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The holy grail for gun control activists: cold hard proof of that firearms are inherently evil. They seek the ability to point to a conclusive study that states, once and for all, that firearms do more harm than good. It’s their Holy Grail tipping point: irrefutable proof that we need to ditch a Constitutionally protected right. But every time such a study purporting to do that surfaces, the mental gymnastics required to make the data fit the desired conclusion are obvious. If you look closely enough . . .

The Violence Policy Center recently published just such a report, touted by HuffPo as definitive proof that guns are more of a curse than a blessing. Once again it does more to prove that gun control activists flunked high school statistics and logic classes than “prove” that guns are evil. From The Hill:

The left-leaning Violence Policy Center released a study Wednesday that finds people are much more likely to use a gun to kill someone without cause than to protect themselves.

According to the study, gun owners committed 259 justifiable homicides compared to 8,342 criminal homicides in 2012, the most recent year data was available.

That means gun owners are 32 times more likely to kill someone without cause than to act in self-defense, the study reasoned.

The issue here: the Violence Policy Center isn’t being truthful when they say that this is a comprehensive review of defensive gun uses (DGUs). The VPC opnly counts cases of justifiable homicide — an instance where someone pulled their gun and killed someone and the incident was ruled justifiable by the police and/or the courts — as a legitimate DGU for the purposes of their report.

What about situations where the attacker was incapacitated, but not killed? Those numbers didn’t make it into the VPC’s report. How about situations where a law abiding citizen pulled his gun, and the mere appearance of the firearm was enough to deter the attacker? The VPC doesn’t consider that to be a “legitimate” defensive gun use either. According to the Violence Policy Center, the only legitimate defensive gun use is one in which someone dies.

Out here in the real world, where logic and rational thinking trump ideology and personal biases, that assertion simply doesn’t hold water.

An attacker that turns tail and runs away when presented with a law abiding citizen holding a firearm is, in fact, a defensive gun use. A situation where an attacker was wounded but not killed is, in fact, a defensive gun use. No matter how much the VPC wants to stick their fingers in their ears and scream “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” the fact of the matter is that their report isn’t worth the ones and zeroes used to transmit it through the internet because they made a fundamental error in their methodology and discarded a huge chunk of perfectly valid data.

Are there more DGUs than crimes committed with guns? I don’t know, but a bunch of smart people say yes. And they did far more due diligence than the VPC has ever done. So don’t worry when your anti-gun friend forwards you a link “proving” that gun ownership is a net negative. It isn’t. Keep calm, link to TTAG and carry on.

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  1. On the other hand, “… Without requiring law enforcement agencies to report justifiable homicides, the data will continue to underestimate the numbers of justifiable homicides in America, and will make it impossible to draw conclusions about what the data are saying.” —

    BTW, when you use the FBI numbers that the WSJ used, you get past the mythical “259” by the time you count Indiana (288 and climbing), and there are still 35 states yet to be counted 😉

    • current government data concluded an average of over 200k lives saved each year with firearms… not including the lives but not reported.

      9k vs 200k hmmm more guns are good.

      • 1) Firstly the estimates of defensive gun uses are 500,000 (low estimate) to three million per year. Only counting where a defender actually kills someone in a justifiable homicide is specious.
        VPC using justifiable homicide is nonsense in other ways since you can claim justifiable homicide for an attempted rape. Sis not murders “caused” to murders “prevented.”

        2) of the 8,800 gun homicides in 2014, about 90% of the victims were criminals. Most felons.
        VPC is using a logic that says we should get rid of hospitals because going to a hospital greatly increases risk of not compared to the population that does not go to the hospital.

        We used to use that exercise on new undergrads taking in Stats 101: “Don’t go to the hospital because it makes you 45X more likely to die.” The thing is risk groups MATTER. 2% of the people going to the hospital have a fatal condition (disease or trauma) and that 2% is 90% of the deaths. The rest of persons going to the hospital actually have decreased risk of death. This is the same with people and household’s with gun. Firearms see to make people, and households at higher risk — but only if you don’t control for a tiny proportion of the base population (Criminals) that are 90% of the deaths

        • “. . . about 90% of the victims were criminals. Most felons.” This is an enormous insight!

          We know that a disproportionate number of the victims are inner-city minority males, generally younger. From this we surmise that many are likely involved in criminal activities. Progressives take no notice of this data; apparently, to them, Black lives DON’T matter.

