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Life is so much simpler once the science behind an issue is settled. Questions are not allowed needed any more! This time the purveyor of received wisdom is and’s Alex Yablon shilling for a study from one of the anti-gunners’ usual suspects, John J. Donohue III (above) and a couple of his hangers-on, PhD candidate Kyle D. Weber, and Abhay Aneja.

Before I go into all the ways that Yablon’s story is wrong or simply immaterial, and how Donohue’s research is fundamentally flawed or, again, immaterial, I need to get something off my chest:

The antis — specifically Donohue, are absolutely correct. The science is settled.

When I started narrowing my civil rights activism to Second Amendment issues back in 2003 (has it really been that long?) it never occurred to me that I’d find myself agreeing with any civilian disarmament advocates, much less dedicated anti-freedom mouthpieces like JJDIII, but there it is.

He has conclusively shown in his most recent study (which you can download here for the low, low price of only $5) that shall-issue laws (which he mistakenly identifies as right to carry laws) do not increase crime.

Okay, that isn’t how he phrases it. Nor is it how the various anti-gun media mouthpieces portray it. But the results are right there in his study.

The best claim he can make to bolster his anti-gun argument is that 10 years after passage of shall-issue laws, violent crime in these states failed to drop as quickly as it did in states with more restrictive laws. To squeeze even that much of an anti-2A conclusion from his data he had to use the so-called synthetic control technique (more on that later) to massage the results.

So, with that out of the way, let’s examine Mr. Yablon’s efforts to undermine the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of your choice.

In the four decades that the modern, militant gun rights movement has been around, one of its most significant victories occurred not at the ballot box, on a president’s special signing desk, or in the courtroom. Rather, one of the biggest battles pro-gun partisans have ever won took place in the minds of millions of Americans.

My math isn’t always the greatest, but I think “four decades” equals 40 years, meaning that the “modern, militant gun rights movement” started around 1977.

Alex is probably referring to what’s now known as the  so-called Cincinnati Revolution, the NRA’s 1977 annual meeting where, as the Washington Post says, “true believers converted a marksmanship group into a mighty gun lobby.”

But Alex is completely ignoring the fact that even back in the early 1960s the “fundamentalist” view of the Second Amendment was held by, among others, John F. Kennedy, first as a Senator (from the April 1960 issue of Guns magazine):

… Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation, the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important.

A view reiterated when Kennedy became the President of the United States (in a statement just days after his inauguration):

In my own native state of Massachusetts, the battle for American freedom was begun by the thousands of farmers and tradesmen who made up the Minute Men — citizens who were ready to defend their liberty at a moment’s notice. Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of America, cannot succeed with any lesser effort.

Nor did President Kennedy make this idea up out of whole cloth. Earlier Constitutional commentators and scholars held similar views, see for an excellent collection of them.

But in the very next sentence, Yablon makes clear what he thinks about the whole “right to keep and bear arms” thing:

Since the late 1970’s, the National Rifle Association and other firearm advocates have successfully fought to make armed self defense increasingly acceptable in everyday life.

So, Mr. Yablon, do you have a problem with the mainstreaming of any type of self-defense? Or is it just armed self-defense that you object to? Are you one of those who, like so many in the victim disarmament crowd, would rather see a woman dead in an alley, gang-raped and brutally beaten to death, than standing in that same alley explaining to police how her attackers got those bullet wounds?

Just to be clear, Mr. Yablon, if I’m accosted and threatened with grievous bodily harm or death by some 20-year-old thug, what should this 55-year-old, 300+ pound white guy with bad knees, heart disease, vertigo and limited range of motion in his right shoulder (can’t throw a ball or a punch due to injuries received in the Navy) do?

Should I “avoid the confrontation” and run away as I listen to him laugh (at least until I keel over from another heart attack)? Should I defend myself physically and wrestle him with my (essentially) non-functioning right arm and buggered up knees? Should I drop to those same buggered knees and beg for mercy? Which course of action meets your criteria for being “acceptable in everyday life”?

A wealth of survey data … shows that Americans have grown more comfortable with the toting of concealed guns in public.

That is a good thing, although I still maintain that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.

