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“Good” use: 9, “Bad” use: 6,094

The National Rifle Association (NRA) website has an ongoing feature called the Armed Citizen. The feature reports stories of individuals successfully using guns either at home, on the street, or in their place of business to thwart intruders, robbers, or burglars. Gun-rights advocates call them “defensive gun uses” or “DGU’s.” I call them “good” uses of a gun.

During the month of February, the Armed Citizen reported nine such DGU’s. The first one was dated February 1, 2014; the last one was dated February 22, 2014 -- a period of 22 days. You can find the feature here: www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen.aspx.

However, not mentioned in the Armed Citizen was that during the same 22-day period, based on average numbers (source: www.bradycampaign.org), 1,848 Americans were killed by a gun (1,122 by suicide) and another 4,246 were wounded by one (220 by attempted suicide). Those number represent what I call “bad” uses of a gun. To put it another way, for each single “good” use of a gun as recorded in the Armed Citizen during those 22 days, there were 677 “bad” uses of a gun.

Granted, the NRA might not have reported or been aware of all the confirmed DGU’s that occurred during that 22-day period. Indeed, gun-rights advocates often point to studies that show as many as 2-1/2 million DGU’s each year. That’s over 200,000 a month. Yet the best the Armed Citizen could document throughout the entire month of February was … nine?

As I said last month in this report: Something doesn’t smell right.

Here’s another thing I said last month: “So here’s my suggestion to the millions of gun-rights advocates: If you want Americans to believe there are 200,000 defensive gun uses each month, you need to start documenting them in the Armed Citizen. Start writing and perhaps those numbers will smell a lot better next month when I add them up.”

Well, it seems the numbers did get better -- they went from seven last month to nine this month.

Something still doesn’t smell right.

Please help reduce this carnage that goes on day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Call, write, email, or FAX your representatives in Washington, D.C. and tell them to support common sense gun control. Do it today. And do it again next week. And do it again every week after that until they get the message.

You’ll find contact information here:
www.contactingthecongress.org

Gun Facts

Every year in the U.S.A., on average: *

-- Over 18,000 people kill themselves with a gun (51 each day)

-- Almost 12,000 people are murdered by a gun (32 each day)

-- Almost 600 people are accidentally shot and killed by a gun (1 each day)

-- Over 51,000 people are shot and wounded in an attack involving a gun (140 each day)

-- Over 16,000 people are accidentally shot and wounded by a gun (43 each day)

-- Almost 4,000 people are wounded attempting to kill themselves with a gun (10 each day).

Total killed by guns each year: Over 30,000 (84 each day)

Total wounded by guns each year: Over 70,000 (193 each day)

Total number of Americans either killed or wounded by guns each year: Over 100,000 (277 each day)

* Brady Campaign (gun deaths from police intervention not included here)

Originally posted to Tom Begnal on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 08:49 AM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not sure if it was the end of Feb or start of Mar (11+ / 0-)

    but we just had another 8 year old shot and killed by his 10 year old brother in Cincinnati when they found and were examining a handgun in the apartment they lived in.

    •  $500 could have prevented this death. (3+ / 0-)

      The Gun Box

      And please, if you all are so inclined, sign the Mayors Against Gun Violence petition

      What else would you call it when gun deaths are set to surpass car accidents in 2015 as the leading cause of death of young people?

      But Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) doesn't see it that way -- so much so that he's trying to block President Obama's nominee for Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, because Dr. Murthy leads a group that says pediatricians should be able to ask parents about guns in the home -- just as they ask about child car seats, swimming pools and smoking.

      Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

      by 88kathy on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:44:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There was a gun suicide in my family on 2/21 (12+ / 0-)

    the man was an NRA card carrier (which was in his obit)- What a physical, emotional, financial mess he left.

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    "It's said that the honest man has nothing to hide. Not true. The honest man has to hide himself, because honest men are the prime targets of those who lie."

    by roseeriter on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 08:58:44 AM PST

  •  Two and a half million divided by 12 is not (13+ / 0-)

    8,000. I'm just saying.

    And I'm also saying that I'm like by far the majority of people in that in my whole life I've never actually known a DGU "savior" individual. I mean, I'm going to go with 2,500,000 X 50 (my adult life) is 125,000,000. (Oh, and I've personally witnessed multiple Gunfails, and had a nephew who put a 30.06 round through his brain.)

