John R. Lott on Gun Control Myths
The reality behind guns and crime rates in America
Rising violent crime rates in the United States has prompted a gun control push by the Biden administration and the Democratic Party. Biden has stated in a CNN town hall that he wants to target all "semi-automatic" guns – both rifles and pistols, which have the capacity **to hold more than 20 rounds. Because most firearms possess this capability, such an act would turn most law-abiding Americans into criminals. Naturally, Biden's remarks have generated significant controversy.
Here to discuss with me the Biden Administration's plans for gun control, the rationale (if any) behind them, and the reality behind guns and crime rates in America, is Dr. John R. Lott.
You may know Dr. Lott as the meticulous researcher and economist behind books like Gun Control Myths, More Guns, Less Crime, and The Bias Against Guns. He is a world-recognized expert on guns and crime, and founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center and has held various research and teaching positions, including at the University of Chicago, Yale, Wharton School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, and Rice University.
John Lott was also the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission during 1988-89, and has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals.
When it comes to guns, it's important to separate the stuff from the fluff. Get the facts, on the show of ideas, not attitude.
Bob Zadek 00:17
During the COVID period, we have heard politicians defending their edicts, mandates, and guidances, with the phrase, “Follow the science wherever it goes.” Would that it were true! But it was not. As history has shown us, the politicians have often hid behind the science, but never followed it. I have often observed with my guests on my show and in social conversation.
I have found when somebody tells me their opinion, this is uninteresting. Opinions are opinions. What is profoundly interesting, at least to me, is not what you believe, but why you believe it.
Let’s get under the hood. Let’s look at the working papers and find out whether what somebody believes has a foundation in objective facts — in science — whether it is defendable, objectively, or whether it is something akin to superstition.
This morning we will discuss — in the broadest sense of the term — gun control, or gun elimination. The points of view you will hear are not points of view based upon the Second Amendment, although for sure the Second Amendment has a relevance in a conversation involving gun control.
This morning, we will examine the myths and superstitions surrounding the gun control debate and the falsehoods presented to defend the point of view of those who would — if they had their way — take away or severely limit to the point of confiscation, almost all use of guns by citizens in our country. To help us understand the science behind a discussion of gun control, I’m delighted, proud and quite fortunate to welcome to the show, Dr. John R. Lott. John is an economist. He brings to this morning’s topic a scientific, economic, fact driven point of view through the discussion of whether or not lawful possession of guns are the source of America’s problems, at least insofar as crime and violent crime is concerned, whether the absence of guns will add to our problems and not diminish them.
John’s most recent book is Gun Control Myths: How politicians, the media, and botched “studies” have twisted the facts on gun control, published last year. John’s earlier book was More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. This morning’s show will be about understanding crime and gun control laws. If you want to be informed on this subject, if you want to test the position you hold against the facts, those books are the books to read. John, welcome to the show this morning.
John R. Lott 05:35
Well, thanks very much to having me on. I appreciate it.
An Economist in Government
Bob Zadek 05:38
Thanks, John, for all of your work in bringing sunlight into the shadows in the darkness of gun control myths. Now, John, you are an economist, and you served in government in several capacities. I believe you were the chief economist on the Sentencing Commission, a few years back. Tell us about your experience in government. Why were you hired, if that’s the right word, to serve in government as an economist, and what you were asked to contribute to the conversation? You’re an economist — not a sociologist, not a criminologist.
John R. Lott 06:34
Sure, well, economists study lots of different areas. I’ve written in many different areas myself. One of the key points of economics is the notion that if something’s more costly, people do less of it. If the price of apples goes up, people buy fewer apples. It also applies to crime. If you make it riskier for criminals to go and commit crime, they’ll commit less crime.
