More Guns, Less Crime

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pages: 456 words: 185,658

More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws by John R. Lott

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affirmative action, Columbine, crack epidemic, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, gun show loophole, income per capita, More Guns, Less Crime, selection bias, statistical model, the medium is the message, transaction costs

More Guns, Less Crime MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME UNDERSTANDING CRIME AND GUN-CONTROL LAWS THIRD EDITION JOHN R. LOTT, JR. THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS CHICAGO AND LONDON John R. Lott, Jr., is the author of five books, including Freedomnomics and Are Predatory Commitments Credible? Who Should the Courts Believe? The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London © 1998, 2000, 2010 by The University of Chicago All rights reserved. Published 2010 Printed in the United States of America 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 1 2 3 4 5 ISBN-13: 978-0-226- 49366-4 (paper) ISBN-10: 0-226-49366-0 (paper) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Lott, John R. More guns, less crime : understanding crime and gun-control laws / John R. Lott, Jr.—3rd ed. p. cm.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University working paper, November 19, 1999. Shughart, William F., II. “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws: Review.” Southern Economic Journal 65, no. 4 (Apr. 1, 1999): 978–81. Slobogin, Christopher. “Why Liberals Should Chuck the Exclusionary Rule.” University of Illinois Law Review 99 (1999): 363–446. Squires, Peter. “Review of More Guns, Less Crime.” British Journal of Criminology 39, no. 2 (Spring 1999): 318–20. U.S. General Accounting Office. “Accidental Shootings: Many Deaths and Injuries Caused by Firearms Could Be Prevented.” Washington, DC: U.S. General Accounting Office, Mar. 1991. SUPPLEMENTARY ENTRIES FOR THIRD EDITION Ayres, Ian, and John Donohue. “Shooting Down the ‘More Guns, Less Crime’ Hypothesis.” Stanford Law Review 55, no. 4 (2003): 1202–1309. Benson, B.

He also said that he thought that the quotes were being misused, and that he still stood by the blurb for my book—the blurb stating that my research represented “the most extensive, thorough, and sophisticated study we have on the effects of loosening gun control laws.” 7 Are the CBS and Voter News Service polls accurately reflecting how gun ownership rates vary across states? Douglas Weil: But the most important information is that the Voter News Service, which conducted the 1996 poll has said the poll cannot be used in the manner Dr. Lott used it. It cannot be used to say anything about gun ownership in any state, and it cannot be used to compare gun ownership to the earlier 1988 voter poll. (“More Guns, Less Crime? A Debate between John Lott, Author of More Guns, Less Crime, and Douglas Weil, Research Director of Handgun Control, Inc.,” an on-line debate sponsored by Time magazine, transcript from July 1, 1998) Statistics from the CBS and Voter News Service exit polls (discussed in chapters 3 and 5) were originally “weighted” by these organizations to reflect the share of different racial, sex, and age groups in the national population.


pages: 339 words: 95,988

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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airport security, Broken windows theory, crack epidemic, desegregation, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, mental accounting, moral hazard, More Guns, Less Crime, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, pets.com, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, school choice, sensible shoes, Steven Pinker, Ted Kaczynski, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty

. /121 John Lott’s right-to-carry theory: See John R. Lott Jr. and David Mustard, “Right-to-Carry Concealed Guns and the Importance of Deterrence,” Journal of Legal Studies 26 (January 1997), pp. 1–68; and John R. Lott Jr., More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). / 121 John Lott as Mary Rosh: See Julian Sanchez, “The Mystery of Mary Rosh,” Reason, May 2003; and Richard Morin, “Scholar Invents Fan to Answer His Critics,” Washington Post, February 1, 2003. / 121–22 Lott’s gun theory disproved: See Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue III, “Shooting Down the ‘More Guns, Less Crime’ Hypothesis,” Stanford Law Review 55 (2003), pp. 1193–1312; and Mark Duggan, “More Guns, More Crime,” Journal of Political Economy 109, no. 5 (2001), pp. 1086–1114. THE BURSTING OF THE CRACK BUBBLE: For a discussion of crack’s history and particulars, see Roland G.

The typical gun buyback program yields fewer than 1,000 guns—which translates into an expectation of less than one-tenth of one homicide per buyback. Not enough, that is, to make even a sliver of impact on the fall of crime. Then there is an opposite argument—that we need more guns on the street, but in the hands of the right people (like the high-school girl above, instead of her mugger). The economist John R. Lott Jr. is the main champion of this idea. His calling card is the book More Guns, Less Crime, in which he argues that violent crime has decreased in areas where law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry concealed weapons. His theory might be surprising, but it is sensible. If a criminal thinks his potential victim may be armed, he may be deterred from committing the crime. Handgun opponents call Lott a pro-gun ideologue, and Lott let himself become a lightning rod for gun controversy.