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:07:12 AM PST

  •  I don't get the point of (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran
    Hidden by:
    Glen The Plumber

    comparing census data with anecdotal data in computing the ratios. For the comparison to be meaningful you need the total # of both kinds of uses. Census data on both sides.

    •  Would we expect documentation on most DGU? (0+ / 0-)

      Data's old, but the most conservative estimate of DGU was an average 83,000 annually (measured 1987-92).  

      •  Of course. Why wouldn't we? (7+ / 0-)

        Of course we should expect documentation of most DGUs, if not documentation of ALL DGUs.

        After all, we have very accurate documentation of gun homicides, gun suicides, accidental shootings, etc.  So we SHOULD expect documentation of DGUs.

        Unless of course gun owners don't want it known how often and how exactly they are using their guns.  Which is why I expect gun owners tell us there are so many unreported DGUs.

        Because if you have a gun illegally, or fail to comply with laws regarding licensing, or are using your gun illegally, or you are using your gun to defend some illegal activity, then of course you would not report your DGU to authorities.  such uses of a gun are not DGUs, but are in truth criminal gun uses.

        I suspect much of the purported "2.5 million DGUs every year" are in reality criminal gun uses.  Of course, we will never know for sure, because those gun owners will never come forward to tell us.  

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 10:13:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The 2.5 million figure (5+ / 0-)

          The estimate of millions of DGU's comes from calling people and asking them if they've used their guns defensively in the last year.  About 2% say yes.  Of course, when you call people at random about 2% will claim anything so the figure is totally meaningless.  But 2% time the number of people you could have called gives a big number. It's about the same number of people who claim to have flown a flying saucer from some other planet.

          Mandatory Gun Insurance would provide for victims, encourage safety and not be an excessive burden on gun owners. How to do it at Gun Insurance Blog. I also make posts at Huffington as Tom Harvey.

          by guninsuranceblog on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:43:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Data seems to suggest otherwise (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joy of Fishes

          From BJS:

          During the period from 2006 to 2010, 52% of all
          violent victimizations, or an annual average of
          3,382,200 violent victimizations, were not reported
          to the police. Of these, over a third (34%) went unreported
          because the victim dealt with the crime in another way, such
          as reporting it to another official, like a guard, manager, or
          school official (figure 1). Almost 1 in 5 unreported violent
          victimizations (18%) were not reported because the victim
          believed the crime was not important enough.
          That's just violent victimizations.  I would expect unreported property victimization to be higher, if the ratio of reported violent crime to property crime holds.

          That's not to say there are sufficient DGUs to justify the gun rights movement's argument that self-defense is the greater good, or that even if it were that reducing the availability of guns wouldn't be a more effective approach to reducing violent crime.  However, it seems silly to me to compare a handful of media anecdotes to reported crime data and pretend there's something there.

          •  What we cannot do, above all else..... (6+ / 0-)

            Hmm.... your BJS link is not working.  The violent crime link further down is working.

            What we cannot do, above all else, is compare reported crime statistics with numbers of unreported crimes - because if it is not reported, there is no way to verify the accuracy of the measurement.

            Yet, this is exactly the situation we find ourselves in regarding DGUs.  Gun deaths all get counted and reported by police and other law enforcement.  A few DGUs get reported to authorities - very small numbers amounting to at most a couple thousand per year.  Yet gun enthusiasts routinely tell us of vast numbers (millions) of unreported DGUs - greatly outnumbering the number of reported gun injuries.  Clearly this is a case of comparing apples to oranges.

            The reported statistics clearly show that gun violence exceeds DGUs by a couple orders of magnitude.  

            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:11:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My Error (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rduran, LilithGardener, liberalguy

              Sorry, the BJS link IS working just fine.  It loaded up a .pdf file, instead of a html page as I was expecting.

              "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

              by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:22:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The BJS link (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joy of Fishes

              Just in case:

              http://www.bjs.gov/...

              There are no reported statistics on DGU that I know of.  There are reported statistics of justifiable homicides.  I assume you're comparing that figure (somewhere south of 300/yr as of last reporting) to gun homicides in the same year and using that as a ceiling.

