Author: Guns receive unfair news coverage

If you knew someone was stalking your family, would you post a sign in your yard that said “This house is a gun-free zone?”

With policies that ban carrying concealed weapons on campus, universities are doing essentially the same thing, said the author of “The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard about Gun Control is Wrong” in a speech last night.

“We all want to get guns away from criminals. I think the question is: Who is going to obey the laws taking guns away?” said John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Lott spoke last night as part of an event organized by UK’s chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. Capt. Kevin Franklin of UK police also spoke as part of the event.

Lott emphasized that owning guns and having them on campus is a cost-benefit analysis. While people may commit violent acts using guns, people also use guns to prevent violent crimes from happening, he said.

However, Lott said research has shown both sides of the story are not reported.

In his own investigation, Lott found that of the 190,000 words on crime in reports by ABC, NBC and CBS that he examined, none were dedicated to people defending themselves using guns. Print sources were not much better, he said.

Although he said it is not balanced, Lott said he understands why media coverage of certain events happens. When presented with a story of an innocent shooting victim or someone with a gun who scares a criminal away, the story most news editors will pick is obvious.

“I don’t think anybody, without any reference to bias, wouldn’t think the first story is more newsworthy with a body on the ground,” Lott said.

Franklin was invited to last night’s event as a counter to Lott’s speech, said David Burnett, who heads UK’s chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. UK policy currently bans carrying concealed weapons on campus, and a bill in the state legislature that would permit concealed carry on campus failed to make it out of a House committee before the legislative session ended earlier this month.

Franklin said he supports UK’s stance on gun control and spent the last half of his time on stage responding to audience members who opposed the school’s policy. When one student compared keeping a concealed carry weapon to other safety methods, including keeping a fire extinguisher in your house in case of a fire, Franklin disagreed.

“The odds of your house catching on fire are a lot more likely than someone firing a gun at you,” Franklin said.

Last night’s event with Lott and Franklin was intended to educate and persuade people that licensed holders of concealed carry weapons should be allowed to bring those weapons on campus to protect themselves, said Burnett, a business management junior. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus will also participate in a national Empty Holster Campaign this week, where participants wear empty gun holsters as part of a national campaign.

Undeclared sophomore Meg Soileau said she went to last night’s event for an economics class and was surprised it was interesting. While she fears guns in the hands of inexperienced users, Soileau said last night’s event gave her a few more facts on the issue that led her to consider the benefits of guns.

“If my opinion isn’t changed completely, it certainly made me think,” she said.