The Rosh-Huntress Files

[Editor's note: A couple of the posts in this long exchange between Huntress and Rosh have been left out. Some of the posts have had some extraneous discussion removed.]
More information about Mary Rosh/John Lott is here.

Introduction

Last January, the New York Post published an opinion piece written by Lott. In that piece Lott claimed that a school shooting had been stopped by students armed with guns and that almost all the newspaper stories had failed to mention this fact, thus demonstrating that the media showed a bias against guns. Next, someone posted the Lott piece to Usenet. A long discussion ensued, with a gentleman named Ed Huntress criticizing Lott for failing to mention that the students with guns had actually been police officers, and Mary Rosh stoutly defending Lott. In February, Lott’s piece was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram with one and only one significant change: the addition of these words:

Many stories mentioned that the heroic students had law enforcement or military backgrounds

Mary then posted this version (artfully claiming that there were a “couple” of significant differences) and suggested that the New York Post had edited out that phrase to make the piece fit in the available space. Mary also demanded that Ed Huntress call Lott and apologize since the error was the New York Post‘s fault. Ed called Lott and reported back:

I talked to John Lott and learned that he hasn’t even seen the New York Post‘s edited version of his editorial.


January 25, 2002

The New York Post publishes this opinion piece by John Lott:

THE MISSING GUN
By JOHN R. LOTT, JR.

January 25, 2002 — ANOTHER school shooting occurred last week and the headlines were everywhere the same, from Australia to Nigeria. This time the shooting occurred at a university, the Appalachian Law School. As usual, there were calls for more gun control.

Yet in this age of “gun-free school zones,” one fact was missing from virtually all the news coverage: The attack was stopped by two students who had guns in their cars.

The fast responses of two male students, Mikael Gross, 34, and Tracy Bridges, 25, undoubtedly saved multiple lives.

Mikael was outside the law school and just returning from lunch when Peter Odighizuwa started his attack. Tracy was in a classroom waiting for class to start.

When the shots rang out, utter chaos erupted. Mikael said, “People were running everywhere. They were jumping behind cars, running out in front of traffic, trying to get away.”

Mikael and Tracy did something quite different: Both immediately ran to their cars and got their guns. Mikael had to run about 100 yards to get to his car. Along with Ted Besen (who was unarmed), they approached Peter from different sides.

As Tracy explained it, “I aimed my gun at him, and Peter tossed his gun down. Ted approached Peter, and Peter hit Ted in the jaw. Ted pushed him back and we all jumped on.”

What is so remarkable is that out of 280 separate news stories (from a computerized Nexis-Lexis search) in the week after the event, just four stories mentioned that the students who stopped the attack had guns.

Only two local newspapers (the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Charlotte Observer) mentioned that the students actually pointed their guns at the attacker.

Much more typical was the scenario described by the Washington Post, where the heroes had simply “helped subdue” the killer. The New York Times noted only that the attacker was “tackled by fellow students.”

Most in the media who discussed how the attack was stopped said: “students overpowered a gunman,” “students ended the rampage by tackling him,” “the gunman was tackled by four male students before being arrested,” or “Students ended the rampage by confronting and then tackling the gunman, who dropped his weapon.”

In all, 72, stories described how the attacker was stopped without mentioning that the student heroes had guns.

Unfortunately, the coverage in this case was not unusual. In the other public school shootings where citizens with guns have stopped attacks, rarely do more than one percent of the news stories mention that citizens with guns stopped the attacks.

Many people find it hard to believe that research shows that there are 2 million defensive gun uses each year. After all, if these events were really happening, wouldn’t we hear about them on the news? But when was the last time you saw a story on the national evening news (or even the local news) about a citizen using his gun to stop a crime?

This misreporting actually endangers people’s lives. By selectively reporting the news and turning a defensive gun use story into one where students merely “overpowered a gunman” the media gives misleading impressions of what works when people are confronted by violence.

Research consistently shows that having a gun is the safest way to respond to any type of criminal attack, especially these multiple victim shootings.

John Lott is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime.”

January 26, 2002

“Gunner” posts Lott’s piece to rec.crafts.metalworking.

January 28, 2002

Ed Huntress observes that Lott failed to mention that the student who pointed the gun was actually a sheriff’s deputy.

