Book Review: Gun Control Myths (John Lott, 2020)

Research John R. Lott, Jr. has a new book out, “Gun Control Myths”. Like all his other work, it’s fact-filled, with higher quality research than the Bloomberg-funded gun control advocates produce. Since Dr. Lott’s conclusions don’t fit the “narrative” of most media, you won’t see his results reported as widely. If you find yourself discussing gun control and gun laws with others during this election season, the material in this book may be useful to you. Lott does an excellent job of providing detailed endnotes for each chapter, referencing back to every article and study he mentions in the book. He exposes the ways that data are misrepresented and manipulated to create statistics widely believed by those that blindly agree with those claims due to confirmation bias, and/or ignorance of technical details about firearms and existing gun laws.

Lott addresses the (false) myths that are widely repeated by anti-gun politicians and media in depth, including:

  • America has more firearm homicides than Canada and Germany
  • Developed countries with more guns have more gun deaths
  • There have been more than 1600 mass shootings since Sandy Hook
  • Household gun ownership is declining
  • States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun related deaths
  • Attacks in the US have become deadlier
  • Tightening gun laws lowered firearm homicide rates
  • There is not enough gov’t funded research on guns

Countries and states and cities all have differing populations. When raw numbers of events are presented instead of rates per 100,000, and those raw values are compared with no discussion of relative population, incorrect conclusions can and are frequently drawn.

Lott devotes a full chapter to debunking myths about mass public shootings. Incidents that are gun fights between two armed groups, particularly gang-related incidents, which are different from active killer situations, often get counted by anti-gun groups to inflate their numbers. Similarly, incidents in which a potential active killer is stopped before 3 people are killed are not included in some anti-gun research databases (or the FBI’s statistics), making it possible for those opposed to armed teachers or concealed carry or individual armed response to make the false claim that no attack has been stopped by a good “guy” (of any gender) with a gun. He also addresses the issue of magazine capacity and its effect (or lack of effect) on outcomes in mass public shootings, and presents statistics on the number of incidents occurring in “gun free” zones.

Lott uses the correct definition of a gun free zone as one that prohibits individual carry of guns, which includes military bases and many public buildings. Anti-gun propagandists exclude those locations claiming that weapons in an armory, or a location where only on-duty law enforcement are allowed to carry, are equivalent to a public space where legal carry is possible.

Other chapters explore “The Heroes That the News Media Doesn’t Cover”, the politicization of the FBI and their statistics on mass public killers, and how much money Michael Bloomberg has invested in academic programs to do anti-gun research. An old friend is an editor at a major online news website, and I recently explained to him that when a study comes from the “Bloomberg” School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, it should not be considered as unbiased research. They are the equivalent of studies on tobacco funded by R.J. Reynolds – tainted by the bias of the funding source. I encouraged him to at least do his readers the service of printing the entire name of the school, not just “Johns Hopkins”, when writing about research results, in the interest of honesty and fairness and clarity.

Lott’s work has been subject to constant media bias and omission, despite him doing far more than the anti-gun researchers to provide transparency in his sources and data analysis methods. He discusses the lack of transparency and selective data omissions other researchers have done to achieve desired results in their work.

I recommend this book, along with all of his previous publications, and encourage gun owners to support his research by purchasing his books. Visit the Crime Prevention Research Center for more information about Dr. Lott and his work.