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December 17th, 2012
11:01 AM ET

More guns, less crime? John Lott explains controversial theory

According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, there are about 310,000,000 guns in the U.S., or about one gun for every American.

Despite this statistic, "More Guns, Less Crime" author John Lott argues that more guns would help to prevent tragedies like this Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Lott explains his theory to Soledad on Starting Point this morning, arguing that the areas where guns have been banned are the places where criminals go to commit violent crimes.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. tararodgers2011

    I can understand why many people are concerned about guns laws. Obviously we have been faced with enough tragedies to see that something in this system needs to be changed.
    HOWEVER, as Lott and others have tried to explain, law abiding citizens end up being the ones losing their rights. While the ones we should be worried about (convicts, individuals with mental/psychological disorders) will get a gun if they want it badly enough. Limiting the Second Amendment right of the people who abide by these laws is pointless and infuriating. As already mentioned-would it not be more logical to limit the clip sizes of the guns? That way, we allow citizens who hunt to keep their guns and just make it harder for a person who wishes to unload 20 rounds in an elementary school. Whatever the solution, owning a gun is a right and we shouldn't be so willing to give it up because of some individuals (who may not even have actually owned a gun) got their hands on one and went mad. Gun violence might always happen. But I don't want to be the one left without a gun when things go wrong.

    March 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Larry Feinstein

    Ask any parent who lost a child or a family member who lost a loved one at Sandy Hook if they would have preferred someone in the school who was armed and might have stopped or minimized the loss of life.

    Soledad and the rest of the on-the-air disciples of gun regulation are more concerned with guns in schools than they are about dead schoolchildren. Her "logic" is wrongheaded and morally reprehensible! The woman is dangerous.

    January 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jack

    Folks i'm Australian , if you dont mind someone who has witnessed the failure they call gun control ( or free licence for criminals as its better known here ) my advise is to punch hard , anyone who promotes gun control as they are leading you all to become victims of those who wont obey a law , if gun free zones dont stop guns what make you think anything will , here we have groups making machine guns , Ingram mac 10 clones and UZI clones , soon after gun control these home made MG's where $20,000 each , now they are $5,000 , why? competition as there are SO MANY

    look at sydney , maybe we dont have the mass shooting s , but we have daily or tri daily shooting on average , for a place with no guns ?? yeah .. but our politicians all have armed body guards as do their kids

    so why cant we??

    as we dont have a right of self defence , you folks in the USA do , and if you surrender that , your idiots

    simple eh?


    January 18, 2013 at 1:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Douglas in Sydney Australia

    What explanation did John L give? He spent most of the time listening.
    He was the recipient of an emotive, unprofessional tirade delivered by a journalist who has not invested 1/10,000th of the time that the professor has in investigating and researching cost effective methods of controlling crime.
    When are we going to invent a new word for journalist? The new word would have to be synonymous with self-appointed, sanctimonious, propagandist who lacks the integrity to personally fund their activities but instead poses as an objective employee of a media organization.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Elson McDowald

    With all the gun control talks going on, and the NRA talking about putting armed security personnel in school; my question that I see no one asking is, what happens if one of these armed security personnel loses it one day, and kill these innocent children one day, then what will be the NRA's response be to that tragedy? The same goes for teachers being armed at school, they to can have a bad day and decide to kill students. For those reasons alone, I'm against any weapons in school. If a teacher shoots a student down the line, does that mean the NRA will want students armed to protect themselves then, where will the NRA draw the line for better gun control?

    December 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. igor zusev

    I absolutely agree with this. There have been so many gun trageties arround the world, that this latest ones just shows a greater need to arm more good guys. Plus gun laws never kept guns out of the criminal element.

    December 25, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse | Reply


    December 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. alhawthorne1

    Soledad O'Brien's attempts to drown out her guests (such as Mr. Lott today), chattering on with her own agenda, is both unprofessional and unattractive. That practice is not an interview, not a discussion, not a debate. - it's just plain rudeness. Instead of carrying on like Piers Morgan (CNN) and Bill O'Reilly (Fox), follow the example of Charlie Rose.

    December 20, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. alhawthorne1

    Soledad O'Brien seems to feel that she must drown out her guests comments to spout her own opinions, as she did today eith Mr. Lott. That's not having an interview, it's not conversing, it's not debating., it's not informative. It's just incredibly rude. Same can be said for Piers Morgan (CNN) and Bill O'Reilly (Fox). Instead, follow the example of Charlie Rose.

