Gunning for Lott?

A Washington Times article today (see below) discusses a web site (www.askjohnlott.org) that has apparently been up for a month and claims to be run by people who represent themselves as me and offer readers a chance to ask me questions. The answers offered through the web site are frequently the opposite of what I believe.

For example, here is what those running “askjohnlott” wrote in an e-mail that was signed “John Lott”:

So one stance I'm taking is to question the necessity of the immunity bill. While I know there have been many unfair lawsuits against gun manufacturers, I'm starting to believe that safer, tight restrictions will come from the privatized world, rather than the government agencies. If the gun manufacturers can still maintain a sense of fear of lawsuit, then they can do more to prevent the guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Some friends of mine who wrote in arguing that the web site was not mine received responses signed by "John."

From: "Jim Glassman"

Date: Wed Jul 30, 2003 2:30:34 AM US/Eastern


Subject: Fwd: Your Emails

john: fyi: from the phony site. maybe it will help you track this guy down.--Jim

From: "John Lott"

Date: Tue Jul 29, 2003 6:10:00 PM US/Eastern

To: "Jim Glassman"

Subject: Your Emails

Dear Jim.

I see that you have sent me emails, but for some reason the text that you wrote didn't come through. But I have a feeling I know what it's about, I meant to tell you about this site before it launched but never got around to it, I'll give you a call soon.



**Please note that despite the impression given, this e-mail is not by me.

If you send in an e-mail to www.askjohnlott.org, you will get an automatic e-mail response followed later by an e-mail that addresses the question asked. My fear is that the vast majority of people who receive these e-mails will think that they are from me. One can only wonder what e-mail responses "signed" by me that this site is sending out.

Inside Politics

By Jennifer Harper


Gunning for Lott

Internet mischief-makers seem to be targeting economist John Lott, author of "More Guns, Less Crime" and "The Bias Against Guns."

A Web site called "Ask John Lott" appears to offer Mr. Lott's responses to questions about gun laws, but Mr. Lott said he has nothing to do with the site.

"People have e-mailed the site [asking questions] and you get an e-mail back, supposedly signed by me, making some fairly outrageous statements that I would disown," said Mr. Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

The Web site attributes bogus advice to Mr. Lott, such as a response to a woman concerned about a peeping Tom, urging her to buy a .50 caliber rifle that "can hit a target a mile and a half away."

The site features the question, "Can I buy hundreds of semi-automatics without being reported to law enforcement?" And it attributes to Mr. Lott this answer: "Yes, you're in luck. Licensed gun dealers have no requirements to report multiple sales of long guns, even though this is the kind of gun that terrorist organizations love."

Mr. Lott says he believes gun-control activists are behind the bogus Web page, though the site's Internet service provider has declined to divulge the names of the miscreants.

I also have another op-ed out today, entitled Why don't media cover the good-news stories about guns? 8/4/03 "Gun Statistics Expert John Lott Victim of Identity Theft"

The article references one of many troubling claims made in the e-mails that are being sent as signed by me:

The reply went on to falsely imply that Lott had reconsidered his support of the right of law-abiding individuals to sell personally owned firearms to other law-abiding citizens without government permission, repeating claims of "anti-gun lobbyists" and attributing to Lott the conclusion, "it suddenly appears that maybe we need to check our assumptions." The email is signed, "Good luck. John Lott."

8/5/03 Changes made in askjohnlott.org web site

The askjohnlott.org web site has now added a disclaimer at the bottom of their pages and has changed the text to make the site look more like it is a parody. Pictures of the web site as it has apparently appeared from June until late yesterday are available here. (I have added the words "From Fraudulent Website" to the pictures of these pages.) One can only wonder how many e-mails that were sent out to people under my name during June, July and the beginning of August. I am sure that the changes in the site just as people who are trying to check out the claims is causing some confusion, but I think that when people check the original postings or the e-mails that were sent out few will think that the site was set up with the intention of making others think that it was a parody. No disclaimer was present in the original postings.

An earlier comment on this whole episode can be found at Roger Ailes's blog site.

8/6/03 CNSNews: Askjohnlott.org web site "'piggy-backed' on the account of an anti-gun organization."

