Thorner: “Gun Crowd’s Guru” John Lott warns of “gun free zone” danger

October 17, 2016


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By Nancy Thorner – 

Are you like many Americans concerned about your gun rights, as you have every right to be? The Second Amendment is considered to be one of the most important civil rights in the United States. This right has been under assault because liberals have long had an appetite to impose strict gun control measures.

John R. Lott, Jr., called by Newsweek the “Gun Crowd’s Guru,” addressed 80 members and friends of The Heartland Institute at its Arlington Heights headquarters on Wednesday, October 5. Lott’s talked about the issues raised in his new book, The War On Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies. Lott’s comments took aim at well-funded anti-gun studies and stories that perpetuate false statistics in order to frighten Americans into giving up their guns.

Lott has spoken four times before at Heartland Institute events, but this was the first time at Heartland’s Arlington Heights facility, which they moved into after being located in Chicago for 31 years.

Lott is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center. He received his Ph.D. in economics from UCLA in 1984, and went on to hold research and/or teaching positions at the University of Chicago, Yale University, Stanford University, UCLA, Wharton Business School, and Rice University. Lott has published nine books, including his latest book, and his publications include over 100 articles in academic journals. His TV appearances include evening news broadcast of ABC and NBC, Fox News Channel, PBS’s The NewsHour, and the Today Show.

Dramatic Prelude to the Event

Before the event got properly underway, Development Director Gwendalyn Carver took the stage to inform the audience that the son of another Heartland executive was recently shot in Chicago. (The young man is now in recovery.) Carver stressed that the victim’s mother wished to stress that “gun control does not stop crime.” “These criminals will always be able to get illegal guns,” Carver continued. “We recognize this is a serious matter, not only in the city of Chicago, but in our families.” She asked all in attendance to pray for the family.

Lott’s initial comments were in solidarity with Carver’s comments about the senseless shooting of a Heartland co-worker’s son. In speaking about urban crime, Lott reiterated how difficult it is to stop gangs from getting drugs. Should success actually be achieved in getting drugs or weapons away from gangs, mused Lott, it would take but 20 minutes before they started coming back into the area. Gang members use the same source to obtain illegal guns as they do to obtain illegal drugs.

Would Background Checks on Private Transfer Be Effective?

Hillary Clinton is pushing a law to impose background checks on the private transfer of guns – which often involves a family member giving or selling a firearm to a relative. Lott said exactly zero criminal shootings would have been stopped by such a law in the last 16 years, according to the latest gun statistics.

Lott reported that 2.4 million so-called dangerous people have been stopped from getting a gun through background checks, but 99 percent of them were cases of mistaken identity. They had the bad luck of having names similar to those of criminals. Unfortunately, many of the cases of mistaken identity negatively affect those who really need guns. He noted that 40 percent of the U.S. Vietnamese population has the same last name; and the “same identity” rate among the U.S. black population is 30 percent.

Why such a high rate of false positives? When an individual fills out and sends in the 4473 Form government bureaucrats are negligent in carefully checking names, Social Security numbers, and the addresses listed on the forms it receives.

The Cost of Gun Bureaucracy

The appeals process to clean up a mistaken identity requires one to hire a lawyer – which is expensive and discourages minorities in high-crime urban areas from getting guns for personal protection.

Also, 16 hours of study is needed to quality for a concealed carry permit in Chicago. Because of the absence of gun shops in the city, those who want training must travel the suburbs. Because of the high cost ($450) of getting a concealed carry permit in the first place, those who most need guns for self-protection are unable to defray the cost.

America’s Mass Shootings Are Not Higher Than in Other Nations

President Obama is wrong when he claims the U.S. is the only country in the world encountering mass, pubic gun attacks, Lott said. During the first seven years of the Obama administration, there were 25 mass shooting in Europe, the same number as occurred here in the U.S. In looking at shootings involving K-12 schools, three out of four of the worst attacks happened in Europe. In France, which has one-fifth our population, four public mass shootings occurred with 532 casualties.

This rather amazing statement was made by Lott: “The murder rate in the rest of the world is 20 percent higher than in the U.S.”  The Solomon Islands, where guns were banned in 1988, is a good example, Lott said. The media had reported not a single act of gun violence in the Solomon Islands from 2001 to 2005. But Lott uncovered the truth by checking the Solomon Islands police records. In fact, the islands, which has a population of 500,000, there were three large-scale public shootings. Why no public accounts of the mass shootings?  The Solomon Islands depend of tourism for operating revenue, and reporting the truth would hurt business.

