John Lott in the Australian

The editorial in the Australian today stated:

With memories of the 35 killed at Port Arthur still raw, many Australians would be shocked to learn that the gun lobby in the US pounced on the Virginia Tech massacre to call for extending the right of citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Not those who get the Australian, because today they also printed an op-ed by John Lott calling for just that.

Lott writes:

Bill Landes of the University of Chicago law school and I examined multiple-victim public shootings in the US from 1977 to 1999 and found that when states passed right-to-carry laws, the rate of multiple-victim public shootings fell by 60 per cent. Deaths and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings fell even further, on average by 78 per cent, as the remaining incidents tended to involve fewer victims per attack.

Lott doesn’t tell you that he was unable to get this research pass peer review into a journal. He doesn’t tell you that a peer-reviewed paper by Duwe, Kovandzic and Moody in Homicide Studies 2002 6:4 analyzed the same data and found:

Right-to-carry (RTC) laws mandate that concealed weapon permits be granted to qualified applicants. Such laws could reduce the number of mass public shootings as prospective shooters consider the possibility of encountering armed civilians. However, these laws might increase the number of shootings by making it easier for prospective shooters to acquire guns. We evaluate 25 RTC laws using state panel data for 1977 through 1999. We estimate numerous Poisson and negative binomial models and find virtually no support for the hypothesis that the laws increase or reduce the number of mass public shootings.

You might think that “virtually no support for the hypothesis that the laws increase or reduce the number of mass public shootings” was a substantially different result from Lott’s claimed reduction of 60 per cent, but not according to Lott who claimed that Duwe “gets the same results I do”.

Lott repeats his discredited claim that

While right-to-carry laws – now operating in 40 states – do reduce violent crime generally,

However, when the National Academy of Sciences assessed all the evidence they concluded:

There is no credible evidence that “right-to-carry” laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.

Lott also claims:

Annual surveys of crime victims in America by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics continually show that, when confronted by a criminal, people are safest if they have a gun.

No, the surveys don’t show that at all.

Comments

  1. #1 El Cid
    April 19, 2007

    I don’t see why this is a debate. There are all sorts of right wing private schools and companies and think tanks out there.

    They should just volunteer to carry out this social experiment and have everyone carry loaded concealed handguns on the premises at all times.

    Then there can be some actual experimental data.

  2. #2 Mary Rosh
    April 19, 2007

    I’d go Waltzing Matilda with John anyday!

  3. #3 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    It’s all about journalistic balance, like when you do an editorial on child abuse and invite NAMBLA to provide a rebuttal.

  4. #4 z
    April 19, 2007

    If one guy carrying a couple of legal guns can cause chaos and death, what could be wrong with letting everyone carry them?

  5. #5 ben
    April 19, 2007

    If one guy driving a car can cause chaos and death, what could be wrong with letting everyone drive them?

    Lott’s a dip, but you quoted the researchers postulating that “…these laws might increase the number of shootings by making it easier for prospective shooters to acquire guns.”

    That is singularly retarded since “these laws” have nothing to do with acquisition. A ridiculous statement like that makes me leery of the rest of their work.

    It’s all about journalistic balance, like when you do an editorial on child abuse and invite NAMBLA to provide a rebuttal.

    Not exactly, Ian. Lott is not in favor of mass killings, and neither is he a mass killer.

  6. #6 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    True. substitute “child pornographer” for “NAMBLA”.

  7. #7 Rupert Murdoch's amanuensis
    April 19, 2007

    The Australian is one of the finest journals of record on the planet, publishing only the soundest of opinions.

  8. #8 SG
    April 19, 2007

    Okay Ben, I`ll fall for your non-sequitur. Can you explain how these laws have “nothing to do with acquisition”? Don`t they “mandate that concealed weapon permits be granted to qualified applicants”? And isn`t a license a pre-requisite for owning a gun?

  9. #9 J
    April 19, 2007

    I assume that what Ben was trying to indicate was that carry permits are unrelated to firearm acquisition. The permit affords only one right to the user – the right to carry a firearm in public locations (albeit this is generally restricted in order to exclude certain areas including schools, government buildings, etc.). The permit is not required for the acquisition of a firearm which is generally regulated through separate local and national legislative means (e.g. waiting periods, local and national crime database checks, and background checks for the last N years of your life). In some states the permit can simplify the requirements for purchasing a firearm, but this is generally at the expense of submitting to further investigative checks which can be run at any time and as often as desired at the pleasure of the issuing authority (e.g. the local police department or the county sheriff) while the permit is in effect.