Interesting. The Times-Dispatch makes no mention of Mikael in any article. And it turns out that Tracy is a sheriff’s deputy. Tracy, according to him, is the one who pointed the gun. The Observer wants money to read their archived articles, but the headlines and abstracts on this story look like a wirefeed-rip from the Times-Dispatch. They appear to be the same stories. Watch out for the New York Post. It isn’t the city’s birdcage liner for nothing. Half-told stories are their stock in trade.

Mary Rosh appears in rec.crafts.metalworking for the first time and posts:

Tracy was a former sheriff’s deputy. He had resigned a year before the shooting and apparently only held that position for a short time after graduating from college.

Ed Huntress fires back:

Not according to Buncombe County (NC) Chief Deputy Sheriff George Stewart. Tracy is currently a deputy.

Mary Rosh comes back with a quote from the Washington Post:

Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, two students who are also former police officers, helped subdue Odighizuwa until sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Ed Huntress demonstrates that he checks his facts for a Usenet posting more carefully than Lott did for his newspaper article.

I guess I didn’t make clear my source, Mary. I called George Stewart, Tracy’s boss at the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Dept., and talked to him myself. He’s a very pleasant gentleman, by the way.

After nearly 30 years as a writer and journalist I always try to go directly to the source. And I never, ever, parrot another journalist’s writings as fact. They’re too often wrong.

Then, Ed Huntress finds out more about the other student involved in stopping the shooting:

According to the stories that Lott refers to, Gross not only had a gun. He also was wearing a bulletproof vest…

Now, college-student-heroes who have guns in their gloveboxes are something to think about. College-student-heroes who have guns in their gloveboxes and bulletproof vests in their trunks are something else.

But wait…don’t call in your order yet…there’s more.

The article continues:

Mikael Gross, college-student-hero not only had a gun (under the driver’s seat, actually) and a bulletproof vest. He had handcuffs, which he slapped onto the shooter after he was tackled.

Yes, a college-student-hero, an ordinary armed citizen who was vigilant and ready with his handgun and bulletproof vest, was ready for anything. Even handcuffs. There was no mention in the article whether he had a riot helmet or C4, but this was one Minuteman college student, by gum.

Now, we’ve learned that the other ordinary college-student-hero was a sheriff’s deputy, but one has to wonder what kind of parties Mikael Gross goes to that he has a bulletproof vest and handcuffs in his trunk.

So I read on. According to the story Mary referred us to, Mikael Gross, too, is a cop:

“He worked as the director of police corps training at the N.C. Justice Academy in 1998 and 1999, he said, and the chief of police at Brevard College before heading to law school in August .”

“During breaks from law school, he works as a police officer in Grifton.”

John Lott is a disgrace to my profession. He used the facts to tell a lie, which is the work of a propagandist, not a journalist. The facts are that two armed men were among the students who tackled the shooter. The lie is that they are representative of ordinary citizens who arm themselves against such eventualities, and are proof of how the “liberal” press covers up this fact. The “ordinary citizens,” as Mr. Lott certainly knows, happen to be cops. Lies in the service of “larger truth,” no doubt…

Even Lott’s figures are misleading. Most of the stories he counts are actually edits of one AP wirestory. I read the original AP story. The writer quotes “local officials,” who gave the writer the account of the tackling. It looks like the AP writer didn’t interview Gross or Bridges, but only relied on the officials’ account. That’s one more example of abhorrent journalism, in my view, but it doesn’t tell the story that Lott implies. It tells of one half-fast story, told many times in different newspapers.

This all is typical of the _New York Post_, a disgusting, degenerate rag that has a rep for doing a slipshod, or nonexistent, job of checking its facts. The editorial dept. editor gave his or her stamp of approval to this piece of misleading trash. If he or she worked for me, and if I found out what I learned today, he/she would be fired tomorrow.

January 29, 2002

Ed Huntress is still annoyed with Lott

Gunner, you’re doing the same thing here that Lott did. No, a cop, or an ex-cop, is not an “ordinary student,” or an ordinary citizen in this context. Ordinary citizens don’t carry bulletproof vests or handcuffs around with them. That’s a very un-ordinary citizen.

