ANOTHER school shooting occurred last week and the
headlines were everywhere the same, from Australia to
Nigeria. This time the shooting occurred at a
university, the Appalachian Law School. As usual, there
were calls for more gun control.
Yet in this age of "gun-free school zones,"
one fact was missing from virtually all the news
coverage: The attack was stopped by two students who had
guns in their cars.
The fast responses of two male students, Mikael
Gross, 34, and Tracy Bridges, 25, undoubtedly saved
Mikael was outside the law school and just returning
from lunch when Peter Odighizuwa started his attack.
Tracy was in a classroom waiting for class to start.
When the shots rang out, utter chaos erupted. Mikael
said, "People were running everywhere. They were
jumping behind cars, running out in front of traffic,
trying to get away."
Mikael and Tracy did something quite different: Both
immediately ran to their cars and got their guns. Mikael
had to run about 100 yards to get to his car. Along with
Ted Besen (who was unarmed), they approached Peter from
As Tracy explained it, "I aimed my gun at him,
and Peter tossed his gun down. Ted approached Peter, and
Peter hit Ted in the jaw. Ted pushed him back and we all
What is so remarkable is that out of 280 separate
news stories (from a computerized Nexis-Lexis search) in
the week after the event, just four stories
mentioned that the students who stopped the attack had
Only two local newspapers (the Richmond
Times-Dispatch and the Charlotte Observer) mentioned
that the students actually pointed their guns at the
Much more typical was the scenario described by the
Washington Post, where the heroes had simply
"helped subdue" the killer. The New York Times
noted only that the attacker was "tackled by fellow
Most in the media who discussed how the attack was
stopped said: "students overpowered a gunman,"
"students ended the rampage by tackling him,"
"the gunman was tackled by four male students
before being arrested," or "Students ended the
rampage by confronting and then tackling the gunman, who
dropped his weapon."
In all, 72, stories described how the attacker was
stopped without mentioning that the student heroes had
Unfortunately, the coverage in this case was not
unusual. In the other public school shootings where
citizens with guns have stopped attacks, rarely do more
than one percent of the news stories mention that
citizens with guns stopped the attacks.
Many people find it hard to believe that research
shows that there are 2 million defensive gun uses each
year. After all, if these events were really happening,
wouldn't we hear about them on the news? But when was
the last time you saw a story on the national evening
news (or even the local news) about a citizen using his
gun to stop a crime?
This misreporting actually endangers people's lives.
By selectively reporting the news and turning a
defensive gun use story into one where students merely
"overpowered a gunman" the media gives
misleading impressions of what works when people are
confronted by violence.
Research consistently shows that having a gun is the
safest way to respond to any type of criminal attack,
especially these multiple victim shootings.
John Lott is a resident scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute and the author of "More Guns,