Brooklyn College Professor Challenges Professor Lotts Statistics

Matthew Gaylor (
Mon, 31 May 1999 09:40:03 -0400

[Note from Matthew Gaylor: Ed Kent is a Professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College. Ed and I agree on many issues, but the Second Amendment isn't one of them. Ed has made a gratuitous assertion that Professor Lotts stats can't be trusted. Ed's quote reproduced below states "Lott's stats are not to be trusted. Those of the police chiefs nationially ARE!"]

From: Edward Kent <> To: Matthew Gaylor <>
Subject: Re: Gun Policy in the Aftermath of Littleton

Some comments here, Matt:

Matthew Gaylor wrote:
> May 26, 1999
> Gun Policy in the Aftermath of Littleton
> by Doug Bandow
> Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
> We live in an age of paradox. Media saturation following events like the
> murders at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., makes it appear that
> violence surrounds us. Yet the crime rate has been falling and school
> shootings remain extremely rare. In contrast, the serious violence that
> pervades some inner-city schools never makes the news.

Correct up to this point.>
> Moreover, tragedies like Columbine almost always launch a spate of
> counterproductive policy initiatives. Such as gun control. Although
> inadequate morals rather than laws led to the Columbine murders, activists,

Inadequate morals? Non-sense. One of the kids was nuts and the other was a follower. Had guns not been readily available, they wouldn't have dared.

> interest groups and politicians immediately dusted off their old proposals
> to launch anew.
> The temptation to ban Ūrearms is understandable. Anything seems reasonable
> in an attempt to save even a few people who die by bullets every year.
> Yet private possession of weapons does not automatically lead to their
> misuse: heavily armed societies like Israel and Switzerland have only a
> fraction of our violent crime. Anyway, it is too late to try to disarm a
> society where 240 million guns are in private hands.

> Nor is disarmament a reasonable goal. It is easy to belittle the use of
> Ūrearms for hunting or target shooting, yet the right to engage in such
> activities is the bedrock of a free society. Sportsmen rarely misuse their
> weapons; those who don't should not be punished for the sins of the few who
> do.

No problem with hunting weapons -- except for kids.
> Using guns for self-defense is even more important. There is no more
> fundamental right, especially in a world in which the police offer only
> imperfect protection, at best. John Lott of the University of Chicago
> Ūgures that guns are used Ūve times as often to prevent as to commit crimes.

This is BS. Most of those self-defense firearms end up killing hubby or his wife or one of his kids.

> Nor should one desire a world in which only state ofŪcials possess weapons.
> Although a standing Army has replaced the militia as America's main defense
> against foreign foes, the nation's Founders rightly distrusted giving
> government a monopoly on deadly force. Tyranny may seem exceedingly
> unlikely, but disarming average citizens makes it more rather than less
> likely to occur.

Come on! We didn't have standing armies then, but we are not still fighting off the British or anyone else -- but the NRA!

> Nevertheless, as predictable as the tides, Columbine led to a new campaign
> to regulate Ūrearms. Proposals include background checks at gun shows,
> trigger locks, limits on the number of guns that can be purchased, a ban on
> concealable Ūrearms and increasing the legal age to buy Ūrearms. Even some
> past critics of gun controls have ūipped in the face of the public
> relations onslaught.
> None of these proposals would have stopped the Columbine massacre, however.
> As Lott points out, the killers ''violated at least 17 state and federal
> weapons-control laws.'' A couple more on the books would have made no
> difference.

But they sure would have ended many other deaths as cited above.

> But new rules could make crime more likely by disarming potential victims
> and citizen cops. Research by Lott suggests that allowing people to carry
> concealed weapons lowers the violent crime rate. Those who get a permit
> from the local sheriff or police chief aren't likely to knock over the
> local convenience store. However, they might prevent someone else from
> knocking it over, and the bad guys know it.

Lott's stats are not to be trusted. Those of the police chiefs nationially ARE!

Indeed, private individuals with guns - one a vice principal, the other a
> banquet hall owner - ended two recent school shootings.

For every one of these we have 100 murders and accidental deaths at least. The CATO boys are smart enough to know that anecdotes are mere rhetoric -- not evidence.

> Massad Ayoob, head of the Lethal Force Institute, which trains police and
> military personnel, observes: "Previously unthinkable dangers can sometimes
> only be neutralized by previously unthinkable defenses.''
> There is no evidence that waiting periods lower crime rates. Such
> restrictions do, however, prevent people from buying a gun to protect
> themselves from imminent danger. Nor should adults between 18 and 21 be
> denied Ūrearms, as if they were uniquely dangerous.

False! And known to be false!. These guys are always lying through their teeth.

Trigger locks would save few lives a minuscule number of children die in gun accidents, less than in many mundane household tragedies but would
> hinder people from defending themselves. Individual owners can best balance
> the one risk against the other.

A kid a day is not miniscule in my books.

> Licensed dealers already must conduct background checks, including at gun
> shows. Private individuals need not, but there is no evidence that
> potential criminals ūock to these very public gatherings to consummate
> illegal deals.

I guess they havae a sense of humor, too.

There already are 20,000 different laws covering the purchase and use of
> Ūrearms. Criminals routinely violate one or more of these restrictions to
> acquire a weapon. They aren't likely to hesitate breaking another one or
> two. New controls and regulations would most burden the law-abiding.
> The most potent response to gun crimes is to punish the criminal. Use of a
> Ūrearm should automatically increase one's sentence. Those who sell guns to
> criminals or juveniles should be likewise punished. Existing laws should be
> rigorously enforced.

No legitimate excuse for passing out concealable weapons. Handguns should go the way of sawed off shootguns. They kill, too.

> Legislators should, however, pause before passing any new measures.
> Tragedies like Columbine too often trigger policy-making by emotion. In
> this case seeking to ''just do something'' is worse than doing nothing. It
> is likely to make us all less safe.

Speak for youself, buddy. I live in NYC. Had a lady shot on her way to work in the 'hood' just last month. Guy on a bike trying to snatch her purse. No gun, no dead stock broker.

> This article appeared in Copley News Service, May 24, 1999.
> | Index of Daily Commentaries | Cato Institute Home |
> Š 1999 The Cato Institute

Finally it is the violence which guns spread in the cities (as well as the family affairs elsewhere) that I am concerned about.

Your gun robbery victim friend from NYC.

Bet you won't send this out to the list. Ed

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