OOPS: Associated Press publishes fair and balanced article on increase in gun-related officer deaths

By Chad D. Baus

I don't know exactly how long Colleen Long has been employed by the Associated Press, but if the journalist publishes many more facts that expose the lies of the gun control movement, I expect she'll be visiting the unemployment lines very soon.

In an article noting an increase in the number of officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire in 2009, Long departed from the anti-gun media template by providing a great deal of perspective on the increase.

From the story:

The number of officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire increased 24 percent from 2008, according to preliminary statistics compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a national nonprofit organization that tracks officer-related deaths.

As of Saturday, 47 police officers have died nationwide this year after being shot while on duty, up from 38 for the same time in 2008, which was the lowest number of gunfire deaths since 1956, according to the data.

Just publishing the actual numbers themselves (38 last year, 47 this year) provides a great deal of perspective, as does the fact that last year marked a historical low. And keeping in mind that there are close to 1 million officers on the street (a number Long also provides later in the story), the situation becomes even clearer.

But Long didn't stop there.

The availability of guns compounds the problem, criminologists say. But Pennsylvania, the state with the most gun-related officer deaths so far this year, has among the strictest gun laws in the country, according to a ranking by the pro-gun-control Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Other states, like Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kentucky, have very little oversight and had few, if any, officer gun deaths this year.

Amazing! This is the type of analysis that is completely absent from the vast majority of gun-related reports in mainstream media. Pro-gun advocates often point out that the Brady Campaign gives better grades for having tough gun control laws to states that also have the highest gun violence, but the point is rarely repeated by media who dutifully publish the Brady bunch's grade card press release each year.

The story goes on to note that Kevin Morison, a spokesman for the Officers Memorial Fund, which keeps the statistics, said he sees people on both sides of the gun debate using the numbers to prove points.

"But folks who are willing to intentionally target police officers seem to be able to find a way to accrue guns regardless of what the laws in those state would be," Long quotes Morison as saying, again raising a point those who oppose gun control laws often make, only to have their observations spiked by a biased media.

As if she is unaware she is writing for the anti-gun Associated Press, Long includes still more perspective at the conclusion of her story.

Overall gunfire deaths have more or less been on a steady decline for decades as more tools become available to keep officers safe. More officers are required to wear bullet-resistant vests. There's also better and faster medical care to save an officer's life.

In 1973, during a heyday of corruption and crime, there were around 600,000 officers and about 156 gunfire deaths. Currently, there are about 900,000 law enforcement officers nationwide and only 47 gunfire deaths this year — a per-capita decrease of nearly 21 percent.

I'm not sure how Colleen Long's story made it past the biased editors at the Associated Press, but I'm glad it did. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans support the right to bear arms for self-defense, and oppose new gun control laws. No one is asking for the bias to simply switch to the pro-gun side, but it is high-time the American media start telling the whole story in its coverage of gun-related issues, and Colleen Long has written an excellent example of how such articles can be written.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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