There are other things that economists can do in terms of cost-benefit analysis. If you want to go and try to figure out what the benefits and costs are for increasing certain penalties, economists can try to measure those types of things. So my first job in Washington was as chief economist for the United States Sentencing Commission, that is the organization that sets the sentencing guidelines that federal judges are supposed to follow when they sentence criminals. Then more recently, this last year, and the very beginning of this year, I was Senior Advisor for research and statistics in the Department of Justice. I’ve also been an academic most of my life — held positions at Stanford, University of Chicago, the Wharton Business School, and Yale. I’ve been in both law schools and business schools, economics departments and public policy schools — probably been in more different parts of academia than maybe anybody.
There are lots of stories I could tell you about being in Washington. My first tour of duty was in the late 1980s. Then more recently, I was just there and things have changed. Overwhelmingly civil service was made up of Democrats in those times, but they were much more in your face — much more kind of deep state type now than they were in the 1980s. I can give you one story that illustrates how things are these days if you’re interested. One of the things that I wanted to work on when I got to Washington was the background check system in particular — the mistakes that are made, and how that varies by the race and gender of the person who’s trying to buy a gun. You’ll frequently hear claims about 3.8 million prohibited people that have been stopped from buying guns because of background checks. That’s simply not accurate. What they should say is there have been 3.8 million initial denials, and that virtually all those — something around 99% of those are mistakes. When you buy a gun, you have to put down information about your race and gender, and so I know the data is there to build.
So when I got to Washington last year, I talked to the people at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and they were interested in getting that. So they approached the FBI. The FBI said, “Nobody’s interested in that, we don’t want to put that together, we don’t see any point in doing it.”
My response to them was, “You guys break down everything by race and gender. What’s the opposition to breaking this down by race and gender?” So we argued back and forth for a little while about it. Then they just went silent, and refused to respond to emails or phone calls for about a month, and then two days after the election, they got back to us and said that, well, you’ll have to fill out a FOIA request, a Freedom of Information Act request. This is one part of the Department of Justice asking another part of the Department of Justice for data, and it’s the Bureau of Justice systems, which it’s their job to go and get data from the FBI. Nobody had ever even heard of something like this happening before. But that’s not the only thing that they said. They said, “Now, you have to file a FOIA request. Even if you could get it in today, there’s no way we could get the data done by January 20.” We’re sure that the Biden administration will not be interested in this information and so there’s no reason for you to even request it.
An Economist’s Case Against Background Checks
Bob Zadek 11:43
I’m glad you started there. Background checks are one of those confusing policies for those who rely upon headlines and wherever they get their news. I’m a gun control outsider. I don’t own a gun. I have a passing interest because I care about my own safety. That’s about the extent of it. I hear background checks and I say to myself, “Well, that seems a sensible policy, we ought to have some control on who gets to own a gun”.
After all, it’s commonly noted that we control who gets to drive a car. Nobody complains about driver’s licenses. That seems like a sensible use of governmental power. In your book and in your public appearances, you provide so much information on what in the abstract seems like a sensible policy. In your discussion of background checks, you raise so many interesting and important issues, including adverse effects that have racial disparity, including its goal of making inner cities and the rest of society safer. Help us understand, because there is so much misunderstanding about the common sense principle of background checks. How is that policy being captured by those who are not driven by reducing crime? Help us understand the abuse of background checks, and why it contributes to violent crime with guns rather than eliminating it, as well as its negative effects upon racial minorities?
John R. Lott 14:30
Sure — everybody wants to stop dangerous people from getting a hold of weapons that they may use against other people. The problem is that you have almost 4 million Americans that have been stopped from buying guns because of background checks. If you listen to the news media, they just assume that all those are actually dangerous people that have been stopped and nothing could be further from the truth. When you buy a gun and you’re stopped, it goes through a series of checks — the five stages of review. The first stage is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reviews the paperwork — no lawyers involved in the process. About 94% of the cases are dropped at that stage.
