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Scientist Responds to Claim that John Lott is Responsible for Mass Murder

Read more: Scientist Responds to Claim that John Lott is Responsible for Mass Murder
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Posted on June 6, 2017 by Dean Weingarten

By Dean Weingarten

Professor John R Lott Jr
Professor John R Lott Jr

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- A writer at Pacific Standard, Peter Moskowitz, assigned a measure of responsibility for a few of the latest mass public shootings ( Orlando Pulse Jihadi attack, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood Jihadi attack, Navy Yard shooting, Aurora Theater shooting, and Charleston Church shooting) to John Lott. Why?

It appears to be because John Lott conducts research that shows that more legally armed citizens reduce violent crime, and that gun free zones attract mass shootings.

Moskowitz admits that he is ill prepared to judge Lott's work. From psmag.com:

Every person is faced with the problem of confirmation bias when determining how to evaluate various claims. People selectively prefer claims that confirm their perception on disputed subjects. Scientists are trained to fight this tendency. It was with interest that I read another scientist' evaluation of Lott's work. It was posted in a series of comments on Mosqowitz' article. I have read Lott's books, and quite a few of his papers. I am a trained scientist, (retired out of the DOD). I find the statistical methods used intimidating, but understandable.

One thing stands out: No one is credibly claiming that violent crime is increased by the increase in people legally carrying firearms. You see this reflected in the arguments used to oppose gun reform legislation. Instead of people claiming that a reform of restrictions on carry will increase murder and robbery, you see more and more of the argument shifted to the claim that a reform of gun law will "not make us safer". Some make the unsurprising claim that more guns will lead to more suicides committed with guns.

It is not a persuasive argument. Our society is based on the model that if it is not prohibited, it is allowed, instead of the totalitarian model that if it is not allowed, it is prohibited. While the rate of suicide with guns has risen, it has risen less than the rate of all suicides.

None of the people pushing for more controls are using the county level of data to analyze the effects of guns on crime. My suspicion is when data is analyzed at the level of counties, the anti-rights researchers are not getting the results that they want.

It is credible that Dan N is not interested in having his understanding of the debate over the effects of legal firearms carry published in his name. His wife fears for his career. It is a real fear, based on real potential consequences.

I was downgraded in my career for a number of years, based on my willingness to push for less restrictions on firearms use. Two separate supervisors both told me that was the reason I was downgraded, in separate conversations, years apart. They were sympathetic, and appreciated that I did not hold them responsible. As I recall, one of them volunteered the information, the other responded to a carefully worded neutral question.

As a white male who had no reasonable claim to membership in a specially protected group, I judged it best to forgo legal challenges.

There can be a price for integrity and/or activism. It is wise to pick your battles and chose your favored field of action. I do not regret my decisions.

Consider what Peter Moskowitz is preaching. Because John Lott has published work that John reasonably believes to be true, John Lott is judged to be complicit in mass murder. It is hard to see the causal connection. It seems that John Lott's real "crime" is disagreeing with Peter Moskowitz, and challenging his world view.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.