July 14, 2003, in The National Review

Guns & Other Freedoms

By Michael Potemra

SECTION: Books, Arts & Manners; Vol. LV, No. 13

HEADLINE: Guns & Other Freedoms

BYLINE: By Michael Potemra


Each of us has a favorite part of the Bill of Rights; for me -- as for many others -- it's the First Amendment. But a good rule of thumb is to consider that particular freedom most important which, at a particular time, is most under attack. And that's why John R. Lott Jr. of the American Enterprise Institute deserves the status of Hero of the Constitution in our time: He stands up for the embattled Second Amendment, the section of the Bill of Rights most hated by today's smart set. Try the following thought experiment. Imagine a fellow who goes on TV and says, "Muslims tend to be violent and creepy," and another who says, "Gays tend to be violent and creepy." In both cases, there would be a justifiable explosion of outrage at the proclamation of such unfair and bigoted stereotypes. But now try to imagine a third fellow, who declares that "gun advocates tend to be violent and creepy." His outburst would probably occasion, at most, a press release from the National Rifle Association; the mainstream media and the public at large would likely see nothing exceptionable in his statement.

In his new book, The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong (Regnery, 349 pp., $27.95), John Lott explains how the defenders of gun ownership have been saddled with this undeserved reputation -- and provides the statistical truths that the anti-gun activists don't want you to know. The picture he paints is quite striking. Gun ownership is an important factor in reducing the crime rate; it makes ours a less, not more, violent society. For example, states with concealed-carry laws have seen large decreases in the number of multiple-victim public shootings; which only makes sense, because a violent criminal intent on a murder spree is more likely to shoot at targets he can confidently assume to be unarmed. This is part of the more general benefit of allowing citizens to engage in defensive gun use. One study found that in the ten states that adopted concealed-carry laws between 1977 and 1992, overall murder rates fell after the laws were passed. Lott's book is full of information of this kind -- which is highly inconvenient for media outlets that want to traffic in gun scaremongering.


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

Mother Jones Article

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Vin Suprynowicz quote


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