Response to Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes' claims at "ArmedwithReaon" about my research
Recently Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes claimed that defensive gun use was a myth. Gary Kleck wrote a response where he noted that these authors were merely repeating earlier criticisms and ignored the responses that he and others have made to those critiques.
Well, DeFilippis and Hughes use the same approach in discussing my research (a screen shot of their original post is saved here). Let's try to go through these points in order that they are presented:
-- Tim Lambert as a source. Professor Jim Purtilo at the University of Maryland put up a post in 2004 that he has updated over the years that shows that Lambert has been caught falsifying evidence on multiple occasions and has otherwise been dishonest. See:
- Tim Lambert types are the reason nobody can trust WP presentations
- History of namecalling in WP talk sections
- Detailed history of edits on WP's Lott page
- Other points
In an audacious display of cherry-picking, Lott argues that there were “more guns” between 1977 to 1992 by choosing to examine two seemingly arbitrary surveys on gun ownership, and then sloppily applying a formula he devised to correct for survey limitations. Since 1959, however, there have been at least 86 surveys examining gun ownership, and none of them show any clear trend establishing a rise in gun ownership. Differences between surveys appear to be dependent almost entirely on sampling errors, question wordings, and people’s willingness to answer questions honestly.
However, we know this assertion is factually untenable, based on surveys showing that 5-11% of US adults already carried guns for self-protection before the implementation of concealed carry laws.
It’s extremely unlikely, therefore, for the 1% of the population identified by Lott who obtained concealed carry permits after the passage of “shall-issue” laws to be responsible for all the crime decrease.
On Hood and Neeley -- "zip codes with the highest violent crime before Texas passed its concealed carry law had the smallest number of new permits issued per capita."I have a long discussion about why purely cross-sectional analysis is unreliable. Regarding: "zip codes with the highest violent crime before Texas passed its concealed carry law had the smallest number of new permits issued per capita.” Well, given that it cost $140 and 10 hours of training to get a permit, it isn’t very surprising to me that poor areas have both high crime rates and low permit rates. As to cherry-picking, even if cross-sectional analysis was useful, somehow the authors have to explain why they picked one city in the entire US to look at. In any case, I note this paper and respond to it in MGLC.
Note on the Dade county data.
Dade county police records, which cataloged arrest and non-arrests incidents for permit holders in a five-year period, also disproves Lott’s point. This data showed unequivocally that defensive gun use by permit holders is extremely rare. In Dade county, for example, there were only 12 incidents of a concealed carry permit owner encountering a criminal, compared with 100,000 violent crimes occurring in that period. . . .Anyone who has been following the debate on justifiable police homicides knows that the data is not very reliable. The justifiable homicide data for civilians is even worse.
As Albert Alschuler explains in “Two Guns, Four Guns, Six Guns, More Guns: Does Arming the Public Reduce Crime,” Lott’s work is filled with bizarre results that are inconsistent with established facts in criminology. . . .My responses to these claims can be found in MGLC (here and here), though DeFilippis and Hughes ignore my responses.
Dennis Hennigan writes, “the absence of an effect on robbery does much to destroy the theory that more law-abiding citizens carrying concealed guns in public deter crime.”My response to this type of point is available here in MGLC.
Black and Nagin noticed that there were large variations in state-specific estimates for the effect of “shall-issue” laws on crime. For example, Lott’s findings indicated that right-to-carry laws caused “murders to decline in Florida, but increase in West Virginia. Assaults fall in Maine but increase in Pennsylvania.” In addition, “the magnitudes of the estimates are often implausibly large. The parameter estimates that RTC laws increased murders by 105 percent in West Virginia but reduced aggravated assaults by 67 percent in Maine. . . .Again, DeFilippis and Hughes ignore that I have extensive discussions on this in both MGLC and a 1998 paper published in the Journal of Legal Studies.
Regarding Ted Goertzel's comments, DeFilippis and Hughes plagiarize/copied his comments in their discussion of Dan Black and Nagin. In general their approach is to copy, slightly rewrite other critiques, and then ignore what I have written in response.
