Gun Control Won’t Make Mass Shootings Less Likely to Happen, Academic Says

September 4, 2012 - 5:36 AM

Aurora shooting

The aftermath of the mass shooting during the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" at an Aurora, Col. movie theater on July 20, 2012. A gunman killed 12 and injured another 58 people. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- A Second Amendment advocate told CNSNews.com that calls for tighter regulations and rules on gun ownership may make mass shootings, such as the one at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, more likely to happen.

“It’s understandable how terrifying how something like that is,” John Lott, an academic and author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” told CNSNews.com. “My concern is the types of regulations and rules – such as the “no guns allowed” rule at the Aurora movie theater – “actually make them (mass shootings) more likely to happen. They don’t stop those events from occurring.”

Gun control isn’t the answer, he said “If you had somebody who was seriously threatening you or your family, would you feel safer if we put up a sign in front of your home or you put a sign in front of your home that said “this home is a gun-free zone?”

Laws that restrict gun ownership do nothing to deter someone who’s decided to fire on fellow citizens, he said.

Case in point: Lott noted that around four percent of the adult population in Colorado has concealed handgun permits, but no one -- except for the murder suspect -- brought a gun into the Aurora movie theater, which posted signs saying the theater was a gun-free zone.

“The sign there didn’t stop the criminal from doing it,” he said.

Additionally, Lott said it is “pretty telling” that almost all cases of “multiple victim/public shootings” in the U.S. have occurred where concealed handguns are not allowed.

Following the mass shooting in Aurora in July, and again after a shooting at the Sihk temple in Wisconsin in August, Lott was invited to debate the gun control issue twice with Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a gun control advocate, on CNN’s Piers Morgan show.

Both times, the argument grew heated. In his July appearance with Piers Morgan, Lott was accused of having his research funded by the NRA, something both he and the NRA deny.

"The NRA has never funded John Lott's research," a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association told CNSNews.com.

In his interview with CNSNews.com, Lott rebutted some of the points he says he was prevented from answering when he debated Dershowitz in July.

On Dershowitz’s point that lawmakers should ban all semi-automatic weapons, Lott said that what may be perceived as helping a criminal, such as small, lightweight handguns, can also benefit someone who needs to defend themselves with a handgun.

“Here’s the problem, and that is, whatever characteristics you want to point to that you think makes guns bad -- they may help make it easier for people to kill others, but they also make them easier for people to be able to use those guns in self-defense.” Women especially benefit from the compact design of some handguns, he added.

Even semiautomatic weapons, which fire one shot with each trigger pull, can be beneficial, Lott said, pointing to another Colorado shooting in 2007 where a female parishioner at New Life Church in Colorado Springs was able to fire ten shots at an attacker, two of which hit him, after he killed two people in the parking lot.

On Dershowitz’s claim that guns are more likely to kill people in the gunowner’s home, Lott said that idea comes from Arthur Kellerman, an emergency room doctor who claims that guns are more likely to end up killing someone you know.

First of all, there are problems with the data, Lott said. “They assume that if you own a gun in the home and you died from a gunshot that it was that gun that was used in the death,” he explained.

“In fact, when people have gone back and looked at the data, even if you include suicide, 14 percent of the deaths that were being attributed to guns being in the home could actually be attributed to those guns in the home. The other 86 percent were actually due to weapons that were being brought in from the outside.”

On Dershowitz’s claim that the availability of guns is directly linked to high suicide rates, Lott said that the “majority” of research done on the topic “doesn’t find any relationship” between gun ownership, gun regulations and total suicide.

“But even the few that do claim to find a relationship between gun ownership or gun regulations and gun suicides don’t find any effect on total suicides, Lott said. “So basically there are a lot of ways to commit suicide and if somebody wants to go and commit suicide they’re going to find a way to go and do it,” he continued.

As for accidental gun deaths, Lott said that academics “don’t really study” them because they are a relatively small number of them each year.

Lott also debunked the correlation between the ease of obtaining guns and the ease of using them to kill other people. “If you look across cities, the cities that have the highest murder rates, they are the ones that tend to adopt the strictest gun control laws,” Lott said.

In the United States, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., are some of the cities with strict gun control laws – but a relatively high number of murders.