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105 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This the benefit v cost economics approach, not the constitutional rights approach, August 26, 2010
This review is from: More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics) (Paperback)
More Guns, Less Crime 2010 is the third edition of Lott's book originally based on his and David Mustard's Right-To-Carry study of 1997 that measured the result of 22 states going "shall issue" on carry permits for handguns between 1986 and 1996. The first 1998 edition was focussed on the RTC issue.

The 2nd edition 2000 looked at other gun control policies as well, and commented on the controversy that Lott & Mustard 1997 and Lott 1998 engendered in the media and among academics.

Since the 2nd edition 2000, a lot has happened: the CDC 2003 and NAS 2004 reviews on gun laws and gun violence, the sunset of the 1994-2004 federal Assault Weapon Ban, the Supreme Court decision on the Heller case in 2008 (gun ban in DC v Second Amendment), and so on. The 3rd edition 2010 is expanded by about 150 pages to cover these new issues.

I would like to correct an impression that may be created by an earlier reviewer, that Lott's book is a major Second Amendment resource. First, in the 2nd edition there were one sentence and one paragraph in the text and three paragraphs in the footnotes on the Second Amendment out of 300+ pages (Second Admendment issues were "...important issues that are beyond the scope of this book"--Lott at page 168); while the 3rd edition expands somewhat on the Second Amendment, it is not a resource book on the Second Amendment. Secondly, Lott stated in the Oct 2008 NPR debate on guns that his family did not own a gun until his 1996 research convinced him that having a gun was beneficial for self defense within reasonable safety costs. Lott's argument on guns and gun control is based on weighing the economic benefits v the costs of gun ownership and gun control: this is a law and economics argument, not a constitutional law argument. If you are interested in the debate over the benefits and costs of gun ownership and gun laws, this is an important book regardless of your apriori beliefs on the gun issue; if you are interested in the debate over the constitutionality of gun laws, gun rights v gun control, there are books devoted to those subjects. This book is a study of the good v the harm done with guns and by gun laws; it is not a dedicated Second Amendment analysis. Journal of Economic Literature Subject Classification K42 (Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law).
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 26, 2010 8:01:02 AM PDT
Antone says:
Have you bothered to read Justice Breyer's dissents in either the Heller or McDonald cases? You will see that much of Breyer's argument focused exclusively on the empirical issues that Lott addresses here. This entire book is relevant to responding to what Justice Breyer thought was important to the decision that he reached.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2010 5:51:58 PM PDT
A.J. Brown says:
I have gone back and reviewed the PDFs of Heller and McDonald that I downloaded shortly after they were handed down.

I have a PDF of SCOTUS No. 08-1521 McDonald v Chicago. PDF page 180 following includes the dissent by Breyer joined by Ginsburg and Sotomayor. "Lott" is not found in Breyer's dissent. "Lott" is not found searching from page 1 in the majority decision.

In the PDF of SCOTUS No. 07-290 DC v Heller. PDF page 114 following includes the dissent (folioed 1-44) of Breyer joined by Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg. On folio 23, "J. Lott, More Guns, Less Crime (2nd ed. 2000)" is cited as one of many arguments for less restriction on legal guns as a deterrent to crime. That is not an argument of Constitutionality: it is a law-and-economics argument that the benefits of legal gun ownership outweighs the benefits of a gun ban. Or that the costs of gun bans exceeds the costs of legal ownership.

Breyer's point is that benefits of gun ownership versus costs of a gun ban is not relevant to the power and authority of local governments to ban guns under the reading of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments by Breyer, Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg in dissent from the majority.

The majority DC v Heller decision by Scalia joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito, overturning the DC ban on Constitutional Second and Fourteenth Amendment grounds, does not refer to Lott's "More Guns Less Crime" arguments on the cost of gun control v the benefits of lawful defensive gun use. Some of the amici curae may have cited Lott's law-and-economic argument, but the majority opinion was based on the Constitutional issues, 2A and 14A.

As far as Breyer et al. are concerned, Lott's argument on the social utility of legal guns versus the social harm of gun bans has nothing to do with the Constitutionality of local governments having the power and the authority to impose bans on guns like those of DC and Chicago. Breyer et al. poo-poo Lott's argument as not relevant to the question of whether local governments have the power or authority to pass useless and harmful gun bans.

