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Tragedy of Idaho permit holder illustrates lopsidedness of news coverage on guns, CPRC gets extensive news coverage over number of concealed handgun permits in Idaho

3 Jan , 2015  

The horrible tragic death of Veronica J. Rutledge in Idaho obtained massive national news coverage. The 29-year-old mother was accidentally shot to death when her two-year-old reached into her handbag and fired her handgun.

The news coverage generally provided little context for the story. The main context was provided by data that had been put together by the Crime Prevention Research Center. In the Associated Press article that was carried in news outlets throughout the country it was noted (in the US including the Washington PostABC News, Newsday, Yahoo NewsUS News & World Report and in publications around the world such as Australia and Japan) :

About 7 percent of adults in Idaho had concealed weapons permits at the end of 2012, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. That ranked Idaho among the top third of states. . . .

Terrence McCoy in the Washington Post also covered the CPRC’s work on the number of concealed handgun permits and provided a link to our study (it also appeared in the USA Today).

About 7% of adults in Idaho — more than 85,500 people — had concealed-weapons permits at the end of 2012, according to data from the Crime Prevention Research Center, a Swarthmore, Pa.-based gun-advocacy group. That ranks Idaho in the top third among states. . . .

But you get an idea of how rare these incidents are by looking at the number of permit holders nationwide, not just those in Idaho.  There are now about 12 million concealed handgun permit holders and if these stories of children shooting adults happened at more than a virtually non-existent rate, we would surely be hearing about children killing their parents regularly.

To put it differently, the day before there were at least a couple of news reports around the country about permit holders using concealed handguns to protect people, but neither of those stories got national news coverage.

1) In Fargo, North Dakota, four people were robbing and assaulting a 36-year-old man.  They knocked the man unconscious, but fortunately a permit holder was there to stop the attack.  Police reported: “passer-by, who has a license to carry a concealed weapon, brandished his gun to end the robbery.

2) In Kissimmee, Florida, a pastor with a concealed handgun permit protected himself from an employee who he had just had to fire.

. . . . The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that Living Water Fellowship Church Pastor Terry Howell had been meeting with maintenance worker Benjamin Parangan Tuesday to terminate Parangan’s employment with the Kissimmee church.

Witnesses say Parangan pulled out a handgun and fired multiple shots at Howell. He wasn’t hurt but returned fire with his own weapon and hit Parangan. . . .

CPRC’s Lott was also interviewed by The Independent in the UK, though the numbers that were provided on how rare these types of events are was not included in the story.  It would also have been useful to have noted that the

. . . Yet John Lott, a gun rights campaigner who heads the Crime Prevention Research Centre and who is a contributor to Fox News, said public support for gun rights, including the right to carry a concealed weapon, was growing.

He pointed to the results of a survey released in December 2014 by the Pew Research Centre which showed for the first time in at least two decades, there was “more support for gun rights than gun control”. The research suggested 52 per cent of people said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46 per cent said it was more important to control gun ownership.

He claimed public support for guns was growing because of several factors, including the publication of a number of studies he said showed gun ownership prevented crimes.

Mr Lott, who said his organisation received no support from gun manufacturers, said the media was also slowly reporting instances where someone carrying a licensed concealed weapon had been able to prevent a crime. As a result, people were becoming more aware of the benefit of being armed.

“There was an incident in Fargo, North Dakota, when someone was being attacked by four people, and someone with a concealed weapon was able to step in and stop it,” he said, referring to an incident on Monday afternoon in Fargo’s NP Avenue. A report by the WDAZ television station said four men had tried to lure a 36-year-old man behind a building. . . .

UPDATE: A newspaper in Louisiana has also cited the CPRC for data on the number of concealed carry permits in Louisiana.

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