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PA Bill Number: SB1198

Title: In plants and plant products, providing for plant and pollinator protection; conferring powers and duties on the Department of Agriculture and ...

Description: In plants and plant products, providing for plant and pollinator protection; conferring powers and duties on the Department of Agriculture and .. ...

Last Action: Referred to AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Last Action Date: May 17, 2024

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In the Los Angeles Times: You don't have to shoot someone to use a gun defensively :: 02/11/2022

Dr. John Lott has a letter responding to the absurd claim in the Los Angeles Times that there are only 2,000 defensive gun uses per year.

To the editor: Dr. Steven J. Sainsbury pushes the absurd claim there are only 2,000 defensive gun uses per year. (“Thinking of buying a gun for self-defense? Don’t do it,” Opinion, Jan. 31)

The claim overwhelmingly relies on counting defensive gun uses reported in news articles, but that is a dramatic undercount because the vast majority of successful self-defense cases don’t make the news. Ninety-five percent of defensive gun uses involve merely brandishing a gun, and less than 1% involve the attacker being killed or wounded. 

But most news stories only report on cases where attackers are killed and brandishings are ignored.

Seventeen national surveys find an average of 2 million defensive gun uses per year. The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey puts it at around 100,000. Both show the 2,000 claim to be ridiculous. 

Finally, the article labels me as a “gun rights advocate,” not a researcher who has held academic positions at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, Stanford and Yale. I have also been a senior advisor for research at the U.S. Department of Justice.

John R. Lott Jr., Missoula, Mt.

The writer is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.

John R. Lott, Jr. “Letters to the Editor: You don’t have to shoot someone to use a gun defensively,” Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2022. 
John R. Lott, Jr., “Letters to the Editor: You don’t have to shoot someone to use a gun defensively,” Yahoo! News, February 10, 2022.

The original version of the letter that I sent in had more details, but I had to send it the shorter piece above for them to consider it.

Dear Letters Editor:
Your article pushes the absurd claim there are only 2,000 defensive gun uses per year (Steven Sainbury, “Thinking of buying a gun for self-defense? Don’t do it,” Jan 31). The claim overwhelmingly relies on counting defensive gun uses reported in news articles, but that misses the vast majority of cases because the most newsworthy cases involve instances where someone is killed or at least wounded. Ninety-five percent of defensive gun uses involve merely brandishing a gun, and less than 1% involve the attacker being killed or wounded. But most news stories only report on cases where attackers are killed, over 40% cover woundings, and just 4% brandishings. 

Seventeen national surveys find an average of 2 million defensive gun uses per year. The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey puts it at around 100,000. Both show the 2,000 claim is ridiculous. Even the NCVS is low because it first asks a respondent if they have been a crime victim. Only respondents who answer “yes” are asked if they have ever used a gun defensively. Those who successfully use a gun may never view themselves as having been a victim. 

The piece emphasizes how few justifiable homicides are reported by the FBI, but he seems completely unaware that less than 10% of police departments report justifiable homicides to the FBI, and even the departments that do are missing most cases.

The article labels me as a “gun rights advocate,” not a researcher who has held academic positions at Wharton, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and Yale, and served as the Senior Adviser for Research and Statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Sincerely, John R. Lott, Jr.

https://crimeresearch.org/2022/02/in-the-los-angeles-times-you-dont-have-to-shoot-someone-to-use-a-gun-defensively/