Lott is (or was, at the time he wrote the book -- don't know about now) an economist
(therefore, a statistically
minded individual) at the University of Chicago
. He analyzed FBI
crime records, county
-by-county across the United States
, for correlation
to gun control measures, number and types of other crimes, etc. He also analyzed some international
statistics, but most of his work was US-based.
Some of his conclusions, or at least the ones I remember off the top of my head (my copy of the book is in Richmond, so I can't look them up):
- In the U.S., a place having more guns equates to less crime. Simple, shocking statement, that's why it's the title of the book.
- Non-restrictive concealed carry laws greatly reduce street crime against the innocent.* It's a case of criminals behaving logically -- if they don't know who on the street has a gun and who doesn't, they're much less likely to try their luck. The Florida tourist murders of 1992-93 directly demonstrate the effect of non-restrictive concealed-carry laws, like those in place in Florida -- interviewed in prison, the murderers said plainly that they went after tourists immediately after they left the airport in rental cars because they knew those drivers wouldn't have a gun. They weren't so sure about the average Florida-plated car driving down Interstate 95.
- In societies where weapons were confiscated, non-gun crimes shot up after confiscation. Australia is a particular example, where home invasions skyrocketed -- the honest citizens turned in their guns, lessening the threat to criminals who didn't turn theirs in.
- The correlation between women being unarmed and being the victims of violent crime (rape, sexual assault, murder) was extremely high. Causation was not explored as to whether this was a result of actually using the weapon for self-defense, or whether the armed women were more outwardly confident in situations with a high potential for victimization, thus causing a predator to look for an easier-looking target. I'd venture to say that it's more of the latter than the former, but especially in cases of women with abusive ex-lovers, possession of and knowledge of the proper use of a handgun was a strong deterrent to the abusers.
Probably the most telling statement made in the book, though, was that Lott had never owned a firearm at the beginning of his study. With his analysis complete and the data giving such strong credence to gun ownership as a crime deterrent, he went out and bought a gun.
* "Non-restrictive", in this case, means that the burden is on the government to prove a person should not be allowed to carry a concealed weapon, rather than the burden being on the permit applicant to prove he/she should be allowed to carry. Required safety training is not considered a "restriction" for this purpose (non-restrictive laws, as in Virginia, may require training).