Who’s Backing The Last Pro-Gun “Academic,” John Lott?
On August 13, 2015, Buzzfeed published a fascinating interview with stalking victim Taylor Woolrich that revealed that prominent pro-gun “academic” John Lott had authored an op-ed in her name for Fox News entitled, “Dear Dartmouth, I Am One of Your Students, I Am Being Stalked, Please Let Me Carry a Gun to Protect Myself.”
Woolrich had indeed been stalked for years by an older man and became concerned about her safety while attending Dartmouth College. She reached out to Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) and ended up speaking at one of their annual meetings, which was funded in part by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), the organization that Lott started after effectively being exiled from the academic community following years of personal controversy.
Woolrich was considering carrying a gun to protect herself at that point, and that made her an “asset” to Lott. She describes Lott as being “extremely, inappropriately pushy…controlling and kind of snappy.” He urged her to reach out to the media to tell her story, and when Fox News rejected an op-ed co-authored by the two of them, Lott offered to write it on her behalf on his own, in the first person. “I don’t know if I should just say yes and not piss him off,” Woolrich recalls worrying, so she assented. “It was actually easier for me to write this in the first person for her than the way I had originally written it,” Lott bragged to a Fox editor.
In the piece, Lott cited and praised the work of his start-up, CPRC. This was not the first time Lott seized an opportunity to shower praise on himself. Previously, he had created a personae he called “Mary Rosh” and written positive reviews about his book “More Guns, Less Crime” on Amazon. “SAVE YOUR LIFE, READ THIS BOOK — GREAT BUY!!!!” wrote “Mary,” who claimed to be a former student of Lott’s at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (“the best professor I ever had”). Once his deception was revealed, Lott would explain he “used a pseudonym” because “earlier postings under my name elicited threatening and obnoxious telephone calls.”
Lott was so desperate for support by the time he founded CPRC that he had to resort to crowdfunding his organization on Indiegogo. And yet he was able to recruit numerous individuals to support the organization as Board Members, Academic Advisory Board Members, and Fellows. They do so knowing that CPRC produces no peer-reviewed research on the issue of gun violence. Even their own input into CPRC’s work is minimal. “If they have comments, while there is no formal review by them, they let us know,” Lott explained to Mother Jones.
So who are these academics, and others, who are putting their names behind a discredited researcher’s last ditch effort at relevancy? We decided to find out.
Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC)
Board of Directors
Ted Nugent (Secretary)—Nugent is a longstanding Board Member of the National Rifle Association who regularly makes headlines with his racist, misogynistic, homophobic and anti-immigrant comments. In 2012, he was visited by the Secret Service after declaring, “If [President] Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” He has also called our first African-American president a “subhuman mongrel.” More recently, Nugent said, “If you believe the Confederate flag is one of honor for the Southern tradition, I believe you should have every right in the world to display that flag and wave it proudly.” He then asked rhetorically, “If we burned every Confederate flag today, would they stop shooting each other in Chicago? If we burned every Confederate flag today, would we stop sanctuary cities from accommodating murderers and rapists and savage people?”
Sheriff David Clarke—Clarke is the Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. He has repeatedly made headlines with a series of paranoid, insurrectionist statements threatening the U.S. government. Two months after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Clarke warned that executive orders issued by President Barack Obama in response could trigger “the second coming of an American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.” More recently, Clarke suggested that it might take a “Lexington-Concord type moment” to stop the advancement of LGBT rights in the United States. Clarke has been recognized as “Sheriff of the Year” by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a radical organization that embraces radical Posse Comitatus theory, which holds that the county sheriff is the ultimate legal authority in the United States.
Brad Thor—Thor is a novelist and a regular on conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck’s radio and television programs. His books have been described as “Islamophobic” and an “emotional demonization of Islam and Muslims.” On Fox News, Thor declared, “If Muhammad came back today and handed out trophies for the people best practicing the religion the way he wanted it, ISIS would be the premiere on the podium.” On the subject of race, Thor has stated, “There is no more institutionalized racism in the United States.” On the other hand, he has opined that private businesses posting “No Guns Allowed” signs amounts to “institutionalized discrimination.” In June 2015, Thor sarcastically observed that the Obama administration’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gay marriage was “The only major event the #Obama administration wasn’t caught off guard by and didn’t have to read about in the papers.”
Edgar K. Browning—Browning is the Professor Emeritus of Economics at Texas A&M University and the author of the book, “Stealing from Each Other: How the Welfare State Robs Americans of Money and Spirit.” He is currently a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, a conservative think tank based in Oakland, California. He can be reached at email@example.com or (979) 845-7355. The Texas A&M Dean of Faculties is Dr. Blanca Lupiani, who can be reached at (979) 845-4274 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tracey Wyatt, Treasurer—Little public information is available about Wyatt, a graduate of Tuck Business School. In an online bio, Wyatt lists herself as an officer with a number of start-ups whose domain names are now for sale.
Academic Advisory Board
William M. Landes (Chair)—Landes is the Clifton R. Musser Professor Emeritus of Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School. He is a past president of the American Law and Economics Association and is a member of the American Economic Association, the Mont Pelerin Society, and the Council of Economic Advisers of the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Landes has co-published studies with Lott arguing that “Shall-Issue” concealed carry permitting laws are a deterrent to mass shootings. He can be reached at (773) 702-9606 or email@example.com. The dean of the Law School, Geoffrey Stone, can be reached at (773) 702-4907 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
J. Scott Armstrong—Armstrong is a professor at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania who is best known as a climate change denier. He has published articles and testified before Congress on forecasts of polar bear populations, arguing that previous estimates were too flawed to justify listing the bear as an endangered species. Armstrong is listed as an “expert” on climate change by the industry-funded climate denier group the Heartland Institute despite the fact that he once declared, “I actually try not to learn a lot about climate change.” He can be reached at email@example.com or (215) 898-5087. The dean of the Wharton School, Geoffrey Garrett, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 898-4715.
