News & Politics

An Anti-Gun Group Concocts a Massive Hoax to Embarrass Their Pro-Gun Nemesis. Here's How That Went.

AP Photo/Wilson Ring

Economist and gun rights advocate John Lott wrote the successful and breakthrough book More Guns, Less Crime in 1998, and the anti-gun Left has never forgiven him for it.

Anti-gunners refuse to appear with the author, speaker, numbers cruncher, and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center on TV, radio, or any other medium. According to Lott, who most recently wrote the book Gun Control Myths, whenever anti-gun groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, Bloomberg, and Moms Demand Action find out that they’ll be going toe-to-toe with him, they cancel.

They want to appear alone and unchallenged, or not at all. Hand-wringing mothers in pearls are visually more interesting than Lott.

He has been complaining about the blackout for years.

Recommended: Another Capitol Protester Takes Loyalty Oath to Joe Biden Before Obama Judge Banishes Him to Prison

One could see why the anti-gun groups wouldn’t want to be side-by-side with Lott. Lott’s biography reads like an academic’s dream. He’s taught at Yale, Penn’s Wharton School of Business, the University of Chicago (where Milton Friedman knew him and spoke highly of him), Stanford, and Rice University. He’s worked for the Department of Justice as a senior adviser for research statistics and was the chief economist for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. He’s written multiple books on crime and guns. He worked for a short time for the Trump administration as a “Senior Advisor for Research and Statistics in the Office of Justice Programs for the U.S. Department of Justice and then the Senior Advisor for Research and Statistics in the Office of Legal Policy for the US Department of Justice.” Phew.

He just might know a thing or two about a thing or two, to borrow a phrase.

So, instead of debating or appearing with Lott, a group called “Change the Ref” conspired with their fundraising, advertising, and media allies to humiliate, defame, and embarrass him.

Anything not to have to debate him.

Recommended: Who’s Paid to Shill for Big Tech? A New Online Tool ‘Outs’ Who’s Getting Bezos Billions, Zuck Bucks, and @Jack Cash

Change the Ref, whose stated objective is to “raise awareness about mass shootings through strategic interventions that will reduce the influence of the NRA on the Federal level [emphasis added]… worked around the clock for months” plotting a way to get Lott to appear in one of their videos in order to undermine him.

The plot had to be bold. It had to appeal to his sense of duty and honor. And it had to be a total fraud.

The tactics of this group would make Mike Wallace, NBC News, and James O’Keefe blush with embarrassment.

The New Republic’s news-hoaxster Stephen Glass and The Washington Post fakesters Janet Cooke and Jayson Blair would have been jealous of the chutzpah used in the ruse.

The group concocted a fake online high school, James Madison Academy, based in Las Vegas. And they asked Lott and a former president of the NRA to speak at the school’s graduation.

They created a website, which Lott says contained information, such as endorsements and stories about successful students, that gave the school the air of legitimacy. The website has since been disappeared.

The “school board chairman,”  Jordan Simon, offered to fly him to Las Vegas. They promised an honorarium.

Recommended: IT’S HAPPENING: Biden Is Sending Community Organizers Door-to-Door With COVID Shots

And he had to come the day before for a dress rehearsal.

Lott told me on the Adult in the Room podcast that he’d never heard of a dress rehearsal for a graduation– and he’s spoken at more than a few graduations.

He offered to give them his talking points by phone, but they insisted that he be there in person because “there would be thousands of people [at the graduation], it’s just really important that everything go smoothly.”

They also wanted him to change his rah, rah graduation speech to take on a decidedly more political tone. They asked him to include a discussion of Madison’s Second Amendment and criminal background checks for gun buyers. He thought it was weird, but since he wanted to “help out the school” he went along with reluctance.

He drove to the event (a trip fraught with problems) and arrived to find a production worthy of the Olympics.

There were big cameras. Drones flying around. There was a big dais. Had huge banners for the school. They had all the chairs set up.

I have to confess, I was exhausted, but I gave my kind of rough version of my talk and they filmed it, just in case they had problems filming it or anything on Saturday.

And there were the chairs – all 3,044 of them.

After the “dress rehearsal” before the empty chairs, he went back to the hotel to await the next day’s activities.

Instead he got a phone call from the fake “school board president” canceling the graduation due to threats against the event because of Lott’s attendance. He requested that Lott please not say anything public about it. Shh…

What came next out of the hoax were commercials for the group to, in their words, “reduce the influence of the NRA on the federal level” and, by extension, Lott.

Video juxtaposed Lott’s begged-for words in front of the empty chairs with images of shootings, with the hope that he would look heartless and horrible.

The chairs, they intoned, represented the “lost class” of 3,044 students who died this year due to gun violence.

Lott, the numbers cruncher, says those numbers don’t comport with reality. He might know a thing or two about those numbers since he’s the former – all together now – “Senior Advisor for Research and Statistics in the Office of Justice Programs for the U.S. Department of Justice and then the Senior Advisor for Research and Statistics in the Office of Legal Policy for the U.S. Department of Justice.”

He told me that as horrible as it is, there were nowhere near that number. He has no idea where they came up with the number.

Rachel Maddow and others lauded the hoax. How clever. How fresh, they cooed.

When James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas do a video project, at least they post all of the real words from real people on his real website really outing themselves.

Rachel Maddow ignores them.

Lott has asked the group promulgating the fake numbers, fake school, fake board member, fake website, and fake graduation to do the same. They refuse, according to Lott.

They just earned a “bronze seal of transparency” from some group that apparently doesn’t do its homework.

One advertising website calls the video “one of the best ads on TV.”

The group, started by parents who lost their son in the Parkland shooting, is planning a big event with Cher and other luminaries next month.

Here’s a tip: They should try to determine in advance if it’s a real or fake event.