Doug Weil is wrong to assert that there is a positive relationship between a country’s level of gun ownership and murder or other crimes. Such results are only possible when a very selective set of comparison countries is used. In many countries, such as Finland, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Israel, citizens own guns as frequently as Americans, yet in 1995 Switzerland’s murder rate was 40 percent lower than Germany’s, and New Zealand’s was lower than Australia’s. Finland and Sweden have very similar murder rates but very different gun ownership rates. Israel, with one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, has a murder rate 40 percent lower than Canada’s. When one studies all countries rather than just a select few, there is no relationship between gun ownership and murder. The televised debate that Weil refers to was sponsored by Handgun Control, they picked the participants, and they insisted that I be the only academic allowed to defend my study at that forum. He apparently forgets about the independent academics who flew to Washington at their own expense to support the integrity of my research. My data set has been made available to academics at 36 universities. No one has had any trouble replicating my results. Anyone who would like to see what Black and Nagin did (e.g., selectively throwing away 86 percent of the sample) should look at the January 1998 Journal of Legal Studies or see my soon to be published book (More Guns, Less Crime).
John R. Lott, Jr.
Referring to an article entitled:
Carrying Concealed Guns is Not the Solution
by Douglas Weil, Sc.D.
March 26, 1998