This review appeared in the March 31st, 2003 issue of the Human Events Online.

Media-Induced Gun Myths
A review of The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control is Wrong, by John R. Lott, Jr.

By Joseph Bessette

Dr. John R. Lott has done it again. The best selling author of the aptly-titled More Guns, Less Crime has penned an appropriately titled sequel: The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard About Gun Control is Wrong (published by Regnery, a sister company of HUMAN EVENTS).

Lott, an economist who has held positions at Yale Law School, the University of Chicago, UCLA, and Stanford University, has put together an original study from empirical research that demonstrates every plausible facet of the pro-gun position. With this book in hand (which includes more than 50 pages of notes), you can confidently debate that disbelieving brother-in-law or naive neighbor.

What can you expect from The Bias Against Guns? First and foremost the evidence Lott amasses succinctly engages the reader’s attention from chapter to chapter.

Lott cites a Los Angeles Times’ survey of some 3,000 journalists that found a whopping 78% of the media supporting stricter gun control measures despite the fact that states which allow citizens with no prior criminal records to obtain concealed weapons permits lead to lower rates of violent crime, including murder.

The author effectively shows how the press manipulates public opinion polls to further their own anti-gun agenda. Lott explains that there are polls and then there are polls?survey results can be skewed by just the slightest imbalance built into the questions?and then goes on to show his readers how poll results on gun issues are routinely massaged. The book contains statistics from tainted polls as well as from unbiased surveys?the kind of practical information that comes in handy in disputes over gun control and the 2nd Amendment.

Lott maintains that "...we almost never discuss the positive effects of guns: that they often save innocent lives..." He estimates defensive gun use?1.5 to 3.4 million occurrences every year?is so underreported that people have a hard time believing it happens at all.

In his new book, Lott gives several detailed examples of underreported or misreported defensive gun news stories. One of his accounts revolves around a January 2002 mass shooting that claimed three victims at the Appalachian Law School in Virginia. Despite the fact that the incident "...made international headlines from Australia to Nigeria, fact was missing from virtually all the news coverage: the attack was stopped by two students who had guns in their cars."

It gets even more infuriating.

"In all, seventy-two stories described how the attacker was stopped, without mentioning the student heroes had guns. But almost the same number of stories (sixty-eight) provided precise details on the gun used in the attack..."

Lott firmly believes that guns deter crime. He points out that in case after case offenders initially considered cash-laden targets as pimps and cab drivers, but rejected them given the likelihood of armed resistance as opposed to other robbery or mugging candidates.

The author covers a laundry list of critical issues related to 2nd Amendment rights. Consider this sample of questions addressed by an array of charts, graphs, and critical data:

Are mass killings prevented by gun-free zones?

Does news coverage of shootings encourage copycat attacks?

Does closing the "gun show loophole" reduce crime?

What are the risks of increased gun ownership in the home?

Should assault weapons be banned?

What about gun locks?

What is the impact of concealed weapon permits?

Lott provides a cautionary explanation behind his vital findings in The Bias Against Guns: "My role as an economist is not to consider whether Americans have a ‘right’ to own only objective is to study the measurable effect that gun laws have on the incidents of violence, and to let the facts speak for themselves."

Ignore this book at your own peril: your right to own and use a gun may depend upon it. The Bias Against Guns is must reading for anyone concerned about the filtered distortions typical of the mass media’s onslaught against firearms.

Home (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

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Mother Jones article

Vin Suprynowicz quote


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's

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

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