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With some recent attacks on me in a variety of places from the Washington Post to the Chicago Tribune to numerous other places, I thought that I should send out some responses for those who might be interested.
A) There have been many claims that I didn't conduct a survey in 1997 that was reported in one sentence on page 3 of my book, More Guns, Less Crime. In the attached file and also here, I present the complete statements from the people listed below.
The reference to the original survey involves one number in one sentence in my book. Compared to the 98 percent number there was an earlier survey by Kleck that found 92 percent of defensive gun uses involved brandishing and warning shots and because the survey was asking people about events that occurred over a long period of time it is likely that it over emphasized more dramatic responses. (My number that is directly comparable to the 92 percent estimate is about 99 percent.) My point in the book was that defensive gun use rarely involves more "newsworthy" events where the attacker is killed and either survey would have made the general point. A general discussion of the different methodologies is provided here (http://www.johnlott.org/files/GenDisc97_02Surveys.zip).
What is usually not mentioned is that the survey results that I used were biased against the claim that I was making. The relevant discussions in both of my books focus on media bias and the point was that the lack of coverage of defense gun uses is understandable if most uses simply involve brandishing where no one is harmed, no shots fired, no dead bodies on the ground, no crime actually committed. If others believe that the actual rate of brandishing is lower and I had used the results of Kleck, it becomes MORE difficult to explain the lack of news coverage of defensive gun uses. The two short discussions that I have on this issue in my two books thus choose results that are BIASED AGAINST the overall point that I am making, that the media is biased against guns.
One point should be made clear. While I lost all my data for my book, David Mustard as well as others to a lesser extent helped me replace all the crime data so that many dozens of academics around the country have been able to replicate every single regression in the book. With respect to the survey data that was lost, I obviously could not go to a primary source to replace that data, but as part of my new book that should be out in a couple of weeks (The Bias Against Guns), I replicated the survey and obtained fairly similar results. Science involves replication. That survey data has been available to any academics who have asked for it. The Washington Post's statement (2/11) that "a 1997 survey the researcher purportedly did to support claims in his provocative book, 'More Guns, Less Crime,'" is incorrect. We are talking about one number in one sentence.
Because of claims that no one would finance this research themselves, I have made my business and personal income tax forms from 1997 available to some other academics. Many statements have also been made about how long it would have taken me to do the survey. I designed the survey so that about 90 percent of those who took the survey only had to answer three very short questions (one question about whether they have been threatened by violence during the last year and then two short demographic questions). For those people, the survey would often take only 30 seconds. Only one percent of those surveyed were asked a maximum of seven question and even then the questioning lasted just a few minutes.
B) Did I Attribute the 98 Percent Brandishing Number to Others? No
Apparently, some credence is being given to the claim that I have attributed the 98 percent brandishing estimate to others instead of myself. Some are taking this as evidence that I never conducted the survey. Yet, the fact is I never attributed this number to anyone else other than myself. It is claimed that I attributed this number to Gary Kleck on one occasion as well as the Los Angeles Times, Gallup, and Peter Hart during a couple of other times. Attachments entitled "Did I Attribute the 98 Percent Brandishing Number to Others?" and "Cases where 98% number was used" provide a detailed discussion of these issues. However, two brief statements are useful here:
The Independence Institute web site posted a piece that contained the one reference to Gary Kleck¹s work.
The second case of false attribution is that I claimed that the Los Angeles Times, Gallup and Peter Hart were the source of the 98 percent number. Where people get the claim is by combining two sentences in a Chicago Tribune op-ed that I had in 1998 (the same op-ed was also republished, for example, in the Washington Times).
The relevant passage from the op-ed reads:
"Other research shows that guns clearly deter criminals. Polls by the Los Angeles Times, Gallup and Peter Hart Research Associates show that there are at least 760,000, and possibly as many as 3.6 million, defensive uses of guns per year. In 98 percent of the cases, such polls show, people simply brandish the weapon to stop an attack."
If the reference in the second sentence had been to "these" polls and not "such" polls, I would think that the critics would have a much better argument. Instead, I view "such polls" as merely referring back to this type of polls and not those specific polls. Still there is admittedly an error in using the plural. The most plausible explanation is that I was describing what findings had been generated by the polls, in other words I was viewing them in general as a body of research.
C) As to other claims by Al Hunt on CNN that I have not given out data for the work that I did on the Florida election and for concealed handgun research are plain false. A list of just some of the critics to whom I have given those data is also provided in the attached collection of memos.
D) The Chicago Tribune story a couple of weeks ago adds to the list and references an academic who "wonders" whether I had really replicated the survey again in 2002. I have provided a list of student names who did the survey, provided the survey questions and methodology, shown the telephone records, and provided the data. If anyone would like to see any of this material, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, James Knowles, a research assistant at AEI, sent the Tribune a letter, though it wasn't published:
E) With respect to the charges in the Washington Post that David Mustard now believes that the evidence from the 1990s overturns our original work, David wrote the following to the Post though like all the other letters, it was not published:
Other misleading charges about David's changing views on our research have also been made in other publications. If you would like a discussion of those, it can be provided. Unfortunately, absolutely none of the various supportive letters sent to the various newspapers have been published.
F) Response to the New York Times attack:
This letter was never published.
Finally, a response to the claims about the use of the pseudonym in internet chat rooms is available at the very end of the attached "memos" statement.
Memos regarding 97&02 surv.zip
Did I attribute 98% to others.zip