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During the last 15 years, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has conducted a highly successful campaign to encourage states to enact legislation enabling citizens who meet modest requirements to carry concealed handguns. Many will be surprised – some even horrified -- to learn that 31 states have now adopted such laws, and the NRA campaign has been given a substantial academic boost from John Lott, who has become convinced that the passage of these so-called “shall issue” laws actually reduces violent crime. Lott impressively marshals the evidence in support of his position in his best-selling (for an academic work) book More Guns, Less Crime. As a result, Lott has become one of the few members of the legal academy whose name is now bandied about on talk shows, in legislative sessions, and in the print media. His work has contributed to the increased pace of NRA successes in persuading state legislatures to allow more concealed handguns to be carried -- while only 10 states adopted shall issue laws between 1977 and 1992, 13 more have done so since 1993. Readers will hardly need to be advised of the challenge that his work poses to the conventional wisdom that more guns leads to more crime – or at least more deaths and serious injuries. Lott’s conclusions may have provoked the sharpest attacks against any study emanating from the University of Chicago since Isaac Ehrlich’s work on the death penalty first surfaced almost 25 years ago.

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