When Clinton was president, Republicans attacked him for not enforcing gun control laws. When Bush was president, Democrats attacked him for not enforcing gun control laws. When Obama was president, Republicans attacked him for not enforcing gun control laws. The number one exhibit is, “Look at all these prohibited people that tried to buy a gun and were stopped.” Well, that’s a felony each time a prohibited person tries to buy a gun and is stopped. These are cases, which are very easy to prosecute if they’re a real case. That is, let’s say you’ve been in prison for five years — and you fill out the form 4473, where they ask, “Are you a convicted felon?” If you put down “No,” and you sign at the bottom, and you say under threat of perjury ,”I’m attesting to everything being correct here,” this is an incredibly easy thing to prosecute because you show your ID. It’s not like there’s confusion over who you are. It’s not like you can go and claim, “I forgot I was in jail for five years.” It’s hard to think of an easier case for the government to make in prosecuting these cases. Yet, you just don’t see any prosecutions occurring. In 2017, there were something like 112,000 initial denials, and they had 12 prosecutions. Even the people that they do prosecute are not what most people would think of as hardened criminals.
I’ll give you one example I came across. When I was in Washington, a 63 year old man’s wife had gotten threats. She was going to get a concealed handgun permit. He decided he was going to go and buy her a handgun. So he went in and tried to buy her a handgun. It turns out that 43 years earlier he’d gotten into a fistfight with his brother in their front yard. Neighbors had called the police. They had pleaded guilty to domestic violence of misdemeanor. That’s a prohibited offense. He didn’t list it on the 4473 when he was filling it out. So he committed a felony by doing it, and he was sentenced to three years in prison for perjury.
That’s more of an extreme case. There are a lot of cases that are like that, for the tiny number that do get prosecuted. There’s no reason why we should be having these mistakes. It’s one thing to stop a felon from buying guns and nothing to stop somebody simply because they have a name similar to a felon from buying a gun. When you fill it out the 4473 put that in your name, your address, your social security number, your birthday, your race, your eye color, your gender, you think they’re using all that information. What they usually use is roughly phonetically similar names and similar birthdays that creates all sorts of mistakes. Private companies, when they do background checks on employees, hit an error rate.
For 20 years, I’ve just been pointing out to gun control advocates that they would have a much easier time getting these background checks on private transfers if they would just make a couple reasonable changes to the law. One of them is requiring the federal government to meet the same standards for doing background checks that private companies have to meet. If the federal government can demand that private companies have to meet certain standards, why isn’t that good enough for the federal government? The thing is when you break it down by race and gender, I was able to see some of this data but unfortunately they were unwilling to make this public for various reasons that we could talk about. What you find is that the error rate for black males is more than three times their share of the population. For Hispanic males, it’s like two and a half times their share of the population. The problem is, people tend to have names similar to others in their racial groups. Hispanics have names similar to other Hispanics. Blacks tend to have names similar to other blacks. 33% of black males in the United States have a felony background, which prevents them from buying a gun, whose names are most likely to be confused with other law abiding black males, who want to be able to go and buy a gun to protect themselves and their families.
Again, there’s no reason for these mistakes to be occurring. The other big issue is just the costs. In Washington, DC, where they’re voting on this stuff, it costs $125 to go and do a background check on a private transfer of a gun. That may not stop you or me from being able to go and obtain a gun, but the very people that my research shows who benefit the most from owning guns — poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas, people who are most likely victims of violent crime — having a gun there is very important to them in terms of being able to protect themselves and their families. There are two points to make on this. One is if you believe the background checks are good, presumably you want to encourage people to go and do these checks, making somebody pay a $125 fee is taxing them for doing what you want them to do. It’s not how you encourage people to do it, if you want to encourage them, at least, consider picking up the costs that are there.
Disproportionate Effects on Minorities
Bob Zadek 22:04
As an aside, gun control laws have as part of their history an ugly, under-discussed racial component. The history of gun control laws in this country, like the history of minimum wage, immigration restrictions, and so many other apparently benign policy issues, have a ugly racial component. Gun control laws were initially enacted in order to prevent racial minorities from getting guns. It’s clear from the history. Here we have a statute or a policy that finds its way into the system. Now it’s accepted — unquestioned — when in reality, it has only begun.
