Book Review - More Guns, Less Crime

by Dick Martin

More Guns, Less Crime
by Dr. John R. Lott

Originally printed in "The Armed M", newsletter of American Mensa's Second Amendment SIG. SIG web site is at:

I recently read Dr. John R. Lott's book, "More Guns, Less Crime." The book is based on Dr. Lott's landmark study on crime, deterrence, and the right to carry concealed handguns.

Dr. Lott effectively debunks the "politically correct" idea that allowing private citizens to carry concealed firearms is detrimental to society. On the contrary, he proves that concealed-carry by responsible, law-abiding citizens is detrimental only to criminals, and of considerable benefit to the rest of us.

He proves, using crime statistics from 3,000 U. S. counties over 18 years, that when and where "shall-issue" right-to-carry laws are enacted, the crime rate, especially the rates of the violent crimes of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, immediately go down significantly, and continue to go down over time. The drop in the crime rate in any jurisdiction is proportional to the number of permits issued in that jurisdiction.

Some of the high points -

The greatest benefit in terms of reduced crime due to concealed carry is enjoyed by women, blacks, and residents of densely populated urban areas.

While open carry protects the carrier, and perhaps people in his/her immediate vicinity, concealed carry protect everyone, because criminals can not tell who is armed and who is not. Therefore they must consider that any adult they encounter presents a risk (to the criminal) of armed self-defense. Therefore many criminals substitute property crimes where there is little likelihood of a confrontation with the victim (e. g. car theft, burglary of unoccupied houses or businesses), move to a jurisdiction with more restrictive gun laws, or find another line of work.

Concealed handgun licensing (CHL) is by far the most cost-effective way to reduce the crime rate. It is at least 4 times more cost-effective than hiring additional police officers.

Mass shootings ( e. g. Luby's Cafeteria, Killeen, Texas; Long Island Railway; Empire State Building) are totally eliminated in jurisdictions adopting "shall-issue" CHL.

Shall-issue CHL does not increase the incidence of accidental shootings, and improper use of permitted firearms is virtually nonexistent.

I did find some of the statistical analyses and the data tables a bit tedious. In my college days, there was a time when I had nightmares that I was being pursued by a least-squares line of regression. :)

While Dr. Lott's book probably would not have much impact on a closed mind that will not be influenced by facts, it should cause those who are against guns but willing to look at the facts, to rethink their positions.

Some quotes from the back cover:

"John Lott has done the most extensive, thorough, and sophisticated study we have on the effects of loosening gun control laws. Regardless of whether one agrees with his conclusions, his work is mandatory reading for anyone who is open-minded and serious about the gun control issue. Especially fascinating is his account of the often unscrupulous reactions to his research by gun control advocates, academic critics, and the news media."
Gary Kleck, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University

"John Lott destroys the politically correct argument that arming law-abiding citizens will have a harmful effect on their safety. There is no doubt that criminals prefer to prey upon the unprepared. This book will arm those who read it with the important facts they need in order to decide where they stand on the gun control issue."
Dale Gulbrantson, Executive Director, Illinois Police Association,

"Armed with reams of statistics, John Lott has documented many surprising linkages between guns and crime. More Guns, Less Crime demonstrates that what is at stake is not just the right to carry arms but but rather our performance in controlling a diverse array of criminal behaviors. Perhaps most disturbing is Lott's documentation of the role of the media and academic commentators in distorting research findings that they regard as politically incorrect."
W. Kip Viscusi, Cogan Professor of Law and director of the Program on Empirical Legal Studies, Harvard Law School

I recommend that all of us read this book. It will, at least, provide us with information to help us destroy the arguments in favor of gun control.

After I read the book, I donated it to my local public library. I believe the $23.00 investment is well worthwhile. The more people among the general public that understand the facts associated with the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the less threatened that right will be. I suggest that readers of this article consider buying a copy and when finished with it, donating it to a library where it has a chance of being read by many people.

Return to Port Of Call Home Page
Return to October/November 98 Table of Contents