If you have followed my blog you no doubt have seen mention more than once of John Lott. He’s the NRA acolyte whose book, More Guns, Less Crime makes the argument for armed citizens based on the alleged link between issuance of CCW and decline of crime. And even though his research is often based on rather dubious assumptions, never mind occasional disappearances of the data, he still appears with regularity on Fox and other news outlets that shape their content to a conservative point of view.
Now Lott has taken his research to a new level and started a think tank called the Crime Prevention Research Center that will “conduct academic research to prove that guns protect citizens and reduce crime.” And to get the whole thing started, he’s put together a fundraising campaign with $300,000 as the initial goal. According to Lott, the purpose of the Research Center is to provide “honest, accurate, academic quality analysis of the issues” to counteract the “flawed” public health research promoted by Obama, Bloomberg and the rest of the liberal, anti-gun gang.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of honest, academic research regardless of whether I agree with the conclusions or not. And while I have often publicized public health research on gun violence that represents what I believe to be a valid contribution to the field, I also have no trouble raising doubts and voicing concerns when a piece of public health research on guns might perhaps need to be re-thought.
But where I draw the line is when someone claims they are going to do research on an issue for which they have already figured out the end result. And if the point of John Lott’s new Research Center is to come up with information that shows that he’s correct and the public health cabal is wrong on the issue of whether armed citizens protect us against crime, then he’s not doing research at all. He’s just doing what he’s always done; peddled ideas that appear to have an academic pedigree when, in fact, there’s nothing academic about them at all. Lott’s not a researcher, he’s an advocate, and while there’s nothing wrong with wearing first one hat and then the other, he should at least be honest enough not to pretend that you can fit both hats on your head at the same time.
The good news is that Lott’s attempt to make people believe that he can really put together a “think” tank even though he’s going to be promoting, not researching, doesn’t seem to be working out very well. Back on April 21 he started his fundraising campaign on a public fundraising site, indiegogo.com, with an announced goal of $300,000 to be raised by June 10. To date this national campaign has raised slightly over $30,000 which, at that rate he’ll hit about forty grand by the time the campaign is done.
And don’t think that an indiegogo fundraising campaign can’t tap into serious money if your idea is what people really want to support. There’s a company out there called Solar Roadways that is developing a solar panel that can be used to pave roads and parking lots while, at the same time, absorbing sunlight and generating power. They set a 30-day, million-dollar goal and with three days left have raised more than $1,500,000. Or if you want to be a little more idealistic, you can donate money to a family that is buying a farm where people can visit and play around with the pet – pigs! Esther The Wonder Pig campaign has raised over $150,000 in less than 30 days.
Lott’s been around for years, he’s promoted himself tirelessly and endlessly on Fox and with the NRA. But you know what? When a sadly-depressed kid can get his hands on some high-powered pistols and go around shooting up a lovely town because he couldn’t get a date for the prom, no amount of snide comments about Obama’s gun-grabbing agenda is going to help us figure out what to do. And while it doesn’t cost anything to add your two cents in a comment on John Lott’s (or my) blog, plunking down real cash just to hear the same half-baked opinions that you’ve heard for years doesn’t make any sense. Even if you agree with the opinions.