A conversationally written, masterfully researched book on guns, public policy & propaganda
For those of us in the gun rights and concealed carry community (and old enough to have been around) the 1990s was a pivotal decade.
When it began, there were only 15 states that would issue concealed carry permits to private citizens based on objective criteria and just one that required no permit at all to carry concealed. In contrast an almost identical number (14) that would not issue such permits under any circumstances. In 1992 Bill Clinton was elected President, and working with a largely Democrat Congress he managed to pass the infamous “Assault Weapons Ban” that also limited magazine capacities to 10 rounds.
America’s Resurgent Second Amendment
Fortunately, that was the high-water mark for the gun control movement in my lifetime, and things turned more favorably for the Second Amendment, and stayed that way, soon thereafter. In 1994 the Democrats lost control of both the House and Senate for the first time in some 50 years. The despised assault weapons ban, while still on the books, would automatically sunset after 10 years in 2004, with no meaningful effort being made to re-new. Even the Federal government was forced to concede that the law had no effect on reducing crime, largely because criminals do not use costly and cumbersome assault weapons to commit crimes.
On the concealed carry front, a sea-change was about to occur, with state after state adopting more liberalized concealed carry laws. Today there are a total of 42 states that allow concealed carry with either an objectively approved permit or no permit whatever (compared to 16 states that did so in 1990). In addition, there are literally no states-zero—that absolutely prohibit concealed carry (compared to 14 that did so in 1990).
Like all forms of fascism, of course, efforts at gun control will never cease, and so the fight to preserve our civil rights continues, and will continue forever. Nevertheless, it’s been a heck of a winning streak. Further, the recent election of a modestly pro-2A President Trump (whose adults sons are avid Second Amendment supporters), and who has promised to advocate for laws that would allow for concealed carry permits issued in any state to be recognized in all states, suggests further wins may be on the way.
1998: John Lott’s seminal book “More Guns, Less Crime”
How we got from the low of 1990 to today is too long a narrative for a simple blog post. Without question, however, much of the foundation for where we stand today is built on the strong civil rights and intellectual foundation that was established in that decade. One particularly notable stone in that early foundation was a book by Dr. John Lott, Jr., “More Guns Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws,” first published in 1998 and now in its 3rd Edition.
Prior to Lott’s book almost all “research” on guns and gun control was written by people firmly in favor of fewer guns and more control. The implicit premise was “guns bad” and “gun control good.” Dr. Lott shook that premise to its core by doing something remarkable for that time—looking at the actual data. What he found was that the reality ran very much contrary to the conventional wisdom. As the title of his book stated, the more armed law-abiding citizens were present, the lower crime rates tended to be.
Lott would follow “More Guns Less Crime” with a series of further books and research advancing these conceptual arguments as well as going on to establish the ground-breaking Crime Prevention Research Center, which is today the nation’s leading research organization dedicated to high-level research on guns and crime and related public policy. (I should mention that Lott has also written insightfully on other topics, including his 2013 book Dumbing Down the Courts, reviewed right here at Legal Insurrection.)
New for 2016: Lott’s “The War on Guns”
This past year, however, Dr. Lott has published a book that seems to me to be the clearest successor to that seminal work, “More Guns Less Crime.” This new book, “The War On Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies,” brings a new level of sophistication and insight, as well as a greater variety of social and economic perspectives, to the great civil rights debates that continue around the Second Amendment.
“The War on Guns” does more than just update and expand upon the research of the earlier book. It also takes a comprehensive and data based look at the increasingly sophisticated and well-funded propaganda efforts—the “gun control lies”—that continue to be targeted against the rights of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms for personal protection.
In full disclosure I was initially sent a review copy “The War on Guns” late this past summer, with the expectation that I would write a review of it at that time. I’ve been remiss in doing so for many reasons entirely independent of the book itself, including an unexpected increase in work and family demands, the frenzy of the Presidential election, and a major personal relocation from Boston to Denver. (Apologies, John!)
Tremendous Breadth & Depth, Yet Written in Plain English
The book, however, must also bear at least some of the responsibility for my delay. It’s breadth and depth is absolutely staggering, as is its thorough documentation (the book includes some 437 reference citations, roughly two for each substantive page). Frankly, each chapter of the book is worthy of an individual review in its own right, and being a wordy bastard I found it difficult to write a comprehensive review of the book that wouldn’t run roughly as many pages as the book itself.
