Fibbies huddle-up (courtesy latimes.com)

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- There are two models of modern murder that are used in the debate about how to deal with crime. The assumptions about reality that the models are based on are significantly different, which results in consistently different prescriptions for public policy. The first model, which I call the “Progressive Elite” model, has these basic assumptions about criminal homicide and its causes . . .

1.  The majority of people, except for the exceptional elite, are just moments away from committing a criminal homicide.  They have poor impulse control and fly into rages which escalate into homicidal rages if a weapon happens to be present.  For this reason, only those in the elite, who have become experts in government through the attainment of public office, employment by police agencies, or attendance at ivy league schools, should be allowed access to weapons that might be used when these uncontrollable, emotional fits, strike.  Just a few months ago, it was reasonably summarized by  David Frum at thedailybeast:

Most gun casualties occur in the course of quarrels and accidents between people who would be described as “law-abiding, responsible gun owners” up until the moment when they lost their temper or left a weapon where a 4-year-old could find it and kill himself or his sister.

2.  The second model, which I call the “Trust the People” model, holds that the vast majority of criminal homicides are committed by a tiny fraction of society, that they are easily identified by their past history of violence, cultural set, and lack of civilized values and discipline instilled by a stable home life.

John Lott notes that it is the second model that has triumphed:

Actually, as I showed in More GunsLess Crime, about 90 percent of adult murderers have a violent criminal record. About 89 percent of juvenile murderers have a criminal record for serious crimes.

– In 2010, there were 36 accidental deaths involving kids under age 10. Most of those children were also shot by adults with criminal records. Accidental deaths are very small portion of total gun deaths. You can look up the data for other ages or all ages here (http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe). Note that “unintentional” means “accidental.” If you want to look up other issues there, please note that the CDC measures homicides differently than the FBI.

Lott is joined with a well known academic from Harvard, David Kennedy: A very short summation of David Kennedy’s finding about urban violence is quoted  below from the nhregister:

While homicides result from a variety of factors, the vast majority are committed by a small, violent and often gang-affiliated segment of society.

“We’re dealing with a tiny distinct, population in the city, and that tiny distinct population of gangs that drives the worst violence can be quiet. But it often doesn’t take much to get it going,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy agrees that most criminal homicide is committed by a small group of offenders with a past history of violence. He also shows that the violence can be significantly reduced by community and police focusing on this small group.   To be fair to Mr. Kennedy, whose work I admire, he has noted that his efforts may not have much effect on domestic violence, though I do not have a link to that comment.  Here is a link to a David Kennedy interview that gives a good summation of his approach to reducing criminal homicides:

The two models of modern murder are, at the core, reflections of a larger split in basic assumptions noted by Thomas Jefferson:

“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests.”

–Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824. ME 16:73

While the “Progressive Elite” model for criminal homicide has been discredited, it still has significant effects in critical institutions. The FBI Uniform Crime Report was created as part of the progressive movement, and it reflects its origins in its extremely limited definition of justifiable homicide.    From the UCR Handbook:

NOTE: Justifiable homicide, by definition, occurs in conjunction with other offenses. Therefore, the crime being committed when the justifiable homicide took place must be reported as a separate offense. Reporting agencies should take care to ensure that they do not classify a killing as justifiable or excusable solely on the claims of self-defense or on the action of a coroner, prosecutor, grand jury, or court.

The following scenario illustrates an incident known to law enforcement that reporting agencies would not consider Justifiable Homicide:

17. While playing cards, two men got into an argument. The first man attacked the second with a broken bottle. The second man pulled a gun and killed his attacker. The police arrested the shooter; he claimed self-defense.

The scenario quoted is a virtual shorthand for the Progressive Elite model. The UCR even goes so far as to direct reporting agencies *not* to take into account the findings of coroners, prosecutors, grand juries or courts about whether a homicide is justifiable or not; only the FBI’s extremely limited definition is to be used.

This explains much of why the UCR reports only a fraction of justifiable homicides in the United States.  They simply define the rest out of existence,  which naturally flows from the cognitive model used.  If homicides occur from an emotional quarrel, with no one really at fault, then justification becomes moot.

