Books for the News

The hard evidence behind the debate on gun control

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The New York Times published an article today on the Senate’s striking down of a provision that would expand the rights of gun owners with valid permits to carry concealed weapons across state lines. The provision received support from both sides of the aisle and was only narrowly shot down (pun intended) receiving 58 of the 60 votes required to pass in the Senate. Opposition to the provision came mostly from Democrats who, with the backing of “a number of big-city mayors including Michael R. Bloomberg” have been outspoken about their views that legislation which puts more guns in the hands of citizens is linked to increases in violent crime and homicides, especially in dense urban areas. The NYT article cites Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a leading opponent of the amendment:

Lives have been saved with the defeat of this amendment. The passage of this amendment would have done more to threaten the safety of New Yorkers than anything since the repeal of the assault weapons ban.

Other opinions differ. According to John R. Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime—one of the most comprehensive studies of the issue available—it just isn’t so. Through his rigorous analysis of years of crime statistics and right-to-carry laws Lott comes to the surprising finding that in fact, more guns equal less crime. Even in dense urban centers like DC and Chicago Lott finds that after these cities instituted rigorous gun control laws banning their possession with city limits, the crime rates in both cities rose.
Now in its second edition, the press is planning the publication of a third edition for early next year with expanded statistics that build upon Lott’s previous findings, strengthening an argument that Business Week‘s Peter Coy has already called “bulletproof.” Controversial and hotly debated since its publication, More Guns, Less Crime will continue to define the debate over gun control laws.
For more read our 1996 interview with the author.