Stuart Benjamin writes:

[John Lott’s] core thesis, though, was called into doubt by a number of researchers, most prominently in a study (and reply, both complete with data sets) written by Ian Ayres and John Donohue, two top empirical economists. They concluded that the data did not support Lott’s assertions regarding right-to-carry laws and crime. Lott helped to write and then withdrew his name from a response to Ayres and Donohue. He responded in other venues to them, but did not respond to some of their key assertions.

Perhaps he was waiting/hoping for vindication from the closest thing to a gold standard in academic review — a report on the issue from the National Research Council. That report has been years in the making, and features some of the top researchers in the country. Well, the report has been issued, it contains bad news for Lott: It concludes that “There is no credible evidence that ‘right-to-carry’ laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.” They discuss Lott’s research at some length and find it wanting. Note that they do not say that right-to-carry laws increase crime. That may be a silver lining for those opposed to gun control who believe that in the absence of evidence of a benefit states should allow people to carry guns, but it doesn’t help Lott very much: He staked his reputation on his claim that the data showed a decrease. So much for his reputation.

Ralph Luker writes

the NRC’s report has been released and it is unfavorable to Lott. It remains to be seen whether the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society will withdraw their sponsorship of his work. Lott’s liberal critics have quietly allowed due processes to work in his case. There’s been little of the hue and cry that attended the firing of Michael Bellesiles from the Emory University faculty.

No response from Lott yet. I predict:

  1. He will accuse the panel of being biased against guns. Oh wait, he already has, calling it “stacked”. Note that he wrote this after a disastrous presentation to the panel in 2002, where the results he presented were the product of coding errors. (A different set of coding errors than the ones that produced his results in the 2003 Stanford Law Review paper, if you are trying to keep track.)
  2. He will produce a blizzard of new regressions and models, all of them somehow showing that carry laws reduce crime. Later, more errors will be found in his data and models.


  1. #1 ChrisPer
    December 20, 2004

    Eugene Volokh links to your work on Lott.

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    December 20, 2004

    No, that was Stuart Benjamin.

  3. #3 CW
    December 20, 2004

    What is being said about the NRC report is very deceptive.

    It is true that concealed carry doesn’t affect the OVERALL rates of violent crime – but it greatly reduces rates of GUN-RELATED crime.

    Where there is concealed carry, people simply use guns to commit crime much less often. But unarmed violence increases to make up the difference.

    But unarmed violence is a lot less lethal. Everyone can make up their own minds about whether they would rather have an increased rate of unarmed violence in exchange for a decrease in lethal gun violence.

    And rates of crime against people who are legally carrying concealed weapons approaches zero.

  4. #4 Tim Lambert
    December 20, 2004

    CW, there is absolutely no evidence for your claim.

  5. #5 ChrisPer
    December 21, 2004

    DAMN! Tim does it ever get up your nose having people around you being wrong so much???

  6. #6 Carl Jarrett
    December 22, 2004

    Someone posted the NAS press release on TPG. One of the regulars responds with -“Make me tingly all over when Professor Lott’s work gets so far under their
    skin, they dismiss it without reference.”

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