Gun Control Myths: The Atlas Society Asks John R. Lott Jr.

March 27, 2024 01:03:13
Gun Control Myths: The Atlas Society Asks John R. Lott Jr.
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
Gun Control Myths: The Atlas Society Asks John R. Lott Jr.

Mar 27 2024 | 01:03:13

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Show Notes

Join CEO Jennifer Grossman for the 198th episode of The Atlas Society Asks. This week, she interviews John R. Lott Jr. about his book "Gun Control Myths: How Politicians, the Media and Botched 'Studies' Have Twisted the Facts on Gun Control."

An economist, political commentator, and world-recognized expert on guns and crime, John Lott is a prolific writer, having written op-eds for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune, along with several books, including "More Guns, Less Crime," "The Bias Against Guns," and "Freedomnomics." He is also the founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Hi everyone, and welcome to the 198th episode of the Atlas Society asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I'm the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization introducing young people to the ideas of Ayn Rand in fun, creative ways. Graphic novels, music videos, even AI animated videos. Today, we are joined by our guest, John R. Lott Junior. Before I even give his full introduction, I want to remind all of you, whether you're joining us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube, use the comments section to type in your questions. Go ahead and get in the queue and we'll get to as many of them as we can. So I met our guest John Arlott Junior, after I was profiled in the NRA's first Freedom magazine. That was with a previous guest, Frank Minoter. And so I'm really thrilled to be having this interview today because, of course, our guest, John Arlock Junior, is the world's leading authority on guns and crime and self defense. He's an economist. As the founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research center, he is the go to authority. As I mentioned, his numerous op eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, lots of books include more guns, less crime, the Bias against gun freedomnomics, and most recently, gun control myths. How politicians, the media, and botched studies have twisted the facts on gun control. Learn the actual facts and debunk them. He has held research and teaching positions at the University of Chicago, Wharton, Stanford, Yale, and UCLA. He served as chief economist for the US Sentencing Commission and senior advisor for research and statistics at the US Department of Justice. Wow, John, thank you so much for joining us. [00:02:15] Speaker B: Well, thanks very much for having me on. I appreciate it. [00:02:19] Speaker A: So let's start a bit with your backstory. Where you grew up, any early influences that put you on the trajectory to becoming the world's leading authority on guns and crime? [00:02:32] Speaker B: Well, I grew up in Miami, Florida, and during my sophomore year in high school, I had an economics professor move in next door to me and I thought I was probably going to be studying history at the time. But I figured even if you're going to do history, it's probably good to know some economics. And so I went over and asked him if he had anything he'd recommend that I would read. And he gave me seven Econ principles textbooks. You know how professors get free copies of textbooks all the time? So he gave me seven of them and I read them that summer and some of them were okay. But there was one in particular by a couple professors at UCLA, Armin Alshon and Bill Allen, that really kind of applied economics to all sorts of interesting questions, you know, about why is it that the Rose bowl tickets are sold out every year for 50 years? Why is it that the price spread between full and self service? Gasoline was larger regular than for premium? Why is it when you have rent control that apartments want to rent to quiet little old ladies rather than college students and things like that? It was just really kind of mind blowing that people would actually get paid for just dealing with interesting problems. And I kind of figured at that time I'd become an econ professor. And so eventually I went out to UCLA to study, undergraduate and graduate. But I have to say, when I was a senior in high school, I also read some of Ayn Rand's books, since you bring it up. And so that also probably had some influence on me. But anyway, yeah, I'm sorry. [00:04:28] Speaker A: Of course, Ayn Rand's theme, that reality exists regardless of what we might wish it would be. And a is a. And I think that kind of is a through line throughout your career in terms of wanting to know the truth and wanting to see the truth represented and not misrepresented. Um, and that has. [00:04:54] Speaker B: Go ahead. The gun stuff. I didn't get involved with this, and I don't do this because I argue second amendment type things. To me, the bottom line is what makes people safer, and that's what I've tried to focus on. Uh, and I guess I've kind of stuck around in this debate longer than I would for other academic debates I've been involved with, simply because there's been so much misinformation that's been put out there and just trying to do what we can to try to make sure that people are safer. [00:05:26] Speaker A: Right. Well, that is something that jumped out at me. In your book, you talked about how the media constantly refers to you as a gun rights advocate, and people on the other side are violence prevention advocates. And this is what you had to say about that. You said, quote, I never got into this research so that people could own guns. I want to help make the world a better place. It turns out that letting people defend themselves makes society safer. So I guess my question is, was this something that you intuitively understood at an earlier age, or was it more like an epiphany? Like, wow, I thought it would have been the opposite. [00:06:15] Speaker B: Right. Well, I mean, I had been involved in a lot of crime type research before I did anything on guns. I hadn't really been very interested in looking at gun stuff I had when I was chief economist at the sentencing commission. There were lots of other questions I was much more interested in looking at, and I kind of only got into the gun research by accident. I was teaching a class at Wharton on corporate and white collar crime, and I made the mistake of telling some of the students, telling the students that we were head in the syllabus. And so I had a couple students come up to me after class and say, well, if we're ahead in the syllabus and if you have extra time, would you mind kind of talking about gun control? And I said, well, I guess I can. But it kind of forced me to read through the literature more than I had read through it until then. The papers I'd read before that