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More Guns, Less Crime
Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws
John Lott, Jr.
Order Now


Does allowing people to own or carry guns deter violent crime? Or does it cause more citizens to harm each other? Wherever people happen to fall along the ideological spectrum, their answers are all too often founded upon mere impressionistic and anecdotal evidence. In this direct challenge to conventional wisdom, legal scholar John Lott presents the most rigorously comprehensive data analysis ever done on crime. In this timely and provocative work he comes to a startling conclusion: more guns mean less crime.

Lott's sources are broad and inclusive, and his evidence the most extensive yet assembled, taking full account of the FBI's massive yearly crime figures for all 3,054 U.S. counties over eighteen years, the largest national surveys on gun ownership, as well as state police documents on illegal gun use. His unexpected findings reveal that many of the most commonly held assumptions about gun control and its crime-fighting efficacy are simply wrong. Waiting periods, gun buybacks, and background checks yield virtually no benefits in crime reduction. Instead, Lott argues, allowing law-abiding citizens to legal concealed handguns currently represents the most cost-effective methods available for reducing violent crime.

In what may be his most controversial conclusion, Lott finds that mass public shootings, such as the infamous examples of the Long Island Railroad by Colin Ferguson or the 1996 Empire State Building shooting, are dramatically reduced once law-abiding citizens in a state are allowed to carry concealed handguns.

Lott maintains that criminals generally respond to deterrence: as the risks and potential costs of criminal activity rise, criminals either commit fewer crimes or move on to other areas. The possibility of getting shot by somebody carrying a concealed weapon constitutes a substantial risk, and discourages any sort of physical confrontation. Accordingly, the states now experiencing the largest reductions in crime are also the ones with the fastest-growing rates of gun ownership. Evidence on accidental gun deaths and suicides is also examined.

Thorough and enlightening, More Guns, Less Crime is required reading for anyone interested in the sometimes contentious, always critical American debate over gun control. John R. Lott, Jr. teaches criminal deterrence and law and economics at the University of Chicago, where he is the John M. Olin Law and Economics Fellow. He was the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission during 1988 and 1989. He has published over 70 articles in academic journals.

(back cover)

"This sophisticated analysis yields a well established conclusion that supports the wisdom of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution rather than of those who would limit the right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry guns. The general reader may find of most interest chapter 7 which documents how far 'politically correct' vested interests are willing to go denigrate anyone who dares disagree with them.

John Lott has done us all a service by his thorough, thoughtful scholarly approach to a highly controversial issue."-Milton Friedman

"Armed with reams of statistics, John Lott has documented many surprising linkages between guns and crime. More Guns, Less Crime demonstrates that what is at stake is not just the right to carry arms but rather our performance in controlling a diverse array of criminal behaviors. Perhaps most disturbing is Lott's documentation of the role of the media and academic commentators in distorting research findings that they regard as politically incorrect."-W. Kip Viscusi, Cogan Professor of Law and director of the Program on Empirical Legal Studies, Harvard Law School

"John Lott has done the most extensive, thorough, and sophisticated study we have on the effects of loosening gun control laws. Regardless of whether one agrees with his conclusions, his work is mandatory reading for anyone who is open-minded and serious about the gun control issue. Especially fascinating is his account of the often unscrupulous reactions to his research by gun control advocates, academic critics, and the news media." -Gary Kleck, professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University

"Until John Lott came along, the standard research paper on firearms and violence consisted of a longitudinal or cross-sectional study on a small and artfully selected data set with few meaningful statistical controls.

Lott's work, embracing all of the data that are relevant to his analysis, has created a new standard, which future scholarship in this area, in order to be credible, will have to live up to." -Dan Polsby, Kirkland & Ellis
Professor of Law, Northwestern University.

"John Lott destroys the politically correct argument that arming law abiding citizens will have a harmful effect on their safety. There is no doubt that criminals prefer to prey upon the unprepared. This book will arm those who read it with the important facts they need in order to decide where they stand on the gun control issue." -Dale Gulbrantson, executive director, Illinois Police Association, Inc.

"This book will - or should - cause those who almost reflexively support the limitation of guns in the name of reducing crime to rethink their positions." -Steve Shavell, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

More Guns, Less Crime
Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws
John R. Lott, Jr.
University of Chicago Press
(flap copy:)

John R. Lott, Jr. teaches criminal deterrence and law and economics at the University of Chicago, where he is the John M. Olin Law and Economics Fellow. He was the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission during 1988 and 1989. He has published over 70 articles in academic journals.

Printer Version

It is difficult to maintain the illusion that we are interpreting a Constitution, rather than inventing one. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, in his minority dissenting opinion in Nebraska vs. Carhart

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