So John Lott is promoting guns again, this time in an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times. But this time heâ€™s taking a different tack. Some years ago Lott maintained that a survey he conducted on defensive gun use showed its benefits. However, no one could check it; he said that he lost the data in a hard drive crash â€“ but he couldn’t even provide evidence that he hired and paid interviewers to perform the survey.
He also used published crime statistics to promote his idea that relaxed gun laws prevented homicide. He subsequently was found to have misused the statistics in, shall we say, â€œinnovativeâ€ ways, to “prove” that more guns leads to less crime.
Abandoning data and surveys to promote guns, this time he uses a couple of anecdotes relating to individuals. That is, one person who was improperly denied a concealed carry license is more salient to him than the deaths of dozens of schoolchildren across the country.
I first encountered Lott when he began to use crime data improperly and wrote to him explaining the issues. When he did nothing about it, I wrote an article criticizing his research. To counteract my criticism, a woman named Mary Rosh started appearing on the web, who vilified me and who praised Lott as one of the best teachers she ever had. Then it turned out that Mary Rosh was a fiction, a persona created by Lott to debunk his critics. [He even implicated his four children: he admitted that the name â€œMary Roshâ€ was cobbled together using the first two letters of his kidsâ€™ names.] In other words, he hid behind the skirts of a woman he created out of whole cloth, just to promote himself and his pro-gun ideology. Here is my take on his actions in 2003.
At the time Lott was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, an organization with which he is no longer affiliated â€“ which makes me look more kindly on AEI. Now he hangs his at the Crime Prevention Research Center, where he is president. I have no idea who funds this center, but I can guess. Those who want to learn more about the organization and Lott should read this article.
I realize that the New York Times is trying to do its best to look at both sides of controversial policies, but this really takes the cake. To publish a person who admitted to lying about his professional life, and who is writing about the policies he lied about, is offensive to me and should be to all those who look upon the Times as a credible source of information.