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By Larry Pratt

September 1, 2003

The Bias Against Guns is the title of John Lott's latest book. It is well worth reading.

Lott, an economist, is a good researcher and writer. His account of the multiple murder at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, VA in January, 2002 is an eye-opener.

Lott did a search in the media database called Lexis-Nexis to find articles written about the shooting. The base contained 208 unique articles, and one of them by the Associated Press would have been picked up by literally thousands of newspapers. Other articles would have also had widespread distribution.

Of the 208 articles about the law school shooter, only four mentioned that there had been a defensive gun use. Indeed, two students upon hearing the shots, ran to their vehicles and brought their guns within the 1,000 foot gun-free zone that has been unconstitutionally established by federal law. They encountered the murderer as he was finishing reloading. At the sight of their guns drawing down on him, he surrendered.

Only two articles mentioned that latter detail of the defensive guns actually being pointed at the thug. The Associated Press article was one that mentioned nothing of the defensive gun use. Lott contacted the author of the article who admitted that the defensive gun use should have been included. She apologized for the lack of space. One of the Associated Press executives, Jack Stokes, the AP media relations manager, said that he had been shocked upon learning that students carrying guns had subdued the gunman: "I thought, my God, they're putting into jeopardy even more people by bringing out these guns."

If Mr. Stokes could not get his mind past that fact that the two students had saved numerous other lives by "bringing out these guns," no wonder the media almost never reports on defensive gun uses.

While many such cases are never reported to anybody, Lott points out that there are 10 times more defensive gun uses each day than there are criminal uses of guns. Many do not get reported to the police because it would do no good - the bad guy fled when he saw the victim pull a gun. Sometimes no report is made of a defensive gun use because the good guy was carrying without the government's permission. And 95 percent of defensive gun uses occur without a shot ever being fired. Still, Lott found that defensive gun uses tend to get reported in a local paper, but not get picked up by the national media - unlike criminal uses of guns.

The recent Jason Blair scandal at the New York Times should have come as no surprise to John Lott. He had already exposed the tendentious claims and shoddy research of Times reporters Ford Fessenden and Fox Butterfield. Fessenden contributed to a series of articles purporting to show that the Brady Law had reduced rampage killings. But when Lott looked at their own data, he found that rampage killings increased after the passage of Brady. Butterfield simply took the word of anti-gun academics without checking to see if their information were correct. It was not. No academics who believe that gun control can lead to more crime were ever consulted.

In a similar vein, Lott explains how public opinion polling can promote support for more gun control. When questions are asked if more gun control is needed, or do we have enough, there is never an option given to respond that we have too much, or that gun control helps criminals and results in more crime. Lott has thus given us a very concise understanding of how polling is rigged to produce pro-gun control responses.

Lott examines the data regarding the impact of so-called "safe storage" laws and finds that they actually endanger people and result in more crime, not less. Of course, proponents of storage laws do not believe in self defense, so they see no problem with scaring people into locking up their safety.

Preventing accidental deaths is supposedly a major objective of the supporters of these laws. But it would be hard to reduce the accidental deaths from firearms in this country since they have been falling steadily over the last several decades. Locking up their safety actually results in getting people to depend less on themselves and a loaded gun they keep handy for self defense. They end up relying exclusively on calling 911 - a good way to get killed while waiting for the police.

My interview with John Lott can be found at The Bias Against Guns is available at a 25 percent discount from the Gun Owners Foundation bookstore at

� 2003 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved

Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA's work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.

Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC's Today Show, CBS' Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil Donahue show and many others. He has debated Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.

He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.

Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The GOA web site is: Pratt's weekly talk show Live Fire is archived there at:   E-Mail: [email protected]







"In a similar vein, Lott explains how public opinion polling can promote support for more gun control."