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:
- 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.)
- 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.