John, you have the data on gun control laws, which as a group of statutes taken together adversely affect the inner city, minority communities much more than the suburbs. Tell us about simply, if you can, the effect of gun control laws, collectively, upon the safety of inner cities, because I think the evidence is contrary to what our listeners might otherwise believe.
John R. Lott 24:00
One doesn’t need to go over the history of this to see it this current day. If you look across the country, there are two or three general types of concealed-carry laws. There’s the “May issue,” which you have in California, and New York and New Jersey — basically eight states with that — and you have the right to carry laws. There’s two types of those. There’s 21 constitutional carry states where you don’t need to have a permit. If you’re a law-abiding citizen and you’re legally able to own a gun, then you can carry without a permit. Then the remaining 21 states are “right to carry” where if you’re a certain age and pass a criminal background check, you pay your fee, you get whatever training is required — once you meet those criteria, then it’s up to you whether or not to get a permit. in the “may issue” states you have to meet those requirements but then you also have to provide what they call a good reason for them giving you a permit.
I was able to get the list of everybody in Los Angeles County who had a concealed handgun permit a few years ago. There’s like 216 people that have a concealed handgun permit. You can compare that to the rest of the country. They’re about 8 million adults in Los Angeles County. It’s a tiny percentage nationwide, you’re about 10% outside of those “may issue” states but 10% of the adult population is a concealed handgun permit compared to just literally just a fraction of like a 10th of a percent in Los Angeles County. Nationwide, about 30% of permit holders are women. In Los Angeles County it’s at 7%. Nationwide, about 14% of concealed carry permit holders are blacks. In Los Angeles County it is 5%. In Los Angeles County, about 54% of the population is Hispanic. Only about 6% of the permit holders in LA are Hispanic.
Now, is it just that in Los Angeles County women aren’t being threatened like they are in the rest of the country? They’re not being stopped? Or blacks aren’t facing crimes being committed against them in Los Angeles County? No, it’s just that the people (in this case overwhelmingly Democrats) who make the decision whether or not you have a good reason for getting a concealed handgun permit, have decided that certain people give good reasons and other people don’t, and they’re not willing to go and accept the reasons that women or blacks do for permits. The type of people that you see, outside of let’s say, judges or prosecutors that they get permits to, are basically very wealthy, very politically connected, white males, who tend to get large campaign donations to people like the sheriff. That’s fine. I’m glad that they’re able to go and get protection.
But as mentioned earlier, the very people who are most likely victims of violent crime, poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas, or poor Hispanics who live in high crime urban areas, are out of luck. For them to go and say, “I live in a very dangerous area, and I’m worried about my safety,” that’s not the type of reason that they will approve. It’s more than just that.
You can look at Illinois, a democratically-controlled state, and Indiana — a very heavily republican state: In Illinois, only about 3% of permit holder people adults have concealed handgun permits. In Indiana, it’s over 20%. Why the difference? It’s pretty easy to explain. In Illinois, it costs about $450 to go through the process to get a concealed handgun permit. In Indiana, it’s $12.95.
It’s more than just the percent of the population. It’s also a mix. In Illinois, it’s very heavily white males who live in the suburbs. In Indiana it’s many more individuals who live in high crime urban areas with zip codes that are heavily black. Illinois does all sorts of things beyond just the cost of getting it. They don’t allow you to take a permit to carry a concealed handgun on public transportation. Up until very recently, there were no training facilities in Chicago. If you were a poor black who lived in Chicago and didn’t own a car, you’d have to go and borrow somebody’s car to go and travel well outside the city for two to four days because they had 16 hours of training that were required. It’s like they went through and did a checklist of everything they possibly could to make it so that poor blacks who lived in high crime areas of Chicago would be unable to go and get a permit.
Are We Safer with Fewer Guns?
Bob Zadek 30:15
Let’s get to the heart of it and the heart of your research. After all, I promised we were going to look at the science and the data. This will not be just a show advocating a certain principle, but rather a fact-based discussion. The core issue is that there is this mythology that Americans are safer to the extent that we can increase the difficulty of owning a gun in general. We can drill it down to what kind of gun — automatic, semi automatic weapons, concealed handguns, and the like — but the statistics that you explained in your book are so overwhelming.
