We’ve been following The Trace, a new civilian disarmament propaganda tool funded by Michael Bloomberg and his gun control campaigns that claims to not take sides in the gun control debate. Instead, they purport to present facts in an impartial and journalistic manner. Their first article didn’t inspire much confidence in that it proved the authors were starting out the window during high school statistics. Their latest effort isn’t much of an improvement . . .
As they point out in their article “Gunfight or Flee: New Study Finds No Advantages to Using a Firearm in Self-Defense Situations,” most Americans believe that a gun makes them safer. This is a problem, since the constant cries from gun control activists that guns are evil and must be banned will only work if the general public feels the same way. Which will put the civilian disarmers on the side of the angels.
But when the public believe that guns actually make them safer, as they do right now, then the gun grabbers are the bad guys. They’re trying to take away the average person’s ability to protect himself and his family. Not only does that make the task more difficult for Everytowns and CSGVs of the world, but it makes the gun control activists question their moral superiority. They don’t like that.
The solution? Prove that guns are evil, useless, and dangerous.
A recent study published in The Journal of Preventive Medicine offers new support for the argument that owning a gun does not make you safer.
That’s a heck of a claim to make right off the bat. I wonder how they plan to prove that?
The study, led by David Hemenway, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examines data from the National Crime Victimization Survey — an annual survey of 90,000 households — and shows not only that so-called “defensive gun use” (DGU) rarely protects a person from harm, but also that such incidents are much more rare than gun advocates claim.
Wait wait wait, hold on a second. Let me get this straight. You want me to believe that this study is definitive proof that guns are useless for self defense, and you’re basing this on a survey? Given just how well The Trace reported on the last “study” they presented as proof, I think we need to look at the actual study itself instead of the reporting.
The work they cite is a paper by David Hemenway which draws its information from the National Crime Victimization Surveys. That’s a product from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, but at its heart the NCVS is still a random poll of about 75,000 households. In other words, Gallup probably has better and more accurate data. That inaccuracy is amazingly apparent the moment you look at the results blurb for the paper in question.
Of over 14,000 incidents in which the victim was present, 127 (0.9%) involved a SDGU [Self Defense Gun Use]. SDGU was more common among males, in rural areas, away from home, against male offenders and against offenders with a gun. After any protective action, 4.2% of victims were injured; after SDGU, 4.1% of victims were injured. In property crimes, 55.9% of victims who took protective action lost property, 38.5 of SDGU victims lost property, and 34.9% of victims who used a weapon other than a gun lost property.
Did you catch that? I know you may have been wowed by the 14,000 incidents that were examined in the study, but as the author plainly states there were only 127 events that fit the criteria of what they were investigating. In other words, the results of the study are based on 127 events elicited from a random survey of the entire nation.
That’s interesting, because according to a report by the Clinton administration Department of Justice there are roughly 1.46 million defensive gun uses per year. Given that this study by David Hemenway looked at data from four years of NCVS reports, during that time period there were roughly 5.84 million defensive gun uses. But Dr. Hemenway is content to base his broad generalizations on a mere 127 events that were voluntarily self reported. So already, the good doctor is working with a fraction of the total number of defensive gun uses that is so small that my calculator has to use scientific notation to express it. Statistical significance is so far out the window that I’m having a very hard time believing this isn’t some sort of April Fool’s joke.
Let’s think about that self reporting thing a bit more as well. The NCVS reports are from surveys, which are voluntary statements from a random selection of households. If someone was involved in a successful defensive gun use, do you seriously believe that they would volunteer that information? As we always tell people, rule #1 is to shut your yap and get a lawyer. That isn’t something likely to be shared with a complete stranger over the phone.
OK, so the study is complete and total bullshit. That’s like someone observing a single classroom of students and coming to a conclusion about the behavior of every student in the entire United States. What does The Trace have to say about it?
The only thing we can know for sure is what we have empirical data on: Namely, that there is a reliable floor for defensive gun use estimates at around 1,600 a year. In addition, according to the most recent data on defensive gun use, we have reliable evidence showing that owning a firearm does not give individuals any significant advantage in a criminal confrontation, and they are no less likely to lose property or be injured by using a gun in self defense.
In other words, defensive gun uses are few and far between and you’re more likely to be hurt than successfully defend yourself with a gun. That’s the same line that the Brady Campaign and others have been trying to sell us for decades, but we know better than that. And so do the vast majority of Americans. I’m pretty sure a survey of 127 events over four years isn’t going to sway anyone, unless some gun control propaganda site tries to hide that fact and spin this as definitive proof that guns are evil.
Oh, wait. That’s exactly what The Trace did. Right.