    In summary, the shall-issue carry laws do no affect who acquires a firearm — only who has a firearm on or about their person legally in public… I would hope that it would be readily apparent that someone planning a mass murder would not likely waste the time and money garnering a carry permit in order to legally transport their firearm(s) to the seen of an illegal activity. Unless of course, we are discussing a very fastidious mass murderer who is very particular in obeying the laws… ;)

  10. #10 SG
    April 20, 2007

    So it`s one of Ben`s libertarian laws … 2 permits instead of one, so you can carry a completely pointless device in public?

    The argument in any case seems a little picky to me. The fastidious mass murderer with such a license will be able to carry their gun to the scene of the crime knowing that if they were challenged by police on the way they were safe from impediment. Which, I suppose, would be why this Cho bloke had a legally acquired gun…?

  11. #11 Thom
    April 20, 2007

    For those of us not from Australia, could you please explain what the Australian is? It appears to be one of those right-wing hack papers like Canada’s National Post. Is that the case?

    And is it a newspaper, or more like a tabloid with lots of hyped headlines and stuff about celebrities?

  12. #12 SG
    April 20, 2007

    It`s our only “national” newspaper, it`s owned by Murdoch and is ferociously right wing. Paul Kelly (I think that was his name), the political editor, travelled the country in 2003 calling anyone who opposed the Iraq war a cowardly appeaser. The newspaper was still referring to Aborigines as “blacks” in 1998.

    You`d be hard pressed to find a broadsheet newspaper in Australia that didn`t behave like a tabloid, and the Australian is just such a newspaper. Lots of pretense of intellectual gravitas, and lots of incredulous regurgitation of right wing talking points, disguised as “opinion”. Which I suppose makes it similar to most of the “serious” newspapers in the US?

  13. #13 SG
    April 20, 2007

    While I think about it Ben, wouldn`t one of these concealed carry permits have been very useful for this Cho chap? He shot two people and then spent 2 hours wandering around muttering to himself. Presumably during that time the police were searching for the murderer (though maybe this point is in dispute). Had they stopped him, in any other country in the world he would have been an immediate suspect – armed with two pistols! But had he one of these special permits, he could wave it around and say “normal person! Completely normal!”

    Particularly if others on campus could also have been expected to have similar permits, the police would not have had particular reason to investigate further, and unless you would like to see a country where everyone with a gun is rounded up on suspicion of having been or about to be involved in a gun-related murder, he would have been allowed about his business.

    Whereas, had he been living in a country where such weapons and permits are considered monstrous, the police would immediately have had him on a) possessing an illegal firearm and b) obviously being the murderer.

  14. #14 ben
    April 20, 2007

    And isn`t a license a pre-requisite for owning a gun?

    Depends on the state. In the vast majority of states, excluding, for example, the non-superliberal ones like Mass, NJ, NY, CA and IL, there is ZERO LICENSING AND REGISTRATION OF GUN OWNERSHIP. In my state of Washington, I can go out the door, meet a fellow selling a gun and buy it on the spot, no paperwork, no nothing. I’ve bought and sold a couple weapons that way. I always check that they are Washington State residents, and I ask them to verify that they are not felons or otherwise prohibited from owning a gun. If they are lying, they are breaking the law. To be honest, I wish the state/feds provided me a way of performing a background check, but they won’t let us unless we are dealers.

    I can also sell a rifle or shotgun (not a pistol) in state, and then send it to the purchaser by mail directly. Pistols and all out of state transactions must go through a federally licensed dealer.

    Further, there is ZERO licensing of gun transportation, provided the gun is unloaded and in an secure opaque case. In many states open carry is unregulated, and in two states, two of the very lowest crime states, open and concealed carry are entirely unregulated: Vermont and Alaska. None of this bulls**t like they have in Canada where I need twelve permits to even think about transporting my guns.