Gary Kleck shows that between 5.6 and 13% of reported homicides are justifiable homicides by citizens who are not police.

The rarest, but most serious form of self-defense with a gun is a defensive killing. The FBI does not publish statistics on self-defense killings per se, but it did start publishing counts of civilian justifiable homicides gathered through their Supplementary Homicides Reports program in their 1991 issue. For a variety of reasons, the FBI counts of civilian justifiable homicides represent only a minority of all civilian legal defensive homicides.

I have not found any work that refutes these findings. Those who cling to the Progressive Elite model simply state the FBI numbers as fact. In 2010, the UCR reported 278 justifiable homicides which are only 1.9 percent of  the total criminal homicides (14,748) reported.

A corollary result of the “Progressive Elite” model is puzzlement at the fall of general crime rates coincident with the rise in justifiable homicides. If justifiable homicides are simply excused criminal homicides, then they should rise and fall with the homicide rate generally.

According to the “Trust the People” model, justified homicides reduce the very small number of violent people likely to commit criminal homicide, thus directly lowering the number of homicides in the future. The “Trust the People” model is gaining credibility and respect. It is the basis for the victory of the shall issue permit model, and the growing number of “constitutional carry” states where no permit is required.

c2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973.  He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

33 Responses to Dean Weingarten: How and Why The FBI Underreports Justifiable Homicides

  1. Even with in the context of the FBI numbers Frum is full of it. As Mr Weingarten has pointed almost all murders are committed by people with prior felony convictions not by random citizens. The “Progressive elite” model assumes that not only murder but all crime and suicide is uniformly distributed throughout the population. In their minds a middle class honor student with no record is just as likely as Trayvon Martin to commit a crime.

    • In the narrative that the old media constructed, Travon Martin *was* a middle class honor student (or so close as to make no discernable difference).

      Liberal fascists are not concerned about facts when attempting to use a “crises” to influence public policy or election results.

      • The vast majority of the homicides are related to the drug war. End that waste of money and lives and that homicide rate will plummet. Of course, the plan is to create chaos to be a distraction while you steal power for yourself.

        • The vast majority of homicides are related to gang activity. Ending the drug war will not change the environment that create gangs and the violence that goes with it. Besides the war on drugs must be successful because the murder rate has fallen significant in the past twenty years. /irony

        • The War on Drugs is an abject failure. That the murder rate has fallen is not evidence to the contrary.

          “The vast majority of homicides are related to gang activity. Ending the drug war will not change the environment that create gangs and the violence that goes with it.”

          Except those gangs are largely in the business of selling illegal drugs. There wouldn’t be homicides related to gang activity if there wasn’t any money in it. Nor would there be any homicides if it were a legal business. Pharmacies and liquor stores don’t have shoot outs over territory.

        • I guess you missed the meaning of the /irony.

          So you think that once drugs are legalized that the gang bangers will stay in school and/or become responsibile citizens? /sarc

          The root cause of the gang culture is the subsidy of single mothers who have children by multiple fathers. If that doesn’t change then gangs and gang violence will continue. They will find other criminal activities to keep them occupied. The heyday of the mafia was not Prohibition. It was the mid 40s through the early 70s. The last big score, which led to their downfall, was cheese and Pizza parlors. The Black “P” Stone Rangers make as much money from cigarette smuggling as they do from drugs.

        • “So you think that once drugs are legalized that the gang bangers will stay in school and/or become responsibile citizens? /sarc”

          No idea what these slash-word tags are supposed to mean. But in plain English, yes, they wouldn’t become gang bangers without the financial incentive. You seem to suggest that these people are born bad.

          Drugs were already illegal in the 1940’s. It seems that business has merely moved from one type of gangster to another. Nor was the mafia caused by single motherhood. At that time, most Italians were very big on family values — socially-conservative Catholics who didn’t even believe in divorce. Jews, Irish, and other ethnic groups involved in organized crime had similar cultural values. Which doesn’t mean single motherhood is not a a problem, but organized crime is about making money. Smuggling cigarettes is selling drugs. It’s an illegal market created by prohibitive taxes.

