Steve Nofziger cites a report from the discredited economist and gun advocate, John Lott Jr., to support Mr. Trump’s fallacy that 98 percent of U.S. mass killings occurred in “gun-free zones” (Mailbag, March 1).
Critics have challenged these data. For example, Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts Boston, in his book, "Rampage Nation," criticized Lott’s definition of “gun free zones,” pointing out that Lott’s data set included military bases like Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard, where weapons are kept on site and held according to military protocol. He also argued that the absence of conceal-carry laws does not equate to “gun free,” as Lott did by including them in his data. Such laws fail to account for weapons being carried by law enforcement officers, military troops, or licensed professional security personnel.
Using his own data set of 111 mass shootings since 1966, Mr. Klarevas found that 84 percent took place in areas where civilians could carry guns. Similarly, the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety found that 70 percent of mass shootings between January 2009 and July 2015 took place in private residences. The Department of Justice defines a “mass shooting” as one involving four or more victims. The most frequent mass shooting involves a man killing his family members before killing himself.
We should not delude ourselves into believing the fallacy of “more guns, less crime.” The only way to reduce the dangers of guns is by reducing the number of guns available in this country.
Robert B. Harris, Ph.D.