              I agree we can't compare apples to oranges, but I'm hesitant to draw general conclusions given the data we do have.  Reported (and by that I mean reported from local LEOs to the FBI) incidence of crime isn't a random sample after all.  What we need above all else is better data.

              •  Better concept formation, and then better data :-) (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rduran

                I'm not yet sure what an equivalent phrase might be on the other side, but it would not be a simple mirror-image.

                Perhaps: "Gun Scares" (GS's)? I.e., how many times/year is someone frightened by another person carrying a gun? These need not fit the legal definition of "brandishing," let alone be reported to the police, let alone lead to charges, let alone lead to convictions. It could be e.g. a wife who is frightened by her husband's use of a gun, but doesn't say anything to anyone (even to him). (This fear might not be unjustified, as in 75% of murder-suicides it is a man who murders a woman, then commits suicide.) Or a mother taking her son shopping in a mall, who both suddenly see and are frightened by a man carrying a .45 on his hip, and immediately leave the store without reporting it.

                ---

                On "concept-formation," for those who haven't thought about it much, a few starter articles (all in PDF, alas):
                http://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/... (the classic, Giovanni Sartori, 1970)
                http://blogs.bu.edu/... (1999, John Gerring)
                http://web.princeton.edu/... (2011)

      •  it'd be hard as a fair (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rduran

        amount would be below the radar where it would show up in a police report.

        So it'd take surveys to get a decent estimate of how many there are. But that'd be orders of magnitude better than consulting the stories from some magazine.

        •  Precisely (0+ / 0-)

          First, Armed Citizen is a collection of anecdotes, not a review of police reports.  Two, we're comparing apples and oranges, namely a magazine's brief on a few media reports with actual crime statistics.  Three, as far as I can tell, there isn't a single significant dataset on DGU derived from actual law enforcement data.  Four, the best datasets we have are these surveys, which are all over the map.

          Conclusion, I have no idea how prevalent DGU actually is.  I can't even say the NCVS survey is conservative except in comparison to ones by say Kleck.  Comparing Armed Citizen to actual police data makes a great rhetorical device, but it's bad math.

        •  In what cases would you not report? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy, liberalguy, LilithGardener

          Tell us, in what situation would you pull out your gun to defend your life or property, and NOT report it to the police?

          I cannot imagine any set of circumstances where if my life or my property was under criminal attack, I would not report it to the police.  Maybe two exceptions: 1) there never really was a criminal attack against me in the first place; or 2) I myself was involved in some crime and I didn't want the police looking at what I was doing.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:21:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In my old neighborhood... (0+ / 0-)

            ...you had little expectation that the cops were going to do anything about it.  Why bother with the paperwork? I know this, gun control would go down a lot easier if we could resolve the policing problems first.

            Regardless, unreported violent victimization is a fact of life in many parts of the country--enough that BJS estimates half of all such crimes never enter the record.  

          •  If you had something more important to do, ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LilithGardener

            ...like order a pizza and walk the dog.

            Tell us, in what situation would you pull out your gun to defend your life or property, and NOT report it to the police?
  •  Some Interesting Findings (10+ / 0-)

    Thank you, Mr. Begnal for reporting on this.

    In a study of firearm-related deaths in the home in the state of Washington from 1978-1983, there were 743 firearm-related deaths, of which 2.3% were found to be justified homicides.  For every justified homicide using a gun in the home, there were 1.3 accidental firearm deaths, 4.6 criminal homicides, and 37 suicides (Kellerman +
    Reay.  New England J. Medicine, 1986).

    Having a gun in the home raises the risk for a woman's homicide by an intimate partner by over seven-fold, compared to women who live in a home where there is no gun (Campbell, JC.  Am J. Public Health, 2003).

    Having a gun in the home increase the risk for a gun homicide and a gun suicide, regardless of how the gun is stored.  men who live in a home where there is a gun have a 1.9 times increased risk of dying by a gun homicide, and a 10 time increase in risk of dying by a gun suicide, compared to men who live in a home where there is no gun (Dahlberg, LL. Am J. Epidemiology, 2004).