        • You obviously don’t know much about the social history of crime. Only a small percentage, tiny percentage really, of Italians and Jews were involved in organized crime. The Irish were old hat by then. The kind of criminal gang that exist in the African-American community is not driven by the same social forces that Italian-Jewish mob was. Those folks were professional criminals while the inner city gangs are made of hordes of fatherless/parentless children. It is straight out of Lord of the Flies.. I suspect that the Hispanic gangs are much more like the mafia then are the black gangs of the inner cities. You would probably see a reduction in gang activity in Hispanic neighborhoods.

          You also do seem not to know that drugs were not a big money maker for the Mafia until the late 1960s. It was niche market. They made money from both illegal and legal activities. The mob controlled legal gambling and prostitution in Nevada until the mid to late 1980s. Make something legal doesn’t keep criminals out of it.

          In the end you are no more logical than the gun grabbers. They believe guns cause criminal violence and you believe illegal drugs are responsible. Neither of you know what you are talking about.

  2. When cops shoot two people 24 times in their car its called justified by some. You cap a mugger who promises to beat your ass and you are in cuffs.

    Ok I get it now.

    • see, that was not so hard, now give us all your guns and you can never-ever-ever own a gun again, even if you have credible threat to your life. Don’t worry, the Police will be there to fill out the paper work and tidy up after you are killed.

  3. The wonders of the “intellectual elite”. Virtual demi-gods of wisdom, intelligence and erudition; the only ones capable of understanding, of comprehending what is ultimately needed for all of us, the chattering classes; what is needed for true justice and security in an unjust and unsafe world.

    Two examples that show the heights of their acumen and depth of wisdom? Affirmative action, the proof that two wrongs,racism, does not make right; and gun free zones; the proof that wishful thinking is stronger than proof of reality.

  4. Complete Bullsh.t,in my home town three days ago a 66year old bank robber killed an 80 yearold combat veteran in a bank attept when the 80 yearold told him to get out.The 66 year old had been arrested 62 times since 1967.What’s wrong with this picture?

  5. To clarify a minor point, the 278 justifiable homicides reported by the FBI in 2010 are 278 justifiable homicides committed by people who are not members of “Law Enforcement”.

    Justifiable homicides committed by “Law Enforcement” has its own category. For 2010 the number is 387.

    • I makes sense that the justifiable homicideS by law enforcement is higher than that of the general population due to the nature of the job. Law enforcement’s job to take dangerous people into custody, those who commit criminal assaults, robberies, homicides, etc.

      • I am sure that sworn officers have a much higher *rate* of justifiable homicide. However, because sworn officers are less than one fourth of one percent of the total population, the number of justifiable homicides by ordinary citizens is some multiple of that of the sworn officers.

        Remember, the FBI definition of justifiable homicides only records a fraction of the justifiable homicides by ordinary citizens. Actual numbers are three to seven times greater.

    • Dean,

      I seem to also recall something goofy where the FBI Uniform Crime Reports required cases that were tried and acquitted (or some such nonsense) to raise the bar even higher for an event to meet their definition of a “justifiable homicide”. Did you notice anything like that?

      And just look at their number of 278. If you spread that evenly across all 50 states, that would equate to something like 6 justifiable homicides per state per year. (Of course states with higher populations would actually have more justifiable homicides than states with less population.) It seems like there are more justifiable homicides (as an average person would define it) than that.

      I also have to wonder how many unsolved homicides were actually justifiable homicides where the victim never reported the event to police. There are lots of people who do not trust the police or may actually have a criminal record and will not take any chances with the criminal justice system.

  6. Frum:
    “Most gun casualties occur in the course of quarrels and accidents between people who would be described as “law-abiding, responsible gun owners” up until the moment when they lost their temper or left a weapon where a 4-year-old could find it and kill himself or his sister.”
    UTTERLY FALSE
    1) 2/3 are intentional suicide. Studies, even by anti gun researchers, show that a couple hundred at most can be attributed to avialabity of firearms and that between 96 to 98% of those suicides would occur by other means absent a gun.