Help us understand the objective data about the relationship between the safety of Americans with stricter and stricter gun control laws versus their safety without them?
John R. Lott 32:06
I think the police are the single most important factor my research indicates is for protecting people. The police themselves understand that they virtually always arrive at the crime scene after crimes have occurred. The question becomes what people should do when they’re having to confront a criminal by themselves. It turns out, just as you can make it riskier for criminals to go and commit crimes with higher arrest rates or higher conviction rates or longer prison sentences, the fact that the would-be victim might be able to defend themselves can also make it riskier for criminals to go and commit crime.
You’ll see discussions that will compare the UK homicide rate to the United States — the UK has a very low homicide rate compared to the United States, and they have very strict gun control, and very few people are able to own guns in the UK. People assume it must be the fact that they have very strict gun control laws that causes the low homicide rate. There are very few academics that make purely cross sectional comparisons, looking at different places at one point in time. This really gives an example of why it’s dangerous to do that because if you look before the UK had its strict gun control laws, they had actually even lower homicide rates. Over the next eight years from the handgun ban in 1997, the homicide rate in the UK went up by 50%. It only went down again after they had a huge 18% increase in the number of police officers.
I ask this question: can you name me one place in the world that has banned either all guns or all handguns and seen murder rates go down or even stay the same? Because I can’t find it. Every single place and every single time that you’ve seen either all guns are all handguns banned, murder rates have gone up. You would think out of randomness, it would be easy to go and find at least a couple places where murder rates went down or at least stayed the same. You would think surely if guns are net bad, that should happen all the time. You just don’t see it happening in the United States. We’ve had a couple experiments like this with regard to Chicago and Washington DC where all handguns were banned. People know that murder rates and violent crime rates soared after those bans went into effect.
Gun control advocates, though, will respond and say, “Well, that wasn’t really a fair test, because unless you go on and ban guns everywhere, people can still get guns from the rest of Illinois or from Indiana or from Maryland or Virginia.” There are few problems with that argument. One is it doesn’t really explain why murder rates and violent crime rates rose so dramatically after the ban, because presumably criminals could have gotten guns from those other places to begin with. It may explain why it didn’t fall like gun control advocates were promising, but doesn’t explain the increase that occurred. Besides that, it would have been nice if gun control advocates knew in advance that this wasn’t a fair test. It would have been nice if they would have told people that when they were passing the laws that they thought that it would actually be counterproductive.
The third point is, we can actually look around the world. There are whole nations that have banned guns. There are island nations that have banned guns. You would think that an island nation banning a gun would be the perfect experiment. There’s no neighbor that you can easily go and blame for supplying guns that have easily defendable borders that are there when you’re an island nation. You look around the world and even island nations have seen huge increases in murders and violent crime after they’ve had gun bans in effect. There’s a simple thing that’s going on there. That is, when you ban guns, it’s the most law-abiding good citizens who obey the rules, not the criminals. To the extent that that occurs, you actually make it easier for criminals to go and commit crimes. There’s lots of other evidence that we go into. Here’s the bottom line that applies to any type of gun control law, where you’re making it relatively more costly for law-abiding citizens relative to criminals to be able to go and obtain guns. You have to be careful that you’re not passing rules that are primarily going to disarm law-abiding citizens relative to criminals.
Even if one wants to go and limit yourself to cross-sectional data, and I spent a fair amount of time in my book Gun Control Myths on this too, you find that the countries with the highest gun ownership rates clearly tend to have the lowest murder and homicide rates. Some of the countries with by far the highest murder rates have effectively banned guns. Mexico, for example, since 1973, has had one gun store in the country. The most powerful gun that you can legally buy in Mexico is a .22 caliber short round rifle. It’s not the type of gun that the gangs are using down there. If you look at the legally licensed data, they have literally less than 0.2% of the adult population legally licensed to own a gun in Mexico. Yet they have a murder rate that’s six times higher than the murder rate that we’ve had in the United States.
