The recent letter by Stanford law professor John Donohue (June 7) nicely illustrates the propensity of gun-control advocates to play games with statistics and to engage in ad hominem attacks. In this case, Professor Donohue unfairly attacks economist John Lott, whose research has helped dispel the myths about guns that anti-gun fanatics continue to propagate.
Apparently Mayer is unaware what an ad hominem argument is. Attacking Lott because he impersonated a 115 pound woman on the net would be an ad hominem argument, but Donohue does not do this. Nor are Donohue's attacks unfair. Lott's data contains coding errors and Lott continues to refuse to admit this.
Professor Donohue's own study, which purports to show an increase in crime after concealed-carry laws are enacted, is itself "fatally flawed," to use his own terminology. John Lott's new book, The Bias Against Guns, on pages 235-39 discusses the problems with the way Donohue and his co-author, Ian Ayres, have manipulated the statistics. As Lott shows, even Donohue's and Ayres' own results show that violent crime rates fall after right-to-carry laws are adopted.
As I pointed out earlier, Lott has just cherry-picked one result from their paper and pretended that that is Ayres and Donohue's entire argument. It seems that Mayer has not even read their paper. And Lott's graphs on pages 235-39 are incorrect, since they are based on the miscoded data.
One point that I would add is that while Ayres and Donohue have now written several pieces between them on right-to-carry laws, none of their papers have appeared in refereed journals.
Now, Lott is well aware of
Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue III
Nondiscretionary Concealed Weapons Laws: A Case Study of Statistics, Standards of Proof and Public Policy,
1 American Law and Economics Review 436 (1999)
From the web site of the American Law and Economics Review:
The Review is a refereed journal, published twice a year.