Tuesday, June 03, 2014

On "Arming" Oneself with "Facts" Dissembled By Gun Nut John Lott

I think we need more of what I would call evidence-based discussion and not merely people pulling things out of their hats ~ Dr. Sripal Bangalore, coauthor of a study that found that more guns do not make people safer. (quote from the 9/19/2013 ABC News article "U.S. Has More Guns – And Gun Deaths – Than Any Other Country, Study Finds" by Sydney Lupkin).

Apparently there is absolutely NOTHING that can be done to curb gun violence. That is, according to Libertarian blogger Willis Hart, a non-gun-owning-gun-nut who frequently proclaims that he might support some type of gun legislation, but that such laws would be "for solace only".

Willis Hart: "Armed With the Facts"... According to the University of Maryland's John Lott, there were more than 1.8 million right to carry permits issued in the state of Florida from 1987 to 2010 and only 167 of these individuals ever had their permits revoked - .009% (with the vast majority of these instances being misdemeanors). I really don't think that we have all that much to worry about when it come to the lawful gun-owners of America (you know, those who would actually consent to a background check), folks.

And I'm not necessarily saying here that I'm opposed to background checks, just that they're probably much more for solace than they are preventative and that we really shouldn't be expecting much once they're instituted. (6/2/22014 AT 8:25pm).

John Lott, huh? That would be the John Lott who is a gun rights advocate, formerly employed the American Enterprise Institute (a conservative think tank), and who is currently a Fox News opinion contributor... right?

Lott is also the author of More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns. Newsweek dubbed him "The Gun Crowd's Guru". Sounds like a good non-biased source for information on guns, no?

Criticisms of Lott's study include there being "problems with [his] model" including that it "contained significant coding errors and systemic bias" and that he "failed to account for several key variables"... and for these reasons Lott's "model was flawed".

The National Academy of Sciences conducted a review of current research and data on firearms and violent crime, including Lott's work, and found "no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime" (excerpts from Wikipedia).

Even more damning, there have been "charges that gun makers or the NRA have paid for Lott's research".

In 1996 when Lott's research first received media attention, Charles Schumer wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "The Associated Press reports that Prof. Lott's fellowship at the University of Chicago is funded by the Olin Foundation, which is associated with the Olin Corporation, one of the nation's largest gun manufacturers.


...in a debate on Piers Morgan Tonight on July 23, 2012, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz claimed: "This is junk science at its worst. Paid for and financed by the National Rifle Association".

Makes one wonder how factual these "facts" are that Willis is arming himself with.

[Media Matters reports that Lott's 2013 book] At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over The Edge?, is filled with inaccurate claims about guns and firearm policy. Lott makes a range of misleading or blatantly false statements, including that the worst school shootings in the world have not occurred in the United States and that concealed carry laws help prevent mass shootings. (3/12/2013 Media Matters article).

Media Matters reporting (and debunking of) the lies in Lott's book include the following; which they deemed to be the "nine worst claims about guns...

  1. Claim: establishing gun-free zones actually make mass shootings MORE likely. Truth: this is refuted by statistics and the fact that most recent mass shootings have occurred where guns ARE allowed.
  2. Claim: Obama supported a ban on handguns in 1996. Truth: Politifact says FALSE. The president's true view is that "a complete ban on handguns is not politically practicable, but reasonable restrictions should be imposed".
  3. Claim: assault Weapons inflict the same damage as small-game hunting rifles. Truth: A study of soldiers killed by high-velocity rifle rounds found that "the nature of internal tissue injuries from rifled firearm weapons depend greatly on the velocity of the missile", and "that rounds with a velocity exceeding 2,500 feet per second cause a shockwave to pass through the body that caused catastrophic injuries even in areas remote to the direct wound".
  4. Claim: Mass shootings are often prevented by civilians carrying firearms. Truth: an analysis of mass shootings over th epast 30 years shows that "in not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun).
  5. Claim: LEOs support legislation to loosen concealed carry rules. Truth: Various law enforcement groups signed a letter in opposition to H.R. 822, a piece of proposed legislation that would force states to recognize the validity of concealed carry permits issued in other states.
  6. Claim: Germany, despite having some Of the strictest gun-control laws anywhere, has been the scene of two of the 3 worst school shootings in the world. Truth: the two worst school shootings occurred in the US.
  7. Claim: the "vast majority" of studies have found concealed carry reduces homicide. Truth: A John Hopkins Center For Gun Policy And Research says "concealed carry laws [have been] linked to [an] increase in aggravated assault".

The final two "facts" rebuked (8+9) are Fast and Furious conspiracy theories, including the loony tunes assertion that F&F was "an Obama Administration plot to implement further restrictions on gun ownership". This is a conspiracy theory that says, after allowing a buttload of guns to cross the border, the administration could then "depict Mexico as awash in American guns" and that would "build pressure in the United States for gun control" [1].

That, right there, says to me that this Lott fellow is a certifiable gun nutter. And I say that the same applies to people who might cite him as a credible source. They too are gun nuts, even if they do not own any guns.

(Please note that the list above is my condensing of the Media Matters information. See the Media Matters article linked to above for the uncondensed version).