Brazil, similarly, has a similar extremely low legal gun ownership rate. Yet they’ve also had a murder rate that’s about six times higher than what we have in the United States. If you look across all the countries that we have data for the United States is well below the average murder rate and well below the median murder rate or homicide rate across countries. One other point, people confuse homicides and murders. They use the two terms interchangeably and they’re not homicides or murders plus justifiable homicides. It’s never really been obvious to me why you want to go and lump in justifiable homicides with murders. There is a big difference to me from a robber killing somebody in the course of a robbery, or a woman fatally shooting a serial rapist who breaks into her home at 2am in the morning. The United States appears to have a lot more justifiable homicides than most countries do, so that tends to make us look relatively worse than other countries. When you use homicides, the thing is, there are very few countries that report murder data. There are lots of other issues that we could go through there.
“The United States appears to have a lot more justifiable homicides than most countries do, so that tends to make us look relatively worse than other countries.”
What the Media Doesn’t Report: Foiled Plots and the Failure of Gun Free Zones
Bob Zadek 40:41
You make an important point in your book. You’ve made a very interesting, and I think important distinction that I left you to speak briefly to. We have in our country in general, lots of what I will call “gun free zones”: universities, churches, malls, etc. There are areas where even if you can, in general, carry a gun or own a gun, you cannot bring it into these special areas designated by statute, gun free zones. Then we have on the other part of my question, these mass killings. Again, every time there’s a mass killing, that is cited as anecdotal support for failures of existing gun control laws. Therefore we need more gun control laws. You have pointed out in your book, statistically, a relationship that’s counterintuitive to those who would advocate for stricter gun control — between the relationship between mass killings and gun free zones, which show how gun free zones in general and gun controls, more generally, contribute to crime rather than prevent it. Speak to that relationship because there’s so much in the news about the relationship between the effect of gun free zones on how they encourage or discourage mass killings, as the media describes, I think a mass killing is more than four people are killed in one incident, but I could be wrong about that.
John R. Lott 42:33
Traditionally, it’s been four or more people that are killed. These mass public shooters may be crazy, in some sense, but they’re not stupid. Their goal is to try to get media attention, we have people usually who want to go and commit suicide, but they want to go and commit suicide in a way that’s going to get them attention. They know, and you read this in their diaries and other statements that they leave behind, that the more people they can kill, the more media attention that they’re going to get, so they pick venues where they don’t have to worry about people defending themselves. Time after time, you can find discussions. I go through a number of them in my book, Gun Control Myths, where they explicitly find targets where they know people aren’t going to be able to defend themselves.
94% of these mass public shootings take place in areas where civilians are banned from having guns. Even if you have a police officer, it’s an incredibly difficult job. If you have one person in uniform, and they’re the only person that people know has a gun, who do you think these attackers go after first, if they’re going to go and do the attack there? They go after the officer and, and try to kill them because they know that once they subdue the officer that’s there, they’re going to have free rein to go after other people.
“94% of these mass public shootings take place in areas where civilians are banned from having guns.”
The entire debate that we have right now on guns would be dramatically different if a couple things occurred. If once in a while the media would mention that we’ve had yet another mass public shooting in a place where civilians were banned from having guns. In the media, we’re frequently very quickly talking about guns that were used, or how they think the person obtained the guns. Often the initial news stories are wrong. The easiest thing for them to go and check — that they just refuse to go and mention — is whether or not the attack occurred in a place where guns are banned. The debate would be very different now if they would regularly mention that even once in a while and their news stories.
The other thing is there are attempted mass public shootings in places that aren’t gun free zones. It’s amazing how frequently they’re stopped. On our website at crimeresearch.org, you can find dozens of cases in recent years where a successful mass public shooting was stopped because somebody had a permitted concealed handgun. The thing is, they just don’t get national news coverage when they occur.
