Indiana Jones & The Real World
“I’m very troubled … at the fact so many people in the United States carry guns. It obviously contributes greatly to the crime problems we have … gun laws should be
strengthened.” So sayeth Indiana Jones, a.k.a. Harrison Ford, on location in Spain. And it is fair to say Ford’s view is that of our intellectual and cultural elite.
But is it true? Is it really obvious that gun ownership and the carrying of concealed weapons by citizens “contributes greatly to the crime problems we have”? Where is the evidence?
It does not exist. Indeed, all the evidence refutes that notion so dramatically it is astonishing that folks like Harrison Ford, a man of the world, can still believe and spout such nonsense.
In 1995, Gary Kleck published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology of Northwestern Law School his now-famous paper, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun.” Among its unchallenged assertions:
Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals 2.5 million times a year or about 6,850 times every day.
Of these 2.5 million self-defense uses of guns, more than 200,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual abuse. Often, a Saturday Night Special is a girl’s best friend.
11 out of every 12 times citizens use their guns in self-defense, they merely brandish them or fire a warning shot.
When citizens do fire, they shoot and kill twice as many criminals as do cops every year. But, while 2 percent of civilian shootings are of people mistaken for criminals, that is true of 11 percent of police shootings.
Publicized by the Gun Owners of America, these facts have been confirmed by scholar John Lott who has just published a book with Indiana Jones in mind: The Bias Against Guns. Its subtitle: “Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard about Gun Control is Wrong.”
From the anecdotal evidence dug up by Lott, author of the previous bestseller, More Guns, Less Crime, burglars are more fearful of armed homeowners than of cops. A burglar in St. Louis colorfully explained why to authorities: “See, with the police, they goin’ say, ‘Come out with your hands up and don’t do nothing foolish!’ Okay, you still alive, but you goin’ to jail. But you alive. You sneak into somebody’s house and they wait ’til you get in the house and then they shoot you. … See what I’m sayin’? You can’t explain nothin’ to nobody; you layin’ down in there dead!”
Why do intelligent people believe armed citizens are less safe than unarmed ones? It seems to defy common sense. But Lott has discovered the reason. The media spike stories about the successful use of guns in self defense. To them it is simply not news.
Brandishing a gun stops crime 95 percent of the time, Lott learned. There are millions of such stories every year in communities all across the nation. Most often, the successful use of guns in self-defense occurs in high-crime urban neighborhoods. Why don’t we read these stories? Because the media do not report them.Going back through the New York Times of 2001, Lott found 50,745 words in 104 articles devoted to gun-crime stories. Only 163 words were about the successful use of guns in self defense.The Washington Post had 46,884 words about crimes with guns, but only 953 words on the defensive use of guns. USA Today “contained 5,660 words on crimes committed with guns and zero words on examples of defensive gun use.” To Big Media, bad news about guns is the only news worth reporting.
Being able to threaten a burglar or rapist with a gun is the most effective way to prevent crime in urban areas. Yet, city folks favor gun control. Why? Because they have been propagandized into believing their security lies not in having a gun but in gun control laws that disarm them but do nothing to disarm the criminals who prey upon them.
Going back through the ABC, CBS, and NBC shows for 2001, Lott found 190,000 words on gun crimes, but only 580 words devoted to one news broadcast about a cop who used his gun to stop a school shooting. Lott’s chapter on the blind anti-gun bias in the press (“The Media on Guns”) is itself worth the price of the book.
At journalism school, 40 years ago, we were taught, “The people have a right to know.” And they have a right to know that the surest way to protect their families in high-crime areas is the possession of firearms. By concealing this truth, the media have made us all less secure.
After the horrific L.A. riots of 1992, gun sales soared, as did citizen demands for a right to carry concealed weapons. Thirty-five states have now enacted such laws, and the crime rate has correspondingly fallen, as has the incidence of “rampage killings” in these states. It is a provable fact: the better armed the citizenry, the fewer predator crimes they will endure.
Indiana Jones, say hello to John Lott.