Lott: New Anti-Gun Study Gets It Wrong, CCW Permit Holders Among Most Law-Abiding

John Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.  (Photo: Handout)

A new study has been making the rounds on mainstream media outlets, and while it may sound familiar, its claim is more radical than any previous anti-gun study to date: an increase in concealed carry permits leads directly to an increase in violent crime.

But John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and former chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission, isn’t as convinced as the journalists over at Newsweek.

Lott argues in a recent op-ed for Fox News that the study, led by Stanford Law School economist John J. Donohue III, cherry picks states like Hawaii in an effort to predict what violent crime rates in other states would have been without concealed carry permits.

“This new study picks out just two to four states, and in many cases effectively just uses Hawaii to compare with right-to-carry states,” Lott notes. “In the cases of Idaho and Minnesota, over 96 percent of the comparison is just with Hawaii.  For Mississippi, Nebraska, and Utah, Hawaii counts for between 72 percent and 83 percent of the comparison.”

The study argues that even though violent crime rates have dropped nationwide, those rates would have dropped more if states had not legalized the carrying of concealed weapons. Using states like Hawaii as points of comparison, Donohue, et al, argue that allowing more guns to be carried in public can escalate tense situations and encourage gun theft by criminals.

Lott’s contention is that the study’s authors relied far too much on states like Hawaii to predict what other states crime rates would have been without concealed carry permits. Violent crime depends on a huge variety of factors, and each state faces unique cultural, geographic, and demographic challenges. Hawaii may have reduced its crime rates more than Nebraska, but that fact may have nothing to do with the presence of guns in public.

To counter the fact that concealed carry permit holders are far less likely to commit crimes than the general population, Donohue, et al, hypothesize that police simply “underestimate criminality by permit holders.”

Lott dismantles this claim by noting that permit holders in Michigan, for example, accounted for 0.053 percent of violent crime in the state in 2015. For Donohue’s claim to be true, police would have to be missing 99.4 percent of cases where permit holders have committed violent crimes.

In Louisiana, police would have to miss 99.5 percent of crimes committed by permit holders. In Oklahoma, police would have to miss 99.93 percent, in Tennessee 99.98 percent, and in Texas 99.54 percent.

Obviously, police aren’t making these kinds of errors.

Donohue’s study suffers from the same weakness as many other concealed carry studies: it cannot directly tie concealed carry permit holders to crimes. It can look at crime rates and rates of concealed carry permits, but it cannot link the two together because violent crime depends on a wide array of factors.

That’s why, as Lott notes, “No other study by an economist, criminologist, or law professor has claimed that US violent crime rose after right-to-carry laws were adopted.”

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • loupgarous February 5, 2018, 2:14 am

    On Aviation Week and Space Technology‘s comment space, one of our pet knee-jerk liberals chose an article about a Federal judge injunction against Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (the laws on civilian drone aircraft) for the very good reason that Congress hadn’t authorized those laws to moan about the SHUSH Act (taking suppressors out of the National Firearms Act and making their purchase subject to the less-stringent background check and requirements for purchase of a rifle, shotgun or pistol). Specifically, he predicted a dramatic upsurge in murders if suppressors no longer were subject to the NFA’s bottleneck-slowed regulatory requirements.

    I challenged this guy to cite even one case in which a legal owner of a suppressor had committed any violent crime at all using it. Still haven’t heard back from him. I also observed that his attitude was the result of an odd belief that an inanimate object has the totemic power to compel its owner to maim or kill others. No word back about that, either.

  • loupgarous February 5, 2018, 2:04 am

    Donohue’s study isn’t just a showcase for confirmation bias: Donohue’s actually comparing dissimilar datasets while failing to list and compensate for confounding factors, and it looks very much as though he designed the study to affrim his hypothesis.

    That doesn’t faze Newsweek, because their editorial policy is the journalistic equivalent of what Donohue’s trying: to pull the wool over their readers’ eyes as often as they can on contentious social issues.

  • A.D. Roberts July 24, 2017, 5:59 pm

    Nothing quite like a “study” where you start with your contention and fill in the picture to make your assumptions and claims look right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe they should start requiring these ‘intellectual jerks’ to say up front that they already had a position on the issue.

  • grifhunter July 15, 2017, 7:48 pm

    Professor Lott debunks another lefty hack academic study. Please consider donating to Dr. Lotts Crime Prevention Research site which has been a bulwark against fake news and academic papers on the subject of guns. https://crimeresearch.org/

  • Grampa Friday July 14, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Crime rates should have absolutely no merit in reguard to civil rights. Freedom is truly not free, even for us civilians. Although the players in question in this particular game are obviously stacking the deck, I will have ALL of my liberties all the same. It makes no difference whatsoever the statistics may be.

  • James July 14, 2017, 11:44 am

    Mr. Donohue has apparently forgotten the fact that correlation does not equal causation.

  • Scott Syverson July 14, 2017, 11:41 am

    More concealed weapons do lead to more “gun crime.” BUT, WAIT FOR IT…this is a good thing. In an assault where a mugger threatens with a knife, when a CCW uses his weapon in self-defense, statistically this now gets labeled as “gun violence.” So yes, as the number of CCW holders grow, so will “gun violence” grow as CCW utilize their 2A rights to protect themselves.

  • Bill July 14, 2017, 10:46 am

    And another play on words-Figures can lie and LIARS can figure!!

  • Larry July 14, 2017, 10:35 am

    Leftists lie & liars are Leftists.

  • Citizen Main July 14, 2017, 10:24 am

    Still Reviewing??? No, I,m still waiting.

  • Citizen Main July 14, 2017, 10:22 am

    Still Reviewing???

  • Citizen Main July 14, 2017, 10:08 am

    Guess the liberals control this website…….Figures….They really are angry we invited them to……TheRepublic. for which it stands, etc. ANY HOO. HAVE A BETTER DAY. CITIZEN MAIN

  • Citizen Main July 14, 2017, 9:54 am

    This is 2017, mid year,we have a new president, which the liberals are still crying about. They persist in their selfish, self centered, self serving ways of causing dis regard and national disrespect for the everyday events which make their lives safer and enjoyable. We are asked to help our law enforcement people, and to back them up in the event of any number of emergency which can take place……So….Why would any real American argue with that??? Again…… They are NOT real Americans!!!!! The 2nd amendment is for all our citizens. Help !!!!! don’t condemn Support your legally concealed carry people. Thankyou……CM

  • shrugger July 14, 2017, 7:16 am

    Can’t speak for everyone else of course, but MY carry gun will never be used in the commission of a crime.

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