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In an article that claims the famous researcher John Lott is partly responsible for mass murder, the author let slip an interesting bit of information. John Lott was a Democrat before he conducted his well known research on guns control laws and their effect on crime rates.


Outside of the Baylor auditorium, Lott told me about his journey to becoming the most prominent and most hated gun researcher: His interest in guns, he said, started when he was an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Students asked him about his thoughts on gun control, and so Lott started researching. He wasn’t a gun expert then, just an economist. But he noticed that, despite the volume of gun research, there were few well-designed studies with large sample sizes. Around the same time, Lott had become disillusioned with the Clinton administration. He said he had been a Democrat, but found himself starting to align with more-conservative belief systems. He felt that the response to the research he’d started doing on guns encouraged his political transformation. It appeared to Lott that the liberal establishment had gotten everything wrong, and that, in their rush to prove their progressive fantasies, they had ignored the facts.

I contacted Lott about the allegation that he had been a Democrat. Because the Pacific Standard author, Peter Moskowitz, was wrong in many of his allegations, I wanted to confirm this. Lott wrote that “The PS piece was very inaccurate and dishonest.”

Lott also wrote that he was, in fact, a registered Democrat until 1993. We can credit Moskowitz with getting that right. Lott’s seminal research on the effect of concealed carry laws on violent crime was published in 1996 at the University of Chicago.

It’s not uncommon for researchers — those who are honest — to change their views once they have done actual research on a subject. Lott went so far as to change his political affiliation. James Wright and Peter Rossi changed their views on gun control. Gary Kleck changed his views on the effectiveness of armed self defense.

Most criminologists and economists now agree with Lott’s conclusions. I don’t know of any researcher who has switched the other way. Most of the articles that claim Lott’s research is inaccurate appear in historically anti-gun health policy journals.

That is a significant argument that the side that wishes to disarm the population is wrong.

People are prone to reach conclusions that reinforce their preconceived notions. It’s known as confirmation bias. It takes a significant effort — and a genuinely open mind — to look at data objectively and accept their implications, if they disagree with what you already believe.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. So, if his vote helped put Janet Reno in charge of the FBI, he IS partly responsible for mass murder…

    At least Lott learned from his mistake and has spent the last 20 years making amends, what’s Peter Moskowitz’ excuse?

    • “the beginning of understanding is realizing you may be wrong” unknown author

  2. Well so was president Trump. But as can be pretty clear seen it’s mostly the Democrats have have changed. Discarding any trappings for the support of any one constitutional right in favor of wedge issues and grievance diversity. That lack of historical political purity might not be enough to a lot of people, but I’m far more impressed with current standing and actions instead of historical political positions.

    • “Well so was president Trump. But as can be pretty clear seen it’s mostly the Democrats have have changed.”

      Regan once said: “I didn’t leave the Democrat party, the Democrat party left *me*.”

  3. What is my thought on Mr. Lott jumping ship and taking up with the republicans ?

    Welcome to the party, pal !

  4. Lott should be put in charge of a study to determine why U.S. doctors murder about 1,200 Americans every day.
    Might be able to help resolve the problem in a logical and rational manner.

    • Kill (via negligence, accident or bad luck) or fail to prevent the death of… Absolutely.

      Murder? No. Use the correct terminology and you won’t look like a liberal demanding answers about “gun violence”.

    • Kill via negligence, accident, poor judgement or just bad luck? Sure.
      Fail to save a life for similar reasons? Sure.
      Murder? No.

      Please use the correct terminology (and avoid emotive nonsense) when asking a question or you just look like a liberal demanding answers about “gun violence”…

  5. Though Reagan wasn’t a perfect conservative he was absolutely right when he said “I never left the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.” This is a symptom very many people have experienced the last few decades, particularly in the mid west and south, where the democrats had a strong following. Places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota used to be democrat havens. Hillary didn’t even bother to campaign in those states thinking she had them in the bag. Even though she won MN, she almost lost it. That’s huge. That was the only blue state in 84. The democrats have dug their own grave by abandoning the fly over states. Relying on the coasts is not a winning strategy.

    • “Though Reagan wasn’t a perfect conservative he was absolutely right when he said “I never left the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.””

      You beat me to it…

      • Reagan, one of the most anti-gun, anti-2A Presidents ever.

        Were there a ‘Hell’ (other than Michigan), I’d love to see St. Ronnie burning in it.

        • Something like 90% of politicians were anti-gun in 1967-1968. Governor Ronnie was just going with the flow.

        • I don’t know about “ever” but Ronnie was not pro-2a. He signed the Hughes Amendment. In addition, he waived the wand and granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

        • Reagan signed FOPA with the approval of the NRA, who did not think the Hughes amendment would survive judicial review. They were unfortunately mistaken. It happens. It sucks, but it happens.

        • Reagan made a serious mistake by backing gun gun control while California’s Governor. Black Panther types with weapons provided by Angela Davis had just broken out of a courtroom, kidnapped and murdered a judge. “They had to do something!” He paid for his sins and atoned for them after the assassination attempt.

        • I’d say Trump is the only pro-2A president since FDR entered the office. (FDR being the starting point because he was the first to institute “gun control”).