DeFilippis and Hughes write:
Within a year, two econometricians, Dan Black and Daniel Nagin validated this concern. By altering Lott’s statistical models with a couple of superficial modeling changes, or by re-running Lott’s own methods on a different grouping of the data, they were able to produce entirely different results.Goertzel wrote:
Within a year, two determined econometricians, Dan Black and Daniel Nagin (1998) published a study showing that if they changed the statistical model a little bit, or applied it to different segments of the data, Lott and Mustard's findings disappeared. Black and Nagin found that when Florida was removed from the sample there was "no detectable impact of the right-to-carry laws on the rate of murder and rape." They concluded that "inference based on the Lott and Mustard model is inappropriate, and their results cannot be used responsibly to formulate public policy."This is one time where DeFilippis and Hughes pretend that they are actually linking to what I wrote in response to Goertzel, but instead they misstate what I wrote and link back again to Goertzel. My responses to Goertzel were similar to what I just note above in response to Black and Nagin.
DeFilippis and Hughes claim "Lott’s response to Goetzl was to shrug him off, insisting that he had enough controls to account for the problem." But that is not accurate. I point out that I was also concerned that the sensitivity of specifications. That is why I pointed to papers such as the one by Bartley and Cohen that provided tests of whether the results were indeed sensitive.
As to Ayres and Donohue's 2003 law review paper, DeFilippis and Hughes are just simply wrong about the facts. They write:
"Fortunately, Lott’s data set ended in 1992, permitting researchers to test Lott’s own model with new data. Researchers Ian Ayres, from Yale Law School, and John Donohue, from Stanford Law School, did just this, and examined 14 additional jurisdictions between 1992 and 1996 that adopted concealed carry laws."The 2nd edition of MGLC came out in 2000 and, as noted above, it had data through 1996. I provided Ayres and Donohue with my data set and they added one year to the study, 1997. That single year did not change the results. While Ayres and Donohue also claimed that the my research had ended with 1992, anyone who checks the 2nd edition of the book or reads chapter 9 in the third edition will see that I had looked at data from 1977 to 1996.
The reply to Ayres and Donohue in the law review was by Florenz Plassmann and John Whitley. I had helped them out and Whitley notes "We thank John Lott for his support, comments and discussion." There were minor data errors in the additional years that they added from 1997 to 2000, but those errors didn't alter their main results that dealt with count data. They had accidentally left 180 cell blank out of some 7 million cells. Donohue has himself made much more serious data errors in his own work on this issue. For example, he repeats the data for one county in Alaska 73 times, says that Kansas' right to carry law was passed in 1996 and not 2006, and made other errors. I did co-author a corrected version of the Plassmann and Whitley paper that fixed the data errors and is available here. But DeFilippis and Hughes can't even get it straight what paper I co-authored.
In any case, for those who want my response, you can read what I wrote in MGLC (the link only provides part of my discussion).
1) Note that Kleck has also said many positive things about my research. For example, see this quote: “John Lott has done the most extensive, thorough, and sophisticated study we have on the effects of loosening gun control laws. Regardless of whether one agrees with his conclusions, his work is mandatory reading for anyone who is open-minded and serious about the gun control issue. Especially fascinating is his account of the often unscrupulous reactions to his research by gun control advocates, academic critics, and the news media.”
2) I have discussed Kleck's quote in MGLC (see attached file).
3) The vast majority of peer reviewed research that looks at national data on crime rates supports my research (see table 2 here and also here).
4) There are a lot of prominent academics and people involved in law enforcement who have said positive things about my research. I can list a few here, but I don't really see the point.
—Stan Liebowitz, University of Texas at Dallas
—Thomas Sowell, Stanford University
that what is at stake is not just the right to carry arms but rather our performance in controlling a diverse array of criminal behaviors. Perhaps most disturbing is Lott’s documentation of the role of the media and academic commentators in distorting research findings that they regard as politically incorrect.”