Copyright 2005 American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

The American Enterprise March 1, 2005

SECTION: No. 2, Vol. 16; Pg. 58; ISSN: 1047-3572

IAC-ACC-NO: 129368517

LENGTH: 378 words

HEADLINE: Guns Don't Kill People...; gun violence

BYLINE: Murray, Iain


National Research Council, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, National Academies Press, 2004 (

A panel assembled by the National Research Council (which many assumed wouldbe predisposed to find a connection between gun ownership and violence) has been unable to find evidence to support such a contention. Nor can it find data that gun control policies reduce violence.

As University of Maryland professor Charles Wellford, the panel chairman, told the press, "There is no credible evidence that the more than 80 gun -violence prevention programs reviewed by the committee had any effect on children's or teen's attitudes, knowledge, or behavior regarding firearms."

While the panel found there was an association between gun availability and gun suicide, the research did not show a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

The panel concluded that even if the data had showed a causal connection between firearms and lethal violence, violence reduction programs would be difficult to develop because many factors other than gun use influence violence levels. "The intent of the people involved, the nature of their interactions and relationships, their access to firearms, and the level of law enforcement are critical in explaining when and why firearm violence occurs," said Wellford.

On the question of how "right-to-carry" handgun laws affect crime rates,the panel reported it "found no credible evidence that such policies either decrease or increase violent crime. " A dissenting addendum from James Q. Wilson on this subject concludes that right-to-carry laws "impose no costs but may confer benefits." He points out that the panel's criticisms of the work of AEI scholar John Lott, who first provided data that suggest right-to-carry laws reduce crime and especially murder, are overblown.

The panel in fact confirmed Lott's findings in relation to murder, and admitted that the work of Lott's critics had not been subject to the same close analysis as his own.

Wilson suggests that the allegation that Lott's work produces weaker resultswhen the data are updated to recent years demonstrates that the effect of right-to-carry laws is greater when crime rates are rising than when they are falling.

IAC-CREATE-DATE: March 7, 2005

LOAD-DATE: March 24, 2005


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

Research finding a drop in violent crime rates from Right-to-carry laws

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Appalachian law school attack

Sources for Defensive Gun Uses

The Merced Pitchfork Killings

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

General discussion of my 1997 and 2002 surveys as well as related surveys

Mother Jones article (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

Collection of some of my other op-eds


Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

A debate that I had with George Mason University's Robert Ehrlich on guns

Lyonette Louis-Jacques's page on Firearms Regulation Worldwide

An interview concerning More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws

The End of Myth: An Interview with Dr. John Lott

Alphecca -- weekly review on the media's coverage of guns


A Nation of Riflemen

Clayton Cramer's Blog

My hidden mathematical ability (a math professor with the same name)


My AEI Web Page

Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's

Interview with National Review Online

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

International Crime Victimization Survey data from 2000

John Lott's CV