Our edited letter in Scientific American

Jan 20, 2018 | Featured

In November, Scientific American published a longer letter by Dr. John Lott and a rebuttal to his letter online.  In an earlier post, we provided a point-by-point rebuttal to Ms. Moyer’s claims.   Lott had no control over what parts of his letter that Scientific American decided to use.


Melinda Wenner Moyer’s article “Journey to Gunland” ignores virtually all of the literature on right-to-carry laws and gun ownership since 1998. About two-thirds of the peer-reviewed, published literature show that concealed-carry laws help to reduce crime. I provided Moyer with those papers, but she doesn’t give a single reference to them, and she appears unaware of any of my research after 1998.

Moyer quotes physician Garen Wintemute: “Few studies … suggest that liberalizing access to concealed firearms has … beneficial effects.” But she ignores 24 peer-reviewed publications just showing that crime in the U.S. drops after people are allowed to carry concealed handguns.

Take one example of Moyer’s bias: She has a long discussion about Arthur Kellermann’s work on the risks of guns in the home and says that Kellermann studied “444 people who had been killed between 1987 and 1992 at home.” But she fails to note that in only eight of these 444 homicide cases was the murder weapon a gun that had been kept in the home.

JOHN R. LOTT, JR. President, Crime Prevention Research Center

MOYER REPLIES: My investigation involved far more than the impact of concealed-carry laws and ultimately concluded that more guns—period—are associated with more crime and violence.

Lott’s claim that two thirds of the literature show that concealed-carry laws help to reduce crime comes from a 2012 paper he wrote for the Maryland Law Review. It asserts that 18 of 29 studies showed that result. One third of those citations refer to his own work, and many of the studies are off-topic in that they do not evaluate concealed-carry laws at all. Lott also omits peer-reviewed studies that belong on the other side. And included among the 24 papers he refers to, which are listed on his Web site, are the irrelevant papers mentioned above, as well as other studies that do not show links between concealed-carry policies and low crime.

Finally, the Kellermann study found the odds of being murdered nearly tripled among those who kept guns at home. Lott says it is important that most of these homicides did not involve the resident’s gun, but it is not. The study was designed to assess the relation between keeping a gun in the home and the risk of being murdered by any weapon. Murder victims are murder victims, regardless of weapon or means.

EDITORS’ NOTE: This exchange between Lott and Moyer was edited for space. Readers can examine Lott’s research studies at http://bit.ly/2ipGErA; the full letter and reply are available at www.ScientificAmerican.com/gun-debate

For a point-by-point response to Moyer’s claims please see here.