With more than a decade of new data, economist John Lott is more convinced than ever of the thesis of his controversial book, “More Guns, Less Crime.” In an appearance to discuss the third edition of the book yesterday at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., Lott laid out more evidence he says shows that the more guns are available for self-defense under right-to-carry laws, crime rates go down. No academic study has found that right-to-carry laws “have a bad effect on crime,” Lott says. Not surprisingly, Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence disagrees with Lott’s arguments.
Citing gun bans on some college campuses, shopping malls, and other places, Lott says in his book, that “the risk of gun-free zones is going to have to be seriously discussed.” He asserts that “bans increase violence and murder.” Helmke, who says his organization does not favor gun bans, disputed Lott’s arguments, saying there is a difference between a correlation between right-to-carry laws and crime declines and proof that the laws caused the crme drop. The real challenge, Helmke says, is to “make it harder for dangerous people to have guns.” Both Lott and Helmke expect the Supreme Court soon to strike down a Chicago ban on handguns, as it voided a similar Washington, D.C., ban two years ago.