were poorly done, but I just kind of assumed that there was better work out there. And when I was reading it through, I mean, when you're an academic, you do research for one or two reasons. Either one, you have a new idea that nobody's thought of before, and that's been about 95% or so of the work that I had done, or you think you can do a better job than people had previously done. And this was much more the latter. The previous studies were, you know, they picked 31 counties. How do you pick 31 counties from 3140 counties in the United states? You know, they look at one city over time. None of them had tried to account for things like law enforcement's effect on crime. You know, it's so, you know, it's just. Yeah, there are really just under problems with it, but it's just, I said, well, in fact, I almost stopped about six different times when I was going through it, just because I was getting all the data for all the counties in the United States, for all the years that was available, rather than just picking some small set of counties that was there. It just wasn't that interesting to me. But I finished it. When I was chief economist at the sentencing commission, I had gotten to know a reporter named Dennis Kushan at USA Today, and he would call me up every six months or nine months or something like that and ask me some questions for an article that he was writing. So he had called me up in August of 96, and he asked me his questions. And at the end of the interview, he said, well, what are you working on? And I told him, I just finished this paper. And he says, oh, that sounds really interesting. Can you send a copy? So I sent him a copy, and then a week later, the article, he had an article on the front page of USA Today about it, and we're kind of off to the races after that. [00:09:13] Speaker A: So last week in this space, I had a conversation with a young woman, Catherine Brodsky, who published a book, no apologies, which looked at how various people have navigated attempts to cancel them or marginalize them professionally for having said things that, you know, ran afoul of politically correct narratives. You've had your own brush with such takedown attempts, both at the University of Chicago. You write about it in your books and also on Twitter. Can you share what happened and what your takeaways were? [00:09:58] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, I've kind of run into the cancel culture many times over the years. When I was at the University of Chicago, my book more guns, less crime came out in May 1998. In November 1998, Mayor Daley called up Hugo Sonnenstein, the president of the university, and basically spent 45 minutes going through all the wonderful things that the city was planning on doing with the university. But then I was told at the end of the conversation, he basically said that lot's continued presence at the University of Chicago was going to do, quote, irreparable harm, end quote, to the relationship between the city and the school. Two days later, I was called into the dean's office and told that they wanted me to leave the university immediately. And I said it was Dan Fischel, the dean. And I said, dan, you make me leave in the middle of the school year, it's going to destroy. They were going to continue paying me, but they just didn't want me to stay around there. And I said, you make me leave in the middle of the year, it's going to destroy my academic career anyway. I won't go through the blow by blow. But eventually the idea was, if I promise not to talk to the media anymore, they would let me stay there at the University of Chicago through the end of that school year. And I was doing lots of media from when the book came out up until November 1998. And then I go radio silent. And the gun control debate was very lively back then. You had Columbine, you had big pushes in the Senate and Congress for gun control in the beginning of 1999. And Max Boot, who is the op editor for the Wall Street Journal, was calling me up, seemed like weekly, saying, john, you have to write an op ed for us on this. And so finally in March, I said, are they really going to kick me out early now, a couple months early, if I write an op ed for the Wall Street Journal? And so I wrote an op ed and anyway, but end up leaving there and I went to Yale afterwards. And the second year I was at Yale, I was asked to go and testify in Hawaii by some of the legislators there. They were planning on changing the registration licensing laws in the state. And before I went out there, I told the legislators who were inviting me, I knew that the Honolulu police chief was going to be testifying on the other side. And so I told him, ask him in advance two questions because you want him to be able to answer the questions. I said one, ask him how many crimes that they've been able to solve since 1960 as a result of the licensing and registration that they have. And the second question is, how much does it cost in Honolulu to go and run the program? I basically knew the answer to the first question. And when he came up and he was asked that because I wanted him to be able to answer it, I didn't want him to say he'd have to look it up. When he got asked, he said he had looked and he couldn't find any crimes that they've been able to solve as a result of licensing and registration. And then they asked him how much it cost. He said he didn't have a dollar amount, but he estimated it took 50,000 hours worth of police time each year to go and run the lights registration program. And you could just feel the air go out of the room at that moment. If they could point to 1000 crimes that they've been able to solve, there'd at least be some trade off because 50,000 hours worth of police time each year, you could solve a lot of crimes and deter a lot of crime. If there was a dozen or three or something, there'd be at least some trade off. But if there's zero, you're essentially throwing away that 50,000 hours worth of police time each year. And the so anyway, and then I testified and the bill died and I went back to Yale. And a couple days after I got back, I got called into the associate dean's office, Susan Rose Ackerman. And apparently the two us senators from Hawaii had called up and complained to the dean that I tony, that I had killed the gun control law that they wanted to have passed and they blamed me for it. And so I was told I wasn't going to be welcome around Yale after the end of that school year. And I mean, that's just two examples. I could go and give you about a half dozen other types of cases like that. But there's also been times like in the media. So I used to. For a while, I was writing an op ed, like, every three months or so for the Los Angeles Times. And then Nick Goldberg, who was one of the editors that I dealt with, would tell me that he. When he'd run my pieces, he'd get, like, ten times more emails and