    2) of gun murder in fact the DOJ studies shows a minimum of 60% of victims are active criminals. Indeed a dozen more in depth local studies (Minneapolis, etc) show some 75% of victims are felons, and another 10% are prior arrestees.

    Frum is an outright liar or completely ignorant

    • A liar. He’s clever, and I’m sure he’s looking at the same statistics we are. It’s just that being a fanatic (in the worst sense of the word), he only sees what he wants to see.

      He’ll tell lies upon lies, and because they’re in service of a glorious goal, to him they will have the ring of truth.

  7. I have two views on this and will attempt to detail each, as the nexus of them proves a point in and of itself.

    On the one hand I have little doubt that I could kill many people with only my empty hands. Others would surely prevail but many, if not most, would fall to my empty handed assault. It’s not that I’m particularly skilled or imbued with athletic talents, rather that as a 37 year old male with no serious physical impediments I have a huge advantage over most women (half the population) the elderly and children. Throw some improvised weapon into the mix; a tire iron, bat, kitchen knife or hammer and the assault may well prove deadly even to a younger, larger, more athletic adult male. Were I of a homicidal bent, the sheer aggression and will to kill would be enough to overwhelm the vast majority of the people.

    I am a concealed weapons permit holder who carries every day. I favor a duty sized pistol with 2 spare magazines and very frequently carry a pocket pistol and single spare mag as a backup gun. I also daily carry a tactical folder and after dark a 150 lumen light with strobe capability and frequently carry a 95 gram can of 2.5 million Scoville OC. While already at a physical advantage of the majority of the population I habitually arm myself in such a way as to have an least an even chance with the entirety of the populace. Given that I’m an IPSC past master, IDPA competitor, and combat veteran and that my arms are at least equal to what anyone in 99.99% of the population is carrying and it’s likely that I’d prevail in any lethal contest I entered.

    All of that to say this: I really badly don’t want to kill anyone. In the few times I’ve drawn my weapon as a civilian I have avoided shooting someone only because I was willing to put up with provocation and increasing levels of threat well past the point where it was advisable to shoot in self defense. I count my reservation to shoot and calm in not doing so to having combat experience and in having, what at least to my mind, is such an overwhelming advantage of gun and skill that I could wait until the last possible moment before using deadly force.

    Then there is this; I really, really don’t want to shoot. I’ll try anything, even at my own risk, to avoid having to shoot someone. I think the vast majority of people are like me. They do not want to seriously injure or kill anyone, ever. They will do so only when they have absolutely no choice. Not a lack of good choices but really no choice left at all besides kill or be killed.

    This is why there isn’t blood flowing in the streets. Most of us, owner, carrier or anti, don’t want to kill anyone if we can possibly avoid it. We’ll go to great lengths to avoid killing because we carry an instinctive and moral injunction against killing other humans. There are men in combat who cannot bring themselves to fire their weapon at the enemy because of this injunction who are otherwise brave and patriotic men. They just can’t kill unless they see a specific and eminent threat.

    Left to ourselves, society, when armed, will be civil and safe. Play with the reasons all you wish but I swear there exists a basic injunction against seriously harming or killing other person for the vast majority of people, and those very few who lack such an injunction will not live nor breed over much when faced with an armed society.

    I’d rather have a conversation with someone pointing a gun at me whom I really didn’t think would shoot than to shoot them, even though all the criteria for self defense have been legally and practically met. I’ve actually done it, talking someone into letting me leave rather than gunfight. It’s not cowardice, it was my conviction that they really didn’t intend to shoot me, and my powerful desire not to shoot them.

    I will shoot and kill a person if they leave me no choice, but given the choice, I’ll try anything else first, and I don’t think I’m alone.

    • I think you’d be right in saying that nobody wants a confrontation. You also successfully alluded to the well-documented fact that most normal people don’t turn to violence but only as a very last resort, much less use lethal force. Of course, it never hurts to have the same qualifications you have, either. But for those of us that don’t, and I think it’s safe to say that most us really don’t, we just have to find a paradigm that works for us until we can build other skill sets (if we so choose to build other skill sets).

