Sen. Lee Harris questions credibility of Republican gun expert


NASHVILLE – A so-called expert invited to testify on guns before the Senate Judiciary Committee has been frequently discredited by academia and the media, according to sources found by Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris.

"Apparently some folks have made a career peddling discredited research on guns," Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. "Just because you get invited on Fox News to confirm NRA talking points on guns doesn't mean you should be invited to the state Senate of Tennessee as an expert. It's an open question whether this individual would pass as a credible witness in court, and his research methods probably wouldn't pass muster in many classrooms."

John Lott made a name for himself in the 1990s with the book More Guns, Less Crime, pushing the myth that gun ownership and increased concealed carry permits will reduce violent crime. That research has since been debunked and more rigorous studies have shown the opposite. 

"His research has been debunked countless times by the very best academics," Sen. Harris said. "The Stanford Law Review found that his central hypothesis of 'more guns, less crime' was entirely without statistical support. Lott's research contained serious coding errors that actually reversed his hypothesis, and more rigorous studies have found that rates of gun ownership significantly positively correlate with incidence of homicide.

"The late addition of Lott to today's committee agenda means we won't hear other views from true experts, which I believe could have been scheduled," Sen. Harris said. "It's unfortunate that Mr. Lott was added at the last second. That only helps him avoid the scrutiny his ideas truly deserve. 

"Lott's Crime Prevention Research Center may be masquerading as a policy shop but it appears to be just a small, two-man operation funded by Ted Nugent, who just yesterday went to Facebook with anti-Semitic claims of a Jewish conspiracy that doesn't exist.

"With Tennessee ranked ninth in accidental shootings, we need to hear balanced perspectives from serious people on preventing gun violence, not just Fox News talking heads."

Sign your name: we need common sense legislation to reduce gun violence.

Showing 10 reactions

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  • commented 2017-05-07 06:58:56 -0500
    Education is sooo important, but every person should have the right to defense yourself…
    Paulo Vieira
  • commented 2017-05-07 06:58:38 -0500
    Education is sooo important, but every person should have the right to defense yourself…
    Paulo Vieira
  • commented 2016-02-20 18:45:32 -0600
    I don’t think gun safety can be legislated. Safety through education is the path to take.
  • commented 2016-02-15 14:45:47 -0600
    If you question someones credibility, I suggest you do some research yourself so it becomes clear instead of questionable.

    After reading “More Guns, Less Crime” and “The Bias Against Guns” I looked up data using not just his provided sources, but also other sources of data and so far only found one minor point I disagree with relating to bullet caliber and lethality. To understand the discussion better, I did the following and suggest this if you want to better understand the topic. Learn both sides of the debate. Get some guns Legally, get training, get a permit to carry, actually shoot some guns at a range, understand their functions, differences, etc. This will only help get the facts out and help you argue either side of the topic. Learn what is: semi-auto, full-auto, magazine vs clip, how long does it take to swap a magazine? What calibers are used for hunting vs the caliber of an “assault rifle”. Is full auto, semi-auto more accurate or deadly?
    Don’t do what Rep. Diana DeGette did by not understand High-Capacity Magazines Can Be Reloaded:

    “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Lott was added at the last second. That only helps him avoid the scrutiny his ideas truly deserve.” Actually many refuse to debate him using claiming he has been ‘discredited’. Get a hold of him if you want a 1-1 debate.

    A quick example of data you can look up.
    UK’s own government website has data showing homicide rates before and after the ban: (see page 31.)

    “Common Sense” may not equal your first impressions or assumptions. It requires knowledge.
  • commented 2016-02-10 11:05:45 -0600
    John Lott Book is nothing but lies. The NRA ’s talking point with no facts to back them up. Lotta researchers is fake and full of misinformation. He no expert when the light of cold hard facts expose it to the lies he soreads
  • commented 2016-02-10 02:04:31 -0600
    Thank you Lee Harris!
  • commented 2016-02-09 23:58:52 -0600
    Idiots like this have no business testifying before any Senate or House investigative committee. He has only his opinions to present and does not present accurate statistics.
  • commented 2016-02-09 17:32:36 -0600
    Well done, Sen. Harris. Lott would absolutely not be accepted as an expert in court, and his credibility in general would be an open question.
  • commented 2016-02-09 17:23:32 -0600
    Thank you, Senator Harris.
  • commented 2016-02-09 15:49:47 -0600
    Wow. Nice to hear a voice of reason from a gunny state. Thank you Lee Harris.