Published September 18, 2003, in The Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

Call to arms is sounded by speaker
Statistics cited to rebut gun -control advocates

Sara Leaming
Staff writer

Arm yourself.

That was the message heard by a small group of Gonzaga University School of Law students Wednesday by a controversial Washington, D.C., scholar.

John R. Lott Jr. of the American Enterprise Institute was at Gonzaga to speak about his book, '' More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Controls Laws." The book, like his speech Wednesday, cites various statistics that Lott says disprove the arguments of gun -control advocates.

The event was part of the school's Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies fall speaker series.

''There are lots of things that affect crime rates and I don't think guns are near the top," Lott told the group of about a dozen.

By arming society, crime will be reduced, Lott contends.

'' Guns make it easier for bad things to happen, but they also make it easier for people to protect themselves against bad things," he said. Lott, a former senior research scholar at Yale University School of Law and chief economist for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, now researches crime, education, and campaign finance for the institute.

His book has been widely panned by gun -control advocates, including The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which calls Lott's findings ''flawed and misleading."

Lott told Wednesday's group that guns are wrongly portrayed as evil. He told the group the media are largely responsible for society's perception of guns, because they take a one-sided view of gun violence.

''Rarely ever do you hear about people using guns to protect themselves," Lott said.

But one such case in Spokane received a lot of media attention in April. Television stations aired stories and The Spokesman-Review put the news on page one when a local gun shop owner - a former police officer - shot and wounded an armed burglar he caught robbing his store.

Spokane police quoted in the story said the shooting was justified but that they do not support people putting themselves in threatening situations.

Lott argued that remaining passive in the face of crime is a mistake. He cited statistics showing that the presence of a gun increases the ability of a woman to defend herself against an attack.

One female student, who asked that she not be named, said she came to Wednesday's presentation because she carries a gun for protection and believes what Lott said is, in some ways, right.

Other students disagreed. Some said they came to the forum expecting a legal discussion about the Second Amendment, not a call to arms.

''The solution that he offers up is scary," said law student Josh Stinn. ''He's not talking about challenging the right to have ( guns) , but that we should carry them around all the time. He's talking about vigilantism."

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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

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