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The Story the New York Times Does Not Want You To Read

Paper Refuses to Publish Senator's Response to Hit Piece on Columbus
By Terry Johnson
May 31, 2024
On The Record

The New York Times is not standing by their reporting. We submitted this response to an error-filled and misleading article a week ago but never heard back. The paper's editor also did not respond to our follow-up inquiry as to whether they planned to run this column. So we will. As always, we stand by our word. — The Editors 

The New York Times has smeared Columbus, Ohio, with a hit piece based on a lie.

The article, “How Gun Violence Spread Across One American City,” published on May 20, portrays Columbus as the poster child for a “striking spread in fatal shootings nationwide since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.”

The paper claims, "The same spread of gun violence seen in Columbus took place in other cities large and small.”

That’s not true. Columbus has nothing like the gun violence problems seen in numerous major cities run by anti-gun rights Democrats.

Gun violence and deadly shootings are down dramatically in Columbus.    

Incredibly, the Times even admits that, contradicting the very point of its own story. But it isn’t until the 18th paragraph that readers learn:

“There is optimism that 2024 is going to be better in Columbus, which has seen homicide numbers fall dramatically so far this year, with 36 as of last week, compared with 70 in the same period the year before.”

But the Times can’t be bothered with facts. Not when it found the perfect villain for its fable about Columbus gun violence:  The Ohio legislature.

Specifically, the pro-gun rights laws we’ve passed in the last few years: "For more than a decade, the Ohio legislature had been scaling back gun regulations.”

That includes significant legislation I sponsored, which, the paper said, “eliminated permit and training requirements for concealed weapons.”

What Senate Bill 215 actually did was allow law-abiding Ohioans 21 years of age or older to carry a concealed handgun without having to obtain a concealed handgun license.

Here’s what the Times quite purposely did not mention.

Gun crime is down significantly in Columbus and most of Ohio since that law went into effect on June 13, 2022.

That was the conclusion of a study done by the Center for Justice Research, a partnership between the office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Bowling Green State University. 

The study “examined the impact of the PCL (Permitless Carry Law) on crime in the eight largest cities of Ohio." 

The study found, “a significant decline in crime incidents involving a firearm for Akron, Columbus, and Toledo, and across all cities combined from June 2021-June 2023.”

Crime rates involving firearms fell in Columbus by 12-percent since this law went into effect.

You certainly didn’t read that in the Times.

Crime rates involving firearms fell in Parma by 22-percent, in Akron and Toledo by 18-percent, and in Cleveland by six-percent.

Crime rates involving firearms fell statewide by eight-percent.

And yet, the Times says, “gun violence intensified and spread in Columbus.”

The Times also targets other laws the Ohio legislature has passed to ensure Second Amendment rights, falsely implying these measures led to an increase in gun violence.

That includes what the paper pejoratively refers to as our 2020 “stand your ground” law supporting the self-defense rights of law-abiding citizens above the rights of criminals. 

The Times disregarded the salient revision to that law in 2021 that specified, “a person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person's residence if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has a right to be.”

In Ohio, we put the rights of law-abiding citizens above those who would use criminal violence to deprive them of life and liberty. People under attack should never be punished for defending themselves.

The paper also cited House Bill 99, which became law in 2022, and, as my colleague Sen. Jerry Cirino wrote in the Washington Post, “allows trained school personnel or peace officers to carry a weapon at school,” and to “protect children the same way we protect politicians, celebrities, banks, and, we suspect, newspapers.”

The Times apparently also doesn’t like the idea of ensuring law-abiding citizens can protect themselves during a riot, citing the law we passed in 2021 forbidding the government from suspending gun sales due to a declared emergency.

Implicitly promoting the unilateral disarmament of law-abiding citizens is bad enough. But, what the Times did is even worse.

The article begins by characterizing a tragic shooting of a Columbus man in 2021 by a troubled neighbor as “emblematic of gun violence in America today,” and, “an episode that exemplified a striking spread in fatal shootings nationwide.”

It is neither of those things.

It is not until the very end of the article that we learn the shooter was a former Marine who “had both P.T.S.D. and a traumatic brain injury.”

It is inaccurate, distasteful, and beneath the dignity of the Grey Lady to claim this mentally impaired and troubled soul either “exemplifies” fatal shootings nationwide or is “emblematic” of the criminal gun violence plaguing the nation.

For shame.

Senator Terry Johnson represents Ohio Senate District 14.
He is a retired physician, medical educator, retired military officer, and former four-term State Representative.