Article published Friday, May 11, 2007, at Columbus Dispatch (Ohio).

Conceal-carry was factor in stopping attack

By John R. Lott Jr.

Michael Holloway's Tuesday letter "Little evidence guns make campus safer," responding to an earlier op-ed, was filled with factual errors and misleading statements. Holloway claimed that it was "police officers, not packin' youngsters" who stopped the attack at the Appalachian Law School in 2002.

After the evidentiary hearing in which the killer pleaded guilty, The Washington Post wrote on Feb. 28, 2004, "Odighizuwa was subdued without incident by armed students." As their main witness for that hearing, the prosecutors had put on the stand Michael Gross, one of the two students who retrieved their guns from their cars to stop the attack.

Before going to law school, both Gross and Tracy Bridges, the other student to use his gun, had been deputy sheriffs in North Carolina, but that gave them no special privileges in Virginia. Maybe it should have.

No one has claimed that Gross or Bridges, in their mid-20s, were "packin' youngsters." As to the October 1997 shooting spree at a high school in Pearl, Miss., the shooting stopped well before the killer "heard sirens." Joel Myrick, an assistant principal and a former Marine, retrieved a gun from his car and physically immobilized the shooter for about five minutes before police arrived.

The killer was indeed "driving away" from the scene when Myrick stopped him, but Holloway doesn't mention that the killer was headed to continue his attack at the middle school down the street. Of course, there are many other cases where citizens have used guns to stop multiple-victim public shootings.

Two things to consider. Virtually all the right-to-carry states allowed permitted concealed handguns on school property until the Gun-free School Zone Act was passed in 1995. There is no evidence that there was ever a single bad event involving even one of these permit holders.

Second, if letting would-be victims defend themselves doesn't matter, why are these multiple-victim public attacks continually occurring around the world where guns are banned?

JOHN R. LOTT JR.

The Dean's Visiting Professor
State University of New York at Binghamton

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