98%, 95%, 90% …

Lott has a piece in the Los Angeles Times, which Elton Beard summarizes here.

To me, the most interesting thing Lott writes is this:

But the more than 2 million times each year that Americans use guns defensively are never discussed. In more than 90% of those cases, simply brandishing a weapon is sufficient to cause a criminal to break off an attack.

After claiming on dozens and dozens of occasions that brandishing was sufficient 98% of the time, and finally reducing the number to 95% in April, Lott has now reduced his number to 90%. If he keeps on reducing it like this he may eventually end up with a number like that found by competent surveyors. So why did he reduce the number? It’s possible that he finally noticed that his 2002 survey does not yield 95% he claims. Of course, he’s unlikely to ever admit that there was anything wrong with the his previous 98% and 95% claims so we may never know the reason. And while the 2002 survey does find about 90% brandishing, the sample size is too small for a statistically reliable estimate.

Lott also writes:

Examining all the multiple-victim public shootings in the United States from 1977 to 1999 shows that on average, states that adopt right-to-carry laws experience a 60% drop in the rates at which the attacks occur, and a 78% drop in the rates at which people are killed or injured from such attacks.

Lott is well aware of the paper by Duwe, Kovandzic and Moody that found carry laws had no significant effect on mass public shootings, but he won’t even acknowledge the existence of their paper. Not to mention the other problems with his claims pointed out by Donohue and by me.

Lott continues:

To the extent such attacks still occurred in right-to-carry states, they overwhelmingly take place in so-called “gun-free zones.” Indeed, the attack last week in Meridian, Miss., in which five people were killed took place in a Lockheed Martin plant where employees were forbidden to have guns.

Last Friday I wrote:

Whenever a major public shooting occurs, Lott writes an op-ed claiming that concealed-carry laws would largely eliminate them. He never mentions the problems with his data or the contrary research. No doubt he is working on one now in response to the Lockheed shootings. This one occurred in a concealed-carry state, but I imagine he’ll be able to come up with something.

Was I right, or was I right?

Lott continues:

My research also shows that citizens with guns helped stop about a third of the post-1997 public school shootings, stepping in before uniformed police could arrive.

Why does Lott specify uniformed police here? Well, the armed students in the Appalachian Law School shootings were off-duty police. And Lott does not mention that that shooting actually stopped because the shooter was out of ammunition. Nor does he mention that most witnesses said that the shooter put his gun down before the armed police arrived.

Lott also claims:

Annual surveys of crime victims in the United States by the Justice Department show that when confronted by a criminal, people are safest if they have a gun.

No, they don’t show that at all.


  1. #1 Carl Jarrett
    July 14, 2003

    In the LA Times article, Lott states: “Not one segment featured a civilian using a gun to stop a crime”

    This is a shift from his earlier claim: “During that whole year there was not one single mention of people using their guns defensively”

    Typical Lott. When confronted with an error, change the assertion and don’t admit the error.

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    July 14, 2003

    Note also that Tracy Bridges, one of the “citizens with guns” included in Lott’s previous sentence was on NBC’s “Today Show” talking about how he used a gun, but doesn’t get counted because he isn’t a civilian.

  3. #3 Slattont
    July 14, 2003

    By definition, if I use my handgun to deter a possible criminal action. I am not going to tell anyone.

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