscionable that a drug dealer and Martha Stewart, both convicted on providing false information, should receive the same amount of time in prison. Mr. Lott argues that someone of Ms. Stewart's position suffers more, economically, than the drug dealer. Granted, her personal reputation has been tarnished, she lost the presidency of her company and millions in market value, yet that did not deter her from lying. Her actions cost many their jobs and investors to lose millions because of her violations of the law.

Justice is supposed to be blind in its application. Financial loss is often fungible, but time is finite and therefore the great equalizer. Mandatory prison terms,specially those as now prescribed under Sarbanes-Oxley, may provide the much needed deterrent to stem misconduct by certain corporate officials that undermines the essential trust that is inherent in a free enterprise capitalistic society.

Ron Stolle
College of Business Administration
Kent State University
Kent, Ohio


I'm surprised that as a lawyer Mr. Lott is not more damning of Ms. Stewart's criminal behavior, which is a serious violation of public and private trust. I think a reasonable argument could be made that Ms. Stewart's actions have caused serious damage to the public and to investors in her company -- dare I say even more damage than that caused by the lies of a lone drug dealer.

Mr. Lott would no doubt agree that it is a good thing when an individual evaluates his prospective behavior by asking himself, "What have I got to lose?" That the drug dealer responds to himself that he has very little to lose, doesn't mean we should do away with a preventative threat to others who are more prosperous or who have attained a position of authority and responsibility in our society. That there is no equivalent additional punishment or necessity to remove a drug dealer from a position of trust seems beside the point.

Tom Delay
Kentfield, Calif.


Mr. Lott decries the financial cost to Ms. Stewart and her company as if punishment for lying does not go to the core value of our civilization. Lying is a personal matter that each of us, with a normal functioning brain, can control. Trust is important and lying violates trust. Perhaps Ms. Stewart should have considered the options to herself and her company before she violated the trust placed in her associates and her shareholders.

Wilbur Coats
San Diego


Mr. Lott's argument is flawed on two accounts. First, his claim that Martha Stewart suffered a loss of $203 million the day she was convicted due to the drop in share price of Martha Stewart Living is true only in the unlikely event that she sold her shares in the company that day. Second, Mr. Lott claims that a drug dealer suffers less because he has less to lose. That is precisely why Martha Stewart should not have committed the crime -- she should know better than a drug dealer.

Tim Hanson
Hanover, Minn.

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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

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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