    In 2010, there were 230 justified homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.  That same year there were 8,275 criminal homicides using a gun reported by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.  According to the FBI in 2010, for every justified homicide using a gun, there were 36 criminal homicides (Report by the Violence Policy Center, 2013).  

    For gun owners who are concerned about protecting themselves and their families, the safest thing they could do for their families is to get all the guns out of the house.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:40:10 AM PST

  •  Thank you. Let's work toward no 'bad' uses (6+ / 0-)

    of guns.

    I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong. Seldom turns out the way it does in this song.

    by mungley on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:45:56 AM PST

  •  CDC report commissioned by Pres. Obama: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hangpilot
    “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,”
    My math may be off, but I believe that comes to a number somewhat higher than "8".
    •  Okay, go with your 3 million. Fifty times (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, WakeUpNeo

      3,000,000 is now 150,000,000 and neither I nor anyone I've ever met has ever met anyone who was on either side of those 150,000,000 "blessed events" (and that includes the eight years I was in prison,  with thousands of guys that could have figured in there someplace.)

      But let me tell you a true story, and you decide which column to put this one in. Around mid-seventies. Bad ass guy, on one of his short stints in the free world fights a copy in a jealousy thing, and leaves the cop in a wheel chair forever. A couple of cops, then, get the word out to all of the right places about a kilo of cocaine ripe for the taking. When the window lifts at the appointed location, the "theif" takes multiple head shots. And it was only the brother of the bad ass guy, so no real satisfaction in that, but also no appetite on the part of anyone to investigate.

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:37:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you and your damned vulcan logic. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldpotsmuggler, Glen The Plumber

        the only statistics i've ever seen that were more hilariously and obviously bogus, while nonetheless promulgated with straight faces, were the voting tallies we used to see from places like the USSR and Iraq.

        of course, in FR's standard obfuscatory disingenuosity, he cites the CDC report so as to imply (but only imply, you see, thus maintaining his self-plausible deniability) that the report grants any particular credibility to such survey results. his pants-wetting peepee-stiffening fantasies notwithstanding, it does not.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:51:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I know crooks talk (0+ / 0-)

        but what are the chances an inmate's going to own up to having ran with his tail between his legs when someone pulled a gun?

        •  Supposedly prisons are "crime training schools" (0+ / 0-)

          and I heard alot of shit, but nothing about how to avoid folks like you doing all of the sorts of things that folks like you always fantasize about.

          But, hey, if you have a book full of personal stories, write them all up so that we can all learn something.

          There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

          by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 02:27:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't look at me (0+ / 0-)

            Haven't held a gun in almost twenty years, and certainly never pointed one at anyone.  

            On the other hand, that's a mighty specific course you've outlined.  One of dubious value regardless of whether or not DGU is an anomaly or as frequent as violent crime.  As dubious as say exchanging notes on the best way not to trip on your shoe laces while holding up the cashier.

            •  Okay, so you failed reading in elementary school (0+ / 0-)

              and never bothered to make up for it. These supposed 300,000,000 participants (both sides, even though gunnuts are always wont to talk about 5 or 6 assailants, and love to act like gang banngers never carry also, so the math on your side works out to everyone in the country having been on one side or the other at least once in our lives) it's also clear that I've said that 8 of my 50 years of adult life have been spent as a Prisoner of the War on Drugs. And the total fifty have yielded not one of you legitimately.

              P.S. So let me ask you this. Six months on the site and nearly 1,000 comments, but no diaries, no followers, and no one following. Do you think that you'll ever break down and act like you actually belong here? Or are you just going to keep blowing smoke?

              There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

              by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 06:27:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  FrankRose: misleading CDC quote is being a dick. (2+ / 0-)

      This has been pointed out to you dozens of times, explicitly, by various Kossacks. Yet you keep on pasting your deceitful quote, which by the way does appear on the NRA website, with exactly the same deceitful omissions as yours, and with a similar headline: "CDC Study Ordered by Obama Contradicts White House Anti-Gun Narrative." Your behavior is not dialogue, it does not advance the discussion, it is being dickish.

      If you misquote that CDC study again then I will Hide Rate your comment for DBAD and report you to Moderators for it.

