Criminologist: Kagan a Threat to 2nd Amendment

Saturday, 26 Jun 2010 06:34 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Criminologist, economist and author John Lott tells Newsmax that he has serious concerns about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s position on gun ownership under the Second Amendment.

He also says gun control actually increases the crime rate because widespread gun ownership discourages criminals from committing crimes.

Lott has a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA and is currently a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland. His latest work is a new edition of his book “More Guns, Less Crime.”

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Lott was asked for his views on Kagan, whose confirmation hearings are set to begin on Monday.

Story Continues Below Video.


“Both [Supreme Court Justice Sonia] Sotomayor and Kagan are pretty much cut from the same cloth,” he says.

“Last year when Sotomayor was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation, she claimed that there was no constitutional right to self-defense.

“Kagan has made numerous statements on the gun issue. While she was clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall, she wrote a memo saying she was unsympathetic to the notion that there was an individual right in the Second Amendment.

“And she from 1995 to 1999, she spearheaded President Bill Clinton’s push on gun control. People remember the pushes on gun control at that time. Elena Kagan was the person who was directly responsible for a lot of that.”

It might be noted that around the time Kagan’s confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin on Monday, the Supreme Court is expected on Monday to hand down a decision on an important gun rights case. Petitioners in McDonald v. City of Chicago are challenging a local ban on handguns.

Lott also criticized Kagan’s position in the Citizens United case. As Solicitor General she argued against Citizens United before the Supreme Court and lost, as the Court said prohibiting corporations from contributing to political campaigns was a violation of free speech.

Asked to explain the title of his book “More Guns, Less Crime,” Lott tells Newsmax: “Guns can make it easy for bad things to happen, but they can also make it easier for people to protect themselves and prevent bad things from happening.

“The fact that would-be victims might be able to defend themselves can make it riskier for criminals to commit crimes and deter some of them from doing so.

“The question is, what do you advise someone to do when they have to confront a criminal by themselves. Simply telling them to behave passively actually turns out to be very bad advice. By far the safest course of action for someone to take when they’re confronted by a criminal by themselves is to have a gun.”

Criminals are more likely to target people they are confident are not armed and would be an easy mark, Lott explains.

“Criminals are like anybody else — if you make something more costly, they do less of it, and they tend to prefer easier jobs as opposed to harder jobs.”

Lott says he pored over mountains of county, city, and state data in his study of how crime rates change over time.

“What you find consistently is that as the percentage of the population with permitted concealed handguns, or the percentage of the population with gun ownership generally, rises, you see drops in violent crime.”

Lott takes issue with Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s call to the U.S. Congress for a renewal of the federal ban on assault weapons. He said in May that easy access to high-powered weapons is contributing to drug-related violence along the border, and claimed murder rates in Mexico and the U.S. rose after the ban was lifted in 2004. But Lott said the murder rate has actually gone down in the U.S. since that time, and the rate in Mexico dropped from 2004 to 2008 before increasing last year.

“It’s not clear what theory you might have for why murder rates would increase five years after the assault weapons ban,” he says.

Lott adds that much of the weaponry used by Mexican drug gangs comes from other countries around the world, and an assault weapons ban would do nothing to control these weapons.

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