complaints about it. Basically, the gun control groups would be organized to go and complain about my pieces. And he said that was fine. It's neat that people are reading them, getting upset about it, even though they didn't have really concrete things. But then when they weren't getting a response from Nick, he told me that they would be going after the publisher and the publisher. Every time they'd run one of my pieces, the publisher would call Nick into his office. And Nick said he just didn't have time to spend an hour or two in the publisher's office explaining why he ran one of my pieces each time. So they stopped running any over the years. [00:15:59] Speaker A: So now, one of the ways that the media demonstrates bias and an unwillingness to correct the record is jumping the gun, so to speak, in labeling any overtly racist mass shooter as a right winger. And that leads me into your experience on Twitter, because in the case of the New Zealand mosque shooting, you demonstrated that, in fact, that is comically not the case. So tell us a little bit about what you found and what happened. [00:16:38] Speaker B: Right. Well, I mean, there have been a number of these mass public shooters who are racist. And every time, basically, the media, the New York Times and other places say that if you're racist, that means you're conservative right winger type. The New Zealand mosque murder is an example where the guy, if you read his manifesto, he was a racist because he was an environmentalist. He was upset that minorities were having too many kids, and he believed that having children damaged the environment. This is a guy who thought that the chinese communist government was the ideal form of government for the rest of the world. [00:17:23] Speaker A: Not exactly a right winger. [00:17:26] Speaker B: I don't know. Maybe I just have a very isolated set of friends that are there or people that I associate with who call themselves conservatives, because I don't. At least the conservatives that I know aren't upset about people having kids. They're not upset about the environment being destroyed by children, and they don't think that socialism is the way to go. And it's not just him. You look at somebody like the Buffalo mass murderer who also put out a very similar manifesto. The New York Times must have had seven unsigned editorials with him as exhibit a of kind of the, you know, the scourge of right wing white supremacy out there. And he had the exact same views. He was, he hated blacks because he thought that they were having too many children and that was damaging the environment, you know, Caso shooter, others are very similar. And so anyway, with regard to the New Zealand shooter I had put out on Twitter, I had basically said that this guy was a right wing, was not a right wing guy, he was a socialist. And I quoted a few things from his manifesto and Twitter banned me there. And then I wrote an op ed in the New York Daily News about being banned. And I linked to, to the article on our crime prevention research center Twitter account. And then because I linked to that, they banned that. [00:19:09] Speaker A: Unbelievable. [00:19:11] Speaker B: And it was just pretty funny. [00:19:16] Speaker A: At some point, do you get asbestos around your feelings? I mean, when this has happened so many times, I suppose you're like, well, there you go again. [00:19:30] Speaker B: Yeah. You know, I think the thing that's most bizarre is like when I go and testify or something, I'll have people like moms demand action and stuff. Literally come right up in my face, spitting, you know, the fact that, you know, calling me a child murderer and things like that, because, you know, they disagree with my views on guns. I mean, I, I want to do something to stop mass public shootings in schools and what have you, but I want to do something that works. I mean, their view is, if you just ban guns, that's going to stop these mass public shootings. And I look at around the world, and the United States actually has relatively few mass public shootings on a per capita rate compared to the rest of the world. But the shootings that we do have, and this is true for other parts of the world, too, occur in places where guns are banned. So I'll give you a simple example. You look at something like the Nashville covenant school shooting last year. If you or I violated the gun free school zone that was there, it's a six year criminal penalty. That's a pretty significant penalty. Our lives would be completely changed if that happened. The problem is that if you're, if this murderer who murdered six people had lived, let's say, and they were going to be facing six life sentences or six death penalties, does anybody really believe that adding another six years onto their sentence, they can put up with six death penalties, but you take six more years from their 7th life and that would be too much for them. They wouldn't commit the crime. The point is what economists would call marginal deterrence. There's no marginal deterrence for them. There's no additional penalty that they really face. And so all the law has done in that case is make it so that the law abiding citizens are going to be sure not to have their gun there because it's a real penalty for them. And the murderers take advantage of that. Anybody who's read the diaries and manifestos for these mass murderers, and I wish somebody would explain to me why the media, when it reports on these diaries and manifestos, refuses to go and talk about these guys, discussions about why they picked the targets that they do. But anybody who reads them knows that these people want to commit suicide, but they want to get media attention. And they know the more people they kill, the more media attention that they're going to get. And they know if they go to a place where victims aren't able to go and defend themselves, they're going to be able to go and kill more people. You look at something like the Buffalo mass murder. He explicitly talked about wanting to go to a place with strict gun control because he was worried that if somebody was carrying a permanently concealed handgun, they might be able to stop him from doing it. You look at the Covenant school shooter, the Biden administration still hasn't released the diary from the manifesto from the murder. There's been a few pages that have been leaked from law enforcement. But what happened is that the Nashville police chief read it before it was turned over to the Biden administration. And he had a press conference the day of the shooting saying that that murderer actually had another primary target that they originally wanted to go after a nearby mall. They decided not to go after that because there were armed people there and so had picked the school because they thought it would be easier to go after a soft target like that where there wouldn't be somebody to go and stop them. So, I