      As just one example, I pointed this out to you here:

      You are deliberately omitting the sentences before and after the sentence you pasted. The study was put together with several voices, with Gary Kleck an outlier in exaggerating his so-called "DGU." The only words you omitted in your ellipsis "..." is the attribution to the discredited NRA 'researcher', Kleck! You once again fail to include the sentences before and after it, which put it in context. Clever? No. Deliberately misleading? Yes. Here is the full paragraph (for readers who aren't already familiar with it), using small font for the only part you quoted, so readers can spot your deceit:

      Defensive uses of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010). On the other hand, some scholars point to radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (Cook et al., 1997). The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field. The estimate of 3 million defensive uses per year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys. The former estimate of 108,000 is difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.
      Kleck and his co-authors are among the few who use the phrase "defensive gun use" and who do national surveys, so all this sentence says is that Kleck claimed in 2001 that there were 3 million of his mythical 'DGUs'. But other scholars disagree sharply with him. Thus, the CDC study calls for more research. Obama allowed Kleck to be part of the report in order to free up Congressional funding for the CDC's gun research, which the NRA and its Republican Congress had blocked.

      The CDC study did not address the use of guns to intimidate, threaten, or brandish. It is highly unlikely that any survey respondent would admit to brandishing, which is a crime.

      The 108,000 figure cited in Cook's 1997 paper did not come from a study using Kleck's signature phrase 'Defensive Gun Use,' but it did ask a generic, open-ended question about "anything that the victim might have done for self-protection."

      For those who don't know Kleck's junk 'science', this article has a summary of a few of the criticisms of Kleck's 'research', although I suspect the problems run even deeper: http://vacps.org/...

      A National Research Council report said that Kleck's estimates appeared to be exaggerated and that it was almost certain that "some of what respondents designate[d] as their own self-defense would be construed as aggression by others" Understanding and Preventing Violence, NRC.
      Other critics, including those at CDC, go even further, nearly mocking the implications of Kleck's alleged research.

      Deceive, much?

      This wouldn't be so bad if this was the first time you've been told this. But it has been pointed out to you dozens and dozens of times in countless comments to gun diaries here on DailyKos, and yet you keep repeating the same half-truths about a "CDC study commissioned by President Obama." Apparently, you are hoping you will fool a few DailyKos readers who haven't read the dozens of replies to you elsewhere. Maybe. But this deceit is wearing thin and people are on to the truth.

  •  To a gunnie... (5+ / 0-)

    Any time they whip out their gun they'll claim it was a defensive (or "good") use.  Most people probably consider this behavior as something else entirely.

    “The purpose of our lives is to add value to the people of this generation and those that follow.” – Buckminster Fuller

    by TheFern on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:28:52 AM PST

    •  Indeed, this is why survey-based methods are (6+ / 0-)

      so unreliable. Every time some paranoid guy yells, "I've got a shotgun in my hand," through the door at the scary cleancut,  well-dressed young men with those books in their hands, he chalks it up as one more DGU. Or for that matter, crouches behind the locked door, gun in hand, saying nothing, silently praying for the pizza guy with the wrong address to give up and go away: Ding! An angel gets its wings.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:57:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Less certain, obviously (0+ / 0-)

        though I wouldn't say less reliable.  After all, we're comparing extrapolating from a statistical sample to actually counting things.  And even then, the count suffers from a degree of imprecision.

  •  So by our RKBA statistical reckoning that gun (0+ / 0-)

    kill and injury statistics are meaningless because they are dwarfed by other kill/injury statistics. And further the NRA shows the gun kill/injury statistics dwarf the good gun use statistics they present.

    I guess it is safe to assume guns are not needed for good gun use. Guns are only required to keep the kill/injury statistics high.

    Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

    by 88kathy on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 03:32:10 PM PST

  •  The 'bad' uses should also reflect intimidation, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran

    threats, brandishments, etc. -- I'm not aware of any reliable estimates on the number of such bad uses (i.e. those that do not involve a discharge).

    •  The best we have, unfortunately, are surveys (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight

      like NCVS.  

      •  Clearly, a lot more research is needed. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rduran

        The methodological problems are very difficult (if not intractable), because part of it is a psychological perception issue.

        If a gunslinger believes (or asserts) that showing his weapon averted a crime, how is one to prove it true or false?

        If another person at the same incident believes (or asserts) that the gunslinger brandished his weapon unnecessarily and was threatening, how is one to prove it true or false?