“You wouldn’t know that he was a ‘right-wing’ ideologue from the class….There were a group of us students who would try to take any class that he taught. Lott finally had to tell us that it was best for us to try and take classes from other professors more to be exposed to other ways of teaching graduate material.” Then there was the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented some of the survey data that support his more-guns/less-crime theory. Regardless of whether the data were faked, Lott’s admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn’t seem to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don’t bring down crime. Consider the next crime-drop explanation: the bursting of the crack bubble. Crack cocaine was such a potent, addictive drug that a hugely profitable market had been created practically overnight.


pages: 500 words: 145,005

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler

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3Com Palm IPO, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, impulse control, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, law of one price, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market clearing, Mason jar, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, More Guns, Less Crime, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, New Journalism, nudge unit, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, presumed consent, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

One of the unfortunate aspects of the University of Chicago at that time, one that is thankfully no longer the case, was that there was an undue tolerance for scholars who would spout the Chicago School traditional lines, loudly and frequently. One example was the economist John Lott, who had strung together a series of visiting appointments allowing him to be at the university for several years. Lott is most famous for writing a book entitled More Guns, Less Crime. As the title suggests, the thesis of the book is that if we just made sure every American was armed at all times, no one would dare commit a crime, a claim that other researchers have strongly disputed.§ Lott was a frequent attendee and active participant at workshops. His style resembled that of a pit bull. At this workshop, Lott was present and looking annoyed, so I hoped he was not packing a gun.

Chapter 26: Fruit Flies, Icebergs, and Negative Stock Prices 249 LTCM had collapsed: Lowenstein (2000). 249 in a paper they published on this topic: Shleifer and Vishny (1997). 250 an academic paper about the . . . episode: Lamont and Thaler (2003). 251 “we might define an efficient market”: Black (1986), p. 553. 252 “liar loans”: See Mian and Sufi (2014). Chapter 27: Law Schooling 258 The published version of the paper: Jolls, Sunstein, and Thaler (1998). 259 “Posner evidently writes”: Solow (2009). 262 “The Problem of Social Cost”: Coase (1960). 262 “This is, of course, a very unrealistic assumption”: Ibid., p. 15. 265 More Guns, Less Crime: Lott (1998). 268 In not a single case did the parties even attempt to negotiate: Farnsworth (1999). 269 Oxford Handbook of Behavioral Economics and the Law: Zamir and Teichman (2014). 269 “The battle . . . has been won”: Korobkin (2011). Chapter 28: The Offices 275 If there is a number, people will use it: Hsee et al. (2009). Chapter 29: Football 277 “Division of labor strongly attenuates”: Stewart (1997). 278 football paper: Massey and Thaler (2013). 280 The winner’s curse: For a review, see my “Anomalies” column on the subject (Thaler, 1988a). 280 The false consensus effect: Ross, Greene, and House (1977). 284 If a team is paying a high draft pick a lot of money: Camerer and Weber (1999). 292 teams don’t go for it: Romer (2006). 292 New York Times used his model: For an example of Brian Burke’s work, see http://www.advancedfootballanalytics.com/. 292 “New York Times 4th Down Bot”: The bot’s recommendations can be found at http://nyt4thdownbot.com/.

New York: Russell Sage Foundation. ———, and Drazen Prelec. 1992. “Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 107, no. 2: 573–597. Lohr, Steve. 1992. “Lessons From a Hurricane: It Pays Not to Gouge.” New York Times, September 22. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/22/business/lessons-from-a-hurricane-it-pays-not-to-gouge.html. Lott, John R. 1998. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lowenstein, Roger. 2000. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management. New York: Random House. ———. 2001. “Exuberance Is Rational.” New York Times Magazine, February 11. Available at: http://partners.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20010211 mag-econ.html. Machlup, Fritz. 1946. “Marginal Analysis and Empirical Research.”


pages: 377 words: 110,427

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz by Aaron Swartz, Lawrence Lessig

