The debate on gun control has been re-inflamed by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday. President Obama has signaled that he may consider new legislation to prevent more attacks. Most gun rights advocates, however, have either stayed silent or insisted that the teachers at the school should have been armed. Gun rights advocate John Lott, the leading academic behind the claim that more guns result in less violence, appeared on CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien to advance his pet theory.
O’Brien attacked Lott for his claim that Friday’s shooting means we should do away with all restrictions on guns. Lott argued that bans on guns in certain areas attract criminals to those areas:
LOTT: Because of my research I’ve talked to dozens of people who have been present at these horrible events over time. And the feeling of helplessness is just overwhelming for these individuals. Look, there’s one common feature of these attacks…you go back from 1950 at least on, with only one exception, all the multiple victim public shootings, where more than three people have been killed, have occurred where guns are banned. We try to make an area safe by banning guns. But what happens is it’s the law abiding good citizens who obey the ban and not the criminals. [...]
O’BRIEN: Why is your take away from all of this to get rid of gun laws, and your take away is not to say there are people who should not have access to certain types of weapons? In this particular case, we know that he used a semiautomatic rifle to blow out the glass wall at the entrance to the school. So the security was useless. Why? Because he had a high velocity multi-shot with many rounds with him to be able to access the school. Why would you not say that’s exactly the kind of weapon that someone should not be able to easily get his hands on? [...] Or a rational person could say that having access to a high-powered semiautomatic rifle is inappropriate. There’s no reason to go deer-hunting with that, there’s no reason to have access to that. [...] How you could say we should have fewer laws, not more, it boggles the mind. If you would come and talk to the people in the town here, they would be stunned by you.
Lott’s claim that more guns result in less violence is popular with gun control advocates, but it’s simply not true. Lott’s research methods have been frequently called into question, and other experts have dismissed his work as “junk science.” As the Washington Post points out, concealed weapon bans have not increased the crime rate, as pro-gun advocates claimed, and there is no solid evidence that right-to-carry laws reduce violence.