mean, these guys may be crazy in some sense, but they're not stupid. But my guess is the whole debate that we have on these issues would be very different if the media would do a couple things, it would go and explain that these guys are explicitly time after time. And we have quotes from the manifestos and diaries on our [email protected], comma, explicitly going after places where they know their victims can't defend themselves. And Ghosn mentioned that these attacks keep on occurring in gun free zones and I think do a more accurate job of comparing the rate in the United States to other countries. I mean, I understand why an attack in the United States is more newsworthy than attacks in other countries, but just because we're here in the United States. But the thing is, we keep on hearing that the United States is somehow unique in terms of these mass public shootings. If you look at just western Europe in the United States since, let's say, 2010, where have the two worst mass public shootings occur? They've occurred in Europe. You've had the Paris shooting in 2015. [00:24:29] Speaker A: I was there, actually, during that shooting, and I saw the aftermath. And then I guess in Norway, too. [00:24:37] Speaker B: Yeah, Norway. Right. They had, if you were the bombing deaths, there were 67 people who were shot to death there. [00:24:44] Speaker A: Yeah. So let's zoom out for a moment. Your book to that international picture. Your book includes a lot of fascinating lessons from other countries that have banned guns or instituted strict gun control measures. I'm headed to Perth, Australia, in a couple of weeks. A country where watershed regulations in 1990 919 96 resulted in at least 700,000 guns surrendered. What can we learn from their experience or the experience of other countries with sweeping restrictions on gun ownership? Right. [00:25:25] Speaker B: So, as you say, they had what they call buyback. It seems kind of a weird phrase, given that the government didn't own those guns to begin with, but just they confiscated about 30% of the guns that were there. But then people were able to go and buy guns again afterwards. And so if you would imagine the types of gun control that they had had, the impact that gun control activists would claim, you should see an immediate, sharp drop in things like firearm homicides or overall. I'd look at overall homicides and then an increase over time as the gun ownership rate went back up. By 2010, the gun ownership rate in Australia was above what it was before the buyback that was there. What people do, and I really view this as statistical malpractice, is they look at the before and after averages, and they'll say, look, the after average in terms of firearm suicides is half what it was before the buyback there, or the similar drop in terms of firearm homicides. The thing is, firearm homicides and firearm suicides were basically falling for 15 years prior to the buyback that was there. And let me give you a simple example. Let's say you had a perfectly straight line. It's falling over the whole period at exactly the same rate. You could pick any point along that line, and the after average is going to be below the before average. But if the line is falling at exactly the same rate before and after any point that you pick there, I would look at it and I say, well, it was falling before. It's falling after it's not really obvious to me that it's had an impact. You want to see, is it falling at a faster rate or a slower rate? Is there some type of discontinuity that occurs in the line there? And in fact, if you look at it for firearm homicides, they were falling beforehand and then basically stopped falling after the buyback went into effect, rather than this big drop and then an increase over time as the gun ownership rate was changing. So I look at it, and it looks almost counterproductive to me, rather than, you know, the type of big claim that they were making about the benefits. And the same. Same with firearm suicides. And beyond that, I wouldn't look at firearm deaths. You know, for firearm suicides, for example, I'd look at what happens to total suicides. And if you look at that, if anything, total suicides actually went up some afterwards. And so I wouldn't go and say that the ban caused the suicides to go up, but I'd say it sure as heck didn't help it go down as a result of that. [00:28:06] Speaker A: What about Mexico? Mexico's experience since 1972, when the country's strict gun control measures were implemented, right? [00:28:15] Speaker B: Yeah. Starting in 1972, Mexico's had one gun store in the country. It's run by the military. Guns are very expensive. You have to pay a fee of, like, $2,300 just to apply for a license to be able to go and get a gun. Only about less than one 10th of 1% of the adult population in Mexico is legally licensed to own a gun. Gun ownership was actually relatively common prior to 1972. But the thing is. Oh, and the most powerful gun that you've been able to legally own in Mexico since 1972 is a 22 caliber short round bolt action rifle. It's not the type of gun that drug gangs are using in the country. Their murder rate has more than doubled since 1972. In some recent years, the murder rate in Mexico has been as high as six times higher than the murder rate that we have in the United States. That's here. And, you know, the claim that somehow they're getting guns from the United States is just simply silly. They're bringing in weapons from around the world, just as they bring in the illegal drugs from around the world. When I testified in Mexico before the federal Senate and House, before their constitution committees, one of the things that I found out was that over the five years before my testimony there, the mexican government had confiscated something like 13,000 hand grenades from drug gang members. As far as I know, you just can't walk into a gun store in the United States and buy hand grenades that are there or rocket launchers or some of the other things that the drug gangs are using there, nor the machine guns that they have. You know, so they're, they steal some weapons from the military and, you know, they bring in other weapons from around the world. And, you know, it's just not Mexico, but you, Ecuador and others have had similar stories that are there. And, you know, so it's basically the people who go and get guns. Are the drug gangs criminals, too? [00:30:39] Speaker A: And the law abiding citizens now don't have a way to defend themselves? We've had a lot of very patient people in the queue asking a bunch of questions. I have so many of my own, as you can see from my copy of your book with all of my notes there. So let's get to a few of them. Alexander Savenkov on Facebook, it was first to the queue, and he asks if you're concerned about gun rights, which is the worst state and which is the best state in the United States. [00:31:17] Speaker