For the benefit of those like Yablon who might have trouble with the concept of individual freedom, that last little bit means that it doesn’t matter if 50.1 or 99.9 percent of Americans agree or disagree. My rights aren’t subject to their whims.

Self defense is now the most common reason cited for owning a firearm, leading handguns to become the most popular kind of weapon in the American arsenal. Those attitudes and behaviors mark major shifts: In the mid 1990s, Americans primarily owned guns for recreation, and as recently as 2005, a strong plurality thought only police officers should carry guns in public.

Yep, and if you follow that link and read the question, the three options are:

Only safety officials (44%)

Safety officials and private citizens with a clear need (26%)

Any private citizen (27%)

Given that “any private citizen” would include felons, drug addicts and lunatics, I am frankly astonished that the numbers were that high. But again, see above about my rights and your whims.

Now we come to the meat (or, thin watery broth as the case may be) of Yablon’s article:

At the heart of this campaign for the hearts, minds, and holsters of America has been an article of faith that the NRA and its allies have preached since at least the 1990s: that people enhance public safety by carrying guns to defend themselves. …

It’s a powerful, seductive idea, particularly to Americans who favor personal liberty over communitarian ideals. It’s also completely wrong, according to a new analysis of nearly 40 years’ worth of crime data.

Yablon (or his editor) then inserts the “money quote” as it is called:

For years, the question has been, is there any public safety benefit to right to carry laws? That is now settled. The answer is no.” —John Donohue, Stanford Law School

Uh-oh, flag on the play! The referee is calling Donohue for illegal goal post moving!

In other words, JJDIII is lying. In fact, he’s contradicting his own words. Thanks to the magic of date-specific search, the Interwebz pulls up the following:

“[t]he weight of the evidence is now firmly behind those who have found that right-to-carry [shall-issue] laws do not reduce, and may even increase, the overall level of crime,” according to a recent study by Stanford Economist John J. Donohue.

And if we can’t believe JJDIII, then perhaps we can believe Dr. Jens Ludwig, another profligately published anti-gunner who stated in a 1998 paper:

Because even permissive concealed-carry states require permit holders to meet minimum age requirements, any deterrent benefits from these laws should be concentrated among adults and, therefore, should be reflected in the gap between adult and juvenile victimization rates. My results suggest that shall-issue laws have resulted, if anything, in an increase in adult homicide rates.

Or how about John E. Shanks, associate director of law enforcement relations for Handgun Control Inc. when invited to debate Ohio’s pending “shall-issue” law:

What has happened in other states that have CCW laws? Has crime in those states increased or declined?

John Shanks, Coalition: We believe immediate access and availability enhances chances for firearms violence. A case in point is two ladies in a recent road-rage incident. One of them reached in her glove box and pulled out a gun and shot the other one. When you introduce firearms, a situation that would not normally result in deadly violence can be tragic.

Okay, enough beating the dead horse. For years civilian disarmament advocated have insisted — every time a state legislature started debating shall-issue — that the result would be road rage rampages, fender bender firefights and parking lot shoot-outs. When none of these threatened (hoped for?) outcomes came to pass — ever — they were forced to switch gears, saying that increased permits to carry failed to reduce crime.

Now, however, JJDIII is claiming that shall-issue carry law enactment means crime rates don’t fall as fast as if they hadn’t been passed. And just how exactly does one go about figuring that bit out?


No, seriously, you just have to make $hit up and call it “synthetic control technique.” With SCT (read the Urban Institute explanation of it here), JJDIII basically used certain “factors” associated with crime rates to look for states which were demographically similar to their test (right to carry) states.

According to an economist friend of mine (a PhD from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management) this technique is extremely useful when you already know what you want your study to prove. Because cherry-picking which factors are “crucial” and which states to use as controls is, well, subjective. You just do data runs with different control groups until you get the results you want, then declare that your “synthetic control” is “substantially similar” to your experimental group. Convenient, no?

Not that I, of course, or anyone would ever intimate that JJDIII and his hoplophobic posse are engaging in any sort of academic fraud or chicanery. Perish the thought. Just because their “study” was never subjected to peer review before being published, and isn’t available to review without paying for it, we really shouldn’t conclude there’s anything untoward going on here.

