Letter to the Editor: Statistics show concealed carry won’t reduce crime

In the final days before anticipated Senate votes on HB12, the Columbus Dispatch has printed a response to Dr. John Lott's April 24 op-ed, and in doing so, Dispatch editors signaled they're ready to do their best to aid anti-self-defense extremists in a last ditch effort to defeat HB12.

UPDATE! In the hours following the publishing of the letter, it has been confirmed by Ohioans For Concealed Carry that at least one statement made by the author of this letter is a blatant lie. The offender? John J. Donohue III.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for the full story.

On April 24 (and to it's credit), the Dispatch published an op-ed by Dr. John Lott, entitled "Concealed carry would benefit Ohio". In the piece, Lott pointed to just a fraction of the wealth of empirical data from other states which proves that House Bill 12 would be good for Ohio. He referred not just to his own research, but also that of researchers such as the U. of GA's David Mustard, Loyola's David Olson, and the U. of IL's Michael Maltz, all of whom came to similar conclusions as Lott - concealed carry laws reduce crime.

The op-ed must have had it's effects, because it drew out a response from one of the most liberal anti-gun "researchers" we've yet come across - John J. Donohue III. It is this persons' work which was repeatedly quoted by anti-self-defense extremists in opponent testimony for HB12 in the Senate last month.

In his June 7 letter to the Dispatch editor, Donohue touts his own recently published "study", which refutes Lott/Olson/Maltz/Mustard by claiming something no other researcher with any credibility has - that CCW laws increase crime. Donohue repeats attacks from his paper in the letter, charging that both Lott's and Mustard's work is "fatally flawed" and "discredited". And then Donohue makes a most curious claim. In his letter, he states that David Olson's paper has been, "(as Lott well knows) withdrawn...after concluding that the data on which it (and Lott’s work) was based is unreliable."

The Olson/ Maltz paper, which Donohue claims has been "withdrawn" by it's author, was printed in the October 2001 edition of the Journal of Law and Economics, and can be found (along with seven other papers proving the positive effects of CCW reform) on the University of Chicago Law School's website. It's a far cry from having been "withdrawn".

UPDATE! On June 9, Dr. David Olson responded to an inquiry from Ohioans For Concealed Carry, and confirmed that AT NO TIME HAS HE "WITHDRAWN" HIS PAPER, as was claimed by John Donohue in the Dispatch.

Just what type of academic would make such an easily disprovable claim about another professor's work? The same kind that concludes "legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime."

There is plenty more of the truth about "Who is John J. Donohue III?" A quick look at his other social science studies indicates most favor what would be considered the traditional liberal hypothesis (whether it's abortion & crime, race & law enforcement, race & employment, or CCW & crime). Consequently, Donohue shows up on just about every ultra-left wing website's hero list for some study or another supporting their cause.

To humor Donohue for a moment, let's throw out John Lott, David Mustard (self-described as pro-gun control before he completed his original study with Dr. Lott), David Olson, and Michael Maltz. Does that take away all the evidence that concealed carry reform reduces crime? Far from it:

Criminologist Gary Kleck was finding the benefits of CCW reform on crime reduction way back in the 80's. Joyce Lee Malcolm recently published Guns and Violence, which also proves the benefits of firearms ownership and carry by law-abiding citizens. Researchers Florenz Plassmann and T. Nicolaus Tideman also concur with these facts. In their 2001 paper "Does the Right to Carry Concealed Handguns Deter Countable Crimes?..." they conclude "such laws appear to have statistically significant deterrent effects on the numbers of reported murders, rapes, and robberies." The list goes on.

Yet John J. Donohue stands alone. Others have tried to claim that CCW laws do not significantly reduce crime, but Donohue's paper with Ian Ayres is the ONLY one which claims to have found an increase. John Lott does an excellent job of explaining why the report is faulty: "Ayres and Donohue have simply misread their own results".

We could presume to do no better than Lott at defending his own study, except to summarize that Donohue's research abstract provides enough proof of his bias as to damn the whole piece prior to reading it. Click here to read a newly-published rebuttal to the Dispatch's Donohue letter on Lott's official website. Click here to read a 48 page rebuttal to the entire Donohue/Ayres paper (be advised: extremely technical) from John Lott. Click here to buy an autographed copy of Lott's latest book, The Bias Against Guns, which contains an analysis of the statistical manipulations employed by Donohue/Ayres used to achieve their results.

Donohue concludes by stating "legislators may feel a modest increase in the number of dead Ohioans in exchange for the ability to carry hidden handguns is an acceptable trade-off. But don’t believe anyone who says concealed carry laws will reduce crime. There is no credible support for that view."

As loose as John Donohue appears to be with facts, we'll take his warning with a very large grain of salt.

And as for the Columbus Dispatch, we find it more than a little suspicious that the paper waited six full weeks to publish a response to Lott's April 24 op-ed, only choosing to do so on the eve of a Senate vote.

Then again, this should not be a surprise. The Dispatch has a history of holding back information supportive of concealed carry reform until its too late (Flashback: Dispatch: NOW they Print it - "Other States with Carry Laws See Few Problems".

When it's all said and done, Lott's words from his op-ed will proven correct as well: "A year after the right-to-carry law is enacted, Ohioans will wonder what all the fuss was about."

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