I’ll give you a few examples just to show. People probably remember the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people were killed, which was at a nightclub. A week later, there was a similar attack at a nightclub in South Carolina. The big difference between the two attacks was Florida was one of 10 states that banned people having permitted concealed handguns in establishments that got more than 50% of their revenue from serving alcohol.
South Carolina was one of the 40 states that allowed people to be able to carry concealed handguns in those types of places. The attacker in South Carolina shot three people and was shooting at a fourth person when a person with a permanent concealed handgun seriously shot and seriously wounded the attacker. You will search in vain to find national news stories about that case in South Carolina. You would think people were just sensitized to attack in a nightclub. This would be national news coverage, but it wasn’t.
We’ll take the Parkland shooting. Just months after that attack in Florida, not very far from the Parkland shooting, there was an attack in an elementary school. They had a gathering at a park right next to the school. A man came up and started shooting. There were hundreds of students that were there plus their parents. Fortunately, there was a vendor that was there who had his permanent concealed handgun and shot and seriously wounded the attacker and stopped the attack before anybody was shot. Again, you only saw local news coverage on this.
The amazing thing is that the few times over the last five years where there’s been any mention of an attack that’s been stopped by a concealed carry permit holder, the media boxes the stories time after time. I’ll give you one particularly egregious case. You had the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Just three days later, you had an attack at a grocery store at a Kroger grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky. A man who went into grocery stores started shooting blacks. The national news attention was that the murderer had turned to a customer and said, “Whites don’t shoot whites.” The way it was played in the media was this murderer was assuring this white customer that he had nothing to worry about because they were both white and he wasn’t going to shoot. What was left out of places like NBC, Meet the Press and other places was the first part of the quote. The murder actually said to the customer, please don’t shoot me, “Whites don’t shoot whites.”
This white murderer was actually pleading to this customer who had a permanent concealed handgun that was pointing at the murder, and begging the customer not to shoot the murderer. They did exchange fire. The murderer was seriously wounded, got in his car, drove about a mile away before he passed out. The police were able to go and catch him after he had passed out in his car because of the wounds that he had. At the time, I was able to text back and forth with Chuck Todd, the moderator for Meet the Press and I said, “Chuck you just spent like five minutes on the story.” He was focusing on the racial aspect of this racist, and I said the story was more complicated because here you had a white customer coming to the aid of these blacks who were being shot and heroically stopped the attack there. It just seems like you may want to correct it because the national media completely botched the story by leaving out the first part of the murderous quote there. I suggested maybe next week, he could go and correct the record on that. He basically blocked me after that. He never corrected the story. I gave him multiple local Louisville news sources to show the full quote that was there. He wasn’t interested. I could give you a couple other examples.
“The entire debate that we have right now on guns would be dramatically different if a couple things occurred. If once in a while the media would mention that we’ve had yet another mass public shooting in a place where civilians were banned from having guns. In the media, we’re frequently very quickly talking about guns that were used, or how they think the person obtained the guns. Often the initial news stories are wrong. The easiest thing for them to go and check — that they just refuse to go and mention — is whether or not the attack occurred in a place where guns are banned. The debate would be very different now if they would regularly mention that even once in a while and their news stories.”
Bob Zadek 50:33
There’s been so much written about censorship on Twitter and Facebook. The subtext, which you have mentioned more than once, is we in the information public have all been victimized by distorted media reports, which are important in helping us form our decisions about how we feel about gun control. Your work, John, at the Crime Prevention Research Center, and your books help us get the facts so we can make a much more informed decision. We are all being manipulated — everybody who consumes mainstream media information. I implore people that if you’re going to form an opinion, have it be an informed opinion, which is fact based.
John, we’re running out of time, and I want to just point out to our audience, you have founded the Crime Prevention Research Center, which is a fact-based website. John, thank you so much for giving us an hour of your time.
John R. Lott 52:00
People can find more at our website at crimeresearch.org. Thank you.
John R. Lott — Crime Prevention Research Center