How the Academic Left Engages in Debate
Inside an ugly attack on a renowned criminologist.


Given Donohue’s distaste for the “execrable” NRA, linking Wilson to the NRA is hardly Donohue’s way of showing his respect. For example, in a debate with me at the Contemporary Club in Charlottesville, Va., on Oct. 22, 2008, Donohue claimed: “A free market in guns, which of course the NRA likes, and the reason why they like it is because when crime rises gun sales go up.” Donohue has made this claim at other times, including this weekend, when he sent out an e-mail to several people claiming the following (emphasis in the original): “In fact, there is only one group in America that DOES benefit from high crime — and that is the gun lobby. Fear and crime sell guns; crime reduction and safety undermine gun sales. The crime drop of the Clinton years was enormously costly to the gun industry as sales of guns dropped sharply. So who would be more likely to want fear and crime in the citizenry — a sitting president who would be blamed for not stopping crime, or the gun lobby that gets an extra pay day every time crime or fear of crime ticks up?”

As usual, Donohue provided no evidence to back up his claims. But it is extreme to publicly argue that the NRA — or by implication Wilson, who supposedly does their bidding — wants to sell more guns because that will cause more people to die and that in turn will increase the demand for guns.  

Unfortunately, the attacks on Wilson are just part of a long pattern, both from Donohue himself as well as from the Left in general.

John R. Lott Jr. is a contributor. He is an economist and author of the revised third edition of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010).