Yablon goes on to explain:

In a new working paper … academics at Stanford Law School ran [nearly 40 years’ worth of crime] data through four different statistical models—including one developed by Lott for More Guns, Less Crime—and came back with an unambiguous conclusion: states that made it easier for their citizens to go armed in public had higher levels of non-fatal violent crime than those states that restricted the right to carry. The exception was the narrower category of murder; …

I have a better idea. Let’s look at the data from two countries, not just a few counties. Let’s look at the UK, which effectively has no right to gun ownership much less a right to carry. And, as JJDIII says, homicide rates were unaffected by loosening right to carry laws, so we’ll only look at violent crime, shall we?

According to, between the US and UK:

Type of Crime USA UK Difference
Rape Victims (women only) 0.4% 0.9% UK 2.25x more than US
Assault Victims 1.2% 2.8% UK 2.3x more than US
Property Crime Victims 10% 12.2% UK 1.2x more than US
Robbery Victims 0.6% 1.2% UK 2x more than US
Total Crimes per 1000 41.29 109.96 UK 2.6x more than US

So, on the one side you have a country with a long history of strict gun control, and on the other, a country with expanding freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice. One has decades of falling crime rates and one has rising crime rates. One has less than 42 crimes per 1,000 people, the other has more than 2½ times that at rate.

Tell me one more time: which one is the better country in which to live?

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  1. His name is John J. Donohue III? That means that there are or were two more just like him.

    I’m beginning to change my mind about eugenics.

  2. Interestingly, if you run global temperature data through the same model it proves the case not for gun control but for global warming. /;-)

    It must be the “settled science” bias.

        • “What about the hot gasses from Democrats?”

          Recently read in some journal of safely settled science that the gas you describe actually creates “good” ozone.

  3. This guy should stick with economics. Leave the heavy lifting to criminologists. That synthetic control model is crap.

    • Umm, might I point out that John Lott is an economist also, and that economists generally have extensive training in statistics and sampling?

      • You may not. You also may not point out that most economists who have studied the issue come down against gun control.

    • It’s hard to call yourself an Economist without a PhD, and most schools that hand those out demand you know a great lot about designing and utilizing statistical models.

      A lot of people calling themselves professional career Criminologists would easily be put to shame by a first year statistics student or a second year grad student from any Econ program. Heck, I can run circles around them, and I bailed out after one year of a PhD program, more than 20 years ago, and haven’t had any real need to use the math since then, so I’m both outdated and very, very rusty.

  4. So “the science is settled” by non-peer- reviewed study with degrees of freedom out the yin-yang. Got it.

  5. So basically what I take away from this fop’s verbal diarrhea is that if I see him getting a beat down in the street, I’ll simply step over him, gun holstered.

  6. The Constitution is a framework detailing the rights of man, not the rights of the public. The individual and his/her rights are to be put ahead of the public.

    But the Progs probably watched too much Star Trek as kids and think that “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” So the Progs are the complete antithesis of the United States and must be dispatched.

    • At some point wasn’t the entire Vulcan home planet destroyed by guys with really big guns. So didn’t work out so well there.

      Meanwhile, the US dominated Earth continued to seek out and conquer etc. while hauling around really big guns.

    • You are incorrect. The Constitution is a document that details the specific limits of government power. It lists a few of our rights, but also clearly says that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” That’s why it’s so farcical when the antis claim the 2A was never meant to be an individual right: nowhere in the document does it place limits on the rights of we, the people. It only places limits on government.

      Sorry about being a preachy little bitch, but I think the distinction is an important one.

  7. Fortunately, the Second Amendment does NOT state “shall not be infringed, unless a bunch of fruitcakes from a libtard factory figure out how to manipulate statistics.”

  8. “…For years, the question has been, is there any public safety benefit to right to carry laws? ”

    Wow. Missed the mark completely! I mean like not only missed the mark, missed the mountains the mark is in. Missed the country where the mountains are. Missed the bus, the train, and local guides that take you to the mark. Like the most embarrassing miss ever.

