# Lies, Damned Lies and Washington CeaseFire’s Statistics

Washington CeaseFire (or maybe CeaseFire Washington, I’ve seen it both ways) has just spent \$50,000 buying bus ads touting various anti-gun messages and, as we’ve mentioned, they’re oh so full of fail. One of their most heinous efforts, though, regurgitates the classic Kellerman study figure that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely – oops, sorry he has since recalculated the figure to be only 22 times more likely – to be used to kill someone in the home than to kill an intruder. But with the “correction” RF knows me too well. There’s no way I can let them get away with that bogus number . . .

First let’s put the 43 times number to bed. GunCite.com has a magnificent deconstruction here; basically they use Dr. Kellerman’s own numbers and methodology to show that in homes without a firearm you are ninety-nine times more likely to suffer a non-firearm related killing than you are to kill an intruder without a firearm . . .

But, back to the problems with the new and improved 22 times number.

#1) Dr. Kellerman initially failed to state how he determined that the gun used belonged in the home or had been brought into it by someone else. Four years later he wrote a  letter to the NEJM with a correction stating that in follow-up interviews it was determined that in 63% of the cases the gun was organic to the household. So, 0.63 times 22 means you’re only 13.6 times more likely to be ki . . . etc. (I think I’ll start using the acronym TMLTBKBAGIYHTTKAI . . . or, better yet we’ll just use TML (times more likely). So, that has reduced the 22 TML figure down to 13.6.

#2) Dr. Kellerman failed to account for other risk factors like drug use, criminals or criminal activity in the home. According to his study’s Table 3, 53% of the case study households contained at least one adult who had been arrested. So 0.47 times 13.64 leaves 6.4 TML.

#3) Most of the killings didn’t actually occur “in the home,” Oops! According to Kellerman’s own figures, only 23.9% of the homicides happened in the home of the victim. So, 0.239 times 6.4 gives us 1.5321812 so let’s call it 1.5 TML, shall we?

#4) Kellerman’s study includes suicides committed with guns. The problem with that is he did no research to determine if the “victim” acquired the weapon solely in order to commit suicide or if they used it as a “method of opportunity.” And despite the antis claims to the contrary, numerous studies have shown that suicide rates are independent of method. In other words, taking away guns may reduce the gun suicide rate, but non-gun suicides will increase enough to offset this.

#5) And the biggest problem of all: Dr. Kellerman seems to believe that killing someone is the only way to use a gun defensively (one wonders, then, what he thinks of police departments who routinely arrest people instead of killing them). But according to Dr. Kleck’s study Targeting Guns (as cited on page 19 of Gun Facts ver. 6.0) in less than 0.1% of DGUs is the attacker killed. Indeed, in 92% of DGUs the victim merely brandishes the weapon or fires a warning shot.

So, putting all this together, what do we have (besides the fact that 22 TML is a completely bogus number)? After my swipe at number crunching we have reduced TML to 1.5, but what does that mean in real life?

Well, according to the CDC‘s numbers, over the 11 years from 1999 to 2009 we averaged 11,800 firearm-related murders annually. If we carry that number through 2010 and look at the census numbers, that means the your chance of being murdered with a gun is 11,800/309,000,000 or 0.0038%. So even if we accept Dr. Kellerman’s premise that guns are only useful when they kill someone, having a gun in your home raises your odds of being killed from 0.0038% to 0.0059%.

But again, what does that mean? It means that keeping a gun in the home raises your chance of being killed with a gun from 1 in 26,186 to 1 in 17,004 whereas your chance of dying from something other than gunshot? 1 in 205.

I think I’ll take my chances with the guns.

1. Not too Eloquent says:

You arguing facts with people that don’t care about facts. They care about easy jobs among like-thinking liberals in private organizations that live off government (i.e. – taxpayers) grants. Washington Ceasefire is such an organization. The truth is the last thing these people sit at their desks worrying about. They worry about continuing their government grants and garnering private donations.

1. cody says:

BINGO!! “You arguing facts with people that don’t care about facts”

1. colin says:

You will never convince some people with facts, but there are plenty of people you will convince. This exercise is worth doing every time, if for no other reason to help influence quiet bystanders.

