UPDATE: Letter in the Des Moines Register: “Gang activity plays a large role in gun-related violence”

Sep 3, 2017 | Featured

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register has published a debate that we have had in the pages of their Sunday paper over the last couple of weeks.

Original post: This past Wednesday the Des Moines Register ran an editorial calling for more gun control as a way of saving medical costs.  Interestingly, while the editorial was accompanied by a video talking about drug gang violence, the editorial completely ignored the issue of drug gangs.  The Des Moines Register published our letter on Sunday, September 3rd.

Dear Letters Editor:

The online version of your editorial on gun violence and gun control is accompanied by a video of Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert discussing drug gang violence, but your editorial ignores the relationship between gangs and gun violence[Taxpayers foot bill for gun violence, Aug. 30]. The Obama administration estimated that up to 80 percent of crime in communities across the U.S. was gang-related. But there isn’t a lot of hope of stopping drug gangs from getting guns, no more than there is of ending the illegal drug trade.

Gang members can’t go to the police to ask for help getting their drugs back from other gangs. Gangs need guns to protect their valuable property, and they can bring guns into the U.S. as easily as they bring in their drugs. Unfortunately, too often gun control laws merely disarm the law-abiding.

If you really want to put an end to drug gangs, you need to take away their profits. Possibly the only way to do that is to legalize drugs. There will be more drug use and accompanying problems, but there will be less gun violence.

John R. Lott, Jr., president, Crime Prevention Research Center, Swarthmore, Pa.

In response to our letter, the Des Moines Register published this response on September 10th, 2017.

Dear Letters Editor:

Michael Saltsman of the so-called Employment Policies Institute and John Lott Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center both wrote letters to the Register within the past week. Both of these men are long-standing neoconservatives that base their rhetoric and opinions on research they themselves create in most cases. . . .

John Lott Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center has been an NRA mouthpiece for years. He stands squarely in the “arm everyone” camp. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, the NRA and Lott both pushed the narrative that teachers and other staff should be armed to deter future mass shootings. Now he is pushing the line, legalize drugs to combat gun deaths? His degree in economics is only as good as his peer-reviewed studies, which number zero.

Both of these operatives spend money and time pushing these and other far-right agendas. Don’t be sucked in by their fancy names and titles. They are not statisticians or scientists. They use false narratives and numbers to scare people. They don’t care about your community or making it safer and more equitable for everyone.

— Lora Fraracci, Des Moines

We then responded with this on September 17th, 2017.

Dear Letters Editor:

Lora Fraracci’s recent letter to the editor attacks me, claiming that my Ph.D. “in economics is only as good as his peer-reviewed studies, which number zero” [Saltsman, Lott’s recent letters push far-right agendas, Sept. 10]. In fact, I have published 103 papers in peer-reviewed journals and two refereed books. I have held research and/or teaching positions at the Wharton Business School, University of Chicago, Yale, Stanford, and Rice and as chief economist at the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Fraracci also misstates my letter. I never advocated legalizing drugs. What I said was that “If you really want to put an end to drug gangs,” the only effective way is to legalize drugs, but you will see “more drug use and accompanying problems.” Is that a “far-right agenda”?

Fraracci shouldn’t just repeat attacks put out by gun-control organizations.

— John R. Lott, Jr., president, Crime Prevention Research Center, Swarthmore, Pa.



  1. Carl b

    Finally. The beginning of a saluition to the war on drugs. A good start is the legislation of Marijuana, let’s cut the street dealers out and start collecting taxes.

  2. Marvin Shoaf

    Mr. Lott, thank you very much for your much needed work. It is truly appreciated.
    While my health does not permit me to take the active roll of yore, I do what I can.
    The thing that infuriates me the most is the BS from the Medical Profession. In the
    past I have had many “discussions” with the educated idiots at Johns Hopkins. If
    their knowledge of medicine was no better than that of firearms 95% of their patents
    would die. When they would tell me about the number of gun deaths I greatly enjoyed
    reminding them that 5 times as many die from Medical screw ups and malpractice.

    Thank you,
    Marvin Shoaf

  3. Keith L Hatfield

    If you accept CDC’s 32k/yr for all firearms deaths, consisting of suicides, accidental, murders, and justifiables. Actually, you need an 8x multiplier to reach the CDC’s 250k/yr death toll for preventable Medical Errors/Fatal Infections.

    8x, not 5x.


Visiting Ecuador’s Ministry of Government

Visiting Ecuador’s Ministry of Government

Dr. John Lott is in Ecuador, and on Monday, he met with the Minister of the Ministry of Government, Esteban Torres, for more than an hour. It was a very productive discussion about crime and gun control, with Ecuador battling drug cartels and considering legislation...