Bottom line: Lott's book is a source on the debate on the costs and benefits of private guns and gun laws. It is not a source on the debate over the Constitutionality of gun laws.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2010 7:18:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2010 7:19:13 PM PDT
Antone says:
From Lott's book: "While in the minority, Justice Breyer's strongly worded dissent represented many people's concern about guns. To him, the Second Amendment to the Constitution did not guarantee an individual's right to own a handgun, but even if it did, he believes that such a right could be overridden by the public interest of reducing gun crimes and suicides. The possible harm from guns was central to his dissent, and the words "crime," "criminal," "criminologist," "homicide," "murder," "rape," "robbery," and "victim" were used a total of 109 times in forty-four pages. The term "suicide" was used thirteen times."

If you want to see the briefs in the Heller case mentioning Lott's work, see these briefs:
A lot of these briefs spend a lot of time on Lott's work:
But the point isn't the extent to which Lott is cited, the point is whether the work that Lott does is relevant for the Supreme Court cases and that can be determined simply by how much Lott's book is relevant for evaluating the arguments put forward by Breyer and three other Justices. Right? Isn't that what you were arguing originally?

If you have further doubts, look at the oral arguments in Heller over gunlocks and then look at Lott's discussion on that issue. ( How can Lott's work not be relevant to the Justices getting to the right answer on that question? Whether the Justices used it explicitly or that it was simply part of the background in the various briefs, the point is that these were empirical questions.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2010 9:05:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2010 9:07:35 AM PDT
Dear A.J.:

Thanks for the note. I guess that I would like to believe that my work is relevant to the recent Supreme Court cases involving Heller and McDonald. The new third edition has a long discussion on those cases and goes through Breyer's dissent in the Heller case. It is disappointing that you review the third edition and say that I have nothing to say on these cases, but you don't mention at all that I discuss these cases and Breyer's opinion in your review. Why didn't you acknowledge this material in your review? I agree with Antone that the book also as other implications for Breyer's dissents.

Posted on Sep 1, 2010 11:55:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 1, 2010 11:56:46 AM PDT
A.J. Brown says:
Yes, there is more on the Supreme Court in 3rd Ed. 2010 than in 2nd Ed. 2000,
obviously SCOTUS decision Heller'08 and the dissent by Breyer, but it still
is not an argument for a 2A individual right on constitutional grounds. The
book advances pro gun arguments based on social economic grounds, social cost
of gun control v benefits from defensive gun use.

"More Guns Less Crime" is relevant re: Breyer's dissent because Breyer is
essentially making a social utility argument in favor of DC-Chicago handgun
bans even if the 2A guaranteed individual RKBA (he believes it does not but
the majority in both Heller'08 and McDonald'10 did).

The focus in both is not a constitutional argument that guns can/can't be
banned because the people under the Bill of Rights (1A, 2A, 4A) do/don't have
the right to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed by Congress under
2A/by any level of government under 14A.

The book and Breyer's dissent are sources on the pro/con of the social
utility argument. For the pro/con of constitutionality of individual RKBA you
must look to sources like Joyce Lee Malcolm, Don B. Kates, Carl Bogus
to name two pro/two con on amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2010 12:33:02 AM PDT
I am sure that non-lawyers view statements such as "congress shall pass no law" or "shall not infringe" as very clear statements. And I agree that is the way that they should be read. Unfortunately, courts have developed so-called balancing tests and those tests are based on whether there are sufficiently good reasons for various laws. That is where the empirical work comes in. That is why arguments such as Breyer involve empirical claims. That is why you have to look at what is relevant for 2nd Amendment issues much more broadly than you do. I am not saying that I think that the courts have these issues right, but I guarantee you that from now on (once the courts get passed the simple ban issue) empirical evidence will be routinely discussed in determining where to draw the line of second amendment issues.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2011 12:05:05 PM PDT
valentsgrif says:
Well you two little debaters have cleverly tweaked my interest enough that I am going to order a copy of the third edition.
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