David Hemenway’s guest column last Sunday, "Scientists reach consensus on guns," claimed a consensus on gun research based on a survey he conducted. But he conveniently fails to mention that another similar survey of peer-reviewed researchers was released two months ago.
That survey found the exact opposite. Gary Mauser, a professor who specializes in polling at Canada’s Simon Fraser University, conducted it for the crime Prevention Research Center. Mauser surveyed 53 economists who published in the area over the last 15 years. Among the questions: an overwhelming number -- 83 percent -- noted guns are more likely to be used in self-defense than in crime. Further, 74 percent said concealed handgun laws reduce murder rates and 69 percent said guns in the home don’t cause more suicides. Also, 83 percent said gun-free zones attract criminals.
Hemenway fails to note that the people he surveyed only had to mention “firearms” in their research. They didn’t have to actually conduct empirical work on guns. There were also problems in the recording of his responses. For instance, I was supposedly one of the researchers surveyed. Yet, my responses weren’t recorded. When I emailed Hemenway about this technical problem, my emails were ignored.
-- John R. Lott, Jr., president, Crime Prevention Research Center, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania