According to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” I’ve applied this admonition to anti-gun advocates many times over the years; lobbyists who are to spin, obfuscation, distortion and outright fabrication what Fillippa Hamilton is to glowering. This time it’s TTAG’s resident anti Mikeb302000 who’s ignoring reality and, how do I put this delicately, making shit up. His latest rectally extracted “fact” arrived as a comment on David Liberman’s DGU Week In Review posted last Saturday . . .
You would need 10 a week to reach my guess of 500 [defensive gun uses] a year. You can’t even do that.
I know, I know the brandishing ones don’t make the news. So maybe you can get to 50o….
You see where I’m going with this, right? DGUs are rare. They’re fewer than gun accidents, which you guys love to disparage as rarer than hens’ teeth. Compared to gun misuse, the real legitimate DGUs are about 1 to 100 or 200.
Disarmingly, Mikeb readily admits his estimate of the total defensive gun uses (DGU) in the United States is “merely” a guess.
In fact, his misleading 500 DGUs pseudo-statistic is equal to less than one percent of the number of DGUs accepted by America’s most active anti-gun group: The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The Brady Campaign accepts the National Crime Victimization Surveys’ numbers, which place the number of annual DGUs at somewhere between about 60k and 110k. It’s an extremely conservative estimate.
According to a study performed in the early 1990s by Drs. Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, there are between 2.1 and 2.5 million DGUs annually.
Dr. Kleck is no right-wing shill. As the good doctor disclosed in his 1997 book Targeting Guns (quote from GunCite.com):
The author is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Independent Action, Democrats 2000, and Common Cause, among other politically liberal organizations He is a lifelong registered Democrat, as well as a contributor to liberal Democratic candidates. He is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of, or contributor to, the National Rifle Association, Handgun Control, Inc. nor any other advocacy organization, nor has he received funding for research from any such organization.
There are, of course, other sources for statistics on the number of DGUs.
Shortly after Kleck and Gert released their study, the Clinton Department of Justice commissioned their own study on the number of DGUs annually. That study was conducted by Drs. Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig, who both have a long record as very strong proponents of very strict gun control. It concluded that there were 1.46m DGUs per year.
Bottom line: Mikeb’s guess of 500 DGUs a year is completely divorced from reality, by several orders of magnitude.
Mikeb also claims that there are 100 to 200 criminal gun uses (CGUs) for each DGU. Although he’s started with a completely bogus number for annual DGUs, let’s follow this through . . .
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Nonfatal firearm-related violent crimes table, there were 326,090 “firearm incidents” in 2009. To avoid the “snapshot” problem, we’ll consider their firearm incident numbers from 1999 through 2009 (excluding 2006 for methodological reasons).
That gives us an average of 375,113.1 annual firearm incidents. Compared to the Cook-Ludwig numbers for defensive gun use, we arrive at an average of 3.89 DGUs per CGU. Not the other way around, and not 100 to 200 CGUs to DGUs.
Mikeb gets it exactly backwards, and then some. That said, quantifying the actual number of annual criminal gun uses is a tricky business. I prefer to look at firearm related homicides vs. lives saved by DGUs.
According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2010, gun-related homicides claimed the lives of 11,740 people per year.
Kleck and Gertz’s article Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun found that 15.7 percent of people involved in a DGU believed they “almost certainly” saved their life or someone else’s. Some 14.6 percent of respondents believed someone “probably would have” been killed if not for their DGU.
In the sake of argument, let’s assume that nine out of 10 of the “almost certainly” folks were wrong. Let’s also work with the idea that 99 out of 100 of the “probably saved a life” people were also incorrect.
Applying those deeply conservative metrics, at least 1.716 percent of the 1.46 million defensive gun uses saved a life. At the very minimum, defensive gun use saves at least 25,000 lives per year.
Here’s a fact for Mikeb and the antis to contemplate: for every criminal homicide with a firearm defensive gun use saved more than two lives.
Finally, addressing the question of fatal firearm accidents, Mikeb is correct: they’re as scarce as hens’ teeth. According to the CDC, there were 8,339 fatal firearm accidents between 1999 and 2010. That’s not per year, but total. The annual average: 695.
Would you like to compare that with other causes of fatal accidents, Mike? I assume not. When it comes to arguing facts, gun control advocates are unarmed. And dangerous.