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Another bull's-eye for John Lott Jr.

5/31/2006

When John Lott Jr.'s best-selling book, "More Guns, Less Crime," came out in 1998, it sent shockwaves through the gun-control movement.

Lott is an economist by trade. He knows how to cut through the bull about guns and get to the basic facts. He knows how to analyze the data to glean out the truth.

In "More Guns, Less Crime," Lott showed that, contrary to the collective sentiment of many gun-control groups, taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding people invites criminals to commit crime.

Backed by considerable statistical evidence, Lott showed that as legal gun ownership goes up — especially concealed carry-handgun permits for private citizens — crime rates go down. The data have been irrefutable.

The book has gone on to become a bestseller, and a key force in the ever-growing number of states that issue concealed carry permits.

Lott has reloaded and come out with a new 349-page book, "The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Guns Is Wrong" (Regnery; $27.95).

The targets this time are the media and the government and how they fail to report the benefits of gun ownership for self-defense — and even lie about the positive values of gun ownership.

I don't know how good a shot with a gun Lott is, but when it comes to the printed word, this book is dead center on the bull's-eye about the self-defense value of private gun ownership.

Despite the fact that Americans use guns for self-defense more than 2 million times a year (most are brandishing only, without a shot fired), you hardly ever hear a word about defensive gun use in the media, Lott points out.

He proves his point by showing how the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and virtually all television news shows virtually ignore defensive gun uses, while they blow the volume of gun accidents and gun-related crime out of proportion.

This probably confirms what many gun owners already know, but Lott now has given you the statistics to prove the point.

Lott then draws a bead on the federal government and finds, "Neither the National Institute of Justice nor the Bureau of Justice Statistics has published anything on the benefits of gun ownership, regardless whether Democrats or Republicans are in office."

Having once been the chief economist for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Lott then describes how the National Crime Victimization Survey should be reformed to gather data on defensive gun uses so their value can be accounted for and calculated into public policymaking.

Let's hope someone in the government with the power to make the necessary changes will read this book and take Lott's recommendations to heart. This is a book about crime prevention, not crime creation — something to consider in a world where crime is rampant and costly to lives and the economy.

Studiously compiling the facts, Lott then goes on to shoot down common anti-gun rhetoric. Drawing on considerable research, including some of his own, Lott proves that:

  • More young kids 10 and younger drown in five-gallon buckets than get accidentally killed by guns

  • Gunlocks may increase crime

  • There is no "gun show loophole"

  • Banning "assault weapons" doesn't stop crime

  • Concealed carry laws deter crime

  • "Ballistic fingerprinting" is not possible.

    Then, as a true economist, he points out how the money spent on various gun control efforts would be much more effective if spent on enforcing existing gun laws, rather than creating new ones; a lesson that Canada is learning all too well these days.

    Hailed by three Nobel Prize-winners in economics, "The Bias Against Guns" is a more scholarly read than most pro-gun books, and that is what makes it so important.

    Critics cannot dismiss Lott's book as simply a political pro-gun rant. His conclusions are so well supported that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for anti-gun foes to prove him wrong. Of course, they'll try.

    Writing a book like this takes guts. Let's hope that those in the media and the government who seem bent on keeping and holding an unfounded bias on guns will have minds open enough to read "The Bias Against Guns," if not the courage to start setting the record straight.

    Americans are not, by and large, gun nuts who want to re-enact Wild West shootouts on each other. People who commit crimes with guns tend to be a small, select, subset of modern society who usually have a long history with unlawfulness, addiction and, often, mental illness.

    Laws don't do a terribly good job of discouraging criminals from committing crime, but when criminals realize that the potential victims may well be armed and ready to defend themselves with a firearm, they back off and crime drops.

    This is not a book about target shooting and hunting; it is a book for all gun owners. For if you do own a gun, you could use it for self-defense. The wisdom of the founding fathers creating the Second Amendment becomes obvious by a careful reading of this title.

    "The Bias Against Guns" deserves careful reading, not only by gun owners, but also by anyone who is concerned about public safety.

    Gun owners should not only read the book, they should buy a copy to give to local politicians so they, too, can understand the bias against guns and what the facts really are before the anti-gun people make us do some things we all will regret.

    And, as Lott points out, it is also a book to give to doctors as some are questioning patients about gun ownership and advising against it, when, if they understood the facts, they might be advising just the opposite if they want to curb violent crime.

    James Swan — who has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, including "Murder in the First" and "Star Trek: First Contact," as well as the television series "Nash Bridges," "Midnight Caller" and "Modern Marvels" — is the author of the book "In Defense of Hunting." Click here to purchase a copy.

    To learn more about Swan, visit his Web site.

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