One of the more powerful tools used in the promotion of CCW laws across the nation is the famous "Lott/Mustard study conducted by Professor John Lott of the University of Chicago Law School.

When the opposition was unable to disprove the findings of the study, they decided to try discrediting it by stating it was funded by the gun industry.

This tactic was born in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, from (then) Congressman (now Senator) Charles Schumer of New York. Here is the Schumer letter:

Wall Street Journal Letters

 September 4, 1996:

Gun-Control Thesis Is a Shot in the Dark

John R. Lott Jr.'s thesis--that concealed weapons laws reduce crime rates ("More Guns, Less Violent Crime," Rule of Law, Aug. 28)--flies in the face of common sense and a body of scholarly research. The bottom line: Crime is going down despite concealed weapons laws, not because of them.

... [various anti-gun arguments snipped in the interest of space]

...I'd like to point out one other "association." The Associated Press reports that Prof. Lott's fellowship at the University of Chicago is funded by the Olin Foundation, which is "associated with the Olin Corporation," one of the nation's largest gun manufacturers. Maybe that's a coincidence, too. But it's also a fact.

Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.)

Days later, this scurrilous charge was laid to rest by William Simon, former US Treasury Secretary and current President of the Olin Foundation:

September 9, 1996:

An Insult to Our Foundation

As president of the John M. Olin Foundation, I take great umbrage at Rep. Charles Schumer's scurrilous charge (Letters to the Editor, Sept. 4) that our foundation underwrites bogus research to advance the interests of companies that manufacture guns and ammunition. He asserts (falsely) that the John M. Olin Foundation is "associated" with the Olin Corp. and (falsely again) that the Olin Corp. is one of the nation's largest gun manufacturers. Mr. Schumer then suggests on the basis of these premises that Prof. John Lott's article on gun control legislation (editorial page, Aug. 28) must have been fabricated because his research fellowship at the University of Chicago was funded by the John M. Olin Foundation.

This is an outrageous slander against our foundation, the Olin Corp., and the scholarly integrity of Prof. Lott. Mr. Schumer would have known that his charges were false if he had taken a little time to check his facts before rushing into print. Others have taken the trouble to do so. For example, Stephen Chapman of the Chicago Tribune looked into the charges surrounding Mr. Lott's study, and published an informative story in the Aug. 15 issue of that paper, which concluded that, in conducting his research, Prof. Lott was not influenced either by the John M. Olin Foundation or by the Olin Corp. Anyone wishing to comment on this controversy ought first to consult Mr. Chapman's article and, more importantly, should follow his example of sifting the facts before reaching a conclusion.

For readers of the Journal, here are the key facts:

The John M. Olin Foundation, of which I have been president for nearly 20 years, is an independent foundation whose purpose is to support individuals and institutions working to strengthen the free enterprise system. We support academic programs at the finest institutions in the nation, including the University of Chicago, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Virginia, and many others. We do not tell scholars what to write or what to say.

The foundation was created by the personal fortune of the late John M. Olin, and is not associated with the Olin Corp. The Olin Corp. has never sought to influence our deliberations. Our trustees have never taken into account the corporate interests of the Olin Corp. or any other company when reviewing grant proposals. We are as independent of the Olin Corp. as the Ford Foundation is of the Ford Motor Co.

The John M. Olin Foundation has supported for many years a program in law and economics at the University of Chicago Law School. This program is administered and directed by a committee of faculty members in the law school. This committee, after reviewing many applications in a very competitive process, awarded a research fellowship to Mr. Lott. We at the foundation had no knowledge of who applied for these fellowships, nor did we ever suggest that Mr. Lott should be awarded one of them. We did not commission his study, nor, indeed, did we even know of it until last month, when Mr. Lott presented his findings at a conference sponsored by a Washington think tank.

As a general rule, criticism of research studies should be based on factual grounds rather than on careless and irresponsible charges about the motives of the researcher. Mr. Lott's study should be evaluated on its own merits without imputing motives to him that do not exist. I urge Mr. Schumer to check his facts more carefully in the future.

Finally, it was incorrectly reported in the Journal (Sept. 5) that the John M. Olin Foundation is "headed by members of the family that founded the Olin Corp." This is untrue. The trustees and officers of the foundation have been selected by virtue of their devotion to John Olin's principles, not by virtue of family connections. Of our seven board members, only one is a member of the Olin family. None of our officers is a member of the Olin family--neither myself as president, nor our secretary-treasurer, nor our executive director.

William E. Simon
John M. Olin Foundation Inc.
New York

For more perspective on the matter, see Taking Aim: A Gun Study and A Conspiracy Theory, by Stephen Chapman, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune on August 16, 1996.

Still, opponents persist in compensating for their inability to contradict the Lott study by repeating false charges about it. Here is one of the more egregious examples:

On Tuesday 3/16/99 US Attorney Ed Dowd appeared on the "Total Information AM" program in St. Louis on KMOX 1120-AM at 7:50 AM. The topic was Proposition B, the concealed carry measure to be voted on by Missourians on April 6th.

One of the interviewers asked him about the notion that the studies the pro-gun sources cite are paid for by the firearms industry. The interviewer was apparently implicitly referring to the "Lott/Mustard" study from the University of Chicago Law School, which though exhaustive research indicated clear benefits from concealed carry laws such as Proposition B.

Dowd responded with some off-point statements about FBI Crime Statistics then made the following statement. It is transcribed verbatim, including the lack of punctuation and subtle speech flaws that are inherent in nearly all transcriptions of normal speech.

Nothing in the body of this statement has been left out or modified, and nothing which preceded or followed it changed the context or meaning whatsoever.

Here is what Dowd said:

"Olin Manufacturing which manufactures ammunition [pause] they deal in death they get they they really sell blood for for money uh they're the ones who fund Professor Lott and they're the ones who are pushing this with the National Rifle Association and that's why it is so broadly written and so full of loopholes cause they want a very broad law."

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