In most contexts it wouldn’t matter. Here it does, because the thrust of Lott’s argument is that these “ordinary hero-students” are proof that we don’t need more cops, we need more armed citizens. That’s the implication, and you know it fully well. But they are cops. The truth of the matter makes a lie of his argument.

He hid part of the truth in order to support his case. That makes an honest journalist see red. He also hid the fact that most of the stories he complained about were actually one story, from a wire service, picked up and repeated. There was no vast conspiracy to keep it quiet. There was one piece of half-assed journalism.

To give you a parallel to your line of work, think of him as a machinery service man. You pay him to repair your noisy, worn-out geared-head lathe. He goes to work, you go out to lunch. When you come back the lathe is quiet. That’s because he put sawdust in the gearbox and didn’t tell you about it.

Then you find out about the sawdust later. “Hey,” he says. “You didn’t ask me how I quieted it down.” And he expects to be paid. He didn’t tell you an outright lie. He just hid part of the truth — the sawdust part.

That’s Lott’s argument: a cup of verbal sawdust. It makes me particularly furious because I happen to agree fully that ordinary citizens have a right to be armed, and that a couple of armed, ordinary citizens in this situation wouldn’t have been bad at all — although it’s probably true, as the young sheriff’s deputy in this case said in an interview, his “training took over”. It’s better if a cop is handy, but, if not, then I’ll go with the armed citizen.

Writers like Lott, to me in my profession, is like service men who pack gearboxes with sawdust, to you in yours. He reflects an ugly light on journalism. And, like the service man with his sawdust, who leaves a taint of deceit over all service men by his actions, Lott’s style of propaganda paints all journal writers with a taint of deceit. It’s because of writers like Lott that we become cynical about journalism in general.

Mary Rosh leaps to Lott’s defence again:

Where does Lott use the phrase “ordinary citizens” that you put quote marks around? Are you being accurate and properly representing your profession by doing this?

Ed Huntress replies:

Ah, some more sawdust goes into the gearbox, eh?

Mary, here are the words Lott uses to describe these two officers:

“The attack was stopped by two students who had guns in their cars…”

“…citizens with guns stopped the attacks.”

“…when was the last time you saw a story on the national evening news (or even the local news) about a citizen using his gun to stop a crime?”

They sound like “ordinary citizens” to me. And I can use quotes to identify my own summaries, thank you, as well as the words of someone else.

But here’s the crux of it. Lott says:

“This misreporting actually endangers people’s lives. By selectively reporting the news and turning a defensive gun use story into one where students merely “overpowered a gunman” the media gives misleading impressions….”

Indeed it does…as does Mr. Lott’s selectively avoiding the fact that these gun-toting “citizens” were law officers.

Do you think the fact they were officers just slipped his mind? Hmmm?

Mary Rosh posts:

If I said that Ed calls someone an “ordinary citizen,” that means you actually said that exact phrase. If you thought that you had a strong case, why is it necessary for you to misquote Lott?

January 30, 2002

Ed Huntress replies:

Jeez, Mary, what are you, a grammarian? Enough with the pedantry, already! You certainly recognize a figurative use of speech, which, in this case, is meant to highlight what Lott didn’t say, but implied. Sheesh.

Think of it as an attempt to represent, in text, Mr. Lott cutting a silent fart in public and then denying culpability. And don’t try to tell us that you were led astray by the quotation marks. The whole of Lott’s text was right there, fer chrissake.

As for your argument, it may be that you just don’t get it. Let me spell it out for you in simple terms:

  1. Some people believe that more armed citizens will reduce crime.
  2. Some other people believe that it won’t, but that more trained cops will reduce crime.
  3. Mr. Lott wrote an editorial in which he selected facts to imply (1), above.
  4. But the truth is that the facts say nothing about (1), although they could be used to support (2), because the players were trained cops.
  5. Therefore, Mr. Lott committed a deceit by omission.
  6. I hate writers who commit such deceits, regardless of what I think about their position.
  7. You appear to be willing to overlook such deceits if they support your position.

Is it clear now?

It doesn’t seem to be clear to Mary because she then says

You are the only one who has made things up. The press doesn’t like defensive gun use and they turn a clear case where people used guns to stop an attack in to a tackling incident. As Lott says, these stories actually endanger people’s lives because the stories mislead people on what works.

