More Guns, Less Crime

A story in this week’s Post-Dispatch prompted me to observe that the only time you ever hear stories like these is when a 63-year-old grandmother is the one toting the gun:

CARTHAGE, Mo. (AP) — A 63-year-old grandmother with a handgun stopped two burglars at her backdoor in Carthage.
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Department said a woman and a 16-year-old boy were arrested after the foiled break-in Friday and charged with first-degree burglary.
The grandmother was at home with her grandchild when the burglars broke down her back door.
She grabbed a handgun and stopped the pair, but they ran away when the woman went back inside to call the sheriff’s department.
Deputies arrested the suspects about three hours later in Carthage.
Lt. Aaron Richardson of the sheriff’s department said first-degree burglary charges have been filed against Faith Barrick, 39, of Carthage, and a 16-year-old male accomplice.

This must seem like such an oddity to newspaper editors that they feel compelled to report the story just for its novelty value alone. But the mainstream media does a disservice to the public when they choose to ignore these types of encounters, focusing instead on stories where guns are used to commit crimes, rather than preventing them. It leaves us all with a false sense about guns.

Statistically speaking, few of us will ever be directly involved in a gun-related crime, so our only firsthand knowledge of this area is what we hear in the news. Anecdotal evidence can be a very powerful thing, and for most people it carries more weight than raw statistical data. But these data show, documented in books such as John Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime, that hundreds of thousands of people every year use guns to prevent crimes. Sometimes it is a 63-year-old grandmother. But more often, it’s a shop owner protecting his wares, and his life, from a armed robber. Or it’s an assistant principal protecting his students from a gunman.

The stories about crimes committed no doubt provide more interesting reading, and sell more newspapers, but they continue to reinforce the already distorted view that most people have of guns and those who carry them. Grandmas and thugs are not the only people carrying guns, but you sure wouldn’t know that from watching or reading the news.

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