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Synopsis: Does allowing people to own or carry guns deter violent crime? Or does it simply cause more citizens to harm each other? Directly challenging common perceptions about gun control, legal scholar John Lott presents the most rigorously comprehensive data analysis ever done on crime statistics and right-to-carry laws. This timely and provocative work comes to the startling conclusion: more guns mean less crime. In this paperback edition, Lott has expanded the research through 1996, incorporating new data available from states that passed right-to-carry and other gun laws since the book's publication as well as new city-level statistics.

"Lott's pro-gun argument has to be examined on the merits, and its chief merit is lots of data. . . . If you still disagree with Lott, at least you will know what will be required to rebut a case that looks pretty near bulletproof."—Peter Coy, Business Week

"By providing strong empirical evidence that yet another liberal policy is a cause of the very evil it purports to cure, he has permanently changed the terms of debate on gun control. . . . Lott's book could hardly be more timely. . . . A model of the meticulous application of economics and statistics to law and policy."—John O. McGinnis, National Review

"His empirical analysis sets a standard that will be difficult to match. . . . This has got to be the most extensive empirical study of crime deterrence that has been done to date."—Public Choice

"For anyone with an open mind on either side of this subject this book will provide a thorough grounding. It is also likely to be the standard reference on the subject for years to come."—Stan Liebowitz, Dallas Morning News

"A compelling book with enough hard evidence that even politicians may have to stop and pay attention. More Guns, Less Crime is an exhaustive analysis of the effect of gun possession on crime rates."—James Bovard, Wall Street Journal

"John Lott documents how far 'politically correct' vested interests are willing to go to denigrate anyone who dares disagree with them. Lott has done us all a service by his thorough, thoughtful, scholarly approach to a highly controversial issue."—Milton Friedman

Review: Multiple regression analyses are rarely the subject of heated public debate or 225-page books for laypeople. But John R. Lott, Jr.'s study in the January 1997 Journal of Legal Studies showing that concealed-carry weapons permits reduced the crime rate set off a firestorm. The updated study, together with illustrative anecdotes and a short description of the political and academic response to the study, as well as responses to the responses, makes up Lott's informative More Guns, Less Crime.

In retrospect, it perhaps should not have been surprising that increasing the number of civilians with guns would reduce crime rates. The possibility of armed victims reduces the expected benefits and increases the expected costs of criminal activity. And, at the margin at least, people respond to changes in costs, even for crime, as Nobel-Prize winning economist [TAG]Gary Becker showed long ago. Allusions to the preferences of criminals for unarmed victims have seeped into popular culture; Ringo, a British thug in Pulp Fiction, noted off-handedly why he avoided certain targets: "Bars, liquor stores, gas stations, you get your head blown off stickin' up one of them."

But Lott's actual quantification of this, in the largest and most comprehensive study of the effects of gun control to date, a study well-detailed in the book, provoked a number of attacks, ranging from the amateurish to the subtly misleading, desperate to discredit him. Lott takes the time to refute each argument; it's almost touching the way he footnotes each time he telephones an attacker who eventually hangs up on him without substantiating any of their claims.

Lott loses a little focus when he leaves his firm quantitative base; as an economist, he should know that the low number of rejected background checks under the Brady Bill doesn't demonstrate anything by itself, because some people may have been deterred from even undergoing the background check in the first place, but he attacks the bill on this ground anyway. But the conclusions that are backed by evidence--that concealed-weapons permits reduce crime, and do so at a lower cost to society than increasing the number of police or prisons--are important ones that should be considered by policymakers. --Ted Frank

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