Article published Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at The New York Times.

The Case for Arming Yourself

By John R. Lott, Jr.

John R. Lott Jr. is the author of the recently revised third edition of “More Guns, Less Crime.”

One can only hope that Saturday’s horrible attack in Tucson encourages more citizens to carry concealed handguns. Fortunately, one shopper in the Walgreen’s near Representative Giffords’ event was Joseph Zamudio. When he heard the shots he ran toward them because his legally carried 9 mm semiautomatic offered him protection. Joe helped tackle the killer before more harm occurred. Too bad someone like him wasn’t even closer to the crime.

But Joe showed that law-abiding citizens with concealed handguns can exercise excellent judgment in when is the right time to use their guns. When it made more sense for him to tackle the attacker, he did that rather than use his gun. Everything from public school shootings to church shootings has been stopped by citizens with concealed handguns.

The police are important -- the single most important factor for reducing crime. But the police realize that they virtually always arrive on the crime scene after the crime has been committed.

Just as you can deter criminals with higher arrest or conviction rates, letting victims defend themselves also deters criminals. With concealed handguns, criminals don't know whether victim can defend themselves until they attack. More people legally carrying a concealed handgun means that someone can get to the crime scene faster.

As in other states, those legally carrying concealed handguns have been extremely responsible. There were 99,370 active permits in Arizona as of Dec. 1, 2007. During 2007, 33 permits were revoked for any reason — a 0.03% rate — cases that did not involve using the gun to harm others. Gun control groups claim that permit holders are dangerous, but they count defensive gun uses as bad killings.

With the "sunset" of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, gun control groups predicted murder would soar. The opposite happened. Re-instituting parts of the ban limiting clip size won’t lower crime. No research by criminologists or economists found that the ban or clip size restrictions reduced crime. Clips are easily made small metal boxes. The benefits of not exchanging the clips is true for law-abiding citizens, police and criminals. If only criminals get the larger clips, they have an advantage.

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

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

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