        Even if there is videotape available, these are questions inside the minds of the participants.

        (Is it more likely gunslingers will exaggerate the number of these alleged "DGU" incidents, or underestimate them? I think the answer is clear.)

        One research approach would be to select a random sample of alleged "defensive gun uses," then try to locate (there's the rub!) and interview all the witnesses to the incident, to try and corroborate or falsify how the gunslinger reported it. While not perfect, this would at least provide some reality-check on the self-reporting used by the NRA's favorite researcher, Gary Kleck (pictured below), and his ilk.

        Gary Kleck, gun-nut
        •  Hemenway, Ludwig, and Cook (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharon Wraight

          Here.  You might be interested in the "Some Concluding Thoughts" section.

          I'm not terribly comfortable with either side's tendency to sort researchers into friend and foe--especially based on conclusions reached in a single investigation almost twenty years ago.  I've read the exchanges amongst Ludwig, Cook, Hemenway, and Kleck, and I've come to the conclusion that the early 1990s surveys and NCVS even today are simply inadequate measures.  Kleck is not John Lott, and we shouldn't be so quick to tar and feather a guy for standing by a twenty year old report when the subject is so completely murky.  At some point, this animosity towards the other side needs to go away.  It's not bringing civilian disarmament about any faster and it encourages retrenchment.

          •  Ha! :-) Thanks! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rduran, i saw an old tree today
            Another interesting exercise would start with a sample of gun uses that are reported to the police, and interview each of the participants.
            Good idea! :-)

            It's a real challenge for academics when research becomes politicized. It runs against the entire grain of scientific research, academic training, the academy, objective and unbiased science. On the one hand, scholars try to stick to the facts and methods and peer-reviewed canon. But on the other hand, when the research agenda becomes skewed through lobbying, funding, 'push-poll' phrases, stacked questions, etc., then objectivity requires one to call out the biases.

            Kleck is not Lott, but in some ways he strikes me as more insidious. His 3 million "DGU" is so risable that it casts doubt on his integrity, doubt further cast when the NRA/GOP pushed for him to be on the CDC panel rather than leaving it in non-partisan hands.

            I don't have any quick answers or solutions.

            •  The same could be said about (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sharon Wraight

              Hemenway or the folks at the Center for Gun Policy and Research.  Research, especially at the intersection of public policy, is an inherently political exercise.  Academia has hierarchies, paths for promotion, competition for funding, and all the other ingredients of a political system, which is probably why academic politics is an active area of research. The solution, however, isn't to immediately jump on the integrity of the investigators.  Kleck has been pretty open about his datasets, which is more than you can say about Lott (or Kellerman).  John Hopkins is pretty open as well.  No, the solution is pretty much the same you'd find in government: broad based agreement on standards of ethics.

              There is a lot of murkiness in this area, and coming up with operational definitions is extremely challenging.  For example, it is not a foregone conclusion that restricting collection to events reported to the police would produce a more randomized sample than polling people randomly.  In fact, there's a number of reasons to suspect it wouldn't be.  For one, reported incidence may result from coordinated police activity rather than from independent events.  An observer effect, if you will.  

              •  It could be said, but it wouldn't be true. :-) (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tom Begnal, rduran

                I'm (half-)joking; I haven't looked deeply into Hemenway, Kellermann or CGP, have you?

                I have looked at reviews of Kleck's "DGU" work, by respected social scientists (including others at CDC), and they mock his methodology and findings. I'll look for the links if you're interested.

                If you know of academically robust critiques (i.e. not from the NRA or its ilk) of Hemenway's, Kellermann's, or the CGP's gun research, I would very much like to see them! Hemenway is Professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, with a B.A and Ph.D. from Harvard, and is the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center. Kellermann is now the Dean of School of Medicine at the US military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), with a long list of awards and distinguished service.

                Are there specific data sets from Kellermann that you've tried to obtain, and couldn't? Have you downloaded and examined Kleck's data sets? (No need to remind you of GIGO, I'm sure.)

