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MARCH 25, 2003
2:39 PM
CONTACT: Mark Karlin and Scott Vogel 
New Study Shoots Down 'More Guns Less Crime' Myth;
Findings of Pro-Gun Researcher John Lott Assailed
CHICAGO - March 25 - A study included in a just-released book debunks the claim by leading pro-gun researcher John Lott that allowing Americans to carry concealed handguns leads to less crime.

The book "Evaluating Gun Policy," published by the Brookings Institution Press, includes research by Professor John Donohue Ph.D., J.D., Stanford University Law School, and Professor Ian Ayres Ph.D., J.D., Yale Law School, that concludes Carry Concealed Weapons (CCW) laws do not decrease crime; they may, in fact, have just the opposite effect.

John Lott wrote the 1998 book "More Guns, Less Crime," which is championed by the gun lobby as a major research work that proves CCW laws reduce crime. Lott's scholarship -- including "More Guns, Less Crime" -- and actions, however, have recently come under attack on a variety of fronts.

For instance, John Lott, who is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has come under fire for pretending to be a woman over the Internet (using the name "Mary Rosh") to defend himself against his critics. "Mary Rosh" claimed to be a student of John Lott's and praised his research. In addition, several academicians are seeking answers from John Lott about questions involving a telephone survey Lott claims to have done for "More Guns, Less Crime." Lott can't produce evidence the phone survey took place, claiming that his computer crashed.

John Donohue called Lott's conclusions -- that citizens carrying loaded handguns in public helps to reduce crime -- "deeply flawed" and "misguided." Donahue states in the Brookings Institution Press book that data suggests that, in fact, crime may increase when CCW laws are implemented.

Lott's study has been widely cited by gun advocates as justification for passing CCW laws that require states to issue handgun-carrying permits to citizens who meet minimum requirements (shall-issue laws).

Lott claimed that the 10 states that enacted shall-issue laws between 1985 and 1991 experienced declines in murder and other violent crimes relative to the crime trends observed in other states that did not pass shall-issue laws. In contrast, Donohue contends that the 13 states that enacted shall-issue laws after 1992 experienced relative increases in crime.

"The evidence is stronger that passing shall-issue concealed weapons laws are increasing crime, rather than decreasing crime, " said John Donohue Ph.D., J.D. "I don't see any strong data that shall-issue laws are decreasing crime."

The challenge to Lott's scholarship is similar to that faced by former Emory University Professor Michael Bellesiles. His book, "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun-Culture in 2000, was almost immediately attacked when it was published. Eventually, Emory University formally investigated the issue and found that Bellesiles had misled critics and falsified data. Michael Bellesiles resigned during the investigation. Thus far, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, has not yet commented on the accusations made against Lott.

Lott most recently authored "The Bias Against Guns," released by Regnery, a conservative publishing house.

Information on "Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence" can be found at:


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