1. Not Too Eloquent says:

Any “innocent bystander” who is influnced by a sign on the side of a bus in Washington D.C. is a lost cause to begin with. Pro-2A types like us would better spend our time finding out if Washington Cease Fire used taxpayer “grants” to fund this nonsense, not go down into their sewer and argue facts with people that do not possess ears.

2. colin says:

Maybe, but in this case, i believe that the ‘innocent bystanders’ are going to be readers of this site. Preaching to the choir? Maybe, but, then again, maybe not. Id rather be constantly arguing the facts and not be heard then arguing bullshit and be heard.

3. Matt in FL says:

I think you dismiss the influence of signs and billboards like this too easily. You’re contemptuous of the “silent bystanders” as “lost cause[s],” but that’s simply not the case. Many of them are simply uninformed, and that’s why information like this is so valuable.

If they do not have a vested interest in knowing the facts already, and have not researched those facts themselves, many people will make decisions based on what they’ve “heard” or what they’ve “read somewhere.” So, the next time the subject comes up, they regurgitate that they “read somewhere that you’re 22x more likely…” etc. It’s not because they’re stupid, or because they know it to be true, it’s because they’re using the only information that they have at their disposal.

For that reason, posts like Bruce’s are very important to swaying colin’s “silent bystanders,” because posts like this provide solid ammunition with which to fight the single sourced “heard somewhere” crowd.

4. Not Too Eloquent says:

My point is facts are not the issue in this case. This is the game the liberals play. Think distracting from the economy and gas prices with a trumped up contraception debate. You don’t argue with Nancy Pelosi’s statement that 98% of Catholics use contraception. Everybody knows it’s B.S. and you are then playing Nancy’s game by her rules. Contraception is not the issue, distracting from the economy is the issue.

2. JayF says:

43? 22? It seems as if every time an anti-gunowner advocate makes this sort of claim, the number changes. Actually, I have it on good authority that a gun in the home is FIFTY SEVEN times more likely to be used to kill someone in the home than to kill an intruder.

Anyone want some of this ketchup?

Quote the study. Give us a link. Don’t just spout information and run away…

2. DrewR55 says:

I have heard that the owner of a gun is ten times more likely to shoot someone then a person who doesn’t own a gun.

There, how’s that.

3. Bill Baldwin says:

be used to kill someone in the home than to kill an intruder.
Wouldn’t an intruder killed by a homeowner usually be in the home?

Oh, I got it… be used to kill someone in the home than to kill an intruder outside of the home.

4. JayF says:

*sigh*

Didn’t ANYONE see “The Manchurian Candidate”?
57? Ketchup?

Mrs. Iselin: [at meal time] I’m sorry, hon’. Would it really make it easier for you if we settled on just one number?
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: Yeah. Just one, real, simple number that’d be easy for me to remember.
[Mrs. Iselin watches her husband thump a bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup onto his plate]
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: [addressing the Senate] There are exactly 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the Department of Defense at this time!

3. Ropingdown says:

It’s sort of stunning that statistics even enters the debate. If 57% of challenges to illegal searches or seizures were filed in courts by people who later turned out to be criminals, would we decide to ignore the 4th Amendment? That the statistics used by the anti-rights groups are patently false should be beside the point, though I am happy to see challenges to their baloney made effectively.

1. Silver says:

“If 57% of challenges to illegal searches or seizures were filed in courts by people who later turned out to be criminals, would we decide to ignore the 4th Amendment?”

Remember that many antis don’t care at all about freedom; in fact, they loathe it, because it upsets their utopian mindset, and in some cases makes them resentful of those who can confidently exercise their freedoms without the burden of irrational fear. For antis, the Constitution is an obstacle that stands in the way of their tyranny.

So, yes, I have no doubt that many people would say as much about the 4th if it came down to freedom versus the illusion of security.

