Letter sent to New York Times regarding New Center for American Progress Claiming that Gun Laws Reduce Crime

Oct 15, 2016 | Featured

This letter wasn’t published, but it was sent to the New York Times after their article on a new Center for American Progress Claiming that gun laws reduce crime.

Dear Letters Editor:

The Times incorrectly describes a study as showing that gun control laws reduce violence (“Gun-Control Groups Push Growing Evidence That Laws Reduce Violence,” October 11th). But the study — by the Center for American Progress — never examines how rates of violence change before and after gun laws are adopted. The study simply compares violence rates across states. Yet, states have a lot of differences beyond what gun control laws are on their books. The Center for American Progress does not account for any factors such as differences in law enforcement (e.g., arrest rates), demographics, and income. For example, rural states have higher suicide rates partially because the male/female ratio is so out of balance.

More useful academic research follows states over time to see how rates of violence change with the adoption of different laws. These changes are then compared to the states that did not change their laws.


John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D.
Crime Prevention Research Center

(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today)



  1. Dick Hatzenbuhler

    I can’t imagine why our good friends at the New York Times / All the News that Fits We Print / would not like your letter. 🙂 I guess it goes the other way, too, Any News that Does Not Fit, We Do Not Print. I am surprised that anyone pays any attention to them anymore. I am further surprised that in a world which places great and growing emphasis on “evidence-based” treatment in health care, we do not see more of the same attitude toward crime prevention. If the liberals could present good evidence that gun control reduces crime and improves public safety, we would have lost our right to own a gun long ago, no amount of political activity would have saved us. The main reason for our victories is that our opponents are full of crap.

  2. Dick Hatzenbuhler

    And I also wonder whether our good friends at the progressive Center for American Progress have noticed that there are lots of guns in Vermont and various other states, but (unlike, for example, Sauron’s Great Ring of Power) they do not corrupt us and drive us to commit heinous crimes – it is only when the gun crosses the city limits to be a New York gun that it becomes dangerous. Sometimes the truth is so obvious that one does not have to be a mathematician on the level of Hay and McCleary to understand it.

  3. Dick Hatzenbuhler

    Just one more point: I have long thought that one of your greatest contributions to the state of the art was using data by counties instead of whole states. I have lived in New York and worked in Massachusetts, and I can see the difference between New York City and the upstate rural areas and the Adirondacks, and using data for the whole state just homogenizes the facts and leads nowhere. Data by counties enabled you to have some hope of correlating crime data with reasonable information about the demographic variables.