B: Well, I mean, the gun control groups claim that California has supposedly, by their view, the best gun control laws in the country. And, you know, they probably do have the most restrictive types of rules that are there. As far as the best goes, I don't know. I mean, I suppose there's a few states that probably there, but Montana probably has among the best gun control laws in the country. But there are a couple others that are probably pretty close. [00:31:45] Speaker A: All right, also from Facebook, Jackson Sinclair asks, when it comes to crime prevention, many argue that the solution can only come at the congressional level. Do you agree, or is there more that can be done at the state, at the city and local level? [00:32:02] Speaker B: I mean, law enforcement overwhelmingly is a local issue. The number of police that you're going to be hiring, the type of policing policies that you have are determined locally. District attorneys who determine the prosecution for criminals are overwhelmingly elected locally. Judges which sentence the people there are overwhelmingly elected locally in 2020, 2021 and 2022. One of the things that happened was you had many liberal judges in the country who were releasing large numbers, in some cases, half and a few cases, two thirds of the inmates from local jails because of COVID I mean, one of the bizarre things about that was that the people that are in jails are like 18 to early thirties. These are not people who are at risk for COVID. That's there. And yet, and we knew that, well, by the end of 2020 for sure, and yet they were still being released in 2021 and 2022. So it seems to me the type of things you're going to do if you want to reduce crime, you have to make it risky for criminals to go and commit crime. And that's a local issue. Now, I suppose one could go and argue that if localities aren't willing to do what's necessary in order to make it risky, maybe you want the states to step in, or maybe you want Congress to step in. But I think there's benefits from having people bear the benefits and costs for their actions. And I worry that if you have the Democrats controlled Congress, whatever, I kind of worry about that. A lot of the policies that we see making mistakes at the local level, we'd see mirrored. Like, I'll give you an example. Biden keeps talking about violence as gun violence. 92% of violent crime has nothing to do with guns. And the way you reduce gun violence is the same way you reduce violent crime generally. You want to make it costly and difficult for criminals to commit crime with higher arrest rates, higher conviction rates, longer prison sentences for that. You also want to make it so that victims are able to defend themselves. That also makes it riskier for criminals to go and commit crimes. And if my research convinces me of anything, the people who benefit the most from owning guns are two groups of people, the people who are most likely victims of violent crime. And that overwhelmingly tends to be poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas, and people who are relatively weaker physically. Women and the elderly. You're almost always talking about young males doing the violent crime. And when a man is attacking a woman or an elderly person, there's a lot larger strength difference that exists there than when a man is attacking another man. And the presence of a gun represents a much bigger relative change in their ability to go and defend themselves. And I look at a lot of these types of gun control laws that get pushed nationally, and those are the very people, they're making it hard to be able to go and own guns. If you want, I can give you an example or two of that. [00:35:28] Speaker A: Well, look, there's a, we, we have so many people that have asked you questions and so they're very excited about joining us. I'm going to go to a few more of those and apologies in advance to our audience because I'm not going to be able to get to all of your questions because there are a lot. Dylan Jones on Instagram says Zelly recently banned purchasing firearms using their platform. The US government cannot outright ban the Second Amendment, but companies are effectively doing that. Any thoughts on that right? [00:36:07] Speaker B: Well, I mean, the federal government has kind of gone back to Operation Chokepoint Point that was under Obama, which tries to prevent financial institutions from doing business with companies and products that the Biden administration doesn't like. So that includes not only firearms, but certain types of energy producers and even cattle ranchers that are out there. Try running a business. If you can't have somebody go and handle the credit cards for your customers or checks or lend you money, are there workarounds that can be done? Yeah, but they're a lot more expensive, and it's just one way of trying to put them out of business. But look, the Biden administration's done so much that's not getting news coverage on making it difficult for people to be able to go and buy guns. So, for example, one of the rules that they've had has been this zero tolerance policy. Biden says they're trying to prevent gun dealers from selling the guns secretly out of the back of their stores to criminals. If they have evidence on that, fine, go after them. But that's not what it means. What it means is, and the way they are doing it, is that if you make one paperwork mistake could be over the last 16 or 17 years, no matter how trivial, no matter how inconsequential, they're going to put you out of business. They're going to take away your license. I mean, could we have that same rule for government agencies? I mean, how many government agencies haven't made one paperwork mistake? And I'll give you an example. There's a case I was reading about a little while ago, a firearms dealer in north Texas. Apparently 16 and 17 years ago, he had made one mistake on a form each year where he had transposed two letters in a county name. And the Obama administration had looked at that, had said, these are trivial mistakes. Find him and close the book on it. He's made no other paperwork, typos or anything else over the intervening 16 years. The Biden administration couldn't find any mistakes, so they went back and reopened those, I mean, two paperwork mistakes that the Obama administration had closed out. It's not like the Obama administration was really a gun friendly type administration that was there and used those two previously closed paperwork mistake cases in order to take away his firearms license. Now, what does that have to do with rogue firearms dealers selling guns out of the back of their store to criminals? And so they've literally put thousands. By the middle of last year, they had put thousands of gun dealers out of business, and they were only getting rolling on really going after people on that. There are other things that they've been doing recently