Congratulations John Lott on your new book The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control! Tell us about your new book.
There is a new and much more sophisticated assault on private gun ownership. In the past, the push for gun control has been solely in terms of legislative battles. Now Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and a large number of very wealthy liberal foundations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on generating research, including academic studies, to shape the very facts used in discussing gun ownership.
Those studies, despite being incredibly poorly done, get massive amounts of uncritical news coverage. But Bloomberg isn’t just trying to shape the research; he is also spending money to get the Columbia University School of Journalism to teach reporters how to properly cover the gun issue.
My newest book shows the huge impact that strategies have had. I then go through some of the major claims that have been generated and show their flaws, including the impact of gun ownership on police safety, licensing and universal background checks on crime and mass public shootings, and the risk of guns in the home.
The book then presents original research on a range of gun control claims that are being made during the election this year:
What three takeaways would you like readers to leave with after reading your book?
After the Orlando and San Bernardino domestic terror attacks here in the US, how would you respond to recent calls by the Left to make it harder for individuals to purchase firearms?
My book shows that the universal background checks that President Obama and Hillary Clinton have pushed after different mass public shootings wouldn’t have stopped a single one of the attacks that he has spoken about. The states that already have these laws actually have a higher rate of mass public shooting fatalities and injuries and the rate of these casualties actually increase after these laws are adopted.
Politicians, such as Hillary Clinton and President Obama, ignore the real costs of the laws they are pushing.
In your book, you make the claim that gun licenses and background checks do not stop crime? What evidence do you have that supports this?
You can directly look at the experience of licensing and registration rules in places in the US and around the world that have these laws. Despite the substantial costs of these laws, they just don’t help solve crime, and the book explains why that is the case.
For background checks on the private transfers of guns, the book looks at states and countries that have these laws and compares them to the ones that don’t. I look at a range of claims that have been made from violent crimes and mass public shootings generally to specific crimes against police and women.
What books, authors, or conservative-themed books, influenced your political philosophy and outlook on life?
The economist Armen Alchian had a major impact on me. I read his textbook Exchange and Production when I was 16 and it pretty much made me the economist that I am today.
Milton Friedman was also extremely important to my intellectual development.
Thomas Sowell was a professor of mine when I was at UCLA. He was not only probably the toughest professor I ever had, but he forced you to think through issues logically. The class started out with about 25 students and by the end of the first week we were down to 3 students. It was a brutal class, but it was a very important one.