A couple of people have asked me about claims about the accuracy of a quote I used in my book. The quote is from Vin Suprynowicz (Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 28, 2000) regarding a fourteen-year-old girl not being able to defend herself and her younger siblings because the family gun was locked up. The quote that I use is shown on page 165 of The Bias Against Guns. While I used the quote from Suprynowicz, I had done my own research on the issue and I had not only talked with Rev. John Hilton, the children's great-uncle, but I had seen news articles on the attack. I was familiar with the case even before Suprynowicz did his own interviews and ran his piece. Among the news stories that confirm the claims made in the Suprynowicz quote are:

Fox News interviewed the father of the dead children and reported the following:

"Lott cited a Merced, Calif. family whose guns were put away because of the state's safe storage law. John Carpenter, who lost two children in an attack in 2000, said a gun would have stopped the man who broke into his home with a pitchfork. 'If a gun had been here, today I'd have at least a daughter alive,' Carpenter said."

In addition, there are two articles published in a local california newspaper that discuss this case and confirm what Suprynowicz wrote about the tragedy.

From the Fresno Bee (August 26, 2000):

On Friday, the children's great-uncle, the Rev. John Hilton, said: "If only [Jessica] had a gun available to her, she could have stopped the whole thing. If she had been properly armed, she could have stopped him in his tracks."

Maybe John, William, and Ashley would still be alive, he said.

Their father, John Carpenter, kept a gun in the home. His children had learned how to fire it. But he kept it locked away and hidden from his children.

"He's more afraid of the law than of somebody coming in for his family," Hilton said. "He's scared to death of leaving the gun where the kids could get it because he's afraid of the law. He's scared to teach his children to defend themselves."

Hilton said Carpenter feared overregulation as well as laws that make gun owners criminally and civilly liable if their children or others are injured.

From the Fresno Bee (August 31, 2000):

"Carpenter also said he had a gun at his house that he kept locked away from his children because he feared government laws. 'I didn't put a lock on my pitchfork,' he said. More than anything, Carpenter asked people to follow his daughter's example and get back to the root of the problem: 'We need to change the hearts of men.' "

As to the discussion that I had with Rev. John Hilton, the children's great-uncle, I appeared on a radio show and he told me the same thing that he said in the quote used by Suprynowicz.


For your convinience, here is Suprynowicz's quote, which I used in my book:

Jessica Lynne Carpenter is 14 years old. She knows how to shoot. Under the new safe storage laws being enacted in California and elsewhere, parents can be held criminally liable unless they lock up their guns when their children are home alone. So that's just what law-abiding parents John and Stephanie Carpenter had done. [The killer], who was armed with a pitchfork had apparently cut the phone lines. So when he forced his way into the house and began stabbing the younger children in their beds, Jessica's attempts to dial 9-1-1 didn't do much good. Next, the sensible girl ran for where the family guns were stored. But they were locked up tight. The children's great-uncle, the Rev. John Hilton, told reporters: If only (Jessica) had a gun available to her, she could have stopped the whole thing. If she had been properly armed, she could have stopped him in his tracks. Maybe John William and Ashley would still be alive, Jessica's uncle said.

Vin Suprynowicz, Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 24, 2000.

I don't know how anybody can say that Suprynowicz's quote was inaccurate.

For follow up posts on this discussion see: The Merced Pitchfork Killings and Vin Suprynowicz's quote.


Johnlott.org (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

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List of my Op-eds

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Appalachian law school attack

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

The Merced Pitchfork Killings and Vin Suprynowicz's quote

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Mother Jones article


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's EconLinks.com

Interview with National Review Online

Lyonette Louis-Jacques's page on Firearms Regulation Worldwide

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 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