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affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, American Legislative Exchange Council, Benjamin Mako Hill, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brewster Kahle, Cass Sunstein, deliberate practice, Donald Knuth, Donald Trump, failed state, fear of failure, Firefox, full employment, Howard Zinn, index card, invisible hand, John Gruber, Lean Startup, More Guns, Less Crime, peer-to-peer, post scarcity, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, semantic web, single-payer health, SpamAssassin, SPARQL, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Toyota Production System, unbiased observer, wage slave, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, zero-sum game

This topic was chosen, Brock explains, because with “a squish like Bush in the White House . . . the political reality [was] that the conservative agenda could be best advanced by renegade conservatives on Capitol Hill” (79f). Needless to say, paying fresh-faced former college students lots of money to write articles that serve political needs is not the best way to get accurate information. But is accurate information the goal? Look at John Lott, a “resident scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute—the same right-wing think tank that promoted The Bell Curve. Lott’s book More Guns, Less Crime claimed that his scientific studies had found that passing laws to allow people to carry concealed weapons actually lowered crime rates. As usual, the evidence melted away upon investigation, but Lott’s errors were more serious than most. Not content to simply distort the data, Lott fabricated an entire study which he claimed showed that in 97% of cases, simply brandishing a gun would cause an attacker to flee.


pages: 436 words: 125,809

The Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey Into the World of Firearms by Iain Overton

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air freight, airport security, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Chelsea Manning, clean water, Columbine, David Attenborough, Etonian, Ferguson, Missouri, gender pay gap, gun show loophole, illegal immigration, interchangeable parts, Julian Assange, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, More Guns, Less Crime, offshore financial centre, Ronald Reagan, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

Six months on only 7,517 had watched it on the NRA official YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCFB0N_jzMk 41. http://www.gallup.com/poll/159578/nra-favorable-image.aspx 42. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/21/american-gun-out-control-porter 43. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jm2IBUZxZ0&index=7&list=PLyaSPxNidLLvIef8u5rR-6siU2Bs8csn0 44. http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/06/cpac-wayne-lapierres-speech/2/ 45. http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/fact-sheets/2013/more-guns-less-crime-2013.aspx 46. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/28/nra-war-on-america-wayne-lapierre-indianapolis 47. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/04/nra-meeting-lapierre-membership/2135063/; http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-industry-funds-nra-2013-1?IR=T 48. http://www.vpc.org/studies/bloodmoney2.pdf 49. http://www.campaign2unload.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Gun-Industry-Members.pdf 50.


pages: 558 words: 168,179

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, anti-communist, Bakken shale, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, centre right, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, corporate raider, crony capitalism, David Brooks, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, energy security, estate planning, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Gilder, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Mont Pelerin Society, More Guns, Less Crime, Nate Silver, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school choice, school vouchers, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, the scientific method, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, War on Poverty, working poor

Bush administration’s controversial “torture memo” legalizing the American government’s brutalization of terror suspects. Without the rigorous peer-reviewed standards required by prestigious academic publications, the Olin Foundation was able to inject into the mainstream a number of works whose scholarship was debatable at best. For example, Olin Foundation funds enabled John R. Lott Jr., then an Olin fellow at the University of Chicago, to write his influential book More Guns, Less Crime. In the work, Lott argued that more guns actually reduce crime and that the legalization of concealed weapons would make citizens safer. Politicians advocating weaker gun control laws frequently cited Lott’s findings. But according to Adam Winkler, the author of Gunfight, Lott’s scholarship was suspect. Winkler wrote that “Lott’s claimed source for this information was ‘national surveys,’ ” which under questioning he revised to just one survey that he and research assistants had conducted.


pages: 901 words: 234,905

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Defenestration of Prague, desegregation, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Hobbesian trap, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, long peace, meta analysis, meta-analysis, More Guns, Less Crime, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norman Mailer, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Potemkin village, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Bork, Rodney Brooks, Saturday Night Live, speech recognition, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the new new thing, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, ultimatum game, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

The Israelis and Swiss are armed to the teeth but have low rates of violent personal crime, and among American states, Maine and North Dakota have the lowest homicide rates but almost every home has a gun.25 The idea that guns increase lethal crime, though certainly plausible, has been so difficult to prove that in 1998 the legal scholar John Lott published a book of statistical analyses with a title that flaunts the opposite conclusion: More Guns, Less Crime. Even if he is wrong, as I suspect he is, it is not so easy to show that more guns mean more crime. As for discrimination and poverty, again it is hard to show a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Chinese immigrants to California in the nineteenth century and Japanese-Americans in World War II faced severe discrimination, but they did not react with high rates of violence. Women are poorer than men and are more likely to need money to feed children, but they are less likely to steal things by force.