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UPDATE: After we posted this, Gary Kleck was informed that his assumption about the nature of the CDC survey data he’d discovered was incorrect and withdrew his paper re-calculating the number of annual defensive gun uses. added the following statement on their article about his original conclusions:

The paper discussed in this post below has been withdrawn by the author Gary Kleck after Reason brought to his attention an important detail first pointed out by Robert VerBruggen of National Review: Kleck in the original paper treats the CDC’s surveys on defensive gun use as if they were national in scope, as Kleck’s original survey was, but they were not. From VerBruggen’s own looks at CDC’s raw data, it seems that over the course of the three years, the following 15 states were surveyed: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. (Those states, from 2000 census data, contained around 27 percent of the U.S. population.) Kleck says he is working on a new version of the paper that recalculates the degree to which CDC’s survey work indeed matches or corroborates his, and we will publish a discussion of those fresh results when they are complete. But for now Kleck has pulled the original paper from the web pending his rethinking the data and his conclusions.

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. The big bad NRA holds so much sway over their puppets in Congress that they got them to prohibit the Centers for Disease Control from even studying “gun violence” and the alleged public health crisis that we have in America due to our malignant relationship with firearms the right to keep and bear them.

There’s only one problem with that anti-NRA talking point. It’s completely and utterly false.

The Dickey Amendment — which was one of probably hundreds of special interest baubles that were hung from the 1996 omnibus spending bill Christmas tree that Congress now uses to fund the government’s operations — prevents the CDC from using its money to advocate for gun control. Research into the whos, whats, whens, wheres and whys of firearms and their use in the commission or prevention of crimes is perfectly legal. No matter what our civilian disarmament advocating friends and their accomplices in the media would have you believe.

Why did Rep. Jay Dickey and his gun rights-supporting colleagues in Congress worry that a federal agency might use taxpayer money to advocate against a right guaranteed in the Constitution? Maybe it had something to do with behavior like this:

(I)n the 1990s, the CDC itself did look into one of the more controversial questions in gun social science: How often do innocent Americans use guns in self-defense, and how does that compare to the harms guns can cause in the hands of violent criminals?

Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck conducted the most thorough previously known survey data on the question in the 1990s. His study, which has been harshly disputed in pro-gun-control quarters, indicated that there were more than 2.2 million such defensive uses of guns (DGUs) in America a year.

Now Kleck has unearthed some lost CDC survey data on the question. The CDC essentially confirmed Kleck’s results. But Kleck didn’t know about that until now, because the CDC never reported what it found.


Kleck figures if you do the adjustment upward he thinks necessary for those who had DGU incidents without personally owning a gun in the home at the time of the survey, and then the adjustment downward he thinks necessary because CDC didn’t do detailed follow-ups to confirm the nature of the incident, you get 1.24 percent, a close match to his own 1.326 percent figure.

He concludes that the small different between his estimate and the CDC’s “can be attributed to declining rates of violent crime, which accounts for most DGUs. With fewer occasions for self-defense in the form of violent victimizations, one would expect fewer DGUs.”

In other words, the CDC dug into the question of how often Americans defend themselves using firearms. And they did an impressive job of it, in Kleck’s opinion. The only problem with their findings was that they confirmed Kleck’s results.

Why is that a bad thing? Because based on his research, Kleck found that the number of defensive gun uses in the US was somewhere between 2.1 and 2.5 million per year, a huge multiple over the number of crimes involving firearms. Not the lower (though still significant number of 500,000) total that the CDC had claimed.

For those who wonder exactly how purely scientific CDC researchers are likely to be about issues of gun violence that implicate policy, Kleck notes that “CDC never reported the results of those surveys, does not report on their website any estimates of DGU frequency, and does not even acknowledge that they ever asked about the topic in any of their surveys.”

Gee, why would they bury important results like that? It’s almost as if the white coats at the CDC would rather not publicize any findings that would cast a bad light on the argument for more control and restrictions of civilian-owned firearms.

Or, as Reason’s Brad Doherty concludes his piece . . .

However interesting attempts to estimate the inherently uncountable social phenomenon of innocent DGUs (while remembering that defensive gun use generally does not mean defensive gun firing, indeed it likely only means that less than a quarter of the time), when it comes to public policy, no individual’s right to armed self-defense should be up for grabs merely because a social scientist isn’t convinced a satisfyingly large enough number of other Americans have defended themselves with a gun.


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  1. And what will they say when they confirm that most gun crimes are done by young black and brown men…and not white NRA members?
    The left will cry racism and bigotry …watch and see.

