After John Lott’s original piece in the NJ Star-Ledger defense of Governor Chris Christie’s veto of a 10 bullet limit on gun magazine size, Former Governor James Florio wrote a response.
An op-ed article that appeared Saturday, authored by John R. Lott Jr. and defending Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill decreasing the size of gun magazines, is troubling. He presents himself as president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of a book, “More Guns, Less Crime.” I’m not sure who finances his organization, but his article comes right out of the gun lobby’s playbook.
First, his book echoes the National Rifle Association’s executive director’s stated view that the answer to gun violence is more guns for everybody. Most people reject this Wild West attitude to law enforcement by shootouts. He offers the fact that there is no evidence to justify limits on magazine capacity.
Aside from the fact that the NRA has forced Congress into prohibiting gun violence research, by following his logic, there is no hard evidence that proposed limits don’t provide better protection. Common sense, however, dictates that when seconds count, a mass killer needs time to change magazines.
Lott also maintains that magazine limits have no impact on the “lethality of mass shootings.” Not only does he not know that, but he goes on to perversely suggest that larger magazines will make us safer. He states that larger magazines “over time” tend to malfunction. So, as a safety measure, we should authorize 30- or 50-round magazines and be patient?
Lott falls back on the basic argument of the gun lobby, which is: Why have this law when bad people don’t adhere to it? This is like saying people will murder people, so why have laws against murder?
The author’s startling conclusion is that law-abiding citizens who want to defend themselves would be required to carry multiple magazines around with them if they were limited to only 10 rounds in a magazine.
The thinking in this article is not the answer to the widespread epidemic of gun violence. Rather, the answer is to take sensible actions; e.g., universal background checks, limiting weapons such as .50-caliber rifles to military personnel; and rational restrictions on magazine capacity.
The vast majority of citizens knows this. It is just a matter of getting their voices heard by the people at all levels of government who are supposed to represent them and not the gun lobby.
While Florio was given about 2.7 times the number of words that Lott received, Lott had this response.
Former Gov. James Florio attacked (“Pro-gun message is the wrong answer,” July 25) my op-ed defending Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill decreasing the size of gun magazines. But rather than use factual arguments, he insinuates Crime Prevention Research Center funding comes from organizations such as the NRA.
Had Florio looked at our website, he would have learned that we’re a nonprofit educational and research institution that won’t accept donations from gun or ammunition makers, or the NRA.
Florio asserts my arguments are akin to opposing laws against murder. But counterproductive gun laws that disarm law-abiding citizens relative to criminals make murder easier. Legalizing murder would do the same.
My claim that magazine limits have “no impact on the ‘lethality of mass shootings’ ” comes from reviewing the economics and criminology literature. Florio doesn’t cite a single academic article that contradicts my claim.
John R. Lott Jr., president, Crime Prevention Research Center
There were other letters, both pro- and con, responding to Lott’s original op-ed piece available here.
UPDATE on August 2nd: For a new response to Lott’s letter see here, where the respondent blames the NRA for the lack of data to look at these questions. Yet, this is also incorrect as there has actually been an increase in Public Health research on guns since the restrictions of federal funding in 1996.