        • No, @NEIOWA, but you are “clueless”! There are far too many conservatives that worship Reagan just as they worship the Bushes. Reagan not only was anti-2A, he also CREATED NAFTA, and gave amnesty to millions of illegals when we conservatives were against both! Reagan did far more damage than good, no different than the two Bushes!
          What is obvious is that demoncraps knew this about Reagan and the Bushes, because neither of the three was attacked the way they are attacking Trump. Trump is truly a threat to all of the policies and agenda of the demoncrap party!

        • So Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale returning/getting into the Oval Office would have been better how?

  6. Wow people change-especially when they grow up. I voted Democrat…in 1972. May I remind all that our fearless leader RF actually voted Odumbo?!?

      • ?There ya’ go.Apology rendered(lol). BTW I ordered Battle for Jerusalem from CBN…

      • Robert
        You weren’t just wrong. You were really really wrong. I had seen other blacks like Obama before. As a black gun owner I’m proud to say I never voted for him. I also gave up voting for democrats in the early 1990s.
        There are pro-gun democrats, the only problem is they will never be elected to positions in the party. And they won’t be seriously supported for public office by the party.

  7. I could never be an unbiased gun researcher, I like them and completely believe in their net benefit. Just so happens the facts generally support that hypothesis.

    Props for being objective and basing your opinions on the facts.

  8. Yep, Democratic Party left me and a lot of others. JFK was a Life Member of the NRA. He actually own and shot firearms. A real war hero who counted the cost.

    And my hometown had the highest per capita income in the nation in the 50’s……….Detroit. And the Democratic Party that left us turned it into a third world city.

    • Come on, man, be realistic. Detroit would need billions of dollars of improvements to become a third-world city.

  9. Lott went from a respected Democrat to a discredited Republican. Wish he would continue his research with new data to put an end to all of the rumors about falsified data that the FBI would not provide again

  10. Most of us were young and foolish at one time. I voted for Jimmy Carter over a used Ford – hey he was a smart Navy guy who had been a businessman, governor of a southern state, and seemed to be a decent man. Unfortunately none of those qualifications excused his incompetence and when I paid about 13% for a mortgage with excellent credit and saw the wreckage in the Iranian desert I decided that the Democrats didn’t deserve my support.

    • It’s almost like both (R) and (D) made a deal to screw everybody. They didn’t count on me. Who knew and when did they know it? Jefferson and Washington knew and gave everyone a new deal. I’ll die on my feet. I’ll grovel before none.

    • I never figured out why he gave the Panama Canal away. We stole Panama from Columbia fair and square. All we kept for our efforts was a really big ditch that we built.

  11. I’ve ALWAYS even a Republican, though pre-ObamaCare, I would consider good old Southern Blue Dog democrat. Presently, I will never again vote for any politician with a “D”. Fuck democrats.

  12. Who cares? I’m a registered independent. Elephants AND asses are so afraid of me that I CAN’T vote in any KY primary. How’s that for political power?

  13. Nobody is perfect.
    I saw the light after the first 4 years of clinton. As did my parents.
    Never again will i vote democrat.

  14. So what?

    Is it an accident that the most powerful stories in literature are ones of redemption?

    It’s hard to care about what someone thought or did thirty years ago, unless it involved a capital offense. I’m more interested in what they’ve done more recently. Sometimes people learn and change and grow as they get older.

  15. The comments section of the article is tearing the author to shreds in the most thorough, respectable and scientific means possible.

  16. Lott should not be our go-to guy. Dave Kopel is a much, MUCH better option.

    I am a pro-gun Democrat, which puts me in a population slightly smaller than Liechtenstein.

    Because public policy is so complicated, almost nobody informs themselves on the full spectrum of issues at stake in our elections. Instead, they pick one or two issues that they can understand, and use those issues like a “synecdoche” to infer the truthfulness of candidates on all the other issues.

    Unfortunately, the Democrats singled out the gun issue on which to take cynical, pandering, and inaccurate positions.

    A lot of Americans understand guns well — more than understand health insurance economics or omnibus trade agreements or consumer credit regulation. When the Dems lie or obfuscate about guns, they damage themselves enormously, and it doesn’t matter that they are being more honest than the GOP about tax burdens, or the budget deficit, or the actuarial realities of Social Security.

    When you fib about something plain and simple, nobody will believe you about anything else.

    • “it doesn’t matter that they are being more honest than the GOP about tax burdens, or the budget deficit, or the actuarial realities of Social Security.”

      I’m not sure what you think the word honest means. There might be three elected officials in DC who are being honest about “the actuarial realities of Social Security,” and I’ve never heard it from a Democrat. Gores lock box certainly wasn’t it.

    • c’mon, man! The Democrat Party has always been the Party Of Free Shit.

      The Democrat Party invented American gun control too. After the Confederacy lost the War Between the States, the Democrat politicians running the South cooked up gun control against black folks. They were afraid the freed slaves would git uppity and come after the white man with guns.

      The Democrat Party was the party of slavery before the War Between the States, the Democrat Party was the party of Jim Crow segregation after the war until the mid-60’s and since then it is the party of economic slavery (welfare, Section 8 housing, shitty schools, food stamps, Obamaphones, Affirmative Action, EEOC, Planned Parenthood abortions, free shit…..

  17. I read Lott’s paper back in college. I had always been pro gun before that because it was a right. After reading the book I was pro gun because it was a right that was right under utilitarian ethics.

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