Friday, December 21, 2012

The Gun Ownership Debate

Research scientist John Lott talked about various issues related to gun ownership. When you have a ban on guns, it's the law-abiding citizens who turn in their guns, not the criminals, and "rather than reducing crime it makes it easier for criminals to go and commit crimes because they don't have to worry about...citizens able to defend themselves," he argued.

The big benefit of having a gun is to keep the criminal away, he continued, especially for those who are weaker physically, whom criminals tend to prey on. He also noted that in the UK (where there is heavy gun control) there are significantly more burglaries when residents are at home, as opposed to the US, where criminals case out a place to make sure no one is there, as they don't want to risk getting shot at. Lott was critical of alternative weapons such as mace or a taser, citing their unreliability.


John R. Lott, Jr. is a Senior Research Scholar at the University of Maryland. Lott has held positions at the University of Chicago, Yale University, Stanford, UCLA, Wharton, and Rice and was the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission during 1988 and 1989. Lott has published over 100 articles in academic journals. He is the author of six books including: "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws", "The Bias Against Guns", and most recently "Freedomnomics." Opinion pieces by Lott have appeared in such places as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Chicago Tribune. He has appeared on such television programs as the ABC and NBC National Evening News broadcasts, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and the Today Show. He received his Ph.D. in economics from UCLA in 1984.

The issue of firearms has, at times, taken a high-profile position in United States culture and politics. Mass shootings (like the Columbine High School massacre and Virginia Tech massacre) have continually ignited political debates about gun control in the United States. According to a 2012 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 10% of Americans support banning all guns except for police and authorized personnel, 76% support gun ownership with some restrictions, and 10% support gun ownership with no restrictions.[88] Michael Bouchard, Assistant Director/Field Operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, estimates there are 5,000 gun shows annually in the United States.

In 1959, the Gallup poll showed that 59% of Americans supported banning handgun possession. In 2011, the Gallup poll showed that 26% supported banning handgun possession. In 1990, the Gallup poll showed that 78% of Americans supported stricter laws on gun sales than were existing at the time, 17% felt the laws were fine as they were, and 2% supported less strict laws. In 2011, the Gallup poll showed that 43% supported stricter laws on gun sales, 44% felt the laws were fine as they were, and 11% supported less strict laws. In 2001, the Gallup poll showed that 51% of Americans preferred that current gun laws be enforced more strictly. In 2011, it was 60%. A 2009 CNN/ORC poll found 39% favored stricter gun laws, 15% favored less strict gun laws, and 46% preferred no change. CNN reported that the drop in support (since the 2001 Gallup poll) came from self-identified independents and Republicans, with support among Democrats remaining consistent.

There is a sharp divide between gun-rights proponents and gun-control proponents. This leads to intense political debate over the effectiveness of firearm regulation.[verification needed] Democrats are more likely to support stricter gun control than are Republicans. In an online 2010 Harris Poll, of Democrats, 70% favored stricter gun control, 7% favored less strict gun control, and 14% preferred neither. Of Republicans, 22% favored stricter control, 42% favored less strict control, and 27% preferred neither