Responses to Some of the Claims in the Mother Jones article.
(minor edits for clarity on 10/14)

1) Claim: Paraphrasing claim from the Chronicle of Higher Education stating that the "coding errors had not been reviewed by a third party."

Response: I was never asked by the Mother Jones reporter about this reference. In fact, after the Chronicle piece was published I immediately e-mailed David Glenn at the Chronicle to point out that two different points had been merged together in his piece.

2) Claim: "The cause, according to then Stanford Law Review president Benjamin Horwich, was a minor editing dispute involving literally one word; Lott, however, complains of an editorial 'ultimatum' from the journal."

Response: The SLR issued a "Clarification" which states clearly that there were "certain revisions," not that there was one change involving one single word. The "Clarification" also noted that "the impression that some have gotten from Ayres and Donohue's Reply piece is incorrect, unfortunate, and unwarranted."

3) Claim: "Fraud with no other way to save his thesis, you could say that Lott changed the rules -- rules his own team had laid down -- in the middle of the game."

Response: As to the impact of concealed handgun laws on crime, Florenz Plassmann describes the debate and the results in his paper with Whitley very clearly. Florenz’s comments deal very forcefully with why the results continue to show that crime rates fall after right-to-carry laws are adopted. He also addresses the claim raised by Ayres that “there’s a huge concern over not backing away from the results now that it has been pointed out.” The bottom line is that there is nothing to back away from. The overall results continue to show that violent crime rates fall after right-to-carry laws have been adopted A summary of two long previous posts that I have made on re-examining the data can be found here and here. The first post at the end of section one deals extensively with the issue of clustering. (For example, that "clustering by state requires that the law has the same affect across all counties within the state and that is obviously not true with right-to-carry laws.")

For a short list of how Ayres and Donohue have changed their results over time when their results were shown to imply the opposite of what they claimed see Plassmann and Whitley's paper. Following past work by Florenz Plassmann and Nic Tideman , Plassmann and Whitley argue very strongly in the paper currently being debated that there is a "major problem" (p. 1354) with using weighted least squares. The Poisson regressions that they argue are the correct estimates consistently show statistically significant results and Ayres and Donohue never dispute this. The Poisson results are always statistically significant even after the “coding errors” have been accounted for.

I have provided anyone interested with the data, all the regressions so that replication is very easy, and the tables of the output. The regressions and tables were clearly labeled. Nothing was hidden. There was complete transparency. Most importantly, I encouraged the Mother Jones reporter on several different occasions during our interviews to ask somebody else, an academic whom the reporter could trust, to look into the issues.

Interestingly, in none of Ayres and Donohue’s own regressions, not a single one, do they report estimates using “clustering” to determine the standard errors. In their reply they make no note of where they use clustering in the replication versus for their own work. According to our analysis many results continue to show statistically significant drops in violent crime even when using “clustering,” particularly the year-by-year estimates reported in the figures for murder, rape and robbery. What I showed was that all the results for murder, rape, and robbery continue to show statistically significant drops when the methods used by Ayres and Donohue on their own regressions are employed.

4) Claim: "Yet Lott's critique is once again misleading: His own newspaper op-eds aren't peer reviewed, and Lott admits that Regnery Press, his latest book publisher, does not use peer review."

Response: Of course newspaper op-eds are not refereed; that is not customary. However, I have used the op-eds to popularize the work that I have published in journals. While More Guns, Less Crime was refereed and The Bias Against Guns was not, Parts of the empirical work in the three empirical chapters were based upon my past work published in refereed journals. For example, all of the material in Chapter 8 was from a refereed article in the Journal of Law and Economics.

5) Claim: Changes in the web site, the references to August 19th and September 2nd

Response: Jeff Koch, the web master for, has a statement that explains the temporary mistakes with the web site.

That web link also has a statement from James Knowles, a former RA, that is related. 6) Claim: "On the website, Lott claimed the 'corrected' table used 'clustering,' when it did not."

Response: This quote is wrong. I was arguing that the tables were labeled as not having clustering.

7) While I deal with many of the attacks elsewhere, you can see the exchange that I had with Science magazine. The Mother Jones pieces quotes from the editor's response, but I believe that reading the actual exchange provides a quite different impression than what the MJ piece indicates.
(Point 7 added on 11/28/03)

8) See here for an extensive discussion that responds to the false claims made in the MJ piece about my 1997 survey. A discussion of my later survey that replicated the original one and produced similar results as well as the actual data from that survey is available here.
(Point 8 added on 11/28/03)

See Instapundit's and Clayton Cramer's discussions on October 13th for other links. A copy of the interviews done with the Mother Jones reporter is provided here. Even though I was trying to be careful so as not to provide the interviewer with statements that he could take out of context, I think that the interviews give a different perspective than the article. Finally, as an aside, if Ayres and Donohue had felt that something wasn't clear in my posting of the corrected data in April, they could have either e-mailed me or called me. Instead of trying to contact me, they instead wrote a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch saying that I wasn't answering their concerns about the Plassmann and Whitley paper. When they weren't able to get it published there they had it posted on the internet. Again, the most obvious and normal approach would have been to actually contact me about whatever they wanted to know.

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.


Rush, by the Numbers: The face of "social concern"?

Swiss Miss: Policymakers aiming in the wrong direction

Voting Data
Sometimes mistakes aren't mistakes

NYC's Latest Gun Misfires

Why High Court May Slam McCain's Law

Divorcing Voters, Again:
Supreme-court campaign-finance reform case gets heard

P.C. Air Security
When will our pilots be armed?

Gun control laws may be partly at fault in massacre

Half cocked: why most of what you see in the media about guns is wrong.

Should Off-duty police be banned from carrying guns?

The ban against public safety

Al-Qaida won't Forget Our Security Issue

Why don't media cover the good-news stories about guns?

City Hall's Gun Folly

The Drug World's Easy Riders

Letting Teachers Pack Guns Will Make America's Schools Safer

Right to carry would disprove horror stories

U.N. vs. Guns
An international gun-control fight.

When Welfare is Disguised as a Tax Cut

States may regret reforms

Armed and safer Iraqis

Dems Have Not Dropped Gun Control Agenda

Bad Sports
A church turns down $10,000 from sportsmen.

Scare Tactics on Guns and Terror

Pattern of Deceit is Deeper than Times Wants to Admit

The gun control debate

There are no gun free, safe zones

Gun control advocates' credibility on line

Arming of Pilots Is Way Overdue

When Gun Laws Don't Make Sense

Can U.S. Be More Secure By Arming Off-Duty Cops?

Bullets and Bunkum
The futility of 'ballistic fingerprinting.'

No magic bullet

Tough gun laws don't reduce crime

Much Ado About Nothing

Collection of some of my other op-eds


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's

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