In editing the piece the Washington Post changed "four recent attacks" to
"two recent attacks." One of the pieces not now referenced was by Saul
Cornell on February 2nd (p. T12). David Mustard sent in the letter listed
below the edited piece that the Post published by me.

The Crash That Killed My Data

Saturday, March 22, 2003; Page A15

Eight academics at eight different universities have informed me that they
have written to your paper in response to two recent attacks on me and my
research. But your paper has chosen not to publish the letters, not even one
from an academic who wanted to correct a statement attributed to him that
was the opposite of what he had written.

A Feb. 11 Federal Page article questioned the existence of a 1997 survey
that was used to "support claims in [my] provocative book." My discussion of
the survey actually involved only one number in one sentence, and even then
I qualified my statement by beginning that sentence: "If a national survey
that I conducted is correct." In any case, despite my past willingness to
talk to your reporters, no one at your paper asked me about my survey. The
bottom line is that I lost data for most of my various research projects, as
well as the files for my book "More Guns, Less Crime," in a computer crash
in July 1997. With the help of other scholars, primarily David Mustard at
the University of Georgia, the massive data sets using county and state
level crime data were reconstructed so the data could be given to academics
who requested it. This enabled researchers at dozens of universities to
re-estimate every single regression in my book. I redid the survey last year
and obtained similar results. (Academics have confirmed my hard-disk crash
as well as discussions that I had back in 1996 and 1997 regarding the
survey, and there is also verification by a participant in the survey.)

This data set and all the other data used in my new book, "The Bias Against
Guns," have also been made available to anyone who requests them at

As to the claim, raised in a Feb. 1 Style article, that I used a fictitious
identity in making posts in Internet chat rooms, I did indeed do that. I
originally used my own name but switched after receiving threatening and
obnoxious telephone calls from other Internet posters.

-- John R. Lott Jr.

The writer is a resident scholar
at the American Enterprise Institute.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Begin forwarded message:

From: "David B. Mustard" <>
Date: Mon Feb 3, 2003 11:49:02 AM US/Eastern
To: John Lott <>
Subject: (no subject)

In his evaluation of the book "Evaluating Gun Policy", Saul Cornell
stated (2/2, p. T12), "John J. Donohue challenges economist John Lott's
contention that states issuing permits for carrying concealed weapons
have seen significant reductions in violent crime. In a commentary on
this essay, David B. Mustard, Lott's original co-author, quibbles with
Donohue but concedes that data from the 1990s show a rise in crime in
those states that adopted concealed-carry laws."
I would like to correct this misrepresentation of my analysis, in
which I write, "Unfortunately, many of [Donohue's] criticisms have
already been addressed extensively in the literature" and that Donohue's
own data show that "the passage of the law [that allows law-abiding
citizens to carry concealed weapons] is associated with sharp decreases
in murder, rape and robbery."

David B. Mustard
Terry College of Business
528 Brooks Hall
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
Phone: (706) 542-3624
Fax: (706) 542-3376