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Old 02-01-2004, 21:27   #1
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Post FYI- News Artical -Fire Arms

Why People Fear Guns

Friday, January 02, 2004

By John R. Lott Jr.



People fear guns. Yet, while guns make it easier for bad things to happen, they also make it easier for people to protect themselves.

With the avalanche of horrific news stories about guns over the years, it's no wonder people find it hard to believe that, according to surveys (one I conducted for 2002 for my book, "The Bias Against Guns," and three earlier academic surveys by different researchers published in such journals as the Journal of Criminal Justice) there are about two million defensive gun uses (search) each year; guns are used defensively four times more frequently than they are to commit crimes.

The rebuttal to this claim always is: If these events were really happening, wouldn't we hear about them on the news? Many people tell me that they have never heard of an incident of defensive gun use. There is a good reason for their confusion. In 2001, the three major television networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- ran 190,000 words' worth of gun-crime stories on their morning and evening national news broadcasts. But they ran not a single story mentioning a private citizen using a gun to stop a crime.

The print media was almost as biased: The New York Times ran 50,745 words on contemporaneous gun crimes, but only one short, 163-word story on a retired police officer who used his gun to stop a robbery. For USA Today, the tally was 5,660 words on gun crimes versus zero on defensive uses.

Just take some of the 18 defensive gun uses that I found covered by newspapers around the country during the first 10 days of December:

-- Little Rock, Ark: After the assailant attacked him and his son-in-law with a poker, a 64-year-old minister shot a man dead on church grounds. The attacker had engaged in a string of assaults in an apparent drug-induced frenzy.

-- Corpus Christi, Texas: A woman shot to death her ex-husband, who had broken into her house. The woman had a restraining order against the ex-husband.

-- Tampa Bay, Fla.: A 71-year-old man, Melvin Spaulding, shot 20-year-old James Moore in the arm as Moore and two friends were beating up his neighbor, 63-year-old George Lowe. Spaulding had a concealed weapons permit.

--Bellevue, Wash.: A man shot a pit bull that lunged to within a foot of him and his family. Police said the man's family had been repeatedly menaced in the past by the dog.

-- Jonesboro, Ga.: A father out walking with his 11-year-old daughter was attacked by an armed robber. The police say the father shot the attacker in self-defense and will not face charges.

-- Houston, Texas: Andrea McNabb shot two of the three men who tried to rob her plumbing business on the afternoon of Dec. 1.

-- Philadelphia, Pa: A pharmacy manager fatally shot one robber and wounded another after the robbers threatened to kill workers at the store. The wounded robber escaped.

Part of the reason defensive gun use isn't covered in the media may be simple news judgment. If a news editor faces two stories, one with a dead body on the ground and another where a woman brandished a gun and the attacker ran away, no shots fired, almost anyone would pick the first story as more newsworthy. In 2002, some 90 percent of the time when people used guns defensively, they stopped the criminals simply by brandishing the gun.

But that doesn't explain all the disparity in coverage. It doesn't, for example, explain why, in some heavily covered public middle and high school shootings, the media mentioned in only 1 percent or fewer of their stories that the attacks were stopped when citizens used guns to stop the attacks.

The unbalanced reporting is probably greatest in cases where children die from accidental gunshots fired by another child. Most people have seen the public-service ads showing the voices or pictures of children between the ages of four and eight, never over the age of eight, and the impression is that there is an epidemic of accidental deaths involving small children. The exaggerated media attention given these particularly tragic deaths makes these claims believable.

The debate over laws requiring that people lock up their guns in their home usually concentrates on the deaths of these younger children. The trigger and barrel locks mandated by these laws are often only considered reliable for preventing the access to guns by children under age 7.

The truth is that in 1999, for children whose ages correspond with the public service ads, 31 children under the age of 10 died from an accidental gunshot and only six of these cases appear to have involved another child under 10 as the culprit. Nor was this year unusual. Between 1995 and 1999, only five to nine cases a year involved a child wounding or killing another child with a gun. For children under 15, there were a total of 81 accidental gun deaths of all types in 1999. Any death is tragic, but it should be noted that more children under five drowned in bathtubs or plastic water buckets than from guns.

The gun deaths are covered extensively as well as prominently, with individual cases getting up to 88 separate news stories. In contrast, when children use guns to save lives, the event might at most get one brief mention in a small local paper. Yet these events do occur.

--In February, 2002, the South Bend, Indiana Tribune reported the story of an 11-year-old boy who shot and killed a man holding a box cutter to his grandmother's neck. Trained to use a firearm, the boy killed the assailant in one shot, even though the man was using his grandmother as a shield.

