Economist John R. Lott dismantles gun control agenda at Chicago luncheon

May 1, 2013

John Lott, Jr - Heartland 004

At last week’s Heartland Institute luncheon, John R. Lott, Jr., also tackled the divisive topic of  gun control. His book, At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over The Edge?’s Chapter 3 focuses on the gun controversy under the title, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” Another of Lott’s books, More Gun, Less Crime, which has become a game-changing best seller, was described in Part 1 by Heartland’s Communications Director Jim Lakely, as a book that “fills the hearts of liberals with dread.”

Lott’s description of a new level of unprecedented intensity by the Obama administration in its involvement in state politics was disconcerting. In Colorado state legislator arms were twisted to gain their votes for gun control. Because of this action seven state legislators switched votes, enough to get all four gun control bills passed in the Colorado State House. Vice President Biden promised to campaign for those legislators who voted for the gun control bills.

Recently New York State followed Colorado in enacting tough new gun control laws.  Owners of guns that have been reclassified as assault weapons must now register their newly classified weapons.  Although 10-bullet magazines are still legal, it is illegal to load weapons with more than seven bullets.  Another New York provision mandates confiscation of weapons and permits if someone has been prescribed psychotropic drugs.  If that wasn’t enough, the 2013 -2014 New York state budget has earmarked an estimated $28 million to create a central database to hold records.

Already having strong gun laws, Maryland now has among the strictest laws in the nation.  Maryland has become the first state in nearly 20 years to require potential handgun buyers to submit fingerprints to state police.

Although gun laws in Chicago are some of the strictest in the nation, they might as well not exist at all.  During 2012 more that 500 people were murdered in Chicago, even above the fatalities among coalition troops in Afghanistan in 2012.  Does it make sense that Illinois is the only state that doesn’t have concealed carry in some form?

More than any other segment of the population, gun laws and ownership requirements (such as registration fees) are affecting poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas where the police aren’t readily on hand to protect them.  Having guns for safety purposes would offer them some protection.  In Chicago it is well-to-do white individuals who most often get licenses to carry guns.

John Lott then spoke about the false claim President Obama spouted many times about gun background checks prior to the Senate’s gun legislation going down in defeat.  Obama’s claim was that as many as 40% of all gun purchases took place without background checks.

Furthermore, that background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from buying guns.  Both statistics, however, are false.  The 40% number came from a very small study covering gun purchases during 1991 to 1994 before the federal Brady Act took effect in 2004. Thereafter federally licensed dealers were required to perform background checks.

The figure decreases to 14% of guns not actually going through federally licensed dealers when considering family gifting of guns (93%) and guns received through inheritance (91%).

Although there are many denials issued to those making application to own guns, the number of criminals stopped from buying a gun because of background checks is quite small.  Most initial denials are dropped after the first preliminary review.  Either the wrong person was stopped, or it was a case of false positives.

Those who have studied background checks have concluded that background checks don’t reduce crime, but may actually increase violent crime, even if ever so slightly.  False denials may mean delays for law-abiding gun owners who suddenly and legitimately need to purchase a gun for self-defense.

Two Heartland Author Series events are scheduled for May:

On Thursday, May 9, Herbert J. Walberg and Joseph Bast will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their book “Education and Capitalism,” by discussing how free markets and economics can improve America’s schools.

Keith Koeneman will discuss his book, “First Son” The Biography of Richard M. Daley,” on Thursday, May 16.  Expect to hear an enlightening scenario of Daley’s life and his accomplishment, flawed as some of them were.

Both events will be held at the Heartland Institute Headquarters in Chicago, One South Wacker, #2740, from ll:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.  For more information visit the Heartland’s Web site at or call 312/277-4000.

Part 1:  John Lott says America is “At the Brink”  


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