Eight academics at eight different universities have informed me that they have written to your paper in response to two recent attacks on me and my research. But your paper has chosen not to publish the letters, not even one from an academic who wanted to correct a statement attributed to him that was the opposite of what he had written.
A Feb. 11 Federal Page article questioned the existence of a 1997 survey that was used to "support claims in [my] provocative book." My discussion of the survey actually involved only one number in one sentence, and even then I qualified my statement by beginning that sentence: "If a national survey that I conducted is correct." In any case, despite my past willingness to talk to your reporters, no one at your paper asked me about my survey. The bottom line is that I lost data for most of my various research projects, as well as the files for my book "More Guns, Less Crime," in a computer crash in July 1997. With the help of other scholars, primarily David Mustard at the University of Georgia, the massive data sets using county and state level crime data were reconstructed so the data could be given to academics who requested it. This enabled researchers at dozens of universities to re-estimate every single regression in my book. I redid the survey last year and obtained similar results. (Academics have confirmed my hard-disk crash as well as discussions that I had back in 1996 and 1997 regarding the survey, and there is also verification by a participant in the survey.)
This data set and all the other data used in my new book, "The Bias Against Guns," have also been made available to anyone who requests them at www.johnlott.org.
As to the claim, raised in a Feb. 1 Style article, that I used a fictitious identity in making posts in Internet chat rooms, I did indeed do that. I originally used my own name but switched after receiving threatening and obnoxious telephone calls from other Internet posters.
-- John R. Lott Jr.
The writer is a resident scholar
at the American Enterprise Institute.