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Welcome to GVPedia’s Facts About Firearms Policy Initiative. Our goal is to expose the truths behind the myths and misconceptions that warp the conversation around gun violence and provide you with the talking points and research you need to change hearts and minds. This project debunks the most prevalent myths, provides access to resources that will help you spread awareness of the truth, and sheds light on unethical behavior by the purveyors of these myths. It is vital that we change the narrative because these myths have appeared in sworn testimony and prominent publications that have swayed the minds of judges, lawmakers, and the general public.
The claims and incidents detailed here cover some of the most egregious falsehoods and ethical malpractices in cases where the evidence is clear, can be concisely presented, and the case itself is substantive. We also largely eschew debates over econometric methodology.
This database is not exhaustive. We will address more myths and other substantive cases as needed. The Facts About Firearms Policy Initiative is ongoing and will be updated over the coming months and years.
As it currently stands, the project focuses significantly on the work and actions of one individual: researcher John R. Lott Jr. This is neither an accident nor the product of malice. While it is the false ideas themselves that are most important to refute, Lott serves as a prolific vehicle for such falsehoods, and is the original author of most of them. His work has real-world consequences, ranging from serving as an expert witness in important court cases to influencing policymaking. For example, Mike DeWine, the Governor of Ohio, stated publicly that he relied on Lott’s research when he signed the state’s Stand Your Ground law in January 2021. Lott’s role in the gun violence debate is the primary reason the project also includes his history of unethical behavior that directly challenges his status as a reliable expert.
John Lott’s prominence in the gun violence debate is buoyed by his credentials. Lott received his PhD in economics from UCLA and has held positions at Stanford, Rice, UCLA, Wharton School of Business, the University of Maryland, the University of Chicago, Yale, and the American Enterprise Institute. He rose to national prominence in 1996 with a study claiming that Right-to-Carry laws decreased rates of violent crime. He turned those findings into the book More Guns, Less Crime, and has since published a number of other books on gun violence including The Bias Against Guns, The War on Guns, and Gun Control Myths. In 2013, he founded the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), an organization he left in October 2020 when he was hired as a senior adviser for research and statistics at the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice under the Trump administration. Lott returned to CPRC in January 2021.
In the past decade, Lott and the CPRC have written for and been cited by dozens of media outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Politifact, CBS, CNN, Newsweek, Fox News, and many others, as an authority on gun violence statistics. He has been called to testify in front of Congress and numerous State legislatures on a number of occasions. He has also served as an expert witness in a number of prominent legal challenges to gun laws across the country.
We recognize that Lott has responded to some of the evidence compiled in this project. Where applicable, when Lott provided a substantive response to the allegations of misinformation, we reference it and provide counter-evidence. Most importantly, if material evidence emerges that any one of our evaluations is in error, we will promptly correct the mistake and publicly note that we have made a correction.
We hope this project serves as a tool to help advocates fighting for life saving policy debunk the myths that have persevered for too long. Good public policy can only be made using good research and data. It is our mission to arm you with the facts so that we can end the gun violence epidemic plaguing our country.
You can access a full PDF of the initiative entries here.