    • Pretty sure they already have! And don’t forget our last prez (which shall not be named) went on and on, on national TV, about the huge numbers of black and brown young men who were dying each year from violence involving firearms (which they possessed illegally, in order to shoot each other). I happened to be watching, with my mouth gaping open, I ended up CERTAIN that he was just about to demand laws prohibiting blacks or browns from firearm ownership, or at least from illegal possession (an interesting concept). But no, he wanted to take my legally owned guns instead.

      • The government can’t fight real crime and real criminals – it’s too difficult and too dangerous. They would rather fight safe, law-abiding citizens. Just like cops giving out speeding tickets instead of fighting crime. A much higher return on investment…

        • And that’s the elephant in the living room. 50+% of homicides committed by an identifiable 12% of the population. 20% more by another 13-14% identifiable subset.

          We never talk about it because it involves BEHAVIOR, and discussing people’s behavior is judgmental.

    • While I agree with the demographic of violent criminals being largely non-white (checkout for Chicago gun stats), I think you may be discounting the growing minority membership in the NRA including people of color and many women. The media would love it if the NRA was all old white guys- it’s not. But they won’t report it correctly.

      • I agree with your sensibilities on this. The fact that black males 16-55 are 6% of the population and this cohort commits 50% of murder, more than 50% of illegal gun possession, 40% of all violent crime, about 25% of mass shootings, and elevated rate of shooting OF cops still does NOT mean most of that 6% are doing those things.

        I am not worried about the African Americans I employ, are pals with, are standing next to me at the range, or that are local members of the NRA (and our area has a lot).

        the problem with the numbers comes up because of the false narratives of the gun ban lobby, BLM and prison reform groups. For example BLM contends this 6% cohort being 23% of people shot by cops proves a bias by cops. It does not. This 6% cohort is EIGHT times four times more likely to have a murder, hyper violent felony or illegal firearm arrest, want/warrant, or to be fleeing one just committed. This is proven to be about 90% of all people shot by cops and obviously the risk factor in getting shot by a cop.

        The narrative of the gun control movement says, literally, “Americans shoot more people.” This is the thing with these extension of risk factor within a cohort to falsely characterize the entire cohort. in fact, 99.9% of Americans are NOT more likely to harm or murder anyone than British, Canadians, Australians or French are. The US has a small population of “Super predators” , career multiple repeat criminals who are committing over 90% of violent crime.

        • DaveDetroit and Chris – Well said. We should have thoughtful, rational discussions like this without being cast as racist (Hardcore Jewish 2A supporter here). Your comments are exactly the way to have this conversation. The issues are real but so is the fact that minority involvement will be key to the longterm effectiveness of the gun rights advocacy efforts. I encourage you to check out a couple of groups. Black Guns Matter started by a Philadelphia area rapper and Operation Blazing Sword which teaches the LBGTQ community how to shoot. They’re pretty cool efforts and good opportunities for all of us to stuff the lefts narrative down a deep dark hole.

  2. When they intentionally hide inconvenient data and come back with what-ifs, hyperbole and irrational fears how can they expect to “just have a conversation?”

    This is worse than talking to an idiot. It’s talking to a lying idiot who hates you.

    • The best part about this breaking now is the entire month of March the MSM pumped out “CDC prevented from doing research by evil NRA” stories day after day after day.

      Would be a full time job to go back and post a link to this info in their respective comments sections but totally worth it.

    • Can you imagine the CDC being asked to study the population health effects of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Amendments?

      A block from me a family of four was murdered by a guy with a knife. He tortured them and killed the kid in front of his parents. He had 14 arrests, including for five felonies, the last one thrown out due to a technicality on a warrant (the found stolen goods from a home invasion murder but this evidence was excluded leading to acquittal on the main homicide in commission of a felony and he was out in 18 months to commit more murder instead of getting life)

      This, according to Hogg/Evertyown makes me a “survivor” of Fourth and fifth amendment violence since it was a friend on my block who was killed.

      I want the CDC to study crimes committed due to this as well as due to the ACLU making it harder to mandatorily treat the insane, and much harder to convict criminals than any developed democracy.

    • Superb summation of the situation nationwide. If you don’t mind, I am going to copy your post in its entirety and use it elsewhere.

  3. There is not a single truth in the gun control movement. Not one. The entire rotten house of cards is built on lies. Financed by just a few billionaire criminals at the top.

    Eliminate those few and gun control collapses.

  4. Sounds similar to a MMR vaccine study where the results showed something like a 400% increase in autism in black kids, not the results the CDC wanted. What do they do? Destroy and change the results. Problem solved.

      • Has the whistle blower that exposed the fraud and cover-up been debunked? Missed that one. Nice try. He has gone silent, one has to wonder what carrots, or sticks, have been used to keep him quiet since initially blowing the whistle.

        • In fact the “whistleblower” was exposed as a compete fraud.

