John Lott on Graduation Ceremony Hoax: ‘They Took Me Out of Context’

Lott was tricked into giving a graduation speech and his words were selectively edited.

The anti-gun universe erupted with glee last month when a video emerged showing former National Rifle Association (NRA) President Davide Keene and former Department of Justice advisor John Lott speaking to 3,044 empty seats during a fake graduation ceremony as part of a stunt orchestrated by a gun-control group.

Lott, who has published a variety of studies and books poking holes in the gun-control agenda, has taken to media outlets and the Crime Prevention Research Center website to argue that his comments about background checks were taken wildly out of context.

The anti-gun organization Change the Ref hatched the elaborate plan to get Keene and Lott to talk about gun rights to empty chairs that supposedly represent all the students who did not graduate this year because they were killed by “gun violence.” Their speeches are heavily edited, and Lott says his comments were misrepresented.

The video implies that Lott voiced opposition to background checks on gun purchases.

SEE ALSO: Study Proves Gun Laws Reduce Homicides and Suicides? Not So Fast, Says Dr. Lott

“They want to go and say we’ve stopped three-and-a-half million dangerous people,” Lott says in the video. “I look at as, we’ve stopped three-and-a-half million law-abiding citizens who wanted to get a gun.”

In reality, Lott says, he advocated for fixing the background check system so that fewer law-abiding Americans have their checks denied.

“Of the 3.5 million initial denials (from purchasing firearms) due to background checks, more than 99 percent of those are false positives,” Lott told the Las-Vegas Review-Journal. “What we should do is require the federal government meets the same standard of quality in background checks that private companies do.”

Lott’s organization, the Crime Prevention Research Center, also pointed out that Change the Ref wildly inflated the number of “graduating seniors” who died of “gun violence” this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 548 17-year-olds died in 2019 from homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths involving guns. If the data is expanded to include everyone under 18, the number goes up to 1,638—a far cry from the 3,044 students Change the Ref claims.

SEE ALSO: John Lott on Bloomberg’s Racial Remarks, Stop-And-Frisk Initiative

Lott said he was tricked into giving the address by someone named “Jordan Simon,” who said James Madison Academy needed a keynote speaker for its graduation ceremony. The private academy was fake, but Change the Ref developed a now-deleted website that Lott says appeared to be real.

Simon said they wanted him to speak about “the importance of the individual liberties given to us in our ‘Bill of Rights’ — especially the 2nd Amendment.” Lott was initially hesitant to bring politics into a commencement address, but they insisted he talk about background checks.

Lott flew out to Las Vegas under the pretense of giving a dress rehearsal for the speech. After he had given the address, Simon stopped answering his calls and texts.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four 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. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Robert Messmer July 24, 2021, 4:33 pm

    Quote: “Simon said they wanted him to speak about “the importance of the individual liberties given to us in our ‘Bill of Rights’ — especially the 2nd Amendment.” Ding, ding, ding. Red Flag right there should have told Mr. Lott that the invite was not on the level. The Bill of Rights does NOT give us any of our individual liberties since they are given to us by God. Read the Declaration of Independence – you’ll see such words as ‘Creator’ and ‘unalienable rights’ including Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

  • Jay July 16, 2021, 7:03 pm

    Why the hell isn’t Lott suing, he should have already filed.

  • Kane July 16, 2021, 1:54 pm

    So you invite a “guest speaker” who responds in good faith to a hoax and that somehow makes a worthwhile point for the opposition? Not with me.

  • KMacK July 16, 2021, 1:19 pm

    I’ve seen the commercial (?) and the first thing I thought was “What a bunch of idiots!” They’ve set themselves up for lawsuits that they will lose and have generally made fools of the Gun Control community. Yes, we can have reasonable firearm laws. There are ways of keeping firearms out of the wrong hands, but these people can only see blanket denial as the way forward. There are better ways.
    1: Admit there are both Urban and Rural areas and make laws for each one of them rather than some “fits-all” law that doesn’t work for either one. 2: Focus on both Federal checks and Local checks before selling – regrettably some Police agencies have sloppy (to be kind) records keeping. 3: Create draconian penalties for criminal use of a firearm: “Use a gun, add twenty years” is one way of dealing.
    4: Fix the base problem that causes all this violence: FEAR. Fear is the underlying motivator for most massacres, usually personal. Entitlement is another one of many. All of them send up big flares and wave big flags…that everybody ignores because “Oh, they’re just acting out”, or “S/He’s just letting off steam.” It involves people getting off their a**es and reporting threatening behaviour AND it involves the responsible parties investigating that behaviour (Ohhh, but we’re overworked already…) It can be done, and until we decide to do it, people are gonna keep dying and airheads are going to keep making stupid commercials.

  • Dr Motown July 16, 2021, 7:11 am

    Not the first time that the left has done this. You need to carefully vette any invitations, recordings, etc

  • Dr. Strangelove July 16, 2021, 6:08 am

    Most of those “teens” who died dropped out of school long before graduation. Gang bangers are the ones getting shot.

  • Charles Plumery July 14, 2021, 8:28 am

    The left will do anything to achieve gun free goals including disrespect of the constitution and any stunt that purports lies going forward.

    • Steven July 16, 2021, 9:29 am

      That’s what commies do.

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