Arthur Z. Berg—Arthur Berg is a a former associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. In the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, he wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal arguing that soldiers legally permitted to carry concealed handguns should be allowed to carry their guns on base. He also co-authored a New York Post op-ed with Lott arguing that better funding for mental health treatment will not help prevent mass shootings. “If someone poses a true danger to others, why not lock them up?” the piece advocated. “No one wants a dangerous person to have a weapon. But our mental-health system simply can’t be the last line of defense … Potential victims need to be able to defend themselves [with guns].” The American Psychiatric Association can be reached at email@example.com or (703) 907-8640.
Tim Groseclose—Groseclose is the holder of the Adam Smith Chair at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He is the author of “Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind” and “Cheating: An Insider’s Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA.” While a professor at UCLA, Groseclose accused senior staff of “cheating” and “lying” in using race as a criteria in admissions. He resigned from the university shortly thereafter, claiming, “Academia needs a major shakeup.” Groseclose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 993-1218.
Jonathan M. Karpoff—Karpoff is the Washington Mutual Endowed Chair in Innovation and Professor of Finance at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. He is a member of the board of trustees for The Financial Management Association International and an International Research Fellow at Oxford’s Centre for Corporate Reputation. He can be reached at (206) 685-4954 or email@example.com. The dean of the Foster School of Business, James Jiambalvo, can be reached at (206) 221-5749.
Joyce Lee Malcolm—Malcolm is the Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment at George Mason University Law School, a position created by a $1 million endowment from the National Rifle Association. She has spent the majority of her career advocating for a broader interpretation of the Second Amendment. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 993-9150.
Scott E. Masten—Masten is a Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy in the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business, where he has been a faculty member since 1984. His focus is transaction cost economics. He can be reached at (734) 764-1389 or email@example.com. The dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Alison Davis-Blake, can be reached at (734) 615-5002.
Carl Moody—Moody is the Professor of Economics at William & Mary. He teaches mathematical economics and econometrics. Moody has also written about guns and has been a vigorous defender of Lott’s”more guns, less crime” hypothesis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (757) 221-2373. The William & Mary dean, Kate Conley, can be reached at (757) 221-2470 or email@example.com.
J. Mark Ramseyer—Ramseyer is the Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies at Harvard University Law School. He is an expert on the Japanese legal system, including criminal law. Ramseyer has said the following about Lott: “Dispassionate, careful, empirical work is key to disentangling any social science problem, and it is the key to understanding patterns of criminal behavior. Time and again, Dr. Lott and the Crime Prevention Research Center have shown the willingness to undertake that careful work, no matter how politically unpopular it may be.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 496-4878. The dean of Harvard University Law School, Martha Minow, can be reached at email@example.com or (617) 495-4601.
Paul H. Rubin—Rubin is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Economics at Emory University. Rubin has been Senior Staff Economist at President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, Chief Economist at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Director of Advertising Economics at the Federal Trade Commission, and vice-president of Glassman-Oliver Economic Consultants, Inc., a litigation consulting firm in Washington. His chief area of interest is law and economics. He has published on the topic of “Shall-Issue” concealed handgun permitting laws and found that the beneficial results of such laws “are much smaller than suggested by Lott.” Rubin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The dean of Emory College, Robin Forman, can be reached at email@example.com or (404) 727-6062.
Charles Bret Jessee—Jessee is a senior fellow with the CPRC and a research director at TEI Biosciences Inc. in Boson, working in the areas of trauma and reconstructive surgery. He can be reached at Bret.Jessee@crimeresearch.org or (617) 268-1616.
Kesten C. Green—Green is a senior fellow with the CPRC and a researcher at the University of South Australia Business School. Along with fellow CPRC leader J. Scott Armstrong, he is co-director and co-owner of the Forecasting Principles website (ForPrin.com). Like Armstrong, Green is a climate change denier who has stated, “Forecasts of dangerous global warming and of the extinction of polar bears are not derived from scientific forecasting methods and lack credibility.” Also like Armstrong, Green is listed as an “expert” on climate change by the industry-funded climate denier group the Heartland Institute. He has co-authored op-eds with Lott arguing that permissive concealed handgun permitting laws are “the safest course of action” for countries looking to reduce murder and suicide rates. Green and Lott have also criticized Australia’s tough gun laws, which have eliminated mass shootings altogether. He can be reached at Kesten.Green@unisa.edu.au.
Jack McCauley—McCauley is a a retired captain from the Maryland State Police with 23 years of service. Jack spent the majority of his career as a criminal investigator and was the commander of the State Police Firearms Licensing Division for a time. McCauley says he decided to retire when he found out “how badly we were trampling people’s [Second Amendment] rights.” Since his retirement, McCauley has testified against Maryland’s gun laws, directing much of his criticism at the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, which the state enacted in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
What is striking about this collection of individuals is not only the extremists like Nugent and Clarke, but also that there is not a criminologist to be found among CPRC’s academic advisers. Many of these advisers have produced no research on gun violence whatsoever. Others have published in this area only as co-authors with Lott.
Why has Lott found it so hard to recruit peers to his latest pro-gun initiative? A recent survey from a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, David Hemenway, provides the answer. Hemenway surveyed 300 academics who had conducted research on gun violence and found that an overwhelming majority believed that strong gun laws reduce such violence. For example, 64% stated they believe a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place, compared to only 5% who said a safer place.
Of course, Lott is also followed by his reputation, which continues to take hits. And now that his latest “pseudonym” has been exposed, it will be interesting to see how many of his current friends want to continue to put their name behind his latest enterprise.