          Most of us attach at least some nominal value to each life. With the rare exception for an individual condemned to death, we regard life as worth defending. If a convicted criminal is killed by another prisoner we regard it a failure by the state in its duty to protect those in its custody.

          Could it be that the Progressives have the right idea here? Or, at least an argument worthy of factoring into the equation?

          If a murderer is killed should his be counted equally with the life of an innocent? If a drug dealer is killed, should his be counted equally with the life of an innocent?

          For society to really understand the impact of gun deaths (and other deaths) perhaps we need data on the priors of the deceased. Then, at least qualitatively, we could begin to judge whether the homicides by gun need to be factored to some extent.

          Theoretically, if the ranks of the ‘victims’ were richly enough composed of serial killers or mass murderers then gun homicides might net to a positive gain to society. Such an outcome is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, we might be able to devise some modest factor for lives damaged by drug usage which – when multiplied by the number of customers – would make a dealer as much a drain on society (perhaps more so) than a murderer (or rapist).

    • Close, but it’s still missing the idea that the second amendment guarantees the rights of government militias to keep arms to protect them from…????…something.

    • One of our challenges is to overcome the power and consequences of the legacy MSM propagating this anti-gun rhetoric without critical analysis because it furthers their own bias favoring a utopian gun free population. They ignore any evidence that calls into question the tilted parameters and lack of neutrality and reality in the anti’s distorted claims, whether it is their usual rhetoric or some misleadingly half-baked unscientific study produced merely to support their anti-gun position.

      Meanwhile, these same liberal media lap dogs dismiss or ignore actual well conducted statistical based studies based on neutral, comprehensive data that demonstrates that guns are not the problem the antis say they are. Therein lays our biggest challenge, the efforts of the liberal media to brainwash an unsuspecting, unknowing, uneducated sheeple minded public.

      • “One of our challenges is to overcome the power and consequences of the legacy MSM propagating this anti-gun rhetoric . . . ” I agree; now, how to do it.

        We need to remember that the attention span of the average American has dropped to a sound-byte. My hypothesis is that the reader/listener gets the headline and the gist of the MSM message then moves on to the fashion or sports page.

        I propose that a response is to:
        – identify one easy-to-grasp fatal flaw to cast the “study” in a bad light; and
        – then refer to a corresponding study that refutes the claims.
        The flaw need not be the most important or have the most severe impact. Rather, it needs to be easily grasped, even if it’s relatively unimportant. The other more important or severe flaws can be alluded to or contained in the referred-to study.

        In any case, I wonder whether studies, facts, statistics or reasoning are cost-effective avenues into the mind of main-stream America. Observe that the Antis are concentrating on emotional appeals. Maybe that’s where we ought to hit them.

        In the wake of the Charleston incident the words of a Christmas carol came to mind:

        – As the shepherds watched their flocks by night;
        – the wolves came and ate them.

        Is that the proper role of a spiritual shepherd? To watch his flock passively while the wolves tear them to shreds?

        Perhaps the strongest argument we can make is the ‘call to duty’ of parents to protect their children. We need to put this point in the foreground against a background of shit-happens and the government can’t stop it.

        The best we can hope from government is to run the guilty to ground, try, convict and imprison them. But that’s small comfort to the innocent victims. Neither the innocent victims of the crime that has already happened; but the also the victims of the crimes they will commit when released.

        Our governments have reached the limit of the number of people society wants to incarcerate. The prisons are full. Convicts are patrolled before they complete “good time”. Convicts are put on probation. Charges are plea-bargained down. Violent illegal criminals are released without constraints when they can’t be deported.

        Under circumstances now prevailing, the reader/listener is powerless to protect his/her children via the agency of government. He/she must take individual responsibility. Strengthen the perimeter of your home; stay away from stupid places, etc.; and, do whatever you can to defend yourself.

    • Hey it works for economic stats too. Hell it works for budget studies… Wait a sec does it work for showing how well a certain regime has done in stabilizing a certain region? Possibly a region that has been helped over the edge by said regime? Hmm leftists are getting idiots to think they are doing some great work by cooking the books, Same old story(Pennywise)

  2. Propagandists supporting an agenda driven organization using cooked data. Yeah, seems par for the course.

    Also, they didn’t flunk statistics and logic. They simply aced Propaganda 101. They know exactly what they’re doing. Leftists are liars, deceivers, and charlatans. A whole lot of them are genuinely stupid, but don’t mistake for incompetence what is clearly willful deception.