In Africa gun violence is 380 percent higher than in the United States, Lott added. Israel has a rate 2000 percent higher; and Australia’s gun violence tops America’s by 320 percent.

Gun Free Zones

Lott noted that 98 percent of all mass shootings occur in “gun free zones,” such as a church. Lott talked about the Charleston church shooting, which took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, on the June 17, 2015 during a prayer service. The shooter cased the church, and determined how long it would take to drive from the police station to the site of his crime. 

In 2012, a gunman opened fire at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, turning the Batman movie into a real-life horror film. The shooter chose the only movie theater out of the seven near his apartment that had a sign posted banning hand guns. Consider also the 2007 Westroads Mall shooting in Omaha, Nebraska. Although there were other malls in the area, the shooter chose the one with the “no guns” sign posted out front.

France’s Attempts to Tackle Terror

Paris, France is at a disadvantage because all venues are gun free zones, as is the situation in other EU countries, Lott said. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015, France went on high alert. The president of France opted to put 10,000 military personnel on the street, thinking it would stop gun crime. But it failed, because not all of the military was on the streets at the same time. There were too many targets that required guarding. Three more shootings took place after Charlie Hebdo.

One mass shooting that received wall-to-wall American TV coverage was the Paris shooting which left 100 dead at the Bataclan concert hall at the hands of three ISIS terrorists. Policemen might be the most important factor in reducing crime, but because of their uniforms they are also targets. This was the fate of some of the armed guards in the Paris shootings.

This interesting bit of information was related by John Lott: From 1940 to 1972, machine guns were used in Israel by terrorists. Why did terrorists switch to bombs after 1972?  Because Israeli citizens were permitted to carry guns. Using a bomb meant there would be very little left of the individual(s) targeted by the terrorist, who considered the sacrifice of his/her own life a noble act which offered great rewards in the here after. [It could be concluded that France, and other countries in the West – including the US – are increasingly the victim of a cruel twist of irony in which their own founding values and principles are turned against them.] 

Q&A Session with John Lott

Question: What was the emotional state of the recent American mass shooters?

Answer: Sixty percent of the shooters were under the care of a mental health professional, but not one was identified as being a danger to themselves or others. Why? The mentally ill are considered less likely to be violent than those in the general population.

Question: Why do you have difficulty getting on TV to debate, Mr. Lott?

Answer: Even on Fox producers sometimes call Lott at the last minute to tell him that his debate opponent won’t go on if he’s involved. Either the person insists on appearing by himself, or Lott is asked if he could suggest another person who has the same views to act as a substitute. Those supporting gun control are therefor able to control the message of what people hear and see on TV.

Question: What about crime in Chicago?

Answer: Fifteen percent of all shootings in Chicago result in death. The shootings relate to the large volume of drug trafficking in Chicago and gang turf battles. Furthermore, gang members don’t shoot well but tend to spray when shooting. Corruption is also wide spread in Chicago. Policemen are told to not go into certain areas of Chicago or they will be suspended. Then too, murders are often reclassified as “accidents,” so the actual murder rate in Chicago is unknown.  

Question: How can the crime rate be reduced in Chicago?

Answer: If we really want to reduce crime rates we must legalize drugs. During the last year of the prohibition on alcohol in 1932, murder rates were at their highest levels. After 1934, they fell because the incentive for gangs to fight over turf with one another was eliminated. (The solution suggested by John Lott of how to rid Chicago of gangs is soundly rejected by Nancy Thorner. Comparing the consequences of alcohol use with that of drug use seems shortsighted and without merit, yet the libertarian viewpoint is in line with this message.)

Question: Should airline pilots be allowed to carry guns?

Answer: From 1924 to 1963, every commercial airline pilot was required to have a hand gun with them. Up until 1979, pilots were still permitted to carry a loaded gun on a plane. It was Jimmy Carter who ended the practice.

Question: Why is this presidential election so important?

Answer: There has never so much at stake as there is right now with this election. Some 70 percent of federal judges have been appointed by a Democrat, and the Supreme Court is tied 4-4. One more Clinton appointment is needed to overturn the Heller Supreme Court decision allowing personal gun ownership in Washington, DC.      

Watch the entire Heartland event with John Lott here.

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