Transcript of the panel discussion from the American Enterprise Institute on my new book, The Bias Against Guns. The discussants of my book included Professor Paul Waldman the Associate Director of the Annenberg Public Policy School at the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Carl Moody the chairman of the economics department at the College of William and Mary, and Professor Eugene Kontorovich of George Mason University Law School. Sorry, but many of the good questions from the audience were not picked up by the microphone.


I have gotten an e-mail asking me some questions about the AEI panel discussion on my book.

1) "Why do you use the government's survey estimate for the number of crimes committed with guns but use other surveys in your two books for estimates on the number of defensive gun uses?"

The problem with the survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is that "virtually none of the victims who use guns defensively tell interviewers about it in the [National Crime Victimization Survey]" (Kleck, Targeting Guns, p. 225. As many people who used a gun defensively may have prevented a crime, and thus have avoided an incident serious enough to be included in the set of events asked by the interviewer, many successful defensive gun uses would never be recorded.

2) "Is it accurate to describe the students who stopped the attack as having law enforcement backgrounds?"

The students were attending law school in Virginia and were on leave from their deputy sheriff jobs in another state, North Carolina.

3) Does the New York Times actually claim that the "rampage" killings were increasing during the 1990s?

The first article (April 9, 2000) in the series contains a massive table that shows very clearly that most of the attacks over the last 50 years supposedly occurred within the last five years.

"The series of articles published in The Times this week based on that research offered several new insights. Although such killings account for only one-tenth of 1 percent of all homicides, the series confirmed the public perception that they appear to be increasing." Editorial, "A Closer Look at Rampage Killings," New York Times, April 13, 2000, p. A30.

4) "Why did you use the CBS and Voter News Service surveys for gun ownership in your book More Guns, Less Crime but use the General Social Survey in your book The Bias Against Guns?"

The CBS and Voter News Service surveys have the advantage in that they are very large surveys (e.g., the VNS survey interviewed over 30,000 people). That makes it possible to get a fairly accurate measure of gun ownership rates in individual states. The problem with these surveys is that they cover only two years, 1988 and 1996. By contrast, the GSS has a very small sample in any given year, but the survey covers most states every other year. Which survey you use depends upon the questions that you want to ask. In the current book, The Bias Against Guns, states have adopted safe storage gun laws over many different years from 1989 to 1998 during the period that I studied. The question that I wanted to apply the survey data to was how gun ownership rates changed in the different states that adopted these laws in different years (see pp. 177 to 179 in the book). For the general question addressed in More Guns, Less Crime on whether the places with the biggest relative increases in gun ownership had the biggest relative drops in violent crime (pp. 113-14), I wanted to use the largest surveys available to get as accurate a measure as possible of the differences in gun ownership rates across states. However, in the chapter on gun storage laws in The Bias Against Guns, it was desirable to see how gun ownership rates changed immediately before and after the adoption of the law and the only way that I could do that was with the GSS data. To do this, John Whitley reweighted the GSS data using the state level demographic data we used in our Journal of Law and Economics paper.


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