Nevertheless, having finally found a brief oasis of calm in a hectic period of my life, I’m honored to finally be able to sit and the keyboard and acknowledge this fantastic piece of work and worthy successor to “More Guns Less Crime.”
The Fecklessness of “Public Health Experts” on Guns
“The War on Guns” begins with a couple of chapters that shine the spotlight on so-called “experts,” especially so-called “public health experts,” who engage in little more than advocacy “research” on the matter of private ownership of guns—and that advocacy is explicitly anti-private ownership. These early chapters also hoist the media on its own petard, exposing its explicit biases on the subject of guns. Re-reading these chapters in the context of today’s current Progressive rants about #Fakenews truly exposes the hypocrisy of the Left on Second Amendment civil rights.
The Big Lie of “Universal” Background Checks
The book goes on to focus on a pet-peeve of mind, which is the whole scheme of licensing and background checks for gun ownership and concealed carry. As pleased as I am at the progress that has been made in concealed carry since the 1990s, the simple fact is that no licensing should be required of any law abiding citizen to carry a defensive firearm on their person. We would never accept these kinds of restrictions casually imposed on the Second Amendment if an effort was made to impose them on the First or Fourth or Fifth Amendments.
Much the same is true of background checks, currently the forefront of the anti-Second Amendment fascists who (as always) claim they only want “common sense” background checks. This invariably means they want background checks that effectively make felons out of people with absolutely zero criminal intent. “Universal” background checks? I think not: bad guys don’t do background checks. This makes such checks utterly pointless as a public safety measure, and facially unconstitutional infringements on the Second Amendment.
Gutting Gun Control Propaganda
Lott also takes a close look at much of the current propaganda on gun control, including polling of “police” (invariably just the politically hired police administrators, not the street cops) as well as the public (invariably using leading questions and other biased polling techniques for the deliberate purpose of arriving at a pre-determined, anti-gun “answer”).
Several chapters are devoted to comparing US gun laws and crime rates, and their interaction, to those of other countries. Here Lott exposes yet more Progressive anti-gun propaganda in the gun-control narratives based on these misleading and often outright false comparisons.
“Stand-Your-Ground” as Pro-Minority Public Policy
Lott also takes a chapter to examine “Stand-Your-Ground” laws, which many of you will recognize as a particular interest of mine. Not only does Lott get the law right (something the media and Progressive activists have seemingly never been able to do) he points out in a robust, data-driven manner that not only is “Stand-Your-Ground” not “racist,” the evidence suggests strongly that its greatest beneficiaries are in fact minorities. This should come as a surprise to nobody, as minorities are far more likely (proportionately speaking) to be victims of violent criminal predation and thus the need to resort to the use of violence in lawful self-defense.
Conversationally Written and an Easy, Enjoyable Read
There is, of course, much more to the book, but I am again reminded of my tendency to write longer rather than shorter.
I do, however, want to emphasize that as well-researched and referenced as this book is, it is also written in plain English. Not only does one not need to be a PhD to fully enjoy this book, in my experience being a PhD is probably a counter-indication of being able to do so. The conversational style of Lott’s writing makes the book a joy to pick up and read a chapter or even a few pages at a time, and still be readily accessible and enjoyable to pick up again casually a day or two later and picking up were you left off. (If a roaring fire and a good single-malt Scotch also happen to be immediately available, all the better.)
A “Must-Have” Book for Yourself, Family, Friends
In conclusion, “The War on Guns” occupies a prized slot on the limited bookshelf space beside my desk, right alongside my 1st Edition copy of “More Guns, Less Crime” purchased way back in the dark ages of 1998. It deserves a similarly honored position on your own bookshelf, and would unquestionably be a prized holiday gift for any of your friends or family who have any interest in guns, our Second Amendment, or freedom generally.
Indeed, you can hardly call yourself informed on these issues and their public policy dynamics–whether you are pro or con private gun ownership and concealed carry–without having read “The War on Guns.”
You can order the book today from Amazon and have it in your gift-wrapping hands within a couple of days, or delivered directly to the intended recipient, by simply clicking here. (Naturally, a Kindle and an Audible version are each available as well.)
Finally, my personal apologies to John for the delay in getting this review written, and my heartfelt thanks to him for his lifetime of research and writing on the Constitutional Amendment nearest and dearest to my own heart.