How do I know that things are back to normal? Because my friends in Gun-control Nation have launched an all-out assault on my good buddy John Lott. The campaign was kicked off by a writer for Media Matters about how John was doing some kind of gig for the Department of Justice and how come taxpayer money is being spent to support this ‘discredited fraud?’
I happen to believe, and I have published a long, academic paper to this effect which you can download here, that John’s work is not only a valid and important piece of academic research, but happens to raise issues that my friends in Gun-control Nation have made absolutely no attempt to figure out at all.
In particular, John’s argument directly addresses why a solid majority of Americans believe that access to a gun is more of a benefit than a risk. And until the gun-control movement tries to figure out why gun owners believe they are safer with their guns than without, how do you ever come up with a valid narrative to convince these gun owners that more, not less gun control should be the order of the day? You don’t and you can’t.
I happen to like John’s research for two reasons. First, his book, More Guns, Less Crime, is published by The University of Chicago Press. I also happen to be a Chicago Press author, and this premier academic publishing house isn’t in the habit of publishing junk. Much of the so-called academic criticisms of John’s work are the product of individuals who have absolutely no academic credentials or training at all. They use John as a whipping-boy to generate more financial support for organizations that promote gun control. Good for them.
As to the research itself that underlies John’s work, it happens to be another contribution to what has been a cottage industry in academic life, seeking to explain the extraordinary decline in violent crime that began in the early 1990’s and notwithstanding a recent upsurge, continues to this day. The rate of reported violent crime in 1991 was 716. In 2016, it was 366.
How and why did this country become a much safer place over the last three decades? One argument is that it’s the result of locking up more bad guys for longer periods of time. Then there’s the argument about better policing of criminal ‘hot spots,’ the use of computer technologies and all that. And let’s not forget what has to be the single most stupid, racist piece of nonsense ever published in any branch of the social sciences, namely the argument linking crime decline to abortion access in the ghetto – the idea being that less children are born into desperate circumstances and hence they commit fewer crimes.
What John found was that violent crime began to drop in many jurisdictions at roughly the same time that these jurisdictions began issuing licenses to carry concealed guns. The tricky part, of course, is to make a cause-and-effect argument between any two trends. And here is where John’s work has been criticized, sometimes valid criticisms, sometimes not.
Want to blame John Lott as the reason why so many Americans own guns? Want to blame John Lott for the extraordinary spike in gun sales which accompanied the emergence and spread of Covid-19? You go right ahead. But I notice, incidentally, that handgun sales in October were 30% less than June sales, even though the virus has been expanding exponentially over the last couple of months.
I was really pleased to see how quickly and effectively the gun-control movement joined up with the Biden campaign. Brady, Everytown, Moms and everyone else did what needed to be done. Now Gun-control Nation can get back to business as usual, which means chasing around after John Lott, which is much more fun than trying to figure out why there are so many gun nuts like me.