America Is Going All Out To Help John Lott Conduct His Gun Research.

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.

John Lott

John Lott

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.

 

Advertisements

Want To Read ‘Quality Research’ About Guns? This Isn’t It.

John Lott is the former researcher and now full-time NRA flack who’s been tirelessly promoting the notion that the best way to fight crime is to give everyone a gun.  Now he’s founded an organization called the Crime Prevention Research Center which will replace what he calls “poorly done and misleading public health studies”  with academic “quality research” on the relationship of laws regulating the ownership or use of guns, crime and public safety.”

John Lott

John Lott

Now I’m all for quality research and and even though Lott’s been publicly accused by other scholars of inventing data, I’ve decided to take him seriously and, over the next several weeks, will examine some of his work from a serious and non-polemical point of view.  The first piece is an article he co-authored in 2000 which claims to find a positive correlation between issuance of concealed-carry permits and a decline in multiple shootings.  This has become a big part of the NRA public-relations arsenal since Sandy Hook, and Lott has been featured on all kinds of media shows promoting the dual notions of getting rid of gun-free zones (like schools) and widening concealed-carry rules so that virtually anyone can carry a gun anywhere they want.

Lott’s article on multiple shootings covers 1977 to 1997, during which time he claims to have information on 566 shooting incidents resulting in 1,421 injuries and 931 deaths.  Lott defines multiple shootings as shootings in which two or more people were killed or injured, and he restricts his analysis to “public places” although he never defines what the word ‘public’ actually means. Of the total homicides that occurred during this period, 82% took place in the 20 states (and DC) which did not issue concealed-carry permits prior to 1997, with only 18% of multiple gun homicide deaths occurring in the 31 states that did.  To bolster his argument about the value of CCW to mitigate multiple gun shootings, Lott then attaches a plethora of statistical data correlating multiple shooting with just about every other socio-economic factor that could be related to crime (unemployment, crime rates, incarcerations, etc.) and finds that no other factor explains the discrepancy in multiple shootings as well as citizens walking around with guns.

The data is breathtaking, the statistical analysis is dazzling, but Lott’s comparison of multiple shootings between CCW and non-CCW states is misleading and simply wrong.  Why?  Because of the 31 states that comprise his CCW sample between 1977 and 1997, 14 states (AZ, CT, ID, NH, ND, ME, MT, NV, OR, SD, UT, VT, WA, WY,) had minimal gun homicide rates before, during and after the period he studied, which makes any comparison between those states and the non-CCW states hazardous at best.  The national gun homicide rate in 1977 was 6.6 per 100,000, the rate in New Hampshire, for example. was 2.3 and the rate in North Dakota was .68.  How do you compare numbers from those states to such high-homicide and non-CCW states like California, Maryland and New York?  You don’t.

But if you’re John Lott you do, and the reason you do is because it’s not scholarly research that you’re trying to advance. It’s a political agenda that promotes the ‘armed citizen’ as a replacement for government authority because government, particularly a government headed by an anti-gun President, just doesn’t work.  I’m going to keep track of the Crime Prevention Research Center’s efforts to refute “misleading public health studies” and if they publish anything that’s as shabby as this article, I’ll be sure to let you know.