UPDATE: Fox News told The Washington Post's Erik Wemple that Lott's claim to his supporters that “Fox News has agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders” is “not true.” Lott declined to speak about his Fox News claims with Wemple.
Discredited gun researcher John Lott told his supporters that Fox News has agreed to pursue stories related to the Department of Justice's report on the Ferguson, MO police department and investigate reports of mass shootings supposedly stopped by people carrying legally concealed weapons.
In a June 9 letter posted on Facebook by National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, Lott revealed that he is “working with Fox News to obtain a copy of the data used by the Obama Department of Justice in evaluating the Ferguson police department” and that Fox News “has agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders.”
The letter was addressed to supporters of Lott's Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC). Nugent is a high-profile supporter of CPRC who has made inflammatory statements in his appeals for donations to the group.
In his letter, Lott suggests that he will act as a go-between Fox News and CPRC supporters with information about mass shootings that were supposedly stopped or prevented by someone legally carrying a concealed weapon (emphasis added):
The second accomplishment is something that you all can help with. Fox News has agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders (a partial list of cases is available here). If you ever see a defensive gun use story, especially one that might involve a permit holder stopping a mass killing, please email me the link to the news story as soon as possible.
Lott described the agreement with Fox News on mass shooting reports to his supporters by writing that “we won't get explicit credit,” but that the venture “is still important.”
According to a Mother Jones investigation that looked at 62 public mass shootings over a 30-year period, none were stopped by an ordinary civilian with a concealed carry permit. Gun rights supporters often distort the circumstances of a handful of shootings to claim otherwise. (Judging by his letter to supporters, Lott's latest tactic appears to be speculating that particular defensive gun uses stopped incidents that would have turned out to be mass shootings.)
Lott often manipulates statistics about gun violence to advance a misleading pro-gun agenda, usually during appearances on cable news networks and in his role as a FoxNews.com columnist. In an extensive profile on Lott, who invented the famous but now-debunked "more guns, less crime" hypothesis, Armed With Reason -- a blog “dedicated to academically refuting pro-gun myths” -- described him as “the most prolific and influential writer on the topic of gun violence and gun control.”
According to Armed With Reason, Lott touts false claims about gun violence “repeatedly in articles and TV appearances” and has committed “ethical transgressions” in his pursuit of pro-gun research, ranging from “accusations of fabricating an entire survey, to presenting faulty regressions, to creating elaborate online personas to defend his work and bash critics, to trying to revise his online history to deflect arguments.”
Lott's letter also suggested he is seeking to discredit the findings of a Department of Justice report into law enforcement practices in Ferguson, MO. He claimed to be “working with Fox News to obtain a copy of the data used by the Obama Department of Justice in evaluating the Ferguson police department” because he “believe(s) that the Ferguson report is badly flawed, and the Obama administration's refusal to let anyone examine their research only heightens my concerns.”
The investigation, which was launched in the wake of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, found that African-Americans suffered disparate impacts in “nearly every aspect of Ferguson's law enforcement system.” The report also uncovered numerous racist emails sent by Ferguson police officers and other city employees.