    In any case, the weapons permit does nothing in Cho’s case. It’s a permit to carry a CONCEALED WEAPON. Concealed means nobody else can see it, since it is CONCEALED from view. Without the permit, it just means that he’s committing another crime by unlawfully concealing his pistols.

    If the police suspect that I’m carrying a gun, and there has just been a murder, they can still stop me if they have any reason to think that I might have been involved, permit or no. They can take my weapon, until I’m otherwise cleared of wrongdoing, etc. The permit is not a get out of jail free card, although it is true that on average, permit holders are substantially less likely to commit a crime than non-permit holders, if that is the only distinction used.

  15. #15 SG
    April 20, 2007

    So Ben, you think that in the situation where everyone on campus is armed and carrying a concealed carry permit, the police should have held everyone on suspicion that they committed the murder? Your libertarian views get weirder every day. Wouldn`t it be the case that without a prior suspicion of this chap`s involvement (i.e. witnesses) in the murder, the police would just let him go about his law abiding business of wandering around muttering to himself and polishing his pistol (as it were)? After all, he has a warrant to carry the thing, right? Imagine the fury the NRA would kick up if every law-abiding gun owner had been impounded for the morning just because two unarmed students were murdered in their dorm!

  16. #16 Kilo
    April 20, 2007

    Okay Ben, Ill fall for your non-sequitur. Can you explain how these laws have “nothing to do with acquisition”? Dont they “mandate that concealed weapon permits be granted to qualified applicants”? And isn`t a license a pre-requisite for owning a gun?
    Posted by: SG | April 19, 2007 10:39 PM

    1. They have nothing to do with acquistion because they don’t relate to acquisition. If your state passes this law it’s not as though they tell you you’ve got 30 days to buy a gun and stuff it in your jocks or you get fined.

    2. No, a licence isn’t necessarily required for purchasing a gun (unless you mean drivers licence), which varies depending on where you live.

  17. #17 Kilo
    April 20, 2007

    The argument in any case seems a little picky to me. The fastidious mass murderer with such a license will be able to carry their gun to the scene of the crime knowing that if they were challenged by police on the way they were safe from impediment. Which, I suppose, would be why this Cho bloke had a legally acquired gun…?
    Posted by: SG | April 20, 2007 12:11 AM

    Why do you suppose that ?
    In VA, “a legally acquired gun” means you paid for it rather than stole it.
    Wouldn’t the more logical reasoning be that the reason he paid for the gun rather than stole it is that he could afford to and didn’t want to risk getting shot by the gun shop owner for no apparent reason.

  18. #18 SG
    April 20, 2007

    Kilo, by “legally acquired”, I didn`t mean “not stolen”, just that he presented whatever license was required in VA for whatever gun he purchased. Thus he avoided the risk of a small amount of legal trouble interfering with his grand plan.

    Or, more likely, he didn`t have a grand plan when he bought the guns, presenting whatever license was required. He was just another dweeb with a penis extender. And there he sat, muttering to himself and polishing his pistol, getting angrier and angrier with those guns in the cupboard where he could just reach out and decide to use them.

  19. #19 ben
    April 20, 2007

    SG, the exact same lines of argument relate to cars as guns, and folks have been known to go on hit and run rampages. What do you intend to do about that?

  20. #20 jre
    April 20, 2007

    If cars were really as dangerous as Ben says, wouldn’t we be required to register them in some fashion?

  21. #21 ben
    April 20, 2007

    1. yes, yes, we register cars. What difference does that make, exactly? I’d say none.

    2. Show me where in the Constitution it reads “…the right to keep and drive cars shall not be infringed.”

  22. #22 SG
    April 21, 2007

    Ben, there’s only one way you can use a gun to go shopping. There are two ways you can use a car.

    The car-registration/gun-registration arguments are just stupid.

  23. #23 J
    April 21, 2007

    Arguing that there is only one use for a firearm is a bad approach. The same argument could applied to many other objects used in daily life. For example, if it’s sunny in the morning odds are you won’t need an umbrella that day, but if the need ever arises, you’ll probably wish you had it.

    As for the comparison between car and gun registration, it is quite apt. The problem lies in the fact that they are really not in the same league in terms of injury rates. In the United States motor vehicles are about 60 times more likely to injure someone than a firearm (National Safety Council). A better comparison would be with furniture, since it has about the same rate of injury as a firearm. Of course, if someone requested that you register your sofa in case someone was later injured “by” it they would probably give you a strange look.