    Our country is based on the rule of law. Laws define the edges of society, the bits we *don’t* want, things like murder and larceny. We don’t assign laws to create benefits, we assign then to create detriment. Carrying a firearm is the natural right, shooting people without cause is the detriment, the bit that is illegal. The law doesn’t allow firearms, it disallows shooting people without a reason. Everything is legal by default, the laws define what isn’t legal. So saying that some set of laws provides no benefit…. Yes. That is by design.

  9. “Synthetic control model” = “we’re completely making ish up”

    Not science. Violates a cardinal rule: Thou shall not extrapolate data.

    Much like climate change data “analysis”, that “technique” would have gotten me laughed – and kicked – out of a 200-level engineering course.

    • That is because engineers actually have to get things right: if engineers screw up, a LOT of people die.

      • Not if they screw up in the right direction. Then something is just overbuilt. Admittedly, in many things “the right direction” might not exist.

      • “That is because engineers actually have to get things right: if engineers screw up, a LOT of people die.”

        Thank you for the springboard. Working a career around and among engineers (not being one, myself), I did not avoid the opportunity to point out:
        – Amateurs built the Ark; engineers were responsible for Titanic
        – “Galloping Gertie”
        – Challenger
        – Columbia
        – Mars Climate Orbiter
        – Schiaparelli Mars Lander

        I could go on, but enough laughter for today.

        • If one accepts the biblical record, I believe the engineer of record for the Ark was God, and again, if one accepts the biblical record, his engineering accolades are beyond reproach. Perhaps constructed by ammatures, but being designed by a deity, the Ark is hardly a foil for poking fun at mere human endeavors.

          • My statement about amateurs remains correct. The Ark was built by amateurs (or amateur). The engineer was not in question. Titanic was designed by engineers, and built by skilled workers. Titanic had, I think it was 5, watertight compartments, that were designed to ensure flooding of two (?) compartments would not sink the ship. However, the engineers designed the compartments such that the bulkheads did not connect to the deck above, creating, in effect, a gigantic ice tray. As water from one compartment poured over the bulkhead, it flowed into the next compartment, until that compartment overflowed into the next, and so on.

            BTW, if God is God (supreme and infallible), He needs no defense by inferior, created beings.

    • Absolutely. I took seven graduate-level stats courses, and never heard of the “synthetic control technique,” for the simple reason such a thing would never be allowed in any real science. The field I worked in was very statistically rigorous. A paper submitting using this SCT would be flung back at the author’s head with many nasty comments attached.

      • When did you retire from the field? I think this is a relatively new thing. It does sound like putting the cart before the horse, though.

        The only way you could accurately build a synthetic control was if you already knew what caused the result you are trying to study. In this case, you would have to know all the causes (except carry laws) of crime rates, how those causes effect the rates, and to what degree they do.

  10. At the end of the day, public carry doesn’t harm public safety either. And it respects the individual’s right of self defense. And another thing to look at is with the move towards the vast majority of states adopting shall issue carry laws and then mocing to Constitutional carry, there hasn’t been a single state that has gone in the other direction. For example going from shall issue to may issue.

  11. He refers to the “militant gun rights movement.” I don’t think he knows what either “militant” or “gun” means.

    • A Muslim isn’t militant until be beheads somebody with a knife or blows up a bunch of preteens. All a gun owner needs to be militant is point and laugh at gun controllers’ bullsh**.

  12. What this guy wants to is to have the fight be about utility so he can change the definitions at his leasure. That way if you are attacked by two thugs and you shoot them dead it is a net loss to society, where you and I would say small loss to anyone. Never discuss social utility with someone who values thug life (and Democrat voters) above innocent life, as they don’t have the moral standing to deserve your respect or time.

    • Indeed. It used to be that both sides could agree, more or less openly, that the good of the state was for the law abiding, and punishment for the guilty. Now it seems we must offer the good of the state to the guilty, while punishing the law abiding.

      It also used to be said that Democrats and Republicans were trying to get to the same place by different routes. Anyone still believing that has to have been comatose for at least the last decade.

  13. But I don’t carry to “benefit” public safety. I carry for my and my loved ones health and safety. Pretty simple…

    • Same reason an increasing number people won’t inject poison into their family members under the false guise of greater good or public health.