that are now trying to put large firearms dealers out of business by imposing additional regulations on them. And so I worry a lot that if Biden wins reelection and these policies keep on being ramped up, we're going to see some really big damage done to the firearms industry in many different ways, making it much more costly, much more difficult for people, particularly poor people, particularly minorities, to be able to go and buy guns for protection. [00:39:51] Speaker A: So here on Zoom, Teddy G asks, I'm curious about John's feelings about suicide. Most of the US gun deaths are suicides, not homicides. I don't know if you can confirm that or not. Does his research show that the suicide rate is not affected by the availability of guns? [00:40:18] Speaker B: Right. So if you add up firearm suicides, firearm murders, and firearm accidental deaths, firearm suicides make about 70% of the total. Often people will include firearm homicides, which are different than murders. Firearm homicides include murders plus justifiable homicides. And it's never really been obvious to me why you want to lump in justifiable homicides as equally bad to murders that are there. But any case, so you're talking about 70%. The thing is, when you talk about the relationship between gun control laws and suicides, people look at firearm suicides, and I would argue you should look at total suicide. So you look at places like Chicago and Washington, DC, when they banned handguns. Was there a drop in firearm suicides? Yeah, there was somewhat of a drop in firearm suicides. Was there a drop in total suicides? No, there was no change in total suicides. People simply switched to other ways to go and commit suicides. In fact, you can look around the world. Any place that's banned, either all guns or all handguns, has seen no change in total suicides that are there. And by the way, I just mentioned, you can look at those places to look at murders or homicides. And what you find is that every single place around the world that's banned, either all guns or all handguns, has seen an increase in murders and homicides. You think out of randomness just once or twice when you see a ban, you think you'd see a drop that occurred or at least stays the same. And yet every single time it goes up. And I think that there's a simple reason for that. And that is when you go and you ban guns. And this applies to gun control laws generally. Not just a ban, but it's a simple example. It's the most law abiding good citizens who obey the rules, not the criminals. And to the extent that you disarm law abiding citizens relative to criminals, you may take a few guns away from criminals, but if you're primarily disarming their potential victims, you make it relatively easier for the criminals to go and commit crime. [00:42:37] Speaker A: All right, barrels shooting club on instagram has a couple of questions, and I will let you choose which one to answer or both. One is a specific question, asking your thoughts on state courts in California defying the Supreme Court ruling that is Bruin on the second Amendment. And so that is one of his questions. And then the other question is about the intentionality of all of this. He is saying, is the push for gun control honest in believing it will reduce crime, or do you think there's something actually sinister, knowing it will not? [00:43:29] Speaker B: Okay, well, I'll try to answer both. The first question, it's not really state courts that's the issue here. It's the federal courts. The 9th Circuit, the circuit court judges are controlled by the Democrats. So even if you get a district court judge that's a Republican, his decision is going to be reversed, if not by the immediate three judge panel, then when they have an en banc decision that's there. And I'll just mention at the end of this year, you're going to have near 70% of the circuit and district court judges in the country are going to be, have appointed by Democrats. And, you know, with about a 98% certainty, if you know whether the judge was appointed by a Republican or Democrat, you can predict how they're going to rule on these second amendment issues, for sure, with regard to the Democrats that are there. And, and so, you know, in the Supreme Court, only here is about 60 some cases a year that they hear oral arguments for. And so for all practical purposes, the circuit court judges are, where you have about 100,000 cases a year, are the final arbiters of these things. And what's happening right now is that in the federal courts, the Democrat controlled circuits are slow walking their cases. And I think the idea is essentially by the end of the next presidential administration, Clarence Thomas will be 80, Sam Alito will be 78. And if you lose one or both of those individuals, you're going to have a very different Supreme Court if you have a Democrat replacing them. And so I think the calculus that's going on with these democratic controlled circuit courts, which is where you're having these states like New York or other, you know, Maryland or New Jersey or California, having the craziest laws are, you know, they figure if they slow walk them enough, then they'll have a different Supreme Court and they'll be able to kind of overturn some things like the, like the Bruin decision that's there. [00:45:44] Speaker A: All right. One last question. No, the other bigger question. Is this ignorance or is this intentional? [00:45:52] Speaker B: Well, I mean, I think there are a couple of things that are going on. I think to some extent they really believe that they're doing a good thing. And I, I can understand it. I mean, if you. And partly it's to blame the media. We've talked before about some of the biases that exist with the media, but, you know, if you only hear about bad things that happen with guns and don't hear about the benefits that are there, I think you're going to be a lot more, you know, against them. So, like on our website, since the beginning of 2020, we have 40 cases where police have said that a concealed carry permit holder stopped what otherwise would have been a mass public shooting. Mass public shooting is four more people killed in a public place not involving some other type of crime, like a gang fight or a robbery over drug turf or robbery. And that's a couple times more than the number of mass public shootings that have occurred over that period of time. But they just don't get coverage. And the few times that they do get national coverage, the media often gets the story very wrong on it. My guess is that the debate we have right now would be very different if some of the things we talked about before about reporting gun free zones or giving examples where these guys didn't attack in a gun free zone and somebody was able to stop them, I think the debate would be very different. So that's one part of it. And I could go into much more detail on that. But the second