An exchange in Scientific American over the academic literature on concealed carry and background checks

22 Feb , 2014  

This is the second exchange in the letters section of Scientific American that John Lott has had with Michael Shermer in the last year.
Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at Saturday, February 22, 5.07 PM
Of course, the single paper that Shermer cites was mentioned and discussed at length in the review of the literature that Lott provided in More Guns, Less Crime (click on screen shots to make them larger). Unfortunately, Scientific American wasn’t willing to allow a link to this list of papers.
Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at Saturday, February 22, 10.04 PM
The letter that Lott originally sent in was this:

Dear Letters Editor:

In “Why we should choose science over beliefs” (9/2013), Michael Shermer portrays himself as the rare, truly unbiased individual. In contrast, I am “cherry picking and data mining of studies to suit ideological convictions.”

Shermer’s cites as evidence of his objectivity that his views on guns have changed over time. Well, my views have also changed, but, unlike his new politically correct views, I have done so at some personal cost. I never grew up with guns and only started this research by accident. The strong evidence of self-defense deterring crime came as a surprise.

On gun control, Shermer ignores that the clear majority of studies published in peer-reviewed journals by economists and criminologists contradicts his conclusion and find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime and none claim an increase in murder, rape or robbery (More Guns, Less Crime, 2010, pp. 282-91).

On background checks the research is similar, and Shermer ignores safety concerns: Virtually everyone stopped by background checks are false positives, preventing some law-abiding citizens who quickly need a gun for self defense from obtaining one.

John R. Lott, Jr.


1 Response

  1. MaverickNH says:

    Scientific American edited your letter down to 6-1/2 lines, while allowing 9-1/2 lines for Shermer’s reply, leaving a link in his reply to one of few articles contesting the More Gun, Less Crime model but deleting your reference to a much longer list of references that included that article. This conveniently (and ironically, given his accusation of “cherry-picking”) gives readers the option to read his “cherry-picked” reference from your longer list, while withholding that list from readers. As is often the case, journalists who are biased against guns maintain that bias in denying the bias exists and in their efforts to suppress efforts to exposure their bias. With much more Bloomberg money available to create and promote gun control literature, I can only see this increasing.

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