Blogs > Liberty and Power > Virginia Tech As a Gun Free Zone

Apr 16, 2007 7:28 pm

Virginia Tech As a Gun Free Zone

In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the calls for"sensible gun control" have already began. Unfortunately, it is pretty much certain that the media will ignore the following as reported in 2006: "A Virginia Tech official in 2006 praised the defeat of a proposal to allow students with state-issued concealed handgun permits to carry their handguns on college campuses in Virginia."

Hat tip Mike Tennant.

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Dan Schmutter - 4/18/2007

You make it sound like they asked everyone and none of them remembered. That's not what happened.


Ralph E. Luker - 4/18/2007

Do you mean to tell me that of all the people who Lott claimed to have interviewed, only one person (and, him, a well-known sympathizer to the results of Lott's survey) could be found to say that "Yes, I was contacted by John Lott in the survey"? Could I interest you in a deal on some land in Florida?

Dan Schmutter - 4/18/2007

The fabrication charge is nonsense and is also irrelevant to this thread.

First, there has never been an allegation that Lott fabricated the "more guns less crime" data.

The fabrication charge relates to his separate claim about the percentage of defensive gun uses which involve mere brandishing as opposed to the actual discharging of the firearm. This is a wholly separate claim that does not implicate his more guns/less crime findings.

The allegation is that Lott cannot produce the survey data which he says resulted in this finding.

Lott has said that he lost the data in a hard drive crash, which Lott says David Mustard can corroborate.

More to the point, however, Lott repeated the survey later, with the same results, and HAS produced that data. So the fabrication argument is specious.


Ralph E. Luker - 4/18/2007

I can't review the whole thing for you, but I'm inclined to take Steve Levitt's and Jim Lindgren's word that Lott had discredited himself. See, for example, this piece by Tim Noah. So, in addition to using a sock puppet to lard his reputation with [self]-praise, Lott is believed to have fabricated data. There's a reason, I think, that he's no longer at AEI. And you might want to check to see if the Federalist Society continues to sponsor his speeches.

Aeon J. Skoble - 4/18/2007

I don't follow you, Ralph, can you elaborate on why Lott's findings are invalid? I recall he took some hits for nettiquette violations, viz using a "sock puppet" to deflect criticism, but how does that invalidate his actual work?

Keith Halderman - 4/18/2007

I go back to that class where I saw that Lott's sample was enormous and he looked a every possible spurious factor with many regressions. It followed every procedure that the text book said should be done. Meanwhile the study cited which was supposed to refute him had a sample size of just six, three of those were negative coorelations, and there were no regressions performed. Your as hominen attack on Lott here is meaningless and does not refute his conclusions.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/18/2007

It's pretty stunning that a serious person is still citing John Lott about a serious subject. You can't any longer claim that more guns means less crime based on the evidence that he offers.

Steven Horwitz - 4/17/2007

I have to admit being somewhat torn on this one. I do agree that had someone in the building been armed, the total death toll *from this incident* would have been less.

However, as a university administrator (on a private campus), I would be very uncomfortable knowing that any, even those with a concealed carry permit, of my students, who are too often drunk, had easy access to firearms.

Jonathan is correct that the real calculus here has to be double-entry: yes, it might save lives in these *rare* situations but how many lives/injuries would it cost if campuses had more easy access to guns?

The particular context of a college campus may be different from that of a broader world where more guns means less crime.

Keith Halderman - 4/17/2007

When John Lott first published an article that preceded his book More Guns, Less Crime I was taking a course on designing social research and his work conformed to everything important you were supposed to do in order to produce valid conclusions. The bottom line here is that concealed carry laws save lives. On the other hand you can not point to any place in this country where stricter gun laws have mitigated gun violence. The District of Columbia is the prime example of gun control's ineffectiveness. If you are concerned about reducing gun violence then I would suggest that you turn your time and energy to ending drug prohibition as those laws are the driving force behind a great deal of the violence.

Jonathan Dresner - 4/17/2007

"Let's say that" trigger happy Charles Bronson wannabees start shooting with the best of intentions but ignore the fact that they're in crowded rooms and they're shooting at people with cell phones... how many of those incidents would it take?

You want to play with numbers?

How many of these mass shooting incidents have happened on campuses over the last forty years? about a dozen? How many of them would have been mitigated by much looser concealed weapons laws? How many additional accidental deaths, suicides, domestic murders would be caused by the changes you suggest?

You've got your principles: that's fine. But if you're gonna live by them, you have to admit that not all the effects are going to be positive.

Keith Halderman - 4/16/2007

Well the body count now stands at 33 including the murderer. Let us say that the scum got as many as seven people before somone with a concealed weapon got him. Therefore you would need 25 separate fatal accidents before no net savings of life occured. That is quite a few.

Jonathan Dresner - 4/16/2007

No, the "media" won't "ignore" it, because every right-wing blogger from here to Malkin is flogging it for all it's worth.

Do you really think that the chance that this particular tragedy might have been somewhat alleviated (from what little we know, total prevention seems unlikely) is worth the increased likelihood of accidents, honest misjudgements and .38 caliber grade inflation?