John R. Lott,Jr.
Gun Control Expert

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Copyright © 2018  Barry M. Baker  
It is usually pretty hard to definitively
identify media bias. Often pressed for
time, reporters are just unaware of
opposing opinions or facts. And there is
no way for readers to tell what
information has been left out. But an
Associated Press article, which appeared
in hundreds of papers from the Los
Angeles Times to the Houston Chronicle,
provided a unique peek at how the media
selectively picks anti-gun information in
order to push for gun control.

The Associated Press article edited-down
a 441-word version of a longer, 1,000-
word article that appeared in the
Indianapolis Star and a quote from the
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. While the
original articles in the Star and Journal
Gazette were balanced, the AP cut down
the piece by systematically excluding one
side of the argument — any information
that concealed handgun permit holders
are law-abiding and don’t pose a risk to

The AP article was concerned with  
Indiana’s decision to allow legislators and
staff to legally carry concealed handguns
inside the state Capitol. It’s the 21st
state to officially allow carrying of
handguns in some fashion at the Capitol.
The Star gave a little more information,
noting that Indiana is one of just two
states that restricts concealed-carry to
lawmakers and their staffs when inside
the Capitol. The other 19 states allow
permitted citizens to carry in a wide
variety of places.

The AP included quotes from four people.
“It’s a constitutional right,” said
Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas, one of
the new law's sponsors. “Everyone’s
right to protection should be recognized.”

The other three people went on record as
concerned about the dangers of allowing
civilians to have guns in the state capitol.

“The possibility of the presence of
firearms during tense personnel
situations would worry human resources
professionals,” said Christopher
Schrader, government affairs director for
Indiana State Council of Society of
Human Resource Management.

Republican House Majority Leader Matt
Lehman understood the desire to have
guns for self-defense, but supported
limitations on people carrying because, he
said, in “confrontational [situations]
someone might respond irrationally.”

The AP article concluded with an ominous
quote from Democratic Rep. Phil
GiaQuinta. The representative was
worried about permit holders
“intimidating” others and that a permit
holder may misuse his gun because
“tempers can fly at night.”

Is it reasonable to be concerned that
people may misuse their guns? Certainly.
But only the original article in the
Indianapolis Star provided another
perspective on these concerns. It cited a
report by the Crime Prevention Research
Center, an organization that I head:

   On state government grounds across
the country, the Crime Prevention
Research Center hasn’t found any
instances of injuries due to firearms….

   The Crime Prevention Research Center
has tracked only two instances in the
nation where a handgun misfired in a
statehouse and a handful of instances
where lawmakers temporarily misplaced
their weapons.

The AP also ignored that the Journal
Gazette cited the same Crime Prevention
Research Center report to note how rare
any problems were. The Journal Gazette
went so far as to note my organization’s
“goal is to provide an objective and
accurate scientific evaluation of the costs
and benefits of gun ownership.”

Could space limitations explain the AP’s
decision to only use quotes that point to
potential dangers from law-abiding
people carrying concealed handguns? The
AP could have easily replaced one of the
quotes with this information. The three
people’s quotes took 53, 66, and 52
words, respectively. The entire quote
about the Crime Prevention Search
Center took only 52 words.

Instead, the AP pushed only the narrative
that concealed handgun permit holders
pose a danger to others.

But states have had concealed carry laws
for decades. Six states even allow
concealed carrying in state capitols
without permits, and eight states allow
people to openly carry their guns. There
have been zero reported problems with
non-legislators and non-staff being able
to carry on statehouse grounds.

And permit holders are extremely law-
abiding. While the U.S. population
commits misdemeanors and felonies at a
rate 37 times higher than police, police
are convicted of misdemeanors and
felonies at about six times the average
rate for concealed handgun permit
holders in Florida and Texas.

The Associated Press has quite a reach.
Its article also created a misimpression
for at least some Canadians. Based on
the AP article, Russell Wangersky wrote a
piece for 39 Canadian newspapers about
the dangers posed by permitted
concealed handgun holders. I contacted
Wangersky after I noticed that he had
accidentally confused Illinois and Indiana,
and, unlike the AP, he was honest
enough to update his piece with this note:

The error was not without value — I
received a note from the president of the
Crime Prevention Research Center, John
Lott, not only pointing out that mistake,
but suggesting that I hadn’t told the
whole story, in that in the 20 other
states that allow the practice, there have
not been any recorded weapons injuries
or deaths as a result. Every piece of a
debate informs the result.

The debate on guns would be very
different if the national news media would
report on some of the dozens of mass
public shootings that have been stopped
by concealed handgun permit holders.
The media would also change public
opinion if it reported on how virtually all
mass public shootings take place in areas
where citizens are banned from
possessing firearms for protection.

Rarely is there such clear evidence of
biased self-censorship by a news
organization. The AP portrayed concealed
handgun permit holders as a danger to
others while editing out information
showing that no such danger exists.
The AP provides another
example of how media
pushes an anti-gun

December 3, 2017, at The Hill

By John R. Lott, Jr.
See all of John's Op/Eds at:
President of Crime Prevention
Research Center
- CPRC was founded
by Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., an economist
and a world recognized expert on guns
and crime.  Lott has held research or
teaching positions at various academic
institutions including the University of
Chicago, Yale University, the Wharton
School of the University of Pennsylvania,
Stanford University, and Rice University,
and was the chief economist at the
United States Sentencing Commission
during 1988-1989. He is currently a
contributor to The Hill newspaper and a
Fox News columnist.  He holds a Ph.D. in
economics from UCLA.

Lott is a prolific author for both academic
and popular publications. He has
published over 100 articles in peer-
reviewed academic journals and written
nine books, including “More Guns, Less
Crime,” “The Bias Against Guns,” and
“Freedomnomics.” His most recent books
are “Dumbing Down the Courts: How
politics keeps the smartest judges off the
bench” and “The War on Guns.”

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman noted:
“John Lott has few equals as a perceptive
analyst of controversial public policy
issues.” He has been one of the most
productive and cited economists in the
world (during 1969 to 2000 he ranked
26th worldwide in terms of quality
adjusted total academic journal output,
4th in terms of total research output,
and 86th in terms of citations). Among
economics, business and law professors
his research is currently the 28th most
downloaded in the world. He is also a
frequent writer of op-eds.

Lott can be reached at