  24. #24 Kilo
    April 22, 2007

    Posted by: SG | April 20, 2007 05:47 AM

    SG, what you wrote is still visible on this page and therefore remains quite clear.

    You weren’t making any nuanced suppositions about how he acquired these weapons.

    You were suggesting that concealed carry laws would assist such offenders by providing them legal cover for carrying guns on their way to a killing spree.

  25. #25 Carleton Wu
    April 24, 2007

    J,
    The problem lies in the fact that they are really not in the same league in terms of injury rates. In the United States motor vehicles are about 60 times more likely to injure someone than a firearm

    Yes, and riding motorcycles is much less dangerous than driving cars (1992: 1 in 84 deaths via car, 1 in 1020 via motorcycle).
    Dogs killed 25 Americans in 1995, Siberian Tigers killed zero. Conclusion: Tigers are much safer, and any regulation of tigers than is more stringent than that of dogs is nonsensical.

    Or, not wait, that doesn’t make a lick of sense in the real word, does it?
    Moral of the story: think for just *two* *seconds* before regurgitating spin. Less embarrassing for you, less time wasted for everyone.

  26. #26 Carleton Wu
    April 24, 2007

    Show me where in the Constitution it reads “…the right to keep and drive cars shall not be infringed.”

    Please, stick to one thought at a time. Right now, the thought is ‘do RTC laws decrease mass public attacks’. Or maybe the same for concealed-carry.
    Throwing Constitutional questions into the mix isn’t going to help resolve that question, it just makes things more confused.

    Sometimes, it’s like pushing a button; rather than carrying on a conversation, so many people just give their programmed response to stimuli and call it ‘debate’.

  27. #27 jre
    April 24, 2007

    Granted, the whole cars / guns thing does tend to muddy the waters, especially when you follow “Cars are dangerous, too!” with “Cars aren’t constitutionally protected!”
    The first argument is perhaps the very silliest in the gun-rights rhetorical armamentarium.[1]
    It continues to amaze me that any thinking adult can say with a straight face that “Guns aren’t any more dangerous than [cars | baseball bats | hammers]; why don’t we [regulate | register | confiscate] those? Huh?”

    Bullshit.

    Guns are weapons. They are useful precisely because, and insofar as, they are dangerous. I can’t think of any reason why Ben or anyone else would want a gun that was not dangerous. It is astonishing that gun-rights advocates point to the incidental dangerousness of [cars | baseball bats | hammers], compare that to the inherent and purposeful dangerousness of guns, then conclude that the same rules should apply to both. It’s a ridiculous argument, and it is made by that group of people who know best just how ridiculous it is. Ben knows, as all who are passionate about gun rights know, that guns are unlike everything else. A gun is useful for self-defense exactly and only because it presents a credible, deadly threat — unlike the threat posed by, say, a machete — to those who would do you harm. There is no other readily available implement that will allow a person of no great strength or skill to kill a large number of other people rapidly at a distance. Like it or not, guns and cars are not alike. The rhetorical contortions some folks go through to make that case leaves them in some awkward positions. Save yourself the strain; it’s not your best argument.

    [1] I’ll cheerfully add that there is plenty of silliness to go around on the pro-gun-regulation side, too. Goofiest in my view is the claim that the Second Amendment, unlike the other nine, guarantees no individual rights. Pbbbffft.

  28. #28 Robert S.
    April 25, 2007

    So if both Duwe, Kovandzic and Moody and the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that “right-to-carry” laws neither decrease or increase violent crime, I’d tend to believe that. But it’s not anything anyone can prove or has proven. But it’s probably true.

    Given that, the argument for or against right to carry seems moot.

    As far as Virginia, other than where you can’t, you can just go around with one in your hand and it’s legal. So that pretty much makes the argument of RTC in this case even more moot (although of course there are other factors).

    The point of that is that in the school there were no law-abiding people with guns. That’s usally generally the case, right? Where they’re prohibited, law abiding people don’t have one.

    Would it have been stopped if they had? Lott would probably think so. Kleck didn’t think so. Business as usual, right? We don’t know so we guess based upon our appraisal of the situation and/or data.