part of that, I would say is I think there is a difference in terms of who they trust to make decisions. I'll give you a simple example. Take something like healthcare, health insurance and Obamacare. But Democrats, they don't trust people to make decisions on what type of health insurance they can buy. Under Obamacare, basically, the only choice you have is the size of the deductible. You can't determine what your coverage. If you're a 65 year old woman, you're still covered for childbirth, even though that may not be very relevant, but you're still paying for it. So the thing is, if and if you don't trust people to make decisions about what type of health insurance that they're going to have. Okay. Are you going to trust them with something like a weapon? And I think it's just. I think it's just a question of who do you trust to make decisions? And Democrats are much more likely to go and believe that the government, some experts that are there who are really smart people, are much better at making decisions for everybody else than letting people make decisions for themselves. And I think that's, that kind of. [00:48:40] Speaker A: Is the dividing line. Certainly we saw that when it came to mandates for vaccines and masks and all of that, that the experts were the ones, the government appointed experts were the ones to be trusted and not individuals. All right, apologies to everybody, because we only have ten more minutes. So I'm just going to take this one last question from the audience, because there are a couple of sort of, you know, context setting questions I'd like to get to before we wrap up. Wyatt, 516 on YouTube says you recently did your own study on AI chat bots and their objectivity of the responses to gun control questions. Can you talk a little bit about the results and your favorite AI at the moment? [00:49:28] Speaker B: Okay. Well, we looked at 20 AI chat bots that are out there. We asked some questions about crime and gun control. There were like nine crime questions and seven gun control questions. You know, the crime questions were things like, do you think higher arrest rates and higher conviction rates reduce violent crime? Do you think that district attorneys who are refusing to prosecute violent criminals affects the crime rate? Do you think the death penalty deters crime? Do you think voter id laws help prevent vote fraud? And the only one that produced conservative results was Elon Musk's grok. The most biased liberal ones were Facebook and Google's Gemini. Facebook, Slama, and Google's Gemini, because not only did they say they disagree that higher arrest rates and higher conviction rates would reduce violent crime, but they strongly disagreed. So I don't know. I'm an economist. It seems pretty straightforward to me. You make something more costly, people do less of it. You raise the price of apples. People buy fewer apples, you make it riskier for criminals to commit crime, they commit less crime. But I guess the stunning thing to me was just how adamant these chatbots were that increased penalties, increased arrest rates, increased conviction rates. They just were adamant had nothing to do with deterring criminals from going and committing crimes. Elon Musk was the only one that was conservative, one that was neutral on average, that some liberal answers and some conservative answers was mistral, which is a french AI bot that was there. So it's kind of. And they were, they were the only one that was neutral on both crime and gun control. You know, interesting. Elon Musk and all the other ones were liberally biased on gun control issues. So, you know, you go and ask them questions like, do you think concealed carry reduces violent crime? You know, Facebook would strongly disagree with that. You know, you have, you ask them, do assault weapons bans make people safer? And they virtually all would agree on that. One of the questions I asked was, is there any place in the world that's banned either all guns or all handguns that's seen murder rates go down? And it's interesting you brought up Australia earlier because chatbot, after Chatbot was saying Australia is an example where they banned guns and murder rates have gone down. So, I mean, it's wrong on so many different fronts. I mean, one, as we were talking about, they didn't ban all guns. They didn't ban all handguns. And people were able to go and buy guns afterwards. And the gun ownership rate was above in 2010, what it was before 96. And I explained to you about why it doesn't even show what they think it shows by comparing before and after averages. But I think pretty much all the chat box all cited, or pretty much all of them cited Australia as kind of like the example where a complete ban on guns would make people safer. [00:53:16] Speaker A: All right, you published this book in July of 2020. How did the riots and looting during the lockdowns affect attitudes towards gun control and access to firearms? What are the most significant ways in which public opinion and individual behavior has shifted in the past four years? [00:53:43] Speaker B: Right. Well, there was a big increase in gun purchases as a result of that. People saw that law enforcement wasn't being allowed to go and do its job. The courts weren't doing their job in terms of protecting people. And people kind of knew that they were ultimately responsible for their own safety. One of the interesting things that happened was 20 states stopped issuing concealed handgun permits during this period of time because of COVID And one of the reactions to that has been the passage of these constitutional carry laws where you don't need a permit in many of these states to do it, because here you have this huge increase in violent crime and murders. People tried to run out and get concealed carry permits, but the government, the window was closed and they weren't willing to go and issue new permits. And so one of the things that happened was they said, well, if you're not going to issue permits to people, maybe we need to get rid of the permitting system here. And so now, by July of this year, we'll have 29 states that have constitutional carry, where as long as you're legally able to go and own a gun, then you can legally carry it. And depending upon the gubernatorial election in North Carolina this year, you'll have 30 states that allow constitutional carry. So, I mean, that's been one big change that you've seen as a result of that, as well as the increase in gun ownership, you also have seen over the last decade, a change in the composition of who gets permits. We've had the growth rate for concealed care permits for women has been about 110% faster than the growth rate for men. The growth rate for blacks has been about 200% faster than the growth rate for whites in terms of concealed carry permits. And I think that's great because it's basically, as we were talking about before, the people who