Book Review: Dr. John R. Lott's ''Freedomnomics''
By Chad D. Baus
For most firearms enthusiasts, the name John Lott is synonymous with one thing: More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws.
When that book hit the market in 1998, it quickly became recognized as what is perhaps the best critique of gun control ever written.
Having endured a term and a half of what was possibly the most anti-gun presidential administrations in history, gun owners at long last could point to a high-profile, scientific treatise based on data for all 3,054 counties in the United States during 18 years from 1977 to 1994. Lott had published data proving what they had instinctively known all along - that states with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes, and that concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime.
Since that best-seller, Lott, who earned his Ph.D. in economics from UCLA in 1984, hasn't failed to deliver further red meat to his new pro-gun fan base. Released in 2003, The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong proves that assault weapons bans and "one-gun-a-month" laws actually increase crime, details flaws contained in "gun-free school zones" and "safe storage" laws, and provides stark evidence of anti-gun bias and selective reporting of acts of self-defense by the media.
And just last year, Lott authored Straight Shooting: Firearms, Economics and Public Policy.
There can be no minimizing the significance Dr. Lott's research has had on the fight to improve and defend gun rights in America. But in his latest book, Dr. Lott proves that he has even more to offer to our country.
The book Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't, has the potential to impact our country in more powerful ways than More Guns, Less Crime ever did.
Consider some of John Lott's more explosive findings:
Freedomnomics not only shows how free markets really work, but proves that when it comes to promoting prosperity and economic justice, nothing works better.
"Economic, criminal and political policies work best when they direct individuals' natural motivations toward a common good. These policies allow people the freedom to profit from their own work and create meaningful disincentives to committing crimes. Because a modern economy is so complex, those tasked with devising regulations to govern it frequently create more problems than they solve," Lott explains.
Politically active gun owners will enjoy Freedomnomics' examination of how campaign finance restrictions keep incumbents in power, how secret ballots decrease voter turnout, and how women's suffrage led to a massive increase in the size of government. Lott also examines the motives behind Democrats' recent efforts to restore voting rights to former prisoners: namely that "it looks as if virtually all felons are Democrats."
Also striking is the section revealing why affirmative action in police departments leads to higher crime rates, and how reduced physical strength standards for new police hires increase accidental shootings by police.
Fans of Lott's previous work on gun control laws will enjoy Freedomnomics for its discussion on gunlocks and safe-storage laws:
- It seems in disputable that requiring gun locks on handguns saves lives. President Bush clearly thinks so - although he may be perceived as a trigger-happy Texan cowboy, his administration distributed more than 32 million gunlocks by the end of 2005. Furthermore, Bush approved the 2005 federal legislation helping to protect gun makes from reckless lawsuits, a bill that also required that all handguns be sold with locks. State officials are increasingly adopting this view - eighteen states now impose criminal penalties on individuals whose guns are used improperly by juveniles. Unfortunately, all these efforts are counter-productive because gunlocks and [safe]-storage laws cause more deaths than they prevent. (emphasis added)
In Freedomnomics, John Lott credits the death penalty's deterrent effect as one of the most important factors (along with right-to-carry laws) in driving down crime rates in the 1990s:
- The vast majority of recent scholarly research confirms this deterrent effect. Generally, studies found that each execution saved the lives of roughly fifteen to eighteen potential murder victims. Overall, the rise in executions during the 1990s accounts for about 12 to 14 percent of the overall drop in murders.
There is much more to Freedomnomics than Crime and Punishment, and the following are teasers for some of the discussions which make the book a must-read:
Freedomnomics has something for just about everyone. It addresses some of the most debated issues of our time in a manner that is understandable, even when it turns conventional wisdom on its head - which is just about every page.
In the words of Edwin Meese III, former U.S. attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, "This book is essential to those who seek to understand liberty." The newly-released book recently reached #63 on the Amazon.com best seller list. Let's help push it to the top!
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