Customer Review

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, rigorous, but a bit dry for the average reader, May 29, 2005
This review is from: The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You'Ve Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong (Hardcover)
"Too often, the debate over guns is a philosophical one, pitting the freedom of gun owners against the safety of everyone else," says economist Dr. John Lott in The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control is Wrong.

But what if those two things are one and the same? What if, on average, privately-owned guns are far more likely to save lives or property than destroy them? And what if freedoms beyond simple ownership, such as concealed weapons permits, have the same effect?

Lott, using intense statistical methods, demonstrates in the book (a supplement to 1998's More Guns, Less Crime) that this is in fact the case. Systematically displaying the evidence and rebutting his critics, he makes his case convincingly and in a reasoned tone.

Though there have been criticisms of his methods, three Nobel Prize winners in Economics are quoted praising the book on its jacket, and no study has disproved his results (look to the National Academy of Sciences or the CDC for rigorous, government-funded attempts). Lott makes his data available to anyone who would like to study it, and of course anyone is free to undertake their own study.

Beyond rearticulating and updating the findings of More Guns, Less Crime, Lott uses this book to point out anti-gun bias in the media. While gun accidents and gun crime are often covered, he argues, one rarely sees coverage of defensive gun uses. Many citizens are lead to believe that such uses do not even take place.

In fact, Lott says, between 1.5 and 3.4 million defensive gun uses occur yearly (this estimate is based on survey data; estimates reported by Jens Ludwig and Philip Cook in Evaluating Gun Policy put the number at less than a third of Lott's lower bound).

He presents some especially dramatic, often heroic case studies and explains that these highly newsworthy stories got little news coverage, while less interesting accidents and crimes get lots of it. He also provides several disturbing examples of times major news sources outright lied about defensive gun use.

The book is written in a clear, reasoned diction that makes for quick if not gripping reading. Some of the statistical methods detailed are difficult to comprehend, but the results are explained with an average reading audience in mind.

Depending on ones political leanings and preferred literary style, it can be either a disappointment compared to or a breath of fresh air from Ann Coulter's sarcasm and name-calling. Certainly, it is far easier to recommend to a left-winger than Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, but it is also a bit less entertaining and easy to understand.

In The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control is Wrong, Lott provides an important, academic and unique viewpoint on guns and gun control. For those of all political persuasions, it provides information important to debates. The Bias Against Guns is a worthwhile, quick read.
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