CPRC’s John Lott discusses Gary Kleck’s criticisms of the evidence regarding “More Guns, Less Crime”

Nov 18, 2015 | Featured


In August, Kleck told Mother Jones that he doesn’t know of any “credible criminologist” who believes that “with more guns there are less crimes.”  More recently Kleck was interviewed by Ari Armstrong about these points and Kleck’s claims that there hasn’t been any increase in the rate that people are carrying permitted concealed handguns and that neither more guns nor more concealed handguns reduce homicides or any other type of violent crime.  Here is the beginning of  Ari’s interview with Lott:

Recently I interviewed criminologist Gary Kleck about gun ownership and crime. In the course of that interview, Kleck expressed skepticism regarding economist John Lott‘s claims that expanded concealed carry of handguns reduces crime. I asked Lott if he wanted to reply, and he graciously agreed to do so. He also addressed a number of other questions regarding gun ownership and crime. . . .

The rest of Armstrong’s interview is available here and his questions include:

Armstrong: As you’re aware, criminologist Gary Kleck has criticized both aspects of your claim, “more guns, less crime.” He has said that liberalized concealed carry laws didn’t actually result in more people owning guns or even carrying them concealed more frequently. He has also said that there was no discernible drop in crime resulting from the laws. I know this debate is enormously complex, but can you summarize some of the main evidence here? . . .

Armstrong: Kleck claims that “across areas, there is no effect of gun ownership rates on crime rates, including homicide rates.” What’s your response? . . .

Armstrong: Kleck says that U.S. gun laws “don’t have any effect” and are “not even intended to have an effect” on gun ownership rates. What do you think about that? . . .



  1. Bartosh Rudnicki

    Again, I’m very confused. In 2008 during the Intelligence Squared Debate Gary Kleck seemed to agree with everything you were saying:


    • johnrlott

      You make a good point. I am not sure that I am the one who can explain the objections.

  2. Bartosh Rudnicki

    John, during the IS2 Debate you mentioned, quote:

    “50% of the counties in the United States have zero murders in any given year. 25% of the counties have one murder. Over 70% of murders are concentrated in just 3% of the counties. Those counties represent over 20% of the population.”

    Where can I find any details about this? I’ve bought your book recently (“More Guns Less Crime”, third edition). Will I find it there? For example, how many people live in those 75% of the counties?

  3. ray george

    Would prefer information directly from Kleck, not what one person said Kleck said.

  4. DJP

    What everyone doesn’t seem to “get” is that my Constitutionally-guarnteed rights (which, BTW, pre-exist the Constitution, which it points out, and the Left it confused by) are not subject to your or anybody else’s statistics. When Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus, 99.99999999999995% of Americans (give or take 5-50%) might have been against it. Or not. Who cares it’s irrelevant. It’s a RIGHT. So pack your numbers up and go home. Wah waaaaahhhh…. we keep our guns.

  5. Carl N. Brown

    Contrary to what Gary Kleck maintains, I and my son did not carry concealed for self-defense until after Tennessee passed the shall-issue law.

    As Oregon prosecutor Josh Marquis acknowledged in admitting he was wrong about right-to-carry, handgun permit holders have proven to be one of the most law-abiding segments of society.*

    For Kleck to say we only got permits to legalize what he thinks we may have been doing illegally all along is rather insulting.

    Yes, a sample of two is an anecdote, not data. Perhaps Kleck and Lott could design and conduct a survey with a national sample and settle this like academic gentlemen.

    Before you got a concealed carry permit, did you carry concealed in public for self-defense?
    Don’t count transport (from/to gunshop, target range or gunsmith); count loaded carry for self-defense.
    * http://blog.oregonlive.com/myoregon/2013/10/letter_conceal-carry_licenses.html
    Joshua Marquis, DA Clatsop Co. OR, “Rise in concealed handgun licenses hasn’t harmed public safety”, Letter to The Oregonian, 15 Oct 2013.

    • johnrlott

      Thanks, Carl. I agree with you, and I can’t tell you how many people have told me the same thing that you have. That said, anecdotal evidence only goes so far, and that is the reason that I pointed to other evidence. Permit holders are incredibly law abiding. I was hoping that the information on crime rates or permits picked up at airports would convince him, but no such luck. I wish that Gary was open to discussing these issues.