Papers from the Washington Post to the New York Times to some Virginia papers refer to the students as former law enforcement, yet for them it is just an oversight and for Lott you claim some type of fraud. given the conflicting news reports on this statement it isn’t even clear what is the truth on that point.

Ed Huntress replies:

Oooh, Mary. Your blatant biases are showing. Don’t get caught in a conservative town dressed like that. They’ll lock you up for indecent exposure.

Incidentally, three of the four guys who tackled the shooter were cops. ‘Just thought you’d like to know…

Yes, Lott is guilty of fraud. And I don’t have to rely on the conflicting news reports. I called one of the guy’s bosses on the phone and talked to him myself.

Once you learn how satisfying it is to get accurate facts, directly from the parties involved, or other direct source, you may actually begin to question your own biases. It’s a real eye-opener.

Mary defends Lott once more:

So if Lott relied on the news stories and didn’t call up the people involved, is that supposed to be fraud? You missed my earlier discussion, probably on purpose, but even if for the sake of argument you are correct on the facts, it is hard to claim someone is engaging in fraud if they are relying on the Washington Post and New York Times and local some Virginia Newspapers when they all make similar statements. If Lott stuck to those facts, which could be verified in the papers (i.e., there weren’t contradictions, just omissions), that would explain what was written. Alternatively, Man shot in thigh in stable condition the Washington Post and New York Times and local some Virginia Newspapers must have engaged in fraud also. In fact, they not only got the jobs wrong for these guys, but the out of state papers also got the facts of what happened wrong.

Ed Huntress replies:

Mary, there is no way that a published book author, article writer and editorialist would do that. It’s ‘way too dangerous to write political tracts for a large audience and not know PRECISELY what the facts are. In the articles he refers to there are several references to the law-enforcement relationships of both of the guys who had guns. Lott certainly would check that out.

The Lott you’re suggesting here would be a real dummy, or an amateur. He’s no dummy, and he’s no amateur. He’s quite subtle and sophisticated, from appearances.

You missed my earlier discussion, probably on purpose,

Listen to this, Mary, and listen real good: I don’t take such accusations lightly. I have read every one of your tracts in its tedious entirety. I have responded to every significant point you raised, probably to tedious excess myself. I do NOT intentionally ignore someone who addresses me in a message.

but even if for the sake of argument you are correct on the facts, it is hard to claim someone is engaging in fraud if they are relying on the Washington Post and New York Times and local some Virginia Newspapers when they all make similar statements. If Lott stuck to those facts, which could be verified in the papers (i.e., there weren’t contradictions, just omissions), that would explain what was written.

No, it doesn’t work that way. I wish Pete Albrecht would pipe up on this subject; he knows it well.

Firstly, at least two of those papers reported that the guys were cops, or recently cops, or something like that. Considering the case Lott was allegedly making, that’s a red flag for him. He had to sort out those references.

Beyond that, any experienced, published writer learns very quickly that the press, particularly the daily press, feeds on each others’ stories. If the Post says it, the Times certainly will try to trump it. If they can’t, they’ll parrot it. It’s the nature of the business.

Lott did not write a high-school essay. He’s playing you-bet-your-ass, in one of the biggest newspapers in America. Lott may be a propagandist, but he is not a fool.

…the Washington Post and New York Times and local some Virginia Newspapers must have engaged in fraud also. In fact, they not only got the jobs wrong for these guys, but the out of state papers also got the facts of what happened wrong.

That’s sloppy reporting, not fraud. They’re writing on daily deadlines. Lott had the luxury of writing an op-ed on no particular deadline.


February 1, 2002

Mary offers more information:

News Flash!!! I heard Tracy Bridges on Larry Elders’ radio show the other night (KABC in Los Angeles)and Tracy said that he had talked to over 50 reporters and he said that he just couldn’t believe how they reported the event. According to Tracy, he said that both he and Mikael Gross had pointed their guns at this Peter O. nut and that even though Tracy and Mikael had told this to all the media they still only printed that they had “subdued” or “tackled” the killer.

Your double standards amuse me no end. The Washington Post, New York Newsday, New York Times and other pieces that came out even a couple of days after the event still had all their facts wrong. Now it turns out that they talked to Tracy and Gross and still didn’t mention the facts. What is your explanation for that?

Also appearing on Larry Elder’s with Bridges was… John Lott.

