John R. Lott,Jr.
Gun Control Expert

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Copyright © 2019  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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 johnrlott@crimeresearch.org.