    December 20, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mike Wall

    Soledad, you're an idiot. The killers at Columbine (15 dead, 21 injured), Tucson (6 dead, 14 injured), and Virginia Tech (33 dead, 17 injured) used hand-guns. Columbine happened smack in the middle of the first assault weapons ban. All three plus the latest tragedy at Newtown happened in the middle of gun-free zones. The rifles used by the Aurora and Newtown killers are not "high-powered" rifles – they are "high – capacity" rifles with quick change clips. They can't be used to hunt coyotes or anything bigger in most states because they don't humanely kill the animal in many cases. I agree with you that the Newtown killer shouldn't have been able to get his hands on a firearm of that type. But remember Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws on the books. There are holes in the back-ground check process that must be fixed. There are huge problems with mental health and identification of persons needing mental health help in our school systems at all levels. Mentally ill or challenged persons such as the Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Columbine killers should have been able to get close to firearms of any type. There were red flags and alarms going off in every case be we as a society didn't see or chose not to see and act before the lives of innocents were taken. Dr. Lott is correct. In every instance when stricter gun control laws are enacted crime rates go up. On a national scale you can look at Australia as a recent case study to validate this statement. Put yourself in the shoes of the criminal; two houses – one in which there's a pretty good chance the persons inside are armed and will shoot back and one in a neighborhood where guns are outlawed or banned. Which one are you going to break into? Don't misunderstand my comments. I'm a very conservative father of 5, grandfather of 3. I'm a gun owner and strong defender of second amendment rights. But my biggest fear is that something like Newtown will happen in our grade school and I won't be there to protect my child. We have to stop craziness. I just believe it's the height of naivety to think that stricter gun control laws will keep it from happening again when we live in a society where it's socially acceptable for a woman to take the life of her unborn child, make and promote hundreds of movies and video games each year that glorify or perhaps even encourage the taking of innocent lives, where social media encourages a "look at me" mentality in our youth, where news media immortalizes the criminals in almost every case, where people like the killers described above don't get the mental health care they need and can get their hands on any kind of weapon (most mass killings don't involve firearms at all according to FBI statistics), where it's become politically correct to belittle and attack organizations (like churches, boy scouts, girl scouts, etc...) that teach Judeo Christian values such as the sanctity of life, and where sports figures, actors, and politicians routinely get away with behavior that would have gotten most of us spanked or at least sent to our rooms when we were growing up. Wake up and smell the roses, this is a lot more complex than gun control.

    December 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Bill

    This woman is a propagandist (and a very uninformed one at that) rather than an interviewer. She's an idiot.

    December 19, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Michael Patras

    With the so called right to own guns in this country, is the hitch to pass gun control laws.
    Well if one thinks a bit outside the box, let them have all the guns they want.
    There is nothing in the constitution about owning bullets, why not regulate ammunition
    There was a radio show on a non corporate station.That showed canadians who owned
    guns are alot less violent with them as americans who own guns.
    the stats were very interesting if one looks them up.
    So, one does have to look at this, Is it guns and ammo or the people who own them
    and the society that that promotes violence or the society that does not.

    December 18, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Stalling Hale

    I would like for you to take a step back and look at this shooting and all the past shootings for a moment and think about the root cause, where does this start. I would like for you to evaluate and compare today's family unit and how degraded this core in society has become.

    When I grew up, I was diciplined based on the choices I made as a young kid. I got spanked, I got grounded, I was forced to learn respect for my elders for my teachers and for any adults. Its wasnt a choice. Today kids disresepct everyone including themselves. Kids these days walk all over thier parents, the kids make adult choices they are not capable of making....why do you ask, because we have become soft....we have allowed the stranger to intervene in parenting, everyone is now allowed to make anything and everything their business. I realize that there are situations where it might be necessary, but people should be able to tell the difference between child abuse and diciplining a child who has been out of control or throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the mall. I can tell you that if I ever did that when I was growing up, I would have certainly been spanked in public, deservingly so. This softer parenting or lack of parenting is really what we need to fix, enforcing on our kids what is right and wrong, ensuring that they respect others and life in general, they do not have the capacity to become adults without this family core, it is a sever mental handicap that we have allowed to happen to ourselves. In my day, kids didn't walk into schools or movie theater's and kill innocent people, that role was held soley by psychopath adult killers with mental issues. Our failure to Parent and for Parents to be the one running the family unit, will create more weak minded kids because of the lack of structure and teachings of what is right and wrong. I hope you understand what I am trying to say here.

    I don't believe you are going to resolve these shootings and tragedies by imposing gun control. taking guns away from our citizens who in general obey the laws because a select few mental case individuals do not, doesn't resolve anything at all, because those mental case individuals will find a way to get the weapons they want regardless of any law. Remember here, we are talking about people who break the law anyway, no the ones who abide by them.

