The Wall Street Journal discusses our research

From the Wall Street Journal (click here for the article):

A streaming video of the Sunday church service in Texas at which a parishioner gunned down a shooter is rallying those who support making it easier for private citizens to bear arms. 

Gun-rights advocates have long argued that if more citizens have guns, they can defend themselves and others in the event of a shooting. They say that schools and churches have become popular targets because students and worshipers are unarmed and vulnerable.

“These [mass shooters] may be crazy, but they’re not stupid. They know if they go to a place where people are banned from being able to protect themselves they’re going to be successful in killing people,” said John R. Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, a nonprofit research group that supports gun rights. . . .

This is a very fair article, especially compared to much of what is published these days, that provides both sides of the issue. However, there are a few points for us to make. We are not a “gun rights” organization. We are a group that does research to find out what saves lives, so we are a violence prevention organization. In any case, the CPRC actually has academics who have written on both sides of the gun control issue.

A gunman attacked a church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017, killing 26 people and injuring 20 others. A neighbor who ran over to the church and began shooting at the attacker is credited with helping to scare him off. That prompted calls by some in Texas, which has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country, to make it easier for parishioners to arm themselves. The state enacted a law in September allowing permit holders to carry concealed weapons in churches with permission from the clergy. . . .

Gun-control supporters said arming congregants without his level of training could also lead to more chaos and casualties during a shooting by allowing those without significant experience to start firing or making it difficult for law enforcement to identify the shooter. 

“The idea that everyone carrying a handgun is the most sensible response to the risk of firearm violence is insanity. It’s a one-way ratchet that only ends when every single person is carrying a gun,” said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at the Giffords Law Center, a pro-gun-control group started by former U.S. congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

As Dr. John Lott told the reporter, is that a possibility? Sure, but the fact is that we can point to dozens of cases where mass public shootings have been stopped by permit holders and in not one single case where a permit holder has legally carried a gun has that happened. The other concern that permit holders would accidentally shoot bystanders is also something that hasn’t occurred in any of these cases.

Mr. Lott’s research suggests that states have been expanding, not restricting the right to bear concealed weapons in response to recent mass shootings. He says there are about 19 million concealed carry permit holders in the U.S., up from about 16 million in 2017. While Mr. Lott’s research has also showed that the increase has helped keep people safer, a 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper points in the other direction, suggesting the increase in concealed weapons has coincided with an increase in violent crime. . . .

This gives a misleading impression of the research. Not only is there published peer-reviewed research that shows that even small changes in the way that the National Bureau of Economic Research paper tests things produce the opposite results, but the vast majority of the academic research supports the notion that allow people to protect themselves reduces violent crime rates. Having a discussion that says one person found one result and another person found the opposite result provides a very misleading picture of the research


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