Mass Killers: Don’t Name Them, Don’t Show Them, But Report Everything Else

If only the media would listen.

Gun Culture 2.0

A while back, Professor Adam Lankford (Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Alabama) sent me an open letter to the media and asked if I would sign my name to it. I, along with 146 other scholars, agreed.

The letter (reprinted in full below) asks the media “to take a principled stand in your future coverage of mass killers that could potentially save lives”:

  1. Don’t name the perpetrator.
  2. Don’t use photos or likenesses of the perpetrator.
  3. Stop using the names, photos, or likenesses of past perpetrators.
  4. Report everything else about these crimes in as much detail as desired.

The release of this letter after the Las Vegas massacre is timely, but it also follows the publication of a paper by Lankford and Eric Madfis (University of Washington-Tacoma) in the American Behavioral Scientist explaining the scholarly basis for the letter.

Here is some coverage of the letter in the…

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Statistics on Gun Ownership in the United States – Updated and Collected Posts

Gun Culture 2.0

After dramatic events involving guns, hits on my posts about gun ownership always spike. Therefore I am creating this landing page for those who want quick (though not simple) statistics on gun ownership in the United States.

Question: How many guns are there in the United States?


  1. We don’t know with any certainty (for reasons I have discussed here and here).
  2. AT LEAST 300 million, and possibly as many as 400-700 million.

Data sources: Conservative estimate is an extrapolation from Appendix 1 of “The Stock and Flow of US Firearms: Results from the 2015 National Firearms Survey,” a yet-to-be-published manuscript by Azrael, Hepburn, Hemenway, and Miller; high estimate is from the WeaponsMan Blog. Both can be found on my earlier post here.

Question: How many gun owners are there in the United States?

Note: This can be looked at two ways – personal gun ownership and…

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Cooper’s Four Rules of Firearms Safety Translated into Spanish

Good info for all of us to share with Spanish speakers.

Gun Culture 2.0

My son is hosting an exchange student from Argentina for a month and asked about the possibility of a trip to the range. I said, “Of course, that would be fun.” And immediately began thinking about introducing him to safe firearms handling.

My first thought, of course, was to begin with Col. Jeff Cooper’s four rules of firearms safety. My second thought was that the exchange student’s conversational English is good, but he might not have the English words for gun-related ideas.

Cooper’s four rules of gun safety, Gunsite Academy, June 2017. Photo by: David Yamane

After an unsuccessful Google search for “Four Rules of Gun Safety in Spanish,” I floated a request for help on my Gun Culture 2.0 Facebook page. This received an immediate response from Jesse Ordunez, the Director of Training at The Bulwarks in Kentucky, who I met at Gunsite Academy this past June. Jesse…

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Exploring America’s Complex Relationship with Guns (Pew Research Center), Part 1 – Reasons for Gun Ownership

First of a series

Gun Culture 2.0

On June 22nd, while I was deeply immersed in my observations of a 250 Defensive Pistol course at Gunsite Academy, the Pew Research Center released a research report called America’s Complex Relationship with Guns.

I was particularly interested in the report because back in February I consulted with the Pew Research Center team about my views of gun culture today and what questions a survey about guns ought to ask.

Screen cap of

Now that I have finally had time to look at the report, I am pleased to see my consultation was acknowledged in the final report (p. 73) and at least some of my advice was taken. (Or seems to have been. Obviously just because Pew asked a question does not mean they asked it only because I suggested it.)

In my post about speaking with the Pew Research Center team a few…

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Gun Culture 2.0 Posts About Col. Jeff Cooper and Gunsite

Bear spray, yes or no?

Worth the read

Craig Medred

bear attacks Illustration from the study “Human behaviour can trigger large carnivore attacks in developed countries”

In the wake of a bear attack in which bear spray didn’t work, in a world with animal attacks trending upward, more than a few Alaskans are pondering the effectiveness of the popular pepper spray which had come to be considered the be-all to end-all in bear protection in the 49th state.

Twenty-seven-year-old Erin Johnson from Anchorage died June 19 after she and a coworker were attacked by a predatory black bear while doing environmental studies in brushy forest about five miles from the state’s largest underground gold mine. 

Johnson’s coworker sprayed the bear with a canister of red-pepper bear deterrent. The capsicum-based sprays have generally worked in other cases, but the spray failed to drive off this bear, which was later shot by a mine employee near Johnson’s body.

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Size matters

Craig Medred

bird bear A Bird Ridge black bear/Andy Baker photo


Patrick “Jack” Cooper was a 16-year-old boy killed by a predatory black bear, and now some want to blame him for his own death.

There is little doubt running from the bear was a mistake. Turning your back on a predator is invariably a bad thing. What predators desire is to approach from behind so their prey cannot fight back.

In this case, however, it is worth asking a simple question: Would it have made any difference if young Cooper had stood his ground?

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Bearly ignorant bliss

I’ll be reblogging Craig more, as it will remind me to read him and he deserves a wider audience.

Craig Medred

Rob Foster Black Bear A predatory black bear/Rob Foster photo


Alaska’s mainstream media has dialed up the perfect solution to the fear gripping the 49th state in the wake of two extremely rare, fatal bear attacks in two days in June: Ignorance.

“It’s good to be prepared, but training to people to deal with bear incidents creates fear,” wrote an Alaska Dispatch News columnist, who blamed other writers plus local, state and federal officials for this fear.

“Outdoor writers and land managers also increase fear of bears by teaching preparedness,” he concluded.

It was tempting to just make a joke of such nonsense and draft a “Top 10” list of things we should stop teaching. At first it started with boating safety, but….

Thirty-five-thousand to 40,000 people die in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. every year.  More than 75 of them died in accidents on Alaska roadways last year. We could save…

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Bear ignored spray

Spray is good, but not a magic talisman even when used correctly

Craig Medred

Rob Foster Black Bear The predatory black bear that pursued a Canadian for 45 minutes/Rob Foster photo

Updated on June 23 to include other bear spray failures

A black bear that killed a 27-year-old Anchorage woman in central Alaska on Monday appears to have hunted down the woman and a colleague while they were conducting environmental surveys for the Pogo Mine.

The bear jumped one of the women from behind before she had any chance react, and then moved on to the woman’s colleague, their employer, himself a wildlife biologist, said Thursday.

An attempt to drive the bear off with pepper spray failed.  The efficacy of pepper spray has been questioned in other cases involving predatory black bears.

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Down & out in AK

This is what journalism was and should be…

Craig Medred


Yet more trouble appears on the horizon for the already troubled business of journalism in Alaska.

Rumors have been swirling for weeks that yet more downsizing is coming at the Alaska Dispatch News – the state’s biggest, brawniest and, by sheer force of numbers, best news organization.

And Monday came a “Reader Survey” tucked away on page A-4 of the Alaska’s largest newspaper asking readers in little-bitty type to tell editors “what you absolutely can’t live without in (a) newspaper…with no choice but to produce a leaner print paper.”

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