benefit the most from being able to go and protect themselves, you're beginning to see more of those people be able to go and get guns for protection. And I think that's if you want to make people safer, that's what you have to have happen. [00:56:03] Speaker A: Can you give us 1 minute or two on Vice President Harris's recently announced creation of the ERPO, the extreme risk protection order, to help governments optimize their red flag laws. So first, a primer on what these laws are and your assessment on their effectiveness and trade offs and any concerns about whether this federal measure could be used not to optimize, but weaponize existing laws against law abiding citizens. [00:56:36] Speaker B: Right. Well, I mean, I have a lot of concerns. Look, everybody is concerned about a dangerous person having a gun, okay? The question is, will their rule actually make people safer? These are often called red flag laws that they have there, and they've set up an agency in the Department of Justice without Congress passing a law to set it up. So there be, I'm sure there'll be court challenges for it. But look, there are already much better laws on the books in all 50 states than the federal government called civil commitment type laws. So if you're concerned that somebody's a danger to themselves or others, what you can do is call up the police. The police will come out, and if they think that there's a reasonable chance, which is like a 20% probability, that the person is, in fact, in danger to themselves or others, the police will take them in for evaluation, mental health care evaluation, and will, you know, and they'll see mental health care professionals, and if the mental health care professionals believe that the individual is or think that there's a reasonable chance that the person is a danger to themselves or others, they'll take them in. They can be an immediate hearing, and witnesses will be provided. If you can't afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you. And then if the judge agrees that there you are a danger to yourself or others, then the judge has a range of options. He can say, look, if you go and see outpatient mental health care, we'll have you come back in a week or two and reevaluate the situation. If I think you're going to drive a car through a crowd of people, we'll take away your driver's license. If we think you're going to maybe harm people in other ways, we can take away your guns. But ultimately, in the most extreme, they can involuntarily commit the person. The thing with red flag laws is there's no hearing. All the judge sees initially is a written complaint. He doesn't talk to the person who made the complaint. He doesn't talk to the person who the complaint's made about when he makes a decision whether to take away somebody's guns there. And there may be a hearing within a month, depending upon the state law that you're talking about there. But the problem is that the only thing that the judge can do is to take away somebody's guns. Most of these cases involve concerns about suicide, and we talked about suicide earlier. If you're really concerned that somebody is suicidal, is simply taking away their guns a serious solution? There's so many different ways for somebody to commit suicide. There's no mental health care professionals involved in the process here. And when there is eventually a hearing, you have to pay for a lawyer yourself. I've talked to lawyers involved in the process. You may be talking about $10,000 or more for the legal costs that are there. And what you have happen is that you may want to keep your guns, but is it really worth $10,000 to you, be able to go and keep your guns? And so the vast majority is even assuming they can afford it. And so the vast majority of people say, you know, I'm not going to have a lawyer represent me. I'll go and do it myself. And, you know, that puts them in a very difficult position legally. But, and so the problem is, is that the reason why gun control proponents want to push red flag laws is they want to convince people that if you just take away the guns, the problem disappears. And it simply ignores that there's so many different ways to commit suicide. It ignores that there's so many different ways to go and harm people. It doesn't deal with any mental health issues that the individuals have there, and it creates real problems. I'll give you an example of a good friend of mine, Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter in Parkland school shooting. He moved after that from Florida to rural Oregon to kind of get away from the area there. And about the time he moved in there, some neighbors moved in from California right next to him, who hate him politically. And so they put in an extreme risk protection order against him, and it was granted. When they finally did have the hearing, the judge didn't even require that Andrew had to put on a defense because he said there's no threat here. Why did you file this complaint? And if they had had a hearing, he never would have had his guns taken away to begin with. But what happened was, is that while he's been disarmed, he lives in rural Oregon. They're mountain lions and bears. The mountain lion show up right next to his house. He had his dog with him. The dog tried to defend him, got into a tangle with the mountain lion, was badly mauled, had to have 50 stitches on its side. Andy was able to get away, but normally he'd have his handgun with him, but he didn't because his gun was taken away. And he's a law abiding citizen that's there, but he shouldn't have been put into that situation. And the problem is, is that people who make false complaints are never prosecuted. It just doesn't happen. And so, you know, let's see how. [01:02:05] Speaker A: It might get weaponized just as it was weaponized against your friend. So, John, we are over time. So just tell us where. And I could go on talking to you for an hour, but I know that you just got off another two. [01:02:19] Speaker B: Hour radio interview, and undoubtedly I appreciate it. [01:02:23] Speaker A: So, but anyway, where's the best way for us to follow you? And what's next for you? [01:02:29] Speaker B: It's crimeresearch.org, and people can sign up for our email blast that we put out once every two weeks with our research and stuff that we're doing. But thank you very much for having me on. I greatly appreciate it. [01:02:42] Speaker A: Thank you, John. And thanks all of you who joined us today. If you enjoyed this video, any of our content or programming, please consider making a tax deductible donation to [email protected]. Donate and make sure to join us next week when John M. Ellis joins us on the Atlas Society, asks to discuss his latest book the Breakdown of higher education. How it happened, the damage it does and what can be done. We'll see you next week. Thanks.

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