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Give Credit When It's Due
By Howard Nemerov
One need only peruse media watchdog sites like News Busters to see the scope and depth of bias among the mainstream media. Whether discussing political parties, corporations, or gun rights, you can generally count on one-sided promotion of their agenda (Republicans, business, and guns all 'bad').
Such bias deserves to be exposed, because it signifies the failure of the journalistic institution to faithfully perform its public duty to tell people the truth, so that informed citizens may make better choices when voting, and hold elected officials accountable regardless of political affiliation.
But that is for another column. Today, I write not to censure a journalist, but to praise one. It is most encouraging when one finds an example of professional journalism.
Brendan Keefe, of Cincinnati, Ohio ABC-TV affiliate WCPO, recently published an article entitled "When Seconds Count: Stopping Active Killers". His lead gives no indication if the article will be slanted:
There have been so many school shootings over the last 40 years that researchers have been able to develop a profile of the typical mass murderer.
They're called 'active shooters' or 'active killers' and their crimes play out in a matter of minutes.1
At this point, Mr. Keefe could have taken the emotionally satisfying and intellectually lazy approach: 'Let's take their guns away and everything will be okay.' A student of gun control journalism may want to stop reading at this juncture to avoid another disappointing tour of Fantasy Island, but instead, Mr. Keefe explains how law enforcement reviewed and modified its tactics because the old procedure of waiting for a team of officers to assemble produced tragic consequences:
Based on the Virginia Tech data, experts determined the first officer on scene should make entry immediately with an aggressive attack on the shooter.
Every minute the officer waits for back-up, another three or more people could die.
In other words, while it was once considered suicide for a lone officer to take on an active killer, it is now considered statistical homicide for him not to do so.2
The text remains relatively neutral, leaving an opportunity to travel down a well-worn media path, but the conclusion notes some basic truths about mass murderers:
The other statistic that emerged from a study of active killers is that they almost exclusively seek out 'gun free' zones for their attacks.
In most states, concealed handguns are prohibited at schools and on college campuses even for those with permits.
Many malls and workplaces also place signs at their entrances prohibiting firearms on the premises.
Now tacticians believe the signs themselves may be an invitation to the active killers.3
Mr. Keefe concludes by listing attributes of mass murderers:
1. They want to quickly inflict maximum damage.
2. They have no intention of surviving.
3. They select 'gun free' zones because it virtually guarantees
no 'interference' with point 1.
4. When confronted with armed resistance, the murderer commits
Keefe's article concurs with John Lott's research published in his book The Bias Against Guns:
If right-to-carry [liberal concealed carry] laws allow citizens to limit the amount of attacks that still take place, the number of persons harmed should fall relative to the number of shootings' And indeed, that is what we find. The average number of people dying or becoming injured per attack declines by around 50 percent.4
Lott also found that both the total number and rate of multiple murders in right-to-carry states are one-third that of restrictive states.5 In an email interview, he clarified this data by stating:
The simplest numbers showed a 67 percent drop in the number of attacks and about a 79 percent drop in the number of people killed or injured from such attacks. The number of people harmed fell by more than the number of attacks because some attacks that weren't deterred were stopped in progress by people with guns.
I noted Lott's research in an email to Mr. Keefe and asked him if he would share his sources. His response included references and the following statement:
We are not interested in entering into the debate over gun control. We are, however, interested in reporting the facts. In this story, the facts point to the active shooters ignoring gun prohibitions and perhaps selecting those locations because they are 'soft targets' where no resistance would be found.6
I was so impressed with his honesty, I sent this note regarding the above paragraph:
You have just defined investigative reporting, and I salute you for that. As Jack Webb said, 'Just the facts, ma'am.' I appreciated your effort in this.7
I was a civilian disarmament supporter because the media told me that gun control equaled crime control. 'Investigative reporters' repeated assumedly valid data until their verbiage assumed the aura of truth. Here is a journalist who lets the truth stand on its own merits, regardless of who it pleases or angers. Check out his article and send him a kind note. In the days ahead, we will need more like him.
Howard Nemerov is a columnist for Texas State Rifle Association's TSRA Sportsman and 'unofficial' investigative analyst for NRA News. His new book, Four Hundred Years of Gun Control: Why Isn't It Working?, deconstructs the gun control agenda and is designed to motivate more people to support gun rights. He can be reached at HNemerov [at sign] Netvista.net.
1 Brendan Keefe, When Seconds Count: Stopping Active Killers, WCPO, November 14, 2008. http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=d26c29ff-f134-4202-...
4 John R. Lott, Jr., The Bias Against Guns, Regnery Publishing, 2003, page 123.
5 Ibid, page 107.
6 Email from Brendan Keefe, November 18, 2008.
7 Email sent to Brendan Keefe, November 18, 2008.