1. Ropingdown says:

Agree. And we’ve been there. In fact we can say that that is the reason SCOTUS imposed the ‘exclusionary rule.’ Cops were trampling the 4th, courts weren’t stopping it, and local political authorities didn’t seem to mind.

2. cmd says:

“Remember that many antis don’t care at all about freedom; in fact, they loathe it, because it upsets their utopian mindset”

Right on the button my friend. Anti’s belong to a group who thinks they know what is best for everyone and absolutely believe they must protect us from ourselves. Their way is the only way the world should be and they cannot figure out why we disagree.

When I read the anti propaganda, it always states the influence of the gun lobby is why our gun laws corrupt the country. The anti’s just cannot seem to understand that every day people believe in what the gun lobby says. The NRA must be brainwashing us. It seems the anti’s believe we cannot think for ourselves.

The U.S. Constitution is absolute IRT the RKBA. We believe it but we will never be able to convince the anti’s. I’m not sure how effective we are at convincing the fence sitters.

3. Hawke says:

“Remember that many antis don’t care at all about freedom…”

You must remember that is until you start attacking their 1st amendment rights. Then they scream to high heaven.

Quote “For those who have fought for it freedom has a bitter taste the protected shall never savor” Unknown Author

1. Alpheus says:

This is only true to the extent that anyone tries to restrict *their* freedoms. However, they also regularly float ideas about banning the speech of people who wish to preserve the right to keep and bear arms.

So, no, these people don’t respect *any* of our rights.

4. Ralph says:

they’re oh so full of fail.

Actually, they’re oh so full of sh!t.

I calls ’em like I sees ’em.

5. Walter says:

Interestingly 22 *.63 = 13.86 on my calculator. While this is insignificant in light of all the other math going on here your numbers are still not accurate. I do think that you are much less than 22 TML to be killed but your crude number crunching is not impressing anyone who actually understands statistics. Sorry, but with the 63%, 53% and 23.9% how much of those overlap each other (shootings with ‘organic’ firearms where there were no criminals in the home [remember this could include DWIs and lesser crimes] and the shooting happened in the home)? This unknown factor could make the correct number as high as 5.258 (assuming 100% overlap [22*.259=5.258]) and as low as your 1.5 (assuming 0% overlap). Given the numbers involved I would suspect the number is on the high side as I expect there is a high amount of overlap.

The good news is that it still puts a pretty big hole in the propaganda by antis. Worst case is your chance is 0.0199804% (0.0038*5.258=0.0199804) so no one should despair but perhaps we should all consult a statistician every now and then.

Remember we can only mock their numbers if we do OUR numbers correctly.

6. mikeb302000 says:

Bruce, That’s all double talk except point number 5, with that one you got it half right. The defensive gun uses did not require killing the intruder, but did require shooting the gun, which obviously leaves out all the brandishing type DGUs.

Whatever factor you use for brandishings vs. shooting defensively, you’ve still get a greater chance of hurting yourself or a family member than an intruder.

1. James says:

Arguing the point that someone is more likely to be shot because there is a gun in the house is akin to saying that a person who does not live in a cave is more likely to get sunburn.

It’s true, yes. But does it really matter?

2. Accur81 says:

Brandishing a firearm is DGU. If you don’t think so, you’re welcome to brandish a whiffle bat, and see if that causes an intruder to retreat.

While statistical analysis is certainly useful, it is a difficult to verify a brandishing DGU. A shot fired leaves multiple sources of evidence while brandishing does not.

The fact that firearms can be effective without firing a single shot is not a truth that anti gun gurus will accept. A potential victim needs only to brandish a firearm one time for it to be worthwhile. He still has lethal force as a last resort. The antis will not include him in their numbers, but the man who refused to be a victim doesn’t need their justification. He knows better, and so do we.

1. Mikeb302000 says:

Accur, I know a DGU can happen with no shots fired only by showing the gun. I don’t deny that, I’m even willing to accept that it happens much more often that the other type of DGU in which shots are fired.

Still, you’re chances of using the gun to save yourself are smaller than the chances of having a gun mishap.

That’s just simple common sense.

