Richard Poe on the Merced murders

In his book The Seven Myths of Gun Control, Richard Poe has an extensive account of the murders. He is much more careful with his facts than the other pro-gun writers who hang an attack on safe storage laws on the tragedy. He interviewed the mother of the victims and contradicts claims claims by Suprynowicz and Lott that

“the sensible girl ran for where the family guns were stored. But they were locked up tight.”

According to Poe, the gun was not locked, but stored unloaded on a high shelf. And she did not run to where the gun was stored. The killer was outside her bedroom door so she sensibly went out the window to get help.

Unfortunately, while presenting a more accurate account of the incident, Poe was misled by Lott about the media coverage, writing that Lott said that:

“all mention of guns and gun laws had been surgically removed from the story by the newswires. Lott says that an early account of the bloodbath distributed by one news service mentioned that there were guns in the house, that the children were trained and ready to use them, and that the guns had been put out of reach, in order to comply with the law. But subsequent accounts failed to include this information.”

The news story that mentioned the gun laws was not distributed and then suppressed by a newswire. It appeared in the Fresno Bee, not some wire service. Nor was it an “early account”. The murders occured on the 23rd. This story appeared on the 26th and was one of the last stories printed about the murders. I did a Factiva search on stories published in the week after the murders, and almost all appeared on the 24th and the 25th, with none at all after the 26th. Just like his claims about the shootings at the Appalachian School of Law, Lott’s claim that the media is deliberately suppressing facts is not supported by the evidence.

I left a comment on Poe’s blog, suggesting that he had been misled. In his response, Poe repeats the long debunked claim that my criticism of Lott is somehow meant as a payback for Bellesiles. He also insists that the “early account” reported by a news service is the August 26 Fresno Bee story, even though that did not appear in a wire service and appeared after all the wire service reports, and claims that there was a cover-up. As noted above, the evidence does not support his claims.