As for Hart's assertion that he "really can't find all that much evidence that gun control works", I'd say that is due to him looking in the wrong places. I mean, if you're primarily reading studies/papers/books by people like John Lott, I would not expect you'd find evidence that gun control works.

John Tepper Marlin, the chief economist for the NJ Institute for Social Justice, says it does work.

Gun Control Works: ...the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) [has] just-released [a] 10-year review of the UK Peace Index, [and it shows] violence in the UK is down 11 percent [which the IEP attribute to Britain's complete ban on handguns]. [The proof is that while] 2 out of 3 US homicides are committed with guns ...in the UK the figure is only 1 out of 13. ... In 2012-13, Britain had 87 gun deaths, more than half using shotguns; of them, 45 were suicides, nearly two-thirds of them using shotguns. Firearms offenses have been brought down from 25,000 in 2002 to fewer than 10,000 in 2011.

[Also] whereas gun violence occurs all over the US - east-west, urban-rural, north-south - more than half of all gun-related offenses in the UK occur in just 3 police jurisdictions, namely Metropolitan London, Greater Manchester, and West Midlands (Birmingham metro area). This suggests that gun use has largely been suppressed everywhere except in the hard-core anonymous big cities.

[Conclusion?] ...this is on the face of it a compelling argument for gun control and should be thrust in front of the U.S. Senate. (Excerpts from Mr. Marlin's 5/06/2013 HuffPo article).

So, Willis WAS able to find the writings of Mr. Lott... a gun nutter whose "evidence" has is either highly disputed or been outright debunked (because it is complete BS), but he has NOT been able to find evidence (actual evidence) like that presented by Mr. Marlin. (Both Lott and Marlin are economists, btw).

Why might that be, I wonder? Possibly because one finds the evidence one wishes to find? At least in this case I think that is EXACTLY what is happening... despite claims of "trying to be empirical". I mean, it isn't if the Hartster actually found this conflicting information but discounted it (and gave his reasons why). He says he didn't find it AT ALL! Or he did and he believes it to be not "all that much evidence" (an out of hand dismissal).

Who knows and who cares. Point is we all know this is a person who listens to researches on the fringe that tell him things he wishes to hear. How else could one conclude that global warming is a hoax, that green energy is bad, or that gun control legislation (of ANY variety, apparently) would be for "solace" only?

Hey, Willis, what about stopping people who wouldn't pass a background check buying firearms at gun shows? Would stopping them be for "solace" only too? I wouldn't be surprised if he said YES. Remember he did say that if expanded background check legislation should be passed that "we really shouldn't be expecting much".

Also, hey, Willis, what about stopping people who wouldn't pass a background check buying firearms at gun shows? Would stopping them be for "solace" only as well? I wouldn't be surprised if he said YES [2]. Remember he did say that if expanded background check legislation should pass that "we really shouldn't be expecting much".

What a dope.

[1] 4/21/2015: Willis thinks the gun show BG check loophole is a "leftist anti-gun talking-point". So, yeah, I guess it would be for "solace only" to pass such an (unneeded) law. See SWTD #279 and scroll down to the "Gun Show Loophole Dishonesty" subheading for my debunking of Willis' claim that there is no gun show loophole.
[2] 6/22/2015: Willis lies about operation Wide Receiver (WR) to defend GWB. He sez WR, which was what F&F was called under the bush administration, involved no gunwalking - when it did. And he sez WR "was conducted with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Mexican government" when the truth is that "the vast majority of guns were not tracked and Mexico's government was not fully informed of the case". And, get this... the source of my info is an article by Sharyl Attkisson, a journalist that Willis himself has cited in many commentaries on his blog. Concerning Sharyl, Willis says "the woman is a consummate and award-winning professional who goes after Democrats and Republicans with equal fervor". But Willis obviously doesn't like that she went after bush with "equal fervor". If he did he wouldn't lie about WR.
[3] 10/2/2015: I changed the link attached to "what a dope" (above) from a "fact sheet" from the National Gun Victims Action Council titled "gun show loophole arms criminals" because it now comes up as "Error 404 Not Found". Does this mean they retracted their claim? I doubt it. However, the page is gone, so I changed the link to another page that also shows that the gun show loophole arms criminals... this one titled "expanded gun background checks will make state safer" (the state in question being Nevada, although surely this statement applies to all states where the gun show loophole exists).

SWTD #258, wDel #64.


  1. It is usually possible to find a so-called expert to support any point of view you want, specially if you only need one expert.

    1. Indeed, Jerry. This Lott fellow, by the way, is the gun nut's nut. I am actually familiar with him, given that Thom Hartmann has debated him on his radio program (on several occasions). Surely none of his positions on guns are "moderate" in the least. I certainly would not "arm" myself with any "facts" that came from Mr. Lott in a debate (water from a poisoned well). Even though the facts Will quotes are likely accurate (I did not look them up), quoting a nutter like Lott simply not a good idea, IMO.

      In any case, it is the "solace" remark (which he has made multiple times in the past) that I find really offensive. ...Although his quoting the nutter Lott while claiming he is "empirical" as well as him thinking potential gun buyers "consent" to background checks is QUITE LOL-able.


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