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Net Detectives Helping to Change Public Awareness

by Robert A. Waters
Author, The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm

We're doing a better job than ever of tracking and reporting self-defense stories that involve the legal use of a firearm. is archiving them for use by activists. I'm doing deep research on quite a few for my next book. And we're planning the next step on how to use these stories, to be announced later.

But how many of these events are we missing due to lack of combined efforts and consistent focus? And what can we do to make sure we catch every last one of these events in our bid to put them to effective use?

It's simple. We can work together as a team, each of us covering a very small, manageable base, and blanket the entire mainstream media, online and offline, and net every last armed self-defense story that gets covered.

To that end, I'm in the process of setting up an informal group of activists to monitor online newspapers for stories of armed self-defense. When you volunteer, it will take just a couple of minutes per day. But your work may be crucial in turning around the gun debate, and we can only fully accomplish this task by working as a team.

What I'm asking is for you to bookmark the "local news" section of two daily online newspapers. Then check that section each day for self-defense stories. I've bookmarked 30 newspapers, and I scan them for stories every day -- consistently. It takes me only about fifteen minutes a day.

You may search some newspapers for months without finding a single self-defense story, but please keep looking. Every day. For instance, one of the newspapers I check each day is the Chattanooga Times. In 1999, there were only 19 homicides in Chattanooga. Two of them were self-defense shootings (both were "justifiable homicides" of home invaders who were killed by homeowners). Had I given up I might have missed those stories. Of course, many self-defense stories aren't published at all, but our job is to scour the local papers for those stories that are published.

Please note that editors don't always write headlines that indicate someone used a gun in self-defense. For instance, if I see a headline that reads, "Murderer Captured in Brentwood," I check it out. Although it's likely that the police captured the murderer, it sometimes turns out that an armed citizen either made the capture and turned the bad guy over to the police, or helped lead police to the suspect. This information may be buried deep in the story. (Once you've done it a few times, instinct will tell you which stories to click into and read.)

The importance of these stories cannot be over-emphasized. A loose coalition of writers, editors of major news organizations, television producers, and politicians have expressed an interest in receiving as many of these stories as we can find. They have enlisted my help to get that information, so your work will help get this information to people in power who care, see things our way, and can do something constructive to bring the issue to light. I'm also forwarding every story I receive to to make sure you find out about them -- and that they get archived. There is (finally) a movement by some in the media to publicize these stories. Partner with me to help them find out about every last publicized self-defense story we can flush out.

Self-defense is the one pro-gun issue that has the power to pull large numbers of people to our side. It is such an emotionally-driven issue that the gun-banners won't even debate it. Bring it up and they run for cover, spewing lies about such events being "rare" or "non-existent." (I've been collecting these stories for only a few years and already have developed a database of nearly 6,000 cases.) The anti-gunners know that they can only lose on this issue. Up to now, the mainstream media has been a willing accomplice in keeping these stories secret. Now, however, this is becoming more difficult, and I predict that this will begin to change in the coming year -- with your help.

To show the power of this issue, newspapers occasionally poll their readers concerning attitudes toward armed self-defense. In every poll I've seen, more than ninety-five percent of the public say that they would shoot someone in self-defense. That, my friends, is unharnessed power waiting to be tapped. Think about it. On most issues, Americans are split down the middle: affirmative action; abortion; school choice. Even the death penalty, one of the most popular political issues among Americans, has only a seventy percent approval rating.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of finding as many stories as possible.

I'd like to cover every newspaper in the country. However, since there are close to 10,000 of them, we'll never get them all. But if only 100 activists volunteer to check two online newspapers each day, that would add substantially to our database.

I'm offering to coordinate this effort (with a volunteer assistant) so that our efforts don't overlap. In addition to having you choose a newspaper that you read everyday, we may assign you a second paper to check. Remember, you don't have to wade through the whole newspaper for these stories, only the local section. This will be an ongoing effort throughout the months and years.

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer activist in this cause, you may contact me at the following email address.

Thank you, and I'm always open to suggestions. To begin with, let's cover these major papers by accessing their online news archives on a daily basis. Pick two and tell me which two you've picked so I can mark them off the list. If you'd prefer to stay local, no problem. Just pick any two online newspapers and send me your name and the names of the two newspapers you will monitor each day -- so I know that base is covered.

Following are a few newspapers to get started. For a complete list of newspapers, go here:

Newpapers' Websites

Air Force Times
Akron Beacon
Alabama News
Albany Times
Albuquerque Journal
Allentown M-Call
Anchorage Daily News
Arizona Reporter
Arizona Republic
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Arlington Heights Daily Herald
Army Times
Asbury Park Press
Austin American-Statesman
Baltimore Sun
Bergen Record
Boston Globe
Boston Herald
Buffalo News
Charleston Post & Courier
Chicago Sun Times
Chicago Tribune
Christian Science Monitor
Clarion Ledger (MS)
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Colorado Springs Gazette
Columbia S.C. State
Concord Monitor
Connecticut Post
Daily Herald-Illinois
Dallas Morn. News
Dayton Daily News
Denver Post
Des Moines Register
Detroit Free Press
Detroit News
The Final Call
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Ft. Lauderdale Sun
Fresno Bee
Grand Rapids Press
Hartford Courant
The Hill
Honolulu Advertiser
Hot Springs Internet
Houston Chronicle
Indianapolis Star
Investor's Business Daily
Kansas City Star
Knoxville News-Sentinel
Las Vegas Review
Lexington Herald
Long Beach Press
Daily News Los Angeles
Los Angeles Times
L.I. Newsday
Louisville Courier
Marine Corps Times
Memphis C-Appeal
Miami Herald
Milwaukee Journal
Minnesota Star Tribune
Navy Times
New York Daily News
New York Post
New York Times
Newark St-Ledger
New Orleans Picayune
Omaha World-Herald
Orange Co. Reg.
Palm Beach Post
Peoria Journal Star
Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Inquirer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Portland Oregonian
Providence Journal
Raleigh News Observer
Richmond Times
Riverside Press
Rochester Dem.
Rocky Mountain News
Roll Call
Sacramento Bee
St. Louis Post
St. Paul Pioneer
St. Peters. Times
Salt Lake Tribune
San Antonio Express-News
San Diego Union
S.F. Chronicle
S.F. Examiner
San Jose Mercury
Sarasota Herald
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Times
Spokane Spokesman
Tacoma News Tribune
Tulsa World
Union Leader - N.H
USA Today
Virginia Pilot
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post
Washington Times
White Plains Journal
Wilmington News Journal
Worcester Telegram


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