    • Exactly. Any benefit to public safety by my carrying is purely incidental. Translation: I don’t care.

      I, like you, carry for me and mine.

  14. OK. I don’t get it. Just looked at NationMaster. Could not find the states in the article. Did find the US listed as 4.5 times more violent crime than the US.

  15. I don’t care about the effect on public safety. Crime between private parties and the hazard of accidents are nothing compared to abuse by the state.

    • You are correct because you cannot fight the state. You can move out of a bad neighborhood to avoid criminals, but you have to move out of the U.S. (to a probably more anti-gun place) to avoid the government

      • Thanks, yeah. Not only can you not fight or avoid the state on a given day, you get paternalized to, they can screw with you for years, take everything, indoctrinate kids. Compared to that a home invasion isn’t so bad. When it’s over it’s over, the burglars are at least putting their butts on the line.

        This is getting back to the practical, immediate side; the priorities of a low rent outlaw aren’t the same as mine, reason alone won’t end a conflict with them, but they can sometimes be overwhelmed and subdued or scared off. Or just take the TV and be content. Whereas cops, they raid the wrong house and imagine a threat they’ll start shooting and keep shooting.

  16. The last factual data that I read showed that there are approximately 8 times more legal defensive gun uses (DGU’s) per year in the US, than there are illegal gun uses (i.e. Murders, assaults with a deadly weapon, accidental shooting deaths, suicide by firearm, etc). I would say that is a pretty significant benefit to Public Safety when you consider that for every one crime committed using a firearm, there are approximately 8 people who “stopped” a crime from being committed due to them being legally armed. I didn’t even have to use some “synthetic control” to determine that tidbit of truth.

  17. The simple truth is that anti-gun cultists HATE the idea of self-defense.

    They have a “game preserve” model of society, especially inner city society.

    They consider it perfectly “normal” for the “lions” to take a certain number of “antelope”.

    And like wardens on a game preserve, they’re horrified by the idea of the antelope growing fangs and claws and disemboweling the lions when the lions try to eat them. To them, it’s “unnatural”.

    • Because for the leftists, the lion is the state. So of course having one of the antelopes say no effectively and with lethal resolve to being chosen to be eaten for the “common good” is heresy of the highest(lowest) order.
      After all , the “communitarian” requirement demands the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the state.

      What a bizarre and sick belief system! The progressives fight for the right to be treated as a non-entity; as a single faceless cog in a rapacious and souless meat grinder of a “collective good” that is decided by an elite few.

  18. “Anti-Gunners: “Carry Laws Do Not Benefit Public Safety””

    Pro-Gunners: “Anti-gunners F UP Public Safety on purpose”

  19. Synthetic control technique: noun. A control technique that allows one to artificially synthesize a conclusion in order you avoid the most logical conclusion from the given set of data

    • I e-mailed my statistics professor* about the synthetic control technique. He said the method is credible and useful. He also warned that the study might still be garbage. I didn’t include any information about what the study was about just in case there was going to be bias on the subject.

      *He was my professor, obviously he isn’t my professor now because I am not in school.

  20. Does anyone really care what this fool says. He has the right to say whatever he wants and make up whatever crap he wants. People like this are only preaching to their choir. It’s really best to ignore them instead of giving them the publicity they are looking for. As long a Pro 2A people stick together we will always triumph over these clowns. They can’t take our rights and firearms unless we let them. Remember Keep Your Powder Dry.

  21. People using survival instinct do what is best for them. Taking actions which will negatively affect you, or your family, under the pretension of helping the greater good or public health goes against human instinct.

  22. My realist voice says that if John Donohue, Kyle Weber, and Abhay Aneja get their way on gun control, there is a good chance they will be plowing my fields. The end of the 2nd amendment will lead to the end of every single right they believe they have, and that is what always happens as proven by history. As a free man, I will neither give up my guns nor my other rights, period. If the Progressives want to give up their own rights, I say so be it. When that happens, I promise that I will provide them the security and rigorous subjection they so desperately crave.

    Yes, this is sarcasm…sort of. I am making a point.

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