The New York Times’ false claims about what the public and their selective experts think about gun control

Jan 21, 2017 | Featured

On January 10, 2017, the New York Times had an article claiming that both the public and their selective experts favored more gun control.  From their article:

The academics in our panel — many of the country’s best empirical researchers on gun policy — were far more likely than the general public to support gun control. But nearly all of the policies that experts think could work have widespread support from the general public.

While Americans remain sharply divided in their overall view of the tension between gun control and gun rights, individual proposals are widely favored. The most popular measures in our survey — policies like universal background checks and keeping guns from convicted stalkers — were supported by more than 85 percent of registered voters. Even the least popular idea, a law that would limit gun sales to people who had to demonstrate a “genuine need” for the weapon, was favored by nearly 50 percent. . . .

Letter to the Editor that the CPRC sent to the New York Times:

Dear Editor:

The Times gives a very inaccurate presentation of public and academic opinions on gun control (“How to Prevent Gun Deaths? Where Experts and the Public Agree,” January 10, 2017). You acknowledge that your survey of academics is “small” (32 people), but it is also biased, with just three economists and primarily public health people. Some “experts” you cite have never published a peer-reviewed empirical study on gun control. 30% of your “experts” don’t have Ph.D.’s.

No comparison is made to other larger, published surveys. I co-authored one such survey that was published in Regulation (Summer 2016). For example, that survey found that among economists and criminologists with published, peer-reviewed, empirical research on gun control, 66% believe that gun-free zones attract criminals.

If 85% of voters really support “universal” background checks on guns, why have initiatives never gotten close to that support? In November, Maine’s initiative was defeated. Nevada’s passed by just 0.8% after Michael Bloomberg outspent his opponents by a factor of six – spending $35.30 per vote. In 2014, Washington state passed an initiative with 59% support, but only after outspending opponents by 33-to-1.

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

List of the 30 “experts” used by the New York Times.

Public Health, Non-Ph.D. (10)

Cathy Barber, MPA, Harvard Injury Control Research Center,

Magdalena Cerdá, medical doctor, UC Davis public health

Laura Dugan — on affiliation, downloads 413, citations 0,

Liza H. Gold — medical doctor, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine

Matthew Miller — MD, Professor of Health Sciences and Epidemiology at Northeastern University

Michael Siegel — MD, MPH, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA

Gary Slutkin — MD, Epidemiology and International Health, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health

Mark Rosenberg — physician and public health researcher, faculty at Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine

Charles Ransford — (MPP) of the Harris School for Public Policy at the University of Chicago,

Stephen P. Teret — Lawyer, Center for Law and the Public’s Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, downloads 327, citations 0,

Public Health, Ph.D. (3)

David Hemenway — T.H. Chan School of Public Health, downloads 0, citations 0

Jonathan Metzl — MD, PhD, Center for Medicine, Health, and Society and the Departments of Sociology and Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Daniel Webster — ScD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,

Sociology/Criminology (11)

Jay Corzine, sociologist with the University of Central Florida,

David Kennedy — Criminology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Louis Klarevas — Fulbright Foundation (Athens Greece), downloads 227, citations 0

Gary Kleck — Ph.D., Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, downloads 709, citations 0,

Tomislav Kovandzic — Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham – Department of Justice Sciences, downloads 1,385, citations 4,

Andrew Papachristos — Ph.D., Yale University – Department of Sociology, downloads 3,759, citations 16,

April Zeoli — Ph.D., Michigan State University – School of Criminal Justice, downloads 206, citations 0,

Adam Lankford — Ph.D., Criminal Justice, The University of Alabama

Peter Reuter — Ph.D., Criminology, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, two non-refereed publications on guns, law review and book chapter, (

Robert J. Sampson — Ph.D., Criminology, Department of Sociology, Harvard

George E. Tita — Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California – Irvine


John Donohue — Ph.D., Stanford Law School, downloads 40,594, citations 362,

David Kopel — Denver University – Sturm College of Law, downloads 33.951, citations 4,

Eugene Volokh — University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – School of Law, downloads 11,301, citations 63,


Carlisle E. Moody — Ph.D., College of William and Mary – Department of Economics, downloads 8,826, citations 9

John Lott — Ph.D., Crime Prevention Research Center, downloads 147,755, citations 207,

Political Science

Robert Spitzer — Ph.D., Political Science Department, State University of New York at Cortland, downloads 528, citations 0,

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1 Comment

  1. Fred Miller

    The only positive note here is that it is becoming more and more common knowledge that the New York Times is not really a “news” paper at all. Their “facts” are mostly NOT, and the general public that don’t live in places like New York city are finding that out.


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