--In May, 2001 in Louisianna, a 12-year-old girl shot and killed her mother's abusive ex-boyfriend after he broke into their home and began choking her mother. The story appeared in the New Orleans Advocate.

--In January, 2001, in Angie, Louisianna, a 13 year-old boy stopped for burglars from entering his home by firing the family's shotgun, wounding one robber and scaring off the other three. The four men were planning on attacking the boy's mother--an 85-pound terminal cancer patient--in order to steal her pain medication.

As a couple of reporters told me, journalists are uncomfortable printing such positive gun stories because they worry that it will encourage children to get access to guns. The whole process snowballs, however, because the exaggeration of the risks--along with lack of coverage of the benefits--cements the perceived risks more and more firmly in newspaper editors and reporters minds. This makes them ever more reluctant to publish such stories.

While all this coverage affects the overall gun-control debate, it also directly shapes perceptions of proposed legislation. Take the upcoming debate over renewing the so-called assault-weapons ban. This past summer CNN repeatedly showed a news segment that starts off with a machine gun firing and claims that the guns covered by the ban do much more damage than other guns. CNN later attempted to clarify the segment by saying that the real problem was with the ammunition used in these guns. But neither of these points is true. The law does not deal at all with machine guns (though the pictures of machine guns sure are compelling)--and the "assault weapons" fire the same bullets at the same rate, and accomplish the exact same thing, as other semi-automatic guns not covered by the ban.

The unbalanced presentation dominates not just the media but also government reports and polling. Studies by the Justice and Treasury Departments have long evaluated just the cost guns impose on society. Every year, Treasury puts out a report on the top 10 guns used in crime, and each report serves as the basis for dozens of news stories. But why not also provide a report--at least once--on the top 10 guns used defensively? Similarly, numerous government reports estimate the cost of injuries from guns, but none measures the number of injuries prevented when guns are used defensively.

National polls further reinforce these biased perceptions. Not one of the national polls (as far as I was able to find) gave respondents an option to mention that gun control might actually be harmful. Probably the least biased polls still give respondents just two choices: supporting "tougher gun-control legislation to help in the fight against gun crime" or "better enforcement of current laws." Yet, both options ultimately imply that gun control is good.

But if we really want to save lives, we need to address the whole truth about guns--including the costs of not owning guns. We never, for example, hear about the families who couldn't defend themselves and were harmed because they didn't have guns.

Discussing only the costs of guns and not their benefits poses the real threat to public safety as people make mistakes on how best to defend themselves and their families.

John R. Lott, Jr., a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "The Bias Against Guns" (Regnery 2003).
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Old 04-01-2004, 04:58   #2
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Sure creates some thoughts. I was wondering around blog world the other day, and came across a link to an article from Britian. Seems there was a poll about what law Britians would most like implemented and a M. P. would see it into law. And the winner was that the Brits would most like to defend their homes againist intruders by any means necessary. The M. P. was agast. Called the request " bloodthirsty". Said people would use the law as an excuse to brutilize burglars. The M.P.s' decided to go with the second place request instead.
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Old 04-01-2004, 07:25   #3
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British burglars, like their victims, are subjects of the queen & are therefore (apparently) protected from lawfully inflicted "brutality". WHAUGHT ?

I'd have to agree with delmarrey's post, mere access to a firearm has saved my bacon more than once. Four times that I can think of as a private citizen & only once reported/recorded because an arrest occurred as a result. Contrary to the oft-asserted claim that firearms inevitably escalate violence, my own experience is that they suppress it.

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Old 04-01-2004, 10:27   #4
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News article

Well I have to admit that it is interesting reading and I agree with the right to defend yourself and property. With regards to news articles I always find that when I know something about the subject the article has a lot of mistakes, so I do not believe everthing I read. The arcticle mentions a minister, who you would assume has read the 10 commandments, killing someone, about 13 year olds taking the law in to their own hands, of many deaths. This is not a progressive civilized society if these actions are the norm. Something is going wrong here. Logic might lead you to believe that more guns would equal more deaths. As long as it is the bad guys ?? It sounds a bit like the wild West which I believe was " tamed " with a reduction of guns and law and order. But all of this applies to US society, and in my first post I mentioned that maybe we should not take our views with us when we travel to other places. Those places that have a piracy or gun problem should be avoided. If you travel to my home port of Seahouses in NE England you most definately have no need for a gun. BC Mike C
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Old 04-01-2004, 13:51   #5
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Every place is different!