CNSnews has run an update on the fraudulent "askjohnlott.org" site. Among the more interesting statements in the new article are:

Fraudulent site possibly linked to anti-gun advocacy group

The fraud and abuse manager for one Internet Service Provider (ISP), whose features had been used by the fraudulent website, confirmed to CNSNews.com Tuesday that the website was "piggy-backed" on the account of an anti-gun organization.

"There is a merchant that is related, and I do see that there is some correlation," he said, speaking on condition that neither he nor his business would be identified. "They seem to be some sort of anti-gun advocate, something to that effect.

"However," he added, "it does seem that mostly they're using the service to conduct legitimate business."

Askjohnlott.org claims that they were a victim of a hacker today (see CNSNews). While I am skeptical of the web site's claim, I told the reporter:

"I don't support anybody hacking into a site, it's wrong."

For additional comments on this discussion you can see Iain Murray. Iain believes that if you looked at the site that had been up since June and not the changes that were made this past Monday afternoon: " The attempts to describe it as a parody won't wash." I would add that applies at least as much to the e-mails that were sent out under my name. 8/7/03 Another review of my book
Today's National Journal has a positive review of my new book right at the top of their web site: "His analysis is both thoughtful and provocative, however, and worth a look by anyone interested in the gun control debate." 8/8/03 Conservatives are "simple-minded"?
Jay Ambrose, the director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard Newspapers, has an interesting piece on the strong emotional responses produced in the gun control debate. He concludes:

“Based on the evidence, the liberals are mistaken in their gun-control enthusiasms, and the same is the case with any number of their ideas about pressing governmental buttons here and getting desired outcomes over there. Creating better living standards for the poor is not as easy as passing minimum wage laws that may actually lead to fewer work opportunities, for instance. Such laws are simple-minded.”

8/11/03 Air Safety and Al Qaida, also Gun Bans in Cities

A new op-ed appeared today in Investors' Business Daily on the threat to airlines from Al Qaida. The conclusion:

The Bush administration can hardly claim confidence that it’s screening, reinforced doors and air marshals are enough.

Protecting people should be as important as protecting the mail once was.

A second op-ed that I have in today's Washington Times with Eli Lehrer looks at the crime data before and after Washington and Chicago imposed their bans on handguns (for Chicago it was a ban on new purchases). The data doesn't look good. Obviously there are many reasons why crime could rise and with only two extreme as extreme as Washington and Chicago one must be careful, but the results are suggestive, especially when compared to the contemporaneous changed in crime rates for their neighbors.

Liberal Internet Activist May Be Behind Website

CNSNews has yet another story on the web site that pretended to be run by me. After previously discovering that the web site was "'piggy-backed' on the account of an anti-gun organization," CNSNews now notes that:

Peretti is employed by Eyebeam, which he describes in an online biography as "a not-for-profit arts organization focused on exploring the expressive potential of emerging technologies." Eyebeam.org lists Datagram.com as its domain name server.

Peretti, who is the registrant for the domain name ContagiousMedia.org, lists Datagram.com and his own web address as domain name servers. Datagram.com and Peretti's domain name, ContagiousMedia.org, are both listed as domain name servers for AskJohnLott.org.

Lott believes the shared physical addresses and phone numbers of the three domain registrations, combined with the interlinked domain name servers, lead to only two possible conclusions.

"I don't see how one can get around that he either is running it, or he knows in detail exactly what's happening with the website," Lott said.

Should Off-duty police be banned from carrying guns?

The fear of guns often gets so irrational that gun controllers have the knee-jerk reaction to even take guns away from off-duty police. After this piece came out today, I was e-mailed by someone pointing out the out of uniform officers that provide round the clock protection for Mayor Bloomberg. Anyway, here is my take on the debate. From the article:

Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg's reaction is not unusual. Legislation to let off-duty and retired police to carry guns with them when they travel across state lines is being held up in Congress by a threatened Senate Democratic filibuster. Sen. Ted Kennedy, (D., Mass.), who is leading the threatened filibuster, claims that the measure would "do great damage to the effort of state and local governments to protect their citizens from gun violence." He argues the law would also "undermine the safety of law enforcement."

