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Think background checks prevent gun violence? Think again.

To the editor: Adam Winkler claims that we can reduce violent crime by requiring background checks on private gun transfers. This just isn't the case. ("Why banning assault rifles won't reduce gun violence," Opinion, Dec. 11)

Indeed, California, Colorado and Oregon — sites of the three most recent mass public shootings — already have such laws in place. The same is true of mass public shootings that have occurred in France, Belgium, Norway, Germany and other European countries.

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Peer-reviewed research by criminologists and economists consistently shows that background checks don't reduce any form of violent crime. Law-abiding citizens, not gang members, are the ones paying for these background checks, with fees that frequently range between $60 and $80.

What these laws do is disarm the law-abiding poor, disproportionately blacks, and prevent them from being able to defend themselves.

John R. Lott Jr., Swarthmore, Penn.

The writer is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of "More Guns, Less Crime."

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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