John Lott files lawsuit
John Lott, economist and author of the book "More Guns, Less Crime," has filed suit against Steven Levitt, co-author of the best-seller "Freakonomics," which said that other economists could not replicate Lott's findings that increased issuance of CCW permits coincided with drops in violent crime.
While I wouldn't bet the farm on the lawsuit (defamation cases being hard to win, and extremely hard in the case of public figures and issues of public concern), it is interesting that the battle is over "does liberalized CCW reduce violent crime, or fail to affect it," as opposed to "does liberalized CCW increase violent crime," let alone "does liberalized CCW result in a bloodbath and the fall of the Republic."
(Hat tip to Don Kates on this one)
UPDATE: Levitt cites the suit on his own blog, and the partisans of plaintiff and defendant really get into it in the comments. Tim Lambert, Lott's critic (an understatement), has a roundup here. The reason I say defamation is incredibly hard to win is -- I had a defamation case a few years ago, and it was murderously difficult. American law greatly restricts the plaintiff. If it's an issue of public importance, the defamation must relate to hard facts, not opinions ("He is a convicted felon" can be sued over, "he is a crook" cannot be). If the plaintiff is a public figure (broadly defined) he must prove not only the defendant made a false statement about him, but that defendant knew it was false at the time (or knew it was probably false, and deliberately failed to make inquiries). Then there's the matter of proving damages -- how much economic damage did the defamation cause? If non-economic harm to reputation, how do you prove it? Your enemies will say they believed you were scum before they heard it, and your friends will say they figured it must be false anyway. In the case I handled, the jury spent four solid days of deliberation before they returned a verdict for a whopping $2500. Frankly, the biggest danger in such a suit is that you lose on one of these grounds -- it was an opinion, or there was no provable damage, or the speaker didn't really know it was false -- and then everyone assumes the court found that the defamation was true.