8/20/03 Exchange over letter in St. Louis Post-Dispatch

This is a summary of long previous post that was listed (previous original posts are here and here). Sometimes academic exchanges get out of control and they use language that is pretty inflamatory. Ian Ayres and John Donohue provide an example of such an exchange. The bottom line of that discussion is that the 1977 to 2000 county level data set has been up on my web site since February. To make the entire process easily accessible for others, the regression files are also available. Anyone who wants to critically examine the data set is thus completely free to do so and can compare it to the corrected output. It can be downloaded from the site. The data set was corrected, and the results labeled "corrected" figures and tables have been up since April. The estimates do change somewhat, but the basic point is still clear. Whether one uses the types of statistical tests that Ayres and Donohue use for all their regressions or whether one uses the type of methodology that Plassmann argues very strongly for in the Stanford Law Review piece with John Whitley, you still get a drop in crime. Plassmann's emphasis on the type of empirical estimation that he wants to use arises because of the truncation issues and the nature of the data being count data. A statement that was available to those who wanted to download the data set used in the Plassmann and Whitley paper is available here.

There is a pretty obvious reason why these guys have choosen to publish their work in nonrefereed publications. Despite their continuing claims to the press, Ayres and Donohue's own papers do NOT provide any statistically significant evidence that violent crimes increase (for a brief discussion see point 2 here). Even most of their own results show that violent crime rates decline after right-to-carry laws are passed.

. On a different topic, a new piece is now available on "why most of what you see in the media about guns is wrong "

8/22/03 Some new interesting research on concealed handgun laws.
A new research paper has an new important approach towards estimating statistical significance. Professors Eric Helland and Alex Tobarrok conclude that:

"the cross equation restrictions implied by the Lott-Mustard theory are strongly supported."

"Surprisingly, therefore, we conclude, that there is considerable support for the hypothesis that shall-issue laws cause criminals to substitute away from crimes against persons and towards crimes against property."

In other news: SCHWARZENEGGER: "Outlawing guns is not the right method of eliminating the problem. If you outlaw guns, people will still have them illegally."

The interview won't get 100 percent score from some, but overall he comes out fairly well on this.

A criminologist who believes that deterence matters

Professor Chester L. Quarles is a criminologist who believes that deterrence matters. Possibly it is his experience as a police officer that has convinced him of this, but it is nice to see this perspective.

8/23/03 Two New Reviews of The Bias Against Guns

Two more reviews are out on my book. One by Tracy Price, a board member of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, and another by Sunni Maravillosa, editor with Freedom Book of the Month. Price's review notes:

If you are among the many Americans that are more afraid of having a gun in your home than a car in your garage, I strongly urge you to read John Lott's latest book. You will come away convinced that our nations gun policy should be based upon what the science of the matter reports and not the liberal media's version of "common sense."

A third brief review of The Bias Against Guns has also been done by the National Center for Policy Analysis.


Another brief review of The Bias Against Guns has also been done by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

CSPAN and The Bias Against Guns is named "Freedom Book of the Month for August"

Tomorrow morning at 11 AM EDT CSPAN (I don't know which channel) is supposed to carry a talk that I will be giving on arming pilots.

My new book was named the "Freedom Book of the Month" by The Freedom Network.

Statements after Chicago shooting

Here is an op-ed that I have in today's Chicago Sun-Times on the recent statements by the Acting Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline about the shooting this week there.

Transcript of my comments at the Airline Pilots Security Alliance news conference

With presentations at seven airports nationwide, it was nice to be the only non-pilot invited to make a presentation. The news conference obtained extensive news coverage nationwide. My comments are located here.

How the Times Higher Education Supplement Reporter Knows that he is in Texas and What is Apparently Required Reading for Missouri State Senators

The Times Higher Education Supplement reporter, Andrew Davies, kept a diary, while he was traveling around the US. His entry for Friday, August 22nd is amusing:


At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the bookstore window features The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush and The Bias Against Guns.

Reassuring. This must be the right place.

With a vote coming up soon in Missouri on new gun laws, the Kansas City Star had a story mentioning one book that is being given to all the state Senators:

The Second Amendment Coalition of Missouri Inc., for example, has given copies of the book The Bias Against Guns to every senator. The group's Web site, like those of other gun -rights organizations, urges people to call their lawmakers about the issue.


Johnlott.org (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

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

Appalachian law school attack

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

The Merced Pitchfork Killings and Vin Suprynowicz's quote

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Mother Jones article


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's EconLinks.com

Interview with National Review Online

Lyonette Louis-Jacques's page on Firearms Regulation Worldwide

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