One has to be able to make the proper judgment if they're going to posses a weapon. The problem is most criminals posses a weapon to take control rather than defend. And in the US it is a felony to posses a weapon if you've been convicted. And yet they still get guns. So if only the criminals have the guns, then we're in trouble. The scale has to lean towards the law-abiding side. I've been in countries were guns are strictly prohibited and the people still have the guns. And Canada is one of them.

Here in my neighborhood, much like Port Seahouses, the crime rate is almost zero. But I can drive down the road here about two miles and I'd have to have a guard dog or something to protect the property. And the reason being is that we have our own police force and they know most everyone. Anyone passing through our little community that looks suspicious is watched and/or pulled over if speeding, runs a stop or whatever. So it goes to show that a good police force presents has a lot to do with the criminal level in areas. Criminals hang out in areas that are un-patrolled or where the police don't care.

When I was in Vancouver, BC a couple of years ago. My wife's new car was broken into. We almost caught the guy ourselves. I called the police and they wouldn't even come to the scene. They told me I had to go to the station or go online to file a report. http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/police/ What kind of police force is that? They could have dusted for the guy's fingerprints, at least. It's no wonder there is so much crime in Vancouver, that's reported anyway.

You just can't take away the guns and think they're gone. I could manufacture guns, cannons or even rockets right out here in my garage if I want to. With the technology today bombs are more effective then most guns. There was a pizza delivery guy here in the US, just recently, that was fit with an explosive collar. And was told to go rob a bank, and if he didn't the collar would blow up. Well, the pizza guy was caught by the police and the collar blew up shortly after.

So guns are just a tiny little bit of the problem in the world right now.
It's society and it's attitude towards fellow man that needs to be changed, not the gun laws. People need to be taught to be more conservative, not so liberal where anything goes.
People’s attitudes and lack of discipline are the problems.
It only takes one match to burn down a forest, but it takes years to grow it back. And that's what is happening to life today, it's getting burned down by the careless and selfishness. "Have it your way." You deserve better." "Be your own boss." "Take a brake." "Call the union." "Me, Myself and I" These are the motto’s that our minds are flooded with these days, and not just in the US. It's worldwide. And then there is the "ratical" Muslems.

BTW. The 10 commandments seem to be misquoted a lot, much like the first amendment of the US Constitution. As Jesus stated in Matthew 19:18 "Thou shalt do no MURDER." referring to the Ten Commandments. Murder is a different word than kill. In the old Hebrew "Ratsach" Which means: to dash to pieces, i.e. kill (a human being), espc. to murder:-put to death, slay. And self defence is not murder!

And, we do have an old saying here in the US. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." And that applies to opinions as well. World travelers are usually wise people keeping their mouth shut when in foreign ports.

Regards.........................._/)
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Old 13-01-2004, 01:10   #6
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Firearms ownership is very restricted in OZ, about the only guns you can own privately are single shot shotguns and bolt action rifles with restricted clip sizes, this is accompanied by licencing that includes gun safes and severe penalties for breaking these laws. This has been a recent development (about 8 years ago) prior to that we seemed to be following the US model and gun ownership was increasing particularly in the auto style firearms after a tragic incident the current administration embarked on a gun buy back program. At first there was a bit of resistance (even Moses came down off the mountain and talked about his cold dead hands) but after the dust settled and a few years have passed the statistics speak for themselves. Overall death by firearms has fallen by about 75% pa since the new laws were enacted of course crimminals still have guns but your chances of being killed or injured by them is really remote. Do people get murdered? Yes they do just about anything can be a leathal weapon, so they are probably right guns don't kill people, people do. In OZ in the last 8 years or so the suicide rate has fallen by around 50% and has been directly attributed to the reduction in availability of firearms.
Am I pro gun I dont think so.
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Old 13-01-2004, 16:07   #7
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OZ and Guns

I view this as a good news story. Reasonable people making reasonable decisions will win out in the end. If the numbers back this up so much the better. One of the main problems for a lot of countries is how to manage the aggressiveness in youth, which can remain to adulthood. I believe God invented rugby for just this purpose. I will wager that the countries that have the majority of kids playing rugby will have a lower rate of violent crime and gun use. BC Mike C
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Old 26-01-2004, 23:48   #8
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BC Mike C You may be right, I think that the increasing violence world wide is largely due to a shift in attiudes, values and a loss of community resposibility. Sadly the proud rugby tradition in OZ did not help us last year as we lost the world cup to England, much to the delight of my english receptionist who I had to buy 3 bottles of champers for and who told me that they tasted a bit bitter as they were made on sour grapes. Gratefully we beat the Kiwis and I was able to recoup my losses.
Shane
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