February 2, 2002

Ed Huntress does some more fact checking

Yesterday I talked to one of the reporters who covered the event. There weren’t 50 reporters. There were at most a dozen reporters on the 16th, she said, including two AP reporters (Roger Alford and Chris Kahn). The other “reporters” showed up on the 17th. They were mostly journalism hangers-on: feature-story researchers, research staff from broadcasting, and so on. Most weren’t there to write news. What they were doing is a bit more complicated, and hardly worth explaining here.

But that’s not the key story. I also contacted AP, after I learned that many of the “stories” counted in Mr. Lott’s…er, statistics, were edits of the original AP story by Alford.

Here’s the important fact, which Tracy et al. probably don’t realize, since they aren’t familiar with the press: Alford filed his story at 7:41 PM on January 16th. He apparently hadn’t talked to Tracy yet. It isn’t clear if any reporters got to talk to Tracy on the 16th, or even if they knew there was any reason to talk to him. The State Police already had a spokesperson there; Alford got most of the story from the State Police spokesperson, who apparently didn’t say anything about the other guns. Alford did get an interview from one of the students involved, named Todd Ross, who also didn’t mention the guns. Ross apparently came into the courtyard after Odighizuwa already had his hands up. Here’s what Alford got from his interview:

“‘He came out and walked down on the sidewalk, had his hands up in the air with the gun. At some point I yelled his name and told him to drop the gun and to get on the ground,’ Ross said.

“Odighizuwa dropped the gun, and another student then confronted him and distracted him.”

“‘And then I ran across and tackled him,’ Ross said.

“Two or three other students then helped him subdue Odighizuwa.”

Mr. Ross apparently had an inflated view of his role in the affair. He may also not have known that Odighizuwa had his hands in the air because guns were pointed at him — there was a lot of confusion there and it’s anybody’s guess. I guess you would have to have been there.

Anyway, Alford filed that story and it made the morning editions of newspapers on the 17th. That one story is most of the “stories” that Lott counted in his tally of individual stories, from what I can tell. (I don’t have Lexus/Nexus but I did some hand-searching on a list of newspapers that covered the story.)

Meanwhile, Chris Kahn of AP tracked down Tracy and got the other part of the story. From that interview, Chris filed another story that included Tracy’s gun and the roles of the two other part-time/off-assignment police officers (the one not mentioned by Lott was Ted Besen, a cop from Wilmington, NC and the guy who actually slapped the cuffs on Odighizuwa). But Chris Kahn filed that story on the 17th. By that time, most of the newspapers had the breaking-news stories in bed or in print. They were on to the follow-up, human-interest stories about the victims, and about Odighizuwa. I didn’t find one example of Chris’s story being picked up, but I was only able to check fewer than 20 newspapers.

I’m sure there is more to unravel here, and I almost picked the story up again, because the plot is getting pretty thick. But the plot is about how a story gets squeezed by deadlines and the fact that news like this is instantly made stale by new developments — primarily the crying and whining of Odighizuwa in court, and human-interest stories about the people who were killed. That’s what AP and others filed the next day. It’s no surprise that Chris Kahn’s second filing on the initial event didn’t make the cut. That’s show biz.

There also is the pro-gun-professor-neglecting-to-mention-the-students-were- cops angle, and, if I’m guessing right about the radio show you mentioned, the right-wing-talkshow-talking-mouth-breeds-paranoia-about-the-press angle, and the college-professor-counts-one-story-dozens-of-times angle. But, in the end, there’s not going to be enough interest.

And so, my interest has waned, as well. It’s been nice talking to you, and it has been interesting to find, once again, that a politically-charged story has spun off into never-never land. But that’s no surprise. I’ve seen it happen many times before, when I wrote pro-gun editorials in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

It looks like Mary has lost this argument. But she has a secret weapon. That day, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram publishes Lott’s op-ed. The only significant change from the version published in the New York Post was the addition of these few words:

Many stories mentioned that the heroic students had law enforcement or military backgrounds,

February 3, 2002

Mary moderates her position

First, let me say the details that you provide are interesting. But I still disagree with some of your interpretations. The bottom line to me is that few people got the true story out. I also don’t remember Lott saying why there was a problem, but only that the news was not getting out and that it effects people’s perceptions of the costs and benefits of owning guns. I don’t see how any information that you have put together affect that point.

