On March 10th, Rachael Joseph, the Director of Outreach for Protect Minnesota and works with Bloomberg’s Everytown, had a piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune attacking Dr. John Lott. The piece was supposedly about Lott’s op-ed on Stand Your Ground laws, the Bloomberg group’s letter never actually takes issue with any of the points raised in Lott’s piece. It just shows that Bloomberg’s people are more interested in personal attacks and consistently refuse to debate the issues. Unfortunately, because of space limitations, Dr. Lott couldn’t respond to all the attacks, and the Star Tribune rewrote his letter so that it didn’t mention Joseph worked for gun control groups. His piece reads as follows:
‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ LAWS
Commentary writer responds
A March 10 letter writer responding to my March 9 commentary about “Stand Your Ground” laws claims that my research on gun control has been ”discredited” by the National Research Council, even suggesting that I engaged in fraud.
The 2004 National Research Council report merely concluded (p. 121): “It is impossible to draw strong conclusions from the existing literature on the causal impact of these [right-to-carry] laws.” The NRC reached this same nonconclusion for each of the 30 gun-control regulations that it examined: namely, that more research was needed.
Only on right-to-carry did the panel fail to reach a consensus of no conclusion. James Q. Wilson, considered possibly “the most influential criminal justice scholar of the 20th century,” concluded (p. 271): “I find that the evidence presented by Lott and his supporters suggests that [right-to-carry] laws do in fact help drive down the murder rate.” Wilson pointed to the panel’s own estimates, all of which showed that right-to-carry laws reduce murder rates.
The March 10 letter writer claims that one of my surveys “vanished completely without any evidence.” However, respondents have come forward to say that they took the survey. I have also provided tax returns showing payments to research assistants.
On July 3, 1997, I experienced a hard disk crash in which I lost data for many research papers. I had been collaborating with 10 different researchers around the country, and I subsequently spent years working with them to replace the lost data. The letter writer is referring to a specific survey that represented only one paragraph in one book, and in 2002 it was replicated with similar results. That data is available on the website of my nonprofit research organization (http://crimeresearch.org/data/).
John R. Lott Jr., Swarthmore, Pa.
The writer is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
The letter is also available here.