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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dr. John Lott Responds to "More Guns, More Crime"

In a November 25 letter to the editor of the Washington Post, Dr. John R. Lott, Lloyd Cohen, professor, George Mason University School of Law, and Carl Moody, professor, College of William and Mary Department of Economics, responded to Christopher Ingraham’s “More Guns, More Crime” Wonkblog post that appeared on the Washington Post web site in mid-November, and discussed here.  In that post Ingraham reported on a "slightly updated paper" by law professor John Donohue and two graduate students that purported to show that by adding additional data to a previous study, their research shows that concealed carry laws actually increased crime on states with such laws.  Lott and his colleagues disagreed by pointing out:
Their revised paper’s “preferred” results supposedly show violent crime rates increase after states pass right-to-carry laws. Among the problems:

— They rely, without explanation, on estimates Mr. Donohue has previously claimed were unreliable and misleading. Measuring simply the average crime rates before and after the law can miss an upward trend in crime before the law and drops afterwards.

— They focus on the period from 1999 to 2010. But later-adopting states were often reluctantly dragged into passing these laws. Their laws were more restrictive — higher fees, longer training requirements and more gun-free zones. The authors compare the drop in violent crime for these late adopters with other states — primarily earlier adopters who issued many more permits — who experienced larger drops in crime. But smaller drops for more restrictive states is exactly what the “More Guns, Less Crime” hypothesis predicts.

— Even relying on these flawed estimates, Mr. Ingraham ignored that most of the authors’ results still provide no evidence that violent crime increases.
On Monday, Lott spoke in more detail with Cam Edwards on NRANews' Cam and Company where he discussed not only the letter to the editor but the flaws in the Donohue paper.

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