Ed Huntress stresses his point:

Nothing I’ve put together does affect that point. The point is, though, that it’s an equivocal point, which means that the story doesn’t make the point one way or another.

The “true” story includes the fact that the guys with the guns are/were officers of the law. Saying the whole truth, that officers of the law got their guns and pointed them at the shooter, who then dropped his own gun, does not relate to the costs and benefits of owning guns. It relates to the costs and benefits of having armed, trained law officers in our midst. But there’s nothing controversial or instructive about that. Nearly everyone would agree with you.

It says nothing about what would happen if those were ordinary students with guns. There’s no evidence in this case that has anything to do with that question. That is, unless you already believe that there are benefits of having more armed citizens, you think there’s a way you can use something in this story to help your case, and you then work backwards to the event and work forward again with your “proof” of a cause-and-effect relationship.

But that’s known as begging the question, a logical fallacy that most people recognize on its face, even without knowing how it’s defined. It’s everyday logic — common sense. You’d may as well shout into a storm.

As for what Bridges was “shocked” about or not, I don’t know so I can’t comment. It’s apparent, though, that every time I dig a little deeper into this story I uncover something that wasn’t said, or that someone didn’t know or understand, that influences the conclusion. I suspect that this story would unpeel like an onion, if it was interesting enough to keep chasing it. But it isn’t. It’s become too costly to go any further, and it appears that nothing will come of it.

February 4, 2002

Time for Mary to use her secret weapon:

Dear Ed:

Here is something that you might find interesting. The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram also ran Lott’s piece, though it appears to have a couple significant differences from the New York Post piece.

In particular: “Many stories mentioned that the heroic students had law enforcement or military backgrounds.” (Sixth paragraph from the end) Is it possible that the New York Post edited parts of Lott’s piece to make it fit the space available? If so, I think that you owe Lott an apology.

February 5, 2002

Apparently Ed Huntress replied, but the message did not get to Mary, or to the Google archive, so Mary repeated her message.

Ed Huntress replies:

Er, Mary, you already posted this message a couple of days ago, and I responded to it. Did you miss my response? If so, I’ll send it to you via email.

February 6, 2002

Mary wants Ed to call Lott:

I checked again and I can not find a response by you. If you posted one and I somehow simply can’t find it, I am sorry, but I and possibly others would be interested in seeing your response.

Finally, I am very curious about something. You have made a big deal about saying how necessary it is for a reporter to call up everyone involved to verify there facts. You have dismissed Lott for supposedly just relying on the media accounts for his opinion piece. Have you call up Lott? Since you have made such strong attacks on Lott, indeed calling him dishonest while saying that the press was simply dealing with deadlines, etc. and thus could be excused for their errors, it would appear that Lott would be the most important person for your investigation to call. What did Lott say when you called him?

Ed Huntress replies

I was checking facts, Mary, so I went to the sources of the facts. Lott is not a source of the facts. He’s just another writer interpreting the facts. There was no reason to call him. If I were writing a piece for publication, I would give him a call, firstly because I’d want quotes from him. Secondly, I’d give him the courtesy of a call if I was writing about him, unless I was doing some kind of strongly adversarial investigative journalism, like a political battle or a claim that a crime had been committed. But this is not such a case. This would be more like a review and a criticism, and it would warrant a civil exchange even though I might strongly criticize him in print. That’s the way it works. However, since you posted the longer version of his editorial from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, another interesting question occurred to me, which is how he feels about the editing that the Post did on his editorial. So I did give him a call on that point. I got his voice mail and I’m hopeful I’ll hear from him.

Mary Rosh responds

True you were checking facts and that is great that you would do that, but you were also accusing Lott of disinformation. You were making claims of intent and saying that Lott had more of a burden to get things right than the newspapers because he had more time. I think that the facts have supported Lott quite well in the end.

Ed Huntress finishes with

I talked to John Lott and learned that he hasn’t even seen the New York Post’s edited version of his editorial. He made some comments about it but I want to see if he has any further comments after he’s read it. I’ll let you know.

