In Lott’s latest piece he is once more complaining that the media doesn’t report defensive gun use. Mark Wilson intervened to try to stop a shooting rampage in Texas. Unfortunately, the shooter was wearing body armour and Wilson was shot and killed. The police eventually killed the shooter (full story).
Lott concedes that Wilson’s bravery was widely reported, but also writes:
For example, in about 30 percent of the multiple victim public school shootings that have captivated Americans’ attention starting in 1997, people used guns to stop the attacks before uniformed police were able to arrive on the scene. Few people know about these cases because only about one percent of the news stories on these cases mention how the attacks were stopped.
Lott is referring to these three cases:
- Pearl, Mississippi
- Joel Myrick used a pistol to capture Luke Woodham as he was escaping from the scene of his shooting rampage at a high school.
- Edinboro, Pennsylvania
- James Strand pointed his shotgun at Andrew Wurst and made him drop his pistol after Wurst had fled from a school dance where he had shot several people.
- Appalachian School of Law
- Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, two armed, off-duty police officers, helped capture Peter Odighizuwa as he was leaving the school where he had killed three people.
Lott is wrong to say that these people used guns to stop the attacks. In all three cases the shooter had already stopped and was trying to leave the scene of the crime. In the last case, the defenders’ guns did not have much of a role since Odighizuwa was out of ammunition, had put his gun down and had to be physically tackled. On his blog, Lott even claims that
the Tyler, Texas attack that was stopped by Mark Wilson.
Lott’s one percent number is also misleading. There is no reason for most of the stories about the shootings to mention how the shooter was captured. For example, a story about the funeral of one of the victims or a news brief would obviously not cover this. A realistic examination for bias would look only at stories about the capture and see if they mentioned the defenders’ guns. Even this would not be conclusive, since the reporter could have talked to a witness that was not aware of the gun use. I did a detailed analysis of the hundreds of stories on the Appalachian School of Law and found that at most there was one biased story.
Lott’s article continues:
In the book, The Bias Against Guns, Bill Landes of the University of Chicago Law School and I examine multiple-victim public shootings in the United States from 1977 to 1999 and find that when states passed right-to-carry laws, these attacks fell by 60 percent. Deaths and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings fell on average by 78 percent.
One of the arguments Lott uses to attack Ayers and Donohue’s work refuting Lott’s more-guns-less-crime claim is that A&D’s work did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal. But here Lott is citing work that did not appear in any kind of journal, peer-reviewed or otherwise. What’s more there has been a peer-reviewed journal paper on carry laws and concealed carry. Duwe, Kovandzic and Moody found virtually no support for the notion that concealed carry laws reduce mass public shootings. They were unable to replicate the results of Lott and Landes.
Many people find it hard to believe that 18 national surveys by academics as well as national polling organizations show that there are 2 million defensive gun uses each year.
What are these “18 national surveys”? Well, numbers 1 to 14 are the surveys listed in table 1 of Kleck and Gertz. Trouble is, if you look at the table, two of the surveys don’t give any estimate and three aren’t national surveys. Less obvious is the fact that the estimates were produced by combining the results with information from Klecks’s own survey. Only four of the surveys give independent measures of defensive gun use: Kleck’s NSDS: 2.5 million DGUs, Hart: 650,000, Mauser: 600,000, Tarrance: 300,000. Survey 15 is the NSPOF which estimates 23 million (twenty-three million—not a typo) DGUs. Survey 16 is from Hemenway, Azreal and Miller. Lott falsely claims that this survey yields an estimate of 2 million DGUs a year when actually it is 400,000 a year. Survey 17 is Lott’s own 2002 survey. Lott claims this indicates 2.3 million DGUs per year, but he screwed up the calculations. And survey 18? That’s the one that exists only in Lott’s head. Yes, he’s still citing it. Lott is incorrigible.
Lott does not mention the results of the NCVS which gives numbers varying from 50,000 to 150,000. The NAS Panel on Firearms and Violence could not reconcile the wildly varying estimates and decided that more research was needed to find out how many defensive guns uses there were each year.
Lott complains about the stories that did not mention Wilson’s gun use, writing:
This misreporting actually endangers people’s lives. By selectively reporting the news and turning a defensive gun use story into one that merely says “police shot him dead,” the media give misleading impressions of what actions saved the lives of people confronted by violence.
Reality check. Wilson’s defensive gun use got him killed. He did not, despite Lott’s claim, stop the killer. Reporting the full story is likely to discourage defensive gun use.
In any case, Lott’s whole premise is pretty silly. The media reports deaths caused with cars all the time, but rarely reports the life saving uses of cars. Is this a bias against cars?