In chapter 7 of The Bias Against Guns, where Lott argues that “safe storage” laws cause increases in violent crime, he quotes from an op-ed:
Jessica Lynne Carpenter is 14 years old. She knows how to shoot … Under the new “safe storage” laws being enacted in California and elsewhere, parents can be held criminally liable unless they lock up their guns when their children are home alone … so that’s just what law-abiding parents John and Tephanie Carpenter had done…. [The killer], who was armed with a pitchfork … had apparently cut the phone lines. So when he forced his way into the house and began stabbing the younger children in their beds, Jessica’s attempts to dial 9-1-1 didn’t do much good. Next, the sensible girl ran for where the family guns were stored. But they were locked up tight…. The children’s great-uncle, the Rev. John Hilton, told reporters: “If only (Jessica) had a gun available to her, she could have stopped the whole thing. If she had been properly armed, she could have stopped him in his tracks.” Maybe John William and Ashley would still be alive, Jessica’s uncle said.
But the most interesting thing in the talk was information, not about firearms but about reporting bias. There was a news story a few months back from (I think) Merced California, about someone who broke into a house containing five children, killed two (with a pitchfork) and wounded two others. Apparently the original news story from the local paper, carried by the wire service, included the fact that while he was breaking in the eldest child, a fourteen year old girl with experience in target shooting, went to her parents’ bedroom, got out their handgun–and was unable to use it because of the trigger lock that her father had put on in obedience to a recent state law.
The interesting point was that, according to John, that part of the story was cut out by every newspaper in the state, aside from the Fresno Bee (I think) which is where the original appeared.”
Later, however, Friedman discovered that Lott’s story was not true and corrected it in this Usenet posting:
It’s a good story, but as far as I have been able to determine it isn’t true. After I heard it , I tried to locate the news stories. As far as I can tell, the account my source had given (in a public lecture) and had gotten from someone else confused two different news stories.
The original story on the shooting had nothing about the girl trying to get at her parents’ handgun, and it sounded from the sequence of events as though that would have been impractical. A later story, based on an interview with a relative, put some of the blame on gun control laws, I think specifically safe storage laws. So the other newspapers were not cutting out information from the original story–merely repeating what the original story said without adding anything from the later story. And what was in the later story was a lot less damning than in the account I heard.
Now, when Lott first presented the false story a couple of years ago, he might have just been very careless with his facts and honestly believed it to be true, but he must know by now that it is untrue. Why did he present it again in The Bias Against Guns?