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The time bomb under President-elect Biden's doormat

The time bomb under President-elect Biden's doormat
© Bonnie Cash

I was at a park recently with my wife and grandkids, watching them joyfully search for perfect pinecones to put into ornamental piles, when I peeked at my smart phone. There I saw that John Lott had been hired as a senior adviser for research and statistics at the Office of Justice Programs — a Department of Justice division that “doles out $5 billion in grants each year.” I thought I couldn’t be shocked any more by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE’s disregard for science and public safety, but this did it.

Trump now seems to be searching for time bombs to put under the doormat for incoming President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic Poll: Majority back blanket student loan forgiveness MORE. One would be to leave Biden with contracts for “research” and programs that mislead Americans and that could actually increase the number of U.S. gun deaths.

I knew about John Lott’s research and reputation. His book “More Guns, Less Crime” — in various editions — argued that increasing gun ownership and permits to carry concealed guns lowered the rate of violent crime. But his research and conclusions were found to be false by a number of well-respected researchers, such as John Donohue of Stanford; Donohue and and Ian Ayers concluded in The Stanford Law Review that Lott’s thesis was “without credible statistical support.”

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Donohue and colleagues analyzed the available data on right-to-carry (RTC) laws and found that — contrary to Lott — they were associated with higher rates of murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, auto theft, burglary and larceny. In Science magazine article, Philip J. Cook and John Donohue pointed out several explanations for why an RTC law could reduce public safety: “An increase in the prevalence of gun carriers would likely tend to increase the potential for deadly violence in any tense confrontation, such as barroom and other angry arguments, highway collisions and disputes, and police stops of pedestrians and drivers.” Guns carried are also more likely to be stolen, “a major pathway to arming criminals.”

More people carrying guns brought more violent crime. Also, bringing a gun into a home approximately doubles the risk of gun homicide and triples the risk of gun suicide.

Lott, meanwhile, became the darling of the NRA.

The problems that John Lott’s "research" and the NRA helped to create have now gotten worse with the pandemic. Many more people have been buying guns out of fear of others who are armed, fear of police themselves, or of armed insurrection fueled by Trump’s scare tactics. 

Unfortunately, so many guns in so many hands make the job of the police much harder, as they wonder whether someone pulling a phone out of his pocket to video them, is actually pulling out a gun.

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Lott has no business playing any role in handing out grants for research. 

His own track record is cringe-worthy.

When some of Lott’s statements were questioned in 2003, he said he’d lost the data that supported them.

For several years, a “former student,” Mary Rosh, defended Lott against his critics online. She gushed that Lott “was the best professor that I ever had… Lott finally had to tell us that it was best for us to try and take classes from other professors.”

Then “she” was revealed to be none other than John Lott himself.

Lott in the DOJ could make the situation in this country even worse — and then try to blame it on the Biden administration. The idea he could be doling out taxpayer money to “researchers” like himself makes my blood run cold.

In that park, as I watched my delightful granddaughters search for the next perfect pinecones, I thought about what my son Kenzo’s kids might have been like, if only the gun industry and “researchers” like Lott had not convinced the father of a friend of my son that a handgun kept next to his bed would help protect his family. That false idea led to my son’s death.

Griffin Dix, Ph.D., is president of the Oakland/Alameda County (Calif.) Brady chapter and served on the Brady Board of Trustees from 2006 through 2008. He was research director at MacWEEK. His 15-year-old son was shot and killed in 1994 in an unintentional shooting with a gun that was stored unlocked and loaded. Since his son was killed, Dix has worked with a coalition that has helped to pass many state laws to prevent gun violence, including laws establishing semiautomatic handgun product safety standards. He is writing a memoir about the loss of his son, his lawsuit against Beretta USA and his work on gun violence prevention. Follow him on Twitter @griffindix.