          You are subscribing to a left wing anti-science nuttery (and nearly twice as many democrats/liberals believe vaccines are harmful as do Republicans/conservatives)

        • @Chris, Dr. Thompson, the senior researcher-whistleblower who still works for the CDC, was exposed as a complete fraud? Again, missed that one. Have a citation? He went silent after he initially blew the whistle, and again, makes a person wonder what promises, or threats were used to keep him quiet. He has never retracted his statements. Please cite where he was exposed as a fraud. Otherwise I’ll assume you’re intentionally lying here.

  5. Dan,

    Will you please provide links that support this article? I want to show the anti-gunners who argue with me proof that the CDC actually hid the data. It may not change their minds, but it will give me pleasure seeing their brains short-circuit as they read it.

    Yeah, I’m a wicked so-and-so. 😀

  6. The government gun control studies are as unbiased as their climate change studies. All government studies always promote more government. If the government cannot figure out what they are trying to legislate without an elaborate study, then the government should not be studying the subject and legislating it.

    • “I can prove global warming is inevitable despite policy decisions”
      “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”
      “I can prove we can stop global warming if you’re given power & money”
      “All right then, let’s talk grant-money!”

      • The only thing inevitable is that those glaciers that melted 11,700 years ago are coming back and when they do they’re probably going to kill us all.

        (Probably won’t happen in our lifetime though.)

  7. In other news, water is wet, Jeeps do great offroad while being a bit terrible on road, GM interiors suck, 45 is superior to 9mm, 5.56 is inferior to 50 BMG, and taxes suck.

    This just in Donald Trump is either the greatest president ever or the antichrist.

  8. “If we can ban just one gun, it is worth having a few million more successful violent crimes each year.”

    News Flash: Gummint hides [taxpayer funded] study it didn’t like.

    Who would have thought that?

  9. ‘…no individual’s right to armed self-defense should be up for grabs merely because a social scientist isn’t convinced a satisfyingly large enough number of other Americans have defended themselves with a gun.’

    Exactly, what difference does it make if there’s 500,000 DGUs or 2.5 million? Or 50,000? If it happens once a decade you still have the right to defend yourself if it’s you that’s under attack.

    • Fair point. Rights shouldn’t be subject to a cost/benefits analysis. But given that the anti-gunners make the case that they are, it never hurts to have evidence that undermines their theory. Not that I can’t appreciate the idea of just refusing to pay their dirty game.

    • Agreed that cost/benefit is a bad test of rights, it would eliminate fourth, fifth and sixth amendment rights for sure.

      That said the CDC had given millions to ‘researchers” directly associated with the gun ban groups to promote cos/benefit that was an inversion of the facts.

      for example the claim that owning a firearm puts your household members in more danger. This was never once parsed for the main variable which is illegal vs legal firearm. Informal police studies in every jurisdiction that looked at it found that while illegal gun ownership was a minority of gun ownership, near 90% of intentional and accidental shootings were criminal on criminal or a active criminal whose home was targeted, say because they were selling meth out of it, etc.

      When this is controlled for, remaining homes with guns, which is to say the vast majority of homes with guns, are much safer from violence than homes that have no firearm at all, about 35% safer from violence.

      • Some interesting statements. Again, do you have links to the data where you’re deriving your statements from? Also, what is a legal firearm vs an illegal firearm? The 2nd Amendment makes no distinction, where are you drawing yours?

  10. Just sent the link to my brother-in-law. Can’t wait to read his response….most likely, “It doesn’t matter. No shooting at a school is acceptable, regardless of lives otherwise saved”.

    • Tell him shootings don’t happen at schools because they already made them Gun Free Zones.

      • “Tell him shootings don’t happen at schools because they already made them Gun Free Zones.”

        We’ve had that conversation/argument. He says, “Tell that to those gun owners who ignore Gun Free Zone signs. It is you people, not criminals who are doing all the killing.”

        • Tell your brother-in-law that Ted Kennedys car killed more people that your guns have. As for “you people” not criminals that shoot school kids, NO NRA member has killed school children. Of the mass shootings only one was done by a lunatic on the right (trying to start a race war), all the rest were left wing lunatics or followers of the “religion of peace”.

        • Brother-in-law doesn’t distinguish between NRA and gun owners. He separates people with guns into only two categories: criminals, and about to be criminals. “Legal gun owners” are the problem because “they” are the ones causing all the mass shootings. His concept of “legal gun owner” is anyone who owns a gun that is not a gang member or convicted criminal. That includes the crazies who “steal” guns and then go on a rampage.

          When faced with the fact that if it were possible to remove all the guns from legal owners, armed assaults and murders would continue, that people who were alive because they used a gun in defense would be dead, BIL’s response is that without guns, school shootings won’t happen, “…and that is all that matters”.

