John Lott: Oh So Fraudulent.


Think Progress has an excellent, in depth look at the fall and rise of John Lott, the so-called academic of the NRA and gun fondlers everywhere. Apparently, his fraudulent, unethical past has not stopped people from taking this scary side quack seriously, once again.

The United States seems to be in a perpetual cycle mourning mass shootings in the country. This year alone, there have already been 233 mass shootings, where four or more victims were shot, leaving 310 dead and 930 injured. But every time another shooting happens, advocates pop up arguing that more guns don’t actually lead to more violence and stall the much-needed conversation about gun control.

John Lott is, if not the most influential, certainly the most prolific “academic” in the gun debate. He has authored weekly columns in local newspapers on the horrors of gun free zones, published widely-distributed books on the ostensible benefits of right-to-carry laws, and his newest book The War on Guns has received rave reviews by prominent conservatives, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Newt Gingrich.

Before Lott’s flurry of activity, it was difficult to find anybody arguing that widespread gun ownership made societies safer — even the NRA was reticent to make such a bold claim, defending gun ownership with reference to the constitution, not criminology.

But Lott’s recent successes belie a far more shadowy past. A little over a decade ago, he was disgraced and his career was in tatters. Not only was Lott’s assertion that more guns leads to more safety formally repudiated by a National Research Council panel, but he had also been caught pushing studies with severe statistical errors on numerous occasions. An investigation uncovered that he had almost certainly fabricated an entire survey on defensive gun use. And a blogger revealed that Mary Rosh, an online commentator claiming to be a former student of Lott’s who would frequently post about how amazing he was, was in fact John Lott himself. He was all but excommunicated from academia.

Despite his ethical failings, Lott rose from the ashes in the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School to once more become a prominent voice in the gun debate.

Perhaps unaware of Lott’s previous transgressions, or believing he had turned a new page by founding the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), many in the media who were desperate for an authoritative, pro-gun academic voice seized on Lott’s credentials and provided him with a new platform. In the past few years, Lott and his organization have been cited by dozens of media outlets as an authority on gun violence statistics, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Politifact, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and many others.

However, the media’s newfound faith in John Lott is deeply misguided. Rather than turn a new page, Lott has instead returned to his old playbook and used his platform to deceive the public. Our own multi-year investigation into Lott and his organization has uncovered a startling array of new ethical violations, ranging from the profoundly bizarre to the outright fraudulent.

Devin Hughes and Evan DeFilippis have a breakdown of the five most troubling incidents at Think Progress. Highly recommended reading, because way too many people believe this absolute bullshit, clinging to it, because this confirms what they so desperately want to believe, that the good cowboy with the gun can come blazing in to save the day against any odds, no matter how overwhelming. In a country so stuffed with guns, it doesn’t do to simply dismiss the high amount of fantasists with guns, they are dangerous, and becoming more dangerous every day, and it’s well to remember that many of those gun happy fantasists are cops, who play their little fantasies out every day. It pays to be well informed, especially when it comes to a con-man happily shilling for the NRA, and assuring all those fantasists they are so very right.

Full story here.


  1. says

    Mary Rosh, an online commentator claiming to be a former student of Lott’s who would frequently post about how amazing he was, was in fact John Lott himself

    To be fair, she did know him pretty well.

  2. says

    If you take the number of American incidents and divide them by ten you can get a potential number for such incidents in Canada, since Canada has roughly one tenth the population of the US. So if Canada followed the American trend there should have been 23 mass shootings so far this year. But the only event that fits the category so far was the shootings in La Loche, Saskatchewan, on January 22, where a teenage boy killed 4 people. In 2015 there were none, and one in 2014. I wonder how Lott would explain how this fits his “more guns, less crime” theory, since Canada has fewer per capita guns than the US, and pretty much every place can be considered a “gun free zone,” since concealed carry is effectively non-existent here.

  3. blf says

    I no longer recall the numbers, but I understand the UK (and also Japan) are telling counterexamples: Both countries now have some of the most restrictive gun control laws in functioning democracies, and in both countries the number of mass shootings per year is usually zero. Nil. Nana. Ziltch. NONE.

    The UK tightened up its gun laws after its own “Sandy Hook” incident, Dunblane (Scotland), 20 years ago (1996).

    (In the above you may have to read “UK” as “UK excluding Northern Ireland”; again, I cannot precisely recall…)

  4. Crimson Clupeidae says

    The people who buy into that bullshit aren’t the sort that will change their mind when presented with the facts, unfortunately.

    Stephen Colbert’s ‘truthiness’ is sadly accurate portrayal of how much of the public operates when it comes to data and reality.

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