Both scholars in question here were professors, one of history, the other of economics.
To the editor:
Both scholars in question here were professors, one of history, the other of economics. Each set out to research and write about firearms in the USA and both approached the subject with a negative view of firearms. Their respective projects, however, became widely divergent as their books took shape.
Published in 2000, Michael Bellesiles' book, "Arming America," met with critical acclaim from those of like mind, even being awarded the Bancroft Prize. It also met with a rising crescendo of criticism directed at Bellesiles' research, citations and conclusions. It was common to find, upon pursuing his citations, that he had misquoted, cherry-picked, ignored contrary data on the same page and in some cases, cited material that had been destroyed by fire many decades before Prof. Bellesiles was born. Unable to overcome his predispositions, he appeared to have simply tortured his sources to yield that which he wanted. Under the tide of criticism, his university, Emory, opened a formal investigation of the matter which concluded that Bellesiles had willfully misrepresented the truth. The professor resigned his post, which led Columbia to rescind the Bancroft Prize.
The other scholar, John Lott, published his work, "More Guns, Less Crime," in 2001. Examining data from more than 3,000 counties, Lott was forced by reality to abandon his negative view of firearms in favor of a positive one befitting the facts. The rigor of his work has made it a standard reference on firearms status in the USA. Among his findings:
Violent crime rates decline when concealed carry is instituted;
Accident and suicide rates are unaffected by concealed carry;
Armed law-abiding minorities experienced the greatest crime reduction;
Concealed carry reduces murder rates, especially among female victims;
Mass public shootings decline by 69 percent with concealed carry;
So-called "gun free zones" invite mass shootings since they promise perpetrators freedom from rude interruptions.
Thus the title: "More Guns, Less Crime."
In recent interviews, Lott points out that all but one instance of mass public shootings since 1950 occurred in so-called gun-free zones, which actually means free of all guns except those of the perpetrator.
The perpetrators enter into these acts with the intent to end their own lives and use their victims as props bringing widespread notice to their own demise.
It follows that gun-free zones constitute magnets for those mass-murdering suiciders. If we wish to reduce the incidence of such rampages, it is clear that more guns and few gun-free zones is the way to go.
Will we follow the example of Lott or that of Bellesiles?