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HCI researchers stymied by Lott

HCI researchers stymied by Lott

Knox, Neal

“WHO would have thought six months ago that Handgun Control, Inc., would be rushing out studies to argue that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns had no effect on crime–or if it did have an effect, it would only have an effect in reducing aggravated assault or robbery?”

University of Chicago Law Professor John Lott, who asked that devastating question at HCI’s forum to show off those new studies, was the principal reason the debate over concealed firearms has changed. Although outnumbered three-to-one on the panel, he maintained a scholarly detachment while confidently skewering their huffy criticisms. When well-armed, it isn’t necessary to engage in histrionics.

Prof. Lott and his colleague, Dr. David Mustard, set “gun controllers” on their ears last summer with a massive study which analyzed FBI crime statistics in the nation’s 3,054 counties from 1977 to 1992 to determine the effect of newly passed “right-to-carry” laws. Instead of the increased crime rates predicted by police, politicians and the press, their research showed that homicide went down 8.5% on average, rape 5%, and aggravated assault 7%. Further, they concluded: “If the rest of the country had adopted right-to-carry concealed handgun provisions in 1992, at least 1,570 murders and over 4,177 rapes would have been avoided.”

HCI’s counter-studies, based on the same crime data, showed that-at best, from their viewpoint-crime rates changed little or not at all. And Prof. Lott gleefully pointed out that his increasingly angry critics (from University of Maryland, Georgetown and CarnegieMellon) were able to reach such conclusions only by picking and choosing time periods and geographic areas that indicated the least change. He said researchers at 12 other universities were replicating and even expanding his own results.

HCI Board Member and hardware chain owner John Hechinger fumed that a “mere” five or 10% decrease in brutal crimes wasn’t enough to justify “the danger that exists when everyone carries a gun.” (Don’t bother him with facts!) And though HCI continuously claims not to want prohibition, their long-time financial backer blurted: “We have to do away with the guns.”

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Feb 1997

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