1. Robert Farago says:

Like most uses of the phrase “common sense” by gun control advocates, you’re being entirely misleading. The odds of having a gun mishap may be higher than the odds of needing a firearm for a DGU (Defensive Gun Use), but the odds of either are both extremely low. You can round it down to zero.

The odds of being struck by lightning are also lottery ticket low. People who carry an umbrella during a rainstorm add to their risk of a lightning strike. But we don’t consider them crazy for doing so. Nor would we consider them crazy if they put a lightning rod on the top of their house.

Equally, the stats of DGU and negligent discharge (ND) do not apply equally; as you’d expect for a stat that’s an average. There’s no scientific data (as in “facts” or “proof”) to suggest that everyone who owns a gun has the same risk level for either event. A jeweler who’s careful with his gun is more likely to have a DGU than an ND. A twenty something who plinks with his friends on a regular basis is more likely to have an ND than a DGU. Remember: neither event is particularly likely and both examples could take steps to minimize their already minimal risk.

Sorry Mike, but there’s no point framing the debate in “which event is more likely” when BOTH events are highly unlikely. AND people have the constitutional right to run those risks. I mean., c’mon: anyone who buys a gun is aware of the dangers. And if they’re not, well, they’re doing their bit to help create the stats you use to mislead current and potential gun owners. Win win.

3. GS650G says:

I’ll take my chances with those chances, mikeb and let the bad guys take theirs/

1. Silver says:

Nope, you’re not allowed. Remember, tyrants like mikeb want to control your life and your decisions for you.

4. tdiinva says:

Anothe stawman from the Mikey.

Most deaths by gun, whether by deliberate or accidental action, occur in a small subset of the population. I think you will find that death and gunshot wounds by brandishers occur almost exclusively in gang banger territory. So do most negligent discharges, shooting of members of the same household and all 16-21 year old “children” who killed by gunfire.

We have lots of gun owning household here in Virginia and not only do we have 1/5 the violent crime rate of DC, we also have a very low rate of NDs, spousal shootings [when a typical Virginian catches his woman in bed with his best friend he runs to his divorce lawyer instead of going for his gun] and “children” dying from gunfire. Virginians must be exceptionally skilled with firearms don’t you think?

1. Ropingdown says:

A simple confirmation of your argument is to stop by “The Gun Wire” blog and read the article on “Homicides Down, Shootings Up In Milwaukee.” Almost the entire cast of shooters and casualties is minority. I’m not the one to solve the riddle, whether they are shooting because they are poor or poor because they are shooting. However, the facts (and the politicians’ whining excuses) speak for themselves: Drugs play a huge role, gangs, and robberies account for a large majority of the gun crime. Blacks were 16.9 times more likely to be shot, and nearly the same likelihood to be the shooter in a criminal gun use. 2.9 times as likely as hispanics. Are hispanics in Milwaukee rich on average? No.

7. Levi B says:

The bane of anti-gun studies: sources.

8. Not Too Eloquent says:

You can say that again.

9. Tom says:

If you say something often enough, people will believe it.
” I have heard statistics and it has been proven that if you have a gun, that you are more likely to use it on friend, family, and yourself; rather than a DGU. But, I have an 870 anyway.”
The guy who said this was a door gunner in Vietnam.

Gee…that is really an open door.

I actually do know where a family was executed by another family member; but that seemed to be more of an argument over the proceeds of drug sales, than your usual mental unstable family shooting.

I do know of an attorney who shot himself in the head after battling terminal cancer.

I do know of a brother who shot and killed his sister while cleaning a shotgun. Knowing this guy, I would not be surprised if he just wanted to off his sister.

I do know of a guy who dropped a gun while in a tree stand, discharging and killing him.

I suppose you can slice and dice statistics many ways.

1. Matt in FL says:

Based on the people you know, I’m damn sure glad I don’t know you. I’m liable to become a statistic.

10. CT says:

It seem like only part of the arguement has been presented with “having a gun in your home raises your odds of being killed from 0.0038% to 0.0059%”.

The other half is “by what percentage do your odds of NOT being killed go up/down by having a gun in the home”? That’s a harder one to measure…