Lott: Gun rights foes rely on shoddy studies, slack stats

John R. Lott Jr.

The economist, who is the leading expert on gun violence statistics, told Guns & Patriots that gun control advocates produce faulty research to confuse the public and further their gun ban agenda. 


“If they can control the numbers that are used in the gun control debate, then they can control the debate,” said John R. Lott Jr., founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, a research and education organization that studies the relationship between laws regulating the ownership or use of guns, crime, and public safety.

A recent nationwide study conducted by the Violence Policy Center have concluded grossly inaccurate figures about conceal handgun carry permit holders and violent crime rates. These studies are being regurgitated in the news without sufficient review and scrutiny, he said.

“VPC claims that in the state of Michigan over a certain period of time there were 636 people who have died as a result of a conceal handgun carry permit holder,” he said. “My number which is usually about people that are murdered by conceal handgun carry permit holders, is dramatically less – about fifty.”

In addition to the state numbers that were included in VPC’s Michigan study, there were news reports and arrest records included as well, said Lott who is the author of More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns. “After looking through the data, I found triple-counting.”

Many of the cases in the study should not have been included at all, he said such as deaths from a conceal handgun carry permit holder who used their gun legitimately in self-defense. 


“There are cases when you have a benefit,” he continued. “The whole idea of a conceal carry permit is to be able to protect yourself – VPC will count that as two cons.”

VPC erroneously includes cases that are pending, he said. “Even if a permit holder is found to be not guilty of a gun-related death or has never been charged as a result of it, VPC includes them in the study.”

The states of Florida and Michigan which had the highest rates of deaths by conceal handgun carry holders, bend the rules all the time, said Lott. “They try their hardest to include anything.”

After going through their news stories, he said he found that they have made lots of mistakes.

“VPC includes people who were arrested for illegally carrying a handgun without a permit,” he said. “That is the opposite of what is being studied, yet they have counted those types of cases anyway.”

Lott, who has conducted decades of research showing that armed citizens have saved lived and deterred crime, said skewed results is not unique to VPC but endemic to gun control.

If we look at studies conducted by former mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg and his large network of groups and tremendous amount of funds, the types of things they do are outrageous, he said.

In a recent report by Bloomberg, it was concluded that there have been 44 Newtown-like deaths since February of this year, he said.  “When we looked at those cases, we found 40% of that number were of lone suicides outside school hours and not even on school property.”  


Furthermore, even if all the guns disappeared tomorrow, he said people would find another way to commit suicide. “The research indicates pretty strongly that the number of suicides would not change with a gun ban.”

Gang related deaths were also included in the Bloomberg study, again outside of school hours and not on school property, said Lott. “Those cases are tragic, but to classify them as another Newtown is bizarre.”

Similarly those who used guns legally in self-defense were included in their study, yet when someone uses a firearm for self-defense with a legal permit, these are clearly not cases of a mini-Newtown, he said.

Bloomberg announced he is investing another $50 million into pushing gun control.  His efforts have a lot more impact than we think because he said their studies are accepted as truth without any valid scrutiny. “The hundreds of millions of dollars he is spending is magnified many-fold because of the positive attention received in the media.”

For example, he said: “If the National Rifle Association were to spend the same amount of dollars, which they are not, they would not get the news coverage and surely not the positive news coverage Bloomberg would get.”

The anti-gunners produce these studies and receive massive news coverage, said Lott. “It fits in with the anti-gun media narrative so it is convincing to a lot of people in the media.”


This attention has an impact on gun-control laws, he said. “If we look at states like California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Colorado, where we have had stricter gun control laws enacted, I would guess these types of stories unfortunately feed into generating support for these things.”

The reason why Crime Prevention Research Center was put together is to try and critically evaluate these studies, something that, he said, has not been done otherwise.  “Our goal is to go and put out real, high-quality, peer-reviewed academic studies to ascertain the effect of gun control laws and crime rates.”

Lott said because gun control advocates are losing the battle nationwide, they will be producing more and more studies to control the numbers and the debate.  “Soon there will be an avalanche of studies, and their advice puts lives at risk.” 

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