Written Friday, August 08, 2003, in The National Center for Policy Analysis

Media Bias Against Guns is Half Cocked

The media bias against guns hurts society and costs lives, says John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute. According to Lott, media reports on private citizens who use guns to stop crimes are scarce despite the fact that approximately 2.3 million defensive gun uses occurred in 2001.

Lott searched major media sources throughout the year 2001 to analyze their coverage of gun-related stories and found that:

Out of the nationís three largest newspapers (USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times), only the Times carried a story about defensive gun use. USA Today contained 5,660 words on crimes committed with guns and not a single word on defensive gun use.

Less than one percent of defensive gun use stories ran outside the local coverage area.
Polls about gun control laws are also often implicitly slanted toward the notion that stricter gun control laws either reduce or have no impact on violent crime. Lott discovered that out of 17 national and seven state surveys, none asked its respondents if they thought gun control might increase crime.

The media also focuses inordinate amounts of time on accidental shootings, especially of children, says Lott, even though "accidental shooters overwhelmingly are adults with long histories of arrest for violent crimes, alcoholism, suspended or revoked drivers licenses, and involvement in car crashes."

Book Review on The Bias Against Guns
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Some data not found at www.johnlott.org:

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