                If you're merely asserting that "both sides are biased, so the answer is probably in the between," I would object that this is precisely what Lott, Kleck, and other NRA darlings hope to achieve: moving the goalposts, redefining the problem, re-setting the agenda, etc. This is what Fox News and the GOP have done with objective news reporting. And other mainstream media have followed, with the kind of "he said/she said, fair and balanced" baloney that most of us on DailyKos have come to recognize and detest. Academics who turn a blind eye to this aren't doing due diligence.

                I've written peer-reviewed research on acute conflict, so I am quite familiar with the intersection of public policy, politics, and academia. Nor did I "immediately jump on the integrity" of Kleck -- indeed, to the contrary, at first I assumed his work was credible. Only when I looked into it (including peer-reviewed critiques of his work) did I conclude that that his work lacks credibility. (Back in September there was a full DailyKos diary on the CDC study that FrankRose keeps quoting out of context, btw -- this is not a new issue.)

                I agree that focusing only on events reported to the police is not an optimal approach. It omits all the cases of guns threatening innocent people, who did not report this to the police, among other omissions. One could conduct field experiments on this, e.g. by having someone legally and openly carry a gun into a public space, and then conduct a short survey of everyone (or a sample thereof) who saw the gun. Did they feel threatened? What %? How many people/hour? By estimate, how many people/year? Why do you suppose Kleck didn't do this? It seems like such an obvious field test. ("The questions one asks determine the answers one gets.")

                >polling people randomly.
                Surely you're not suggesting this as a robust method to quantify the number of times a gun was necessary to deter a crime? The self-reporting bias would be astronomic. Every gunslinger will have at least one (tall) tale to tell. (Otherwise, it'd be a little hard to justify carrying around a lethal weapon, among other problems.) And yet, most of us who don't carry guns never feel that it would have been necessary. Not to mention the fact that if fewer Americans carried guns, then fewer Americans would feel the need to carry a gun to defend themselves against other gunslingers -- a regress in more than one sense of the word. Cross-national comparisons might be fruitful.
                •  That would be (0+ / 0-)

                  Hemenway, Ludwig, Cook and Lambert.  We could throw in Tom Smith as the voice in the middle.  

                  I haven't tried to audit the Kellerman dataset, and it is now available.  However, at the time of the controversy, it was not:

                  As a threshold point, it is seriously debatable whether either the Sloan or the Kellermann results should be credited at all, because the data on which their work rests was neither deposited with the New England Journal nor otherwise made available to independent researchers.

                  Brandon Centerwall notes that Sloan has not made his data available. Brandon Centerwall, Homicide and the Prevalence of Handguns : Canada and the United States, 1976-1980, 134 AM.J. EPIDEMIOLOGY 1245, 1246 (1991). Professor Henry Schaeffer of the North Carolina State University Genetics Department made a telephone request and Professor Law- rence Southwick of the SUNY-Buffalo School ofManagement Sciences a written request to Dr. Kellermann to inspect the data on which his 1998 study was based. Neither was honored.

                  I haven't audited Kleck either, but apparently there was no issue in acquiring NSDS data.  And I'd already stumbled Ludwig and Cook's NSPOF, and I didn't find anything in Kleck's report that indicated NSDS had overcome Ludwig and Cook's objections.  Personally, I have no idea whether or not DGU lies in between NCVS and the others or outside; the result is teased out of a very small segment of an initial sample and that's enough for me to say "stop, there's nothing here."
                •  Oh, and no (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm not suggesting an unconstrained random sample is a robust method of doing anything, just that it's better than using a deterministically tainted one.

            •  Research is not necessarily politicized (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sharon Wraight

              when examining volatile social issues

              It is not problematic when there's a clear hypothesis, for example, a researcher may want to study the effects of care after, say, other-driver induced auto injury versus self-induced auto injury, hypothesizing that aftercare for other- induced injuries is less than aftercare for self-induced injuries, and as a result researcher will need to address the role of uninsured driving and may even address drunken driving

              With some expertise in the area, I will say that if a researcher wants to be unbiased, there are established means to do so, that is, minimize bias, and inviting expert comment makes the method and results stronger (the BJS study for example is a very sound method)

              However there's even more ways to obfuscate and bias research, sadly in my experience these tend to be the often privately funded studies

              Clearly cutting off sound research and silencing sound research-based policy as has happened in research in gun violence is political, dangerous and probably stupid

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