        • @Sam, sounds like your brother has a paranoid disorder. Maybe he should be checked in somewhere for menral health evaluation….for the his good and the for the good of those around him…..

        • Brother-in-law was a “Spock baby”. Raised to suffer no inconvenience. He is where I learned that the anti-gun people believe that if they stay away from “bad” places, they should be safe. It is we gun owners who are the problem, because we look “normal”, and go to places where “good” people go. This means BIL and the like are afraid they will be killed for doing nothing wrong, in “good” places.

      • Lol, that might cause severe mental anguish and disable him with PTSD. With the pussification/feminization of males, that’s where we’re headed. This is already standard in parts of Europe.

  11. My right to defend my life, and therefore my right to have a gun suitable for self-defense, was created at the moment of my birth. You can argue on about “Who” created this right, I really don’t care.

    The U.S. Constitution did not create this right, it recognized its existence and created the prohibition against the government form ever infringing upon it.

    If exactly zero people defended themselves with a gun, my right as specified above still exists.

  12. Anyone got or found the source numbers from those CDC studies? That would make a bulletproof argument against that group, no-pun intended.

  13. DGU should include snakes and such. I consider shooting that rabid racoon as a defensive gun use, I probably could have clubbed it to death but that would have been a little to much excitement.

  14. Even the highest number of etimaged DGU does not include all cimre premvented by non law enformcnmetn gun owners.

    In my town we had a woman pull her gun on a man attempting to assault her with a tire iron. She was able to call 911 and he was arrested. Turns out DNA showed that he had committed a prior nasty sexual and aggravated assault that left a woman permanently injured.

    But the point is not only her prevention of a crime against her, but that if she had not had her gun and facilitated his arrest there would have been a future assault on someone else, meaning in one instance shoe prevented other future crimes, perhaps two or three. he is now locked up for 25 years minimum.

    A single DGU can prevent several crimes prevented. The numbers of crimes prevented by guns are even higher than DGU numbers

  15. Apologies if I missed but where are the links to actual data in the story?
    Can we maybe have a followup story with full data and a break down?

    Big Government data that we’ve been right all along is potentially a game changer (at least against the academics).

  16. 10% of the population commits 63% of the crime.

    Irrespective of race, creed, color, national origin, etc. All human populations have an element prone to criminality. It is not a matter of race, though poverty is a good indicator, and race tags along because of US demographics.

    “In all my research, every multiple death act of violence has been perpetrated by one to two male adolescents,” psychology professor Abigail A. Baird told the Huffington Post in 2013. “I’m not comfortable saying that’s a coincidence.”

    Men commit murder, and young men are the ones that commit multiple murders. Not exclusively, but any exceptions are notable because of there deviation from the norm, not because they are the norm. So what does society do? Take guns from everyone, so that the strong and ruthless can rule by force? That hardly seems smart.

  17. Stats like this are prime reasons why we should never waste time or energy on the people who already have an illogical bias against individuals taking care of themselves. The ones we need to get our message to is the vast number of Americans who feel they have no stake in the debate, at least not at this time.

    So, if you do social media (I don’t), you should tweet and facebook this, or the Reason article, and keep it going around the official news filters. I think we’ve reached a point where about half of America doesn’t believe the MSM, or Yahoo News, at least on things they are interested in. Exactly why Trump keeps tweeting even though he gets hammered for doing it.

  18. Time for some “common sense” media control laws. “News” media caught reporting fake new should lose their “right” to publish and be locked up!

    • Folks, there has been only a short period in America where “journalists” were trying to put a respectable (objective?) veneer over their true nature. That period probably ended with Nixon. The overall nature of “the press” in this country (and others) has been “The power of the press belongs to he who owns one”.

      News outlets in this country have been biased and prejudiced since the beginning. Pushing a political or personal agenda is a hallmark of something called “Yellow Journalism” ( This type of “journalism” sometimes led to serious improvement in business and politics. (called “muckraking”, sometimes “personal journalism” )

      Upshot is that “objective journalism/reporting” has never been the standard for “news”. It was/is always about power and politics. Why do you think the “mainstream media” simultaneously attacks and supports “alternative” presentations of “news”? Because “news” is a business, and competitors cause you to lower prices, or even cease operations. Add an overall resistance to any “news” organization that is not promoting the fascist agenda, and “mainstream media” is in a frenzy to monopolize all outlets for public information.

  19. It would be great if this article actually had footnotes for us who are trying to write papers on gun self defense, but since there aren’t any can’t use this nice article that is full of doubt, even though I am a gun owner. We need facts and proof, not unsupported evidence.


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