      But see, a great many anti’s honestly believe that people like you and I are just itching to kill someone at the slightest provocation and only even dream to think of owning a gun, much less train with and carry one with any kind of regularity, because we have something to prove. We’ll never be able to convince them of anything different. It’s just not in their nature to deviate from the worldview that’s been literally spoon-fed to them without one single iota of any extra thought whatsoever on their part.

      • I think you’re entirely right Excedrine, regarding both the human injunction against killing and the mindset of the anti’s.

        I mention my skill level only to make the point that I think I’d actually be more inclined to have shot in some scenarios if it weren’t for having a high degree of confidence in my weapon and ability with it. That is, being very ready and very well armed actually allow for violence not to take place. This is also true of situational awareness; more of it makes violence less likely.

        For our part as POTG, I think we sometimes feed anti’s what they want to hear about us with loose bravado that the vast majority of us don’t mean. Then again, as you’ve pointed out, the antis have a strong cognitive bias that makes it nearly impossible to explain how being better armed and trained doesn’t mean you were looking for trouble but rather highly motivated to avoid it.

        It’s different for everyone they say, and in my research there are certainly many different ways to react to the imminent threat of serious violence.

        I know what it’s like for me though, and it starts with a sinking feeling that stems from the balance of being safe tipping toward not being safe. That balance is inextricably linked to the ‘normal’ mindset of doing no harm. Until I feel threatened, I not only lack desire, but don’t even think of harming anyone. Once threatened though the specter of committing violence is as terrible as that of potentially being the victim of violence. That is to say that the natural balance is that I don’t want to hurt anyone just exactly as badly as I don’t want to be hurt because both are bad outcomes that are costly emotionally and potentially in a great many other ways.

        Thus for as long as the balance is maintained we’re somewhere between a conversation and a standoff. It’s only when I’m no longer able to maintain the balance by deescalating, retreating, using threat displays, negotiating from cover or what ever, that potential violence can become actual violence.

        The whole process is a study in escalating anxiety and fear. Though, I do not fear for myself (though perhaps I should), my fear isn’t of being killed, it’s of having to kill someone else. It’s not bravado, it’s some mix of confidence and egalitarianism I suppose, mixed up with fear of prosecution and potential incarceration.

        That is why I’m willing to wait and negotiate long past the point where if I were viewing the scene say on a video monitor I’d be shouting at the other person to shoot the aggressor.

        I said all of that to say this: I know I’m not alone in my extreme reluctance to use violence. The reasons and emotions might be different for someone else but the result is the same, a powerful injunction against use of lethal force. For that 1/10 of a percent of the population who don’t have it, overcoming your own and killing them may be the only way to survive an encounter with them. For the rest of society, if you can buy time they will probably deescalate or retreat and not attempt to kill you, and so you won’t have to attempt kill them.

  8. people who would be described as ‘law-abiding, responsible gun owners’ up until the moment when they lost their temper or left a weapon where a 4-year-old could find it and kill himself or his sister
    I would not describe a person who has small children and does not lock or carry their weapon to be a responsible gun owner. I have only ever lived with adults since becoming a gun owner, and my second purchase (after the gun) was a small safe.

  9. “Most gun casualties occur in the course of quarrels and accidents between people who would be described as “law-abiding, responsible gun owners” up until the moment when they lost their temper or left a weapon where a 4-year-old could find it and kill himself or his sister.”

    No, most gun casualties (not counting suicides, which are means invariant) are committed by criminals who cannot legally own guns. And while armed robbery is not insignificant, most of those criminals are shooting other criminals over illegal drug business.

    Remember, it was stories of gangsters with Thompson sub-machine guns during Prohibition which lead to the NFA. But what ended the violence was making alcohol legal. Most of the gun violence in the U.S. and Mexico would end by making drugs legal.

  10. The FBI underreport EVERYTHING. The UCR system just does that.

    Justifiable homicide is a very fine technical point in law, varying from one jurisdiction to another. The more reliable – and more pertinent – measure would be to ask people who have shot other people dead if they FEEL they acted in a justified fashion. Ask the witnesses, ask the police.

    Killing someone with good cause is more an issue of some informal concept of fairness rather than law.

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