Book Review: More Guns, Less Crime, 2nd Edition
Newest Lott Book Provides Solid Ammo for Gun Debate
Review by Dr. Joanne Eisen and Dr. Paul Gallant
More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws - Second Edition, by John R. Lott, Jr. Softcover; 321 pages, $12.
ISBN: 0226493644, University of Chicago Press, 2000, Chicago, IL 60637; Fax: (773) 702-9756. Online: www.press.uchicago.edu
"It is remarkable how little public discussion there has been on the topic of allowing people to defend themselves...when bad events happen with guns the question that is normally asked is: Are more gun controls needed? No one asks: Did banning guns from certain areas make the law-abiding citizens vulnerable?"
- Dr. John R. Lott, More Guns, Less Crime, Second Edition
Showing that something didn't happen is a tough act to pull off. But that's exactly the problem gunowners faced until the research of Dr. John Lott became available in August 1996.
Before Lott arrived on the scene, it was difficult for American gunowners to effectively counter the emotionally gut-wrenching picture of a child killed "with a gun".
All that irrevocably changed when Lott's research put numbers on the crimes that were NOT committed - and the lives saved - all because the perpetrator perceived that a would-be victim just might be armed.
Lott's findings became readily accessible to all in the spring of 1998 with the release of his first book, More Guns, Less Crime (also published by the University of Chicago Press). Now the sequel is available. We have but one complaint with it: the title and cover are the same as the first book, and, at first glance, anyone who has read it might jump to the conclusion that the Second Edition is only a softcover version.
That would be a mistake, because they're different books. Lott's newest gift to gunowners incorporates the entire first edition with appropriate revisions. It also includes an entirely new 80-page "Epilogue" chapter providing information not available two years ago, dealing with issues such as "safe-storage" laws and the recent spate of high profile school shootings.
As with Lott's first book, the technical details are there for the taking, by those who want them. But his conclusions and commentary are set out in an easy-to-read format readily understandable to anyone without prior knowledge of the firearm debate.
Lott succinctly summed up the "central findings" of More Guns, Less Crime : "...as the probability that victims are going to be able to defend themselves increases, the level of deterrence [also] increases."
The deterrence of violent crime by armed law-abiding citizens and self-defense with a gun are flip sides of the same coin. Lott has skillfully integrated both: the self-defense research of Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University, with his own research on deterrence of violent crime from the concealed carry of handguns.
Lott, an economist with no ties to the "gun lobby", points out that "what seems missing from so much of the public debate is that regulations have both costs and benefits". He then addresses the costs of removing deterrence and self-defense from the firearm equation.
And when those costs are tallied up, the price tag for saving "just one life" - by disarming the good people in society through "reasonable", "sensible" gun laws - becomes clearly prohibitive.
In presenting the results of his research, Lott frames new questions that few in the firearm debate have been able or willing to articulate. They are the questions the firearm-prohibitionists won't answer, because doing so would expose the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of their philosophy, and derail the implementation of their agenda. Here are some of them:
- "If guns are the problem, why was it that when guns were really accessible, even inside schools by students [i.e. members of rifle teams], we didn't have the problems that plague us now, including the mass school shootings?...What can stop these attacks?"
- "In what ways do criminals respond to the passage of a new right-to-carry concealed-handgun law in a state?"
- Would society benefit from more people getting [concealed-carry] permits?"
- "Even my most determined critics concede one point: violent-crime rates fell at the point in time that the right-to-carry laws went into effect. The real question is: Why did the crime rates fall? Do these laws simply happen to get passed right when crime rates hit their peaks? Why don't we observe this coincidence of timing for other gun-control laws?"
At every step, Lott's research shows that, no matter how many corpses the anti-self-defense lobby trots out, it is not law-abiding American gunowners who are the problem. On the contrary, what Lott's scientific reality shows is that armed, ordinary citizens are a big part of the solution to violent crime.
As Lott observed: "If the research in this book convinces me of anything, it is that disarming potential victims relative to criminals makes crime more attractive and more likely...[Unarmed] ordinary citizens are sitting ducks, waiting to be victimized."
Gunowners need to be able to articulate this fact in a convincing manner. Lott empowers them to do so.
Before Lott's research, most American gunowners knew, intuitively, that armed with a gun - the traditional "equalizer" - they, their families, and their fellow citizens were safer. Now they have scientific proof, and the ammunition to finally become proactive in the firearm debate, putting the anti-self-defense lobby on the defensive where it belongs.
That debate is here and now, and no gunowner can afford to be without this book. Neither can any non-gunowning American who is concerned about the safety of his or her family.
About the Authors:
Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practices Dentistry in Old Bethpage, NY. She is President, Association of Dentists for Accuracy in Scientific Media (ADASM).
Dr. Paul Gallant practices Optometry in Wesley Hills, NY. He is Chairman, Committee for Law-Abiding Gun-Owners, Rockland (LAGR), a 2nd Amendment grassroots group, based in Rockland County, NY.
The authors may be reached at:
P.O. Box 354
Thiells, NY 10984-0354
Reprinted from New Gun Week, August 20, 2000.