Article published Monday, September 6, 2015, at The Commercial Appeal.

Americans are learning that more guns mean less crime

By John R. Lott, Jr.

An 11-year-old boy shoots an almost 17-year-old who had broken into his home, saving his 4-year-old sister and scaring away another burglar. The burglars repeatedly tried to break into the home, finally succeeding on their third attempt.

The mother apparently purchased the handgun because of several previous attempted break-ins of her home.

One can only imagine the relief that the mother had that her children were safe.

Yet, the reaction from police and authorities was to question why the gun was so easily accessible. Police Sargent Brian Schellman told KTVI in St. Louis: “Just seems at this point that any one can pull the trigger on a weapon. Its very scary.”

Missouri is a state with a so-called “safe storage law,” one that imposes criminal liability when a minor under 18 gains access to a negligently stored firearm.

But no one seems to ask what would have happened if the children hadn’t been able to protect themselves.

The risk of accidental gun deaths is surely a concern, but it is much rarer than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 69 children under the age of 15 died from accidental gunshots. Over 61 million children are that age in the population and about half live in homes that own guns.

But according to my research, mandating that people lock up their guns didn’t reduce the few accidental gun deaths for children or teenagers.

What such laws did do is embolden criminals to attack more people in their homes and their crimes were more successful: 300 more total murders and 4,000 more rapes occurred each year in 18 states with these laws. Burglaries also rose dramatically.

Why isn’t there a discussion about families who have not been able to reach their gun quickly enough because it was locked in a safe? Children do die when criminals enter their homes, too.

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Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

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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