Summary

Why did Lott, after such an enormous discussion about the New York Post op-ed, claim not to have seen it? The most likely explanation is that the New York Post did not remove the reference to the students having a law enforcement background. There was only one significant difference between the two versions of the article (not a couple as Mary so artfully claims) and it is likely that Lott added those words so that Mary could win her argument with Ed Huntress. Note further that in April Lott published his article again in The American Enterprise. This version also did not mention that the students had a law enforcement background. Are we to believe that the New York Post and The American Enterprise just happened to make the same editorial changes? Furthermore, the American Enterprise version proves that the omission of the fact that the students were police officers was deliberate and not accidental.

If Lott had admitted to seeing the New York Post op-ed then it would have been plausible that someone could have pointed out the fact that he did not mention that the students were actually police officers. If he hadn’t even seen it, then Mary’s suggestion that the New York Post is to blame becomes more plausible.

Incidently, contrary to what Lott claimed in his article, the New York Times story did mention the defender’s gun:

Mr. Odighizuwa was subdued by three law students who were experienced police officers, the authorities said.

”We’re trained to run into the situation instead away from it,” said one of the three, Mikael Gross, 34, of Charlotte, N.C., who ran to his car for his bulletproof vest and service pistol before tackling the suspect.
Francis X. Clines The New York Times 17 January 2002, Page 18, Column 1

One additional point should be noted: the shooting actually stopped because the shooter ran out of ammunition:

Police said they do not know how many shots were fired, but by the time fellow students tackled Odighizuwa, the two magazine clips he had with him were empty. Each magazine could hold eight rounds.

One of the students who subdued Odighizuwa was Tracy Bridges, a 25- year-old sheriff’s deputy from Buncombe County, N.C., who is studying to become a lawyer.

“We went to get to class after 1 o’clock, and [student] Ted Besen and other students and I were in the classroom when we heard the first three shots,” Bridges said yesterday. “It sounded kind of muffled, and a few seconds later we heard the next round of shots, and a scream.

“Me and Ted and [student] Rob Sievers went out to look. A professor ran up the stairs and said, ‘Peter [Odighizuwa] has got a gun and he’s shooting.’ I ran back and told the class to get out. They went out the back way,” Bridges said.

“We went down, too, and Peter was in the front yard. I stopped at my vehicle and got a handgun, a revolver. Ted went toward Peter, and I aimed my gun at him, and Peter tossed his gun down.

“Ted approached Peter, and Peter hit Ted in the jaw. Ted pushed him back and we all jumped on,” Bridges said.
Richmond Times-Dispatch 18 January 2002 A-1

We should not downplay the role of Bridges, an armed deputy, in apprehending the shooter, but he did not stop the shooting. And Lott did not mention that the gun was empty, even though he was well aware that it was. (He refers specifically to the Richmond Times-Dispatch story.)

A later story by Rick Montgomery in the Kansas City Star gives a far more balanced account of the affair than Lott does:

The Star recently interviewed two students involved—Bridges and Besen. They gave differing accounts.

Bridges repeated that he pointed his weapon at Odighizuwa and ordered the suspect to put his own down, which he did.

According to Besen, the first student to tackle the suspect, nothing of the sort happened. He said Odighizuwa set down the gun and raised his arms—”like he was mocking everyone: ha, ha, what are you going to do now?”—before the students confronted him.

The two armed students had not yet arrived at the scene, Besen said: “Peter had no knowledge anyone had a gun.”

Virginia State Police confirmed Odighizuwa’s weapon was empty by then.

Police spokesman Stater said the armed students did assist after Besen and another student, Todd Ross, tackled the gunman. Bridges sat on the suspect while Gross, also armed, provided handcuffs he had gotten from his car.

But to Stater’s view, the biggest heroes were Besen and Ross—the unarmed men who lunged at Odighizuwa.

Alas, they weren’t the focus of attention when a writer and photographer for an NRA magazine came to the campus to interview the armed students.

Bridges said they took his picture; NRA spokesman Gregory said, “It was nobody from our staff.”

It’s all gotten way too political for Besen.

“I’m a gun advocate, but it really irritates me that people are trying to use this as a (political) plug,” he said. “The NRA is minimizing the tragedy that happened here. I don’t appreciate it.”

Comments

  1. #1 racerman
    January 30, 2003

    This is amazing. Objective analysis of facts generates passion, which obstructs objectivity.