    This tragedy is just being used by those who back gun control to further thier political agenda's. The constitution grants us the right to bare arms.

    Everyone wants to blame guns for the loss of life, guns do not kill people...people kill people, they just happened to use a gun to do it.

    People today are so quick to blame objects or society as a whole for the tragedies that happen. I am not saying that

    December 18, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Au0614

    I want to start off by saying that I am neither a gun owner or conservative. That being said, this interview is a joke. Not only was the person being interviewed not given an ample opportunity to respond to an obvious bias interviewer but if she is truly so "boggled" on his opinion she should pay attention to what he is saying.

    I understand that it is a emotionally charged time and that it's easy to get wrapped up in emotion but the answer to that should not be irrationality. I personally support gun control, background checks, and increased gun laws but I want to be able to hear the other side of that argument and listen to reason to form my opinions. If you weren't going to let him talk and you were just going to criticize his point of view why have him on? It compromises the integrity of both the interview and CNN as a whole when interviews are both so biased and conducted in such a poor way.

    December 17, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Au0614

      Let's win the gun control argument based on the strength of our facts and positions, not with the bullying of interview guests and having clearly biased interviewers not even try to listen to reason (I'm not saying that his position was reasonable, I'm saying that the interviewer made no effort to see if it was)

      December 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Skyler

    Soledad was absolutely belligerent and attempted to bully Lott when he presented a logical argument with facts and statistics to back it up. Where is your journalistic integrity? You made yourself look foolish.

    December 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Joan Burrows

    I heard a very interesting take today that you might want to pursue. Well off families tend to shield any 'different behavior' – what others may think? Listen to his baby sitter! Kids in the projects get help through schools and police! Any of these mass shooters black?

    December 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Rob Tall

    Soledad is a disgrace.... She brings on an expert in Gun Statistics and argues via emotion. John Lott reports facts proven by statistically significant 'data' and rather than report the viewpoint, she tries to argue her point when its clear she does not even understand the very basics of gun types and mechanics. Get this parrot off the air.... She is an embarrassment to CNN.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Deb rendon

    Thank you, Soledad, for your interview this morning! Tiger mom's will be what it takes to defeat these people with their guns.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  19. shel

    I do believe on limiting large number bullet clips for guns. But I am truly concerned about mental illness and guns. So who decicides who is to mentality ill to buy a gun? I'm afraid that this will lead to people not seaking help especially men. Please discuss. Thank you. Let me know your thoughts

    December 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Elizabeth

    Dear Ms. O’Brien,
    I am a mother of 3, a career woman , a gun control advocate, and – importantly – an educator of many (having taught for over 20 years grades 6-12 and at a university). One of the most important lessons I need to teach as a role model (as mother, teacher, citizen) is respect. The other important lessons are 1) don’t ask the question if you don’t (honestly) want to hear the answer; 2) you can’t dismiss what you don’t know, so educate yourself, and 3) truth is found in the marketplace of ideas. After hearing your interview of John Lott today, I am convinced that 1) you don’t believe respect is deserved by those with whom you have fundamental disagreements, 2) you don’t believe that your viewers are intelligent enough to listen to this man’s thesis and come to the conclusion that he is wrong (you never let him finish a complete sentence), and finally 3) you set him up today to be the face of evil ideas so you could dismiss those ideas, without ever intending for him to be heard. This was not an interview, this was not reporting, this was not respectful, and this is not the way to teach anyone to respectfully disagree with those who hold fundamentally opposite ideas. I believe that you did your viewers a disservice today – this was not the Soledad O’Brien of “Black in America” (a very interesting and thought-provoking series), this was a disrespectfully conducted exchange that sounded more like the stations that deliver polemics, not news; stations that have commentators who also believe the American public is too stupid to formulate intelligent opinions on their own; stations that ride on raw emotion, that bludgeon their opinions at their viewers, and who believe they have the only legitimate truth. This is not what I expect, however, from CNN .
    This shooting massacre is a horrendous tragedy, heart-breaking, and life-changing for millions, near and far from the crime scene. It is now also the opportunity to make much needed changes to this country’s gun laws. But those shrill voices against such legislation cannot be met by the same shrill voices that support such legislation. As you know, the majority of Americans (including myself) are moderates – we want dialogue, the opportunity to listen to intelligent arguments from both sides (just because we disagree with them does not mean they are not intelligent), and a political system in which we can register our views. The polemicists on the gun advocacy often lose their message with their delivery. Today, I fear, you lost an opportunity for your viewers to see that for themselves.

    December 17, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse | Reply

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