Posted: July 5, 2003 at

Defensive use of guns underreported
New book explores media's failure to cover positive firearm stories

By Jon Dougherty
© 2003

A noted defender of the Second Amendment has authored a new book contending that much of the news coverage of the mainstream media is slanted in favor of gun control.

John Lott Jr. , resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research , has authored the book "The Bias Against Guns – Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control is Wrong."

"When I had done my previous work on guns ("More Guns, Less Crime"; 1998), it struck me when I was talking to people how frequently they said they had never heard of a defensive gun use," he told WorldNetDaily.

He also believes much of the debate over guns is based too much on emotion, "that facts don't matter," he said. "I think that's wrong. Facts matter a lot, but you have to think about them much more broadly than simply looking at numbers."

The media conditions many to oppose guns because reporting of incidents when firearms are used negatively is so much more prevalent than coverage of when guns protect lives and property, which is estimated by researchers to be more than 2 million times a year – most never involving the firing of shots.

"Part of what I try to do in the book is to see how balanced [media] coverage has been," Lott said. "I was shocked at how imbalanced it was."

Many of the national morning and evening network news shows in 2001 had "about 190,000 words of reporting on gun-crimes stories," he said, "but during that entire year, there was no mention of using guns [for protection] or self-defense."

Lott also discusses in his book government funding of gun-control "propaganda."

"I read all of these [government] reports when they come out," he said. "I can't find one single government report that tries to measure the benefit of guns."

"Every year the government publishes a report listing the top ten guns used in crime. Why not have a report listing the top ten guns used in self-defense?" Lott says. "What about a report Ö on the benefits of injuries that were prevented by people who used a gun?"

The former Yale professor, in his new book, also discussed the elevation of crime in England and Australia from gun bans.

"If my research convinces me of anything," he says, "when you ban guns Ö it's going to be the most law-abiding people who obey these rules and not the criminals. The problem you face is that if you disarm law-abiding citizens relative to criminals, you're going to see increases in violent crime rather than drops."

Book Review on The Bias Against Guns
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The End of Myth: An Interview with Dr. John Lott

Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

An interview with John R. Lott, Jr. author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws

Some data not found at

Updated Media Analysis of Appalachian Law School Attack

Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been added to Nexis:

There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use increase from 2 to 3 now.

Journal of Legal Studies paper on spoiled ballots during the 2000 Presidential Election

Data set from USA Today, STATA 7.0 data set

"Do" File for some of the basic regressions from the paper