    When you’re on the wrong side of an issue, you have to lie, cheat, and fudge the numbers. Fortunately for the overlords, their voter base isn’t bright enough to catch on.

  3. Cooking books is what the NRA & 2nd amendmet terrorists love to do best.

    And what ever it is gun-nuts they’re cooking I`ll be sure to get the puke bucket ready & the paramedics on standby.

      • Did you think before typing that drivel of a comeback.

        Must be the thoughts of you sexualizing your penis compensator in some attempt of being a “hard man” polluting your mind.

        Gun-nuts and logic don’t mix no matter the amount moonshine you hillbillies consume.

      • Look at his name and look at how laughably, over the top insane his posts are. He’s satirizing how stupid antis are.

        And if he’s not…well, I’m choosing to believe that’s not possible, since I’d lose my last vestiges of faith in humanity if anyone could possibly be that staggeringly stupid.

        • Having seen some of his comments before, I tend to believe he really believes this drivel, but unsurprisingly, he cannot back it up with any cogent argument or data. Just straight insult and ad hominem. Nothing to see here, move along. Don’t feed the trolls, they’ll drool on you.

    • Your side is infamous for cooking the books as well to further your statist disarmament agenda.

      Question – what’s your procedure for when you are mugged? Do you bust out the Vaseline? Pray to Bloomberg?

    • VivaLaSatire,
      I see from your pother posts under that name you say US gun murder is up. US gun murder in fact fell 62% from 1993-2014. What do you think it means that you invert and reverse the core metric on the issue?

      Secondly the VPC is using the exact type of methodology we use in Stats 101 to show undergrads that going to the hospital increases you risk of death 4,500%.

      Prior felons and persons with five or more arrests are 2% of the US population and according to 30 jurisdictional studies, over 90% of IUS murder victims.

      In fact if you are not a felon or a person wit five or more arrests, you are at much LOWER risk of being murdered in the US than you are in Australia or Canada

  4. There is no way to count how many robberies or assaults are prevented by the mere presence of a gun where the aggressor simply left. Most are never reported to anyone.

    • This is also true, and how many of those can be taken to be true to account of the witness? How many aren’t reported at all?

      To be fair however as we should count a successful DGU as incapacitating as well then the same should go for the other side, it is worth saying. Although if the earlier commenter is to be believed (I’m on my phone otherwise I’d look cause I love stats and studies) then their number is blatantly false anyway… although I am sure that they probably have some inane qualifier hidden away for a true DGU in light of that.

      • The base line for all criminal shootings resulting in gunshot injury are about 6-7 times the murder rate. So peg it at roughly 60K injured but not killed through criminal misuse of firearms. That is still short of the FBI estimate of 200K DGUs, or Kleck’s 2 Million. Of curse, as others have stated, most DGUs do not involve shots fired, shots fired with no injury, or shots fired with injury but not death.

        There is a reason that “justifiable homicides” are not reported. Some are cleared by the police, some are cleared by the DA, and some are cleared by judge or jury. FBI stats only cover those reported by the police, and again, only those where the police bothered to report them. Part of the reason is that a DGU is not a crime, and is not a “crime statistic.” Further, not all agencies report their statistics. Both Kleck and Lott make note of this in their studies.

        • I think, technically, shouldn’t the stats that are looked at include all sorts of gun-used-in-a-crime even if it just carried and compare that to all sorts of DGU, including when a criminals merely notes that a potential victim is carrying (perhaps from across the commons) and selects a different potential victim? I mean, if we’re REALLY trying to determine the relative pro and con of defensive guns… but, then, there are other purposes of guns as well, so we need to factor the value of those other activities into the equation as well.

    • Yep. If someone broke in my house and left before the Mossberg barked at him, I would not report it. Who knows maybe I was depriving some aspiring Rhodes Scholar of electronics they needed to pay for education. Never know how things can get spun when the police and courts get involved.

  5. I myself am pretty gob-smacked by the way The Hill reported this. Headline says “study claims’ instead of “study finds” (much less “study proves”); first sentence notes that VPC is “left-leaning”; NRA gets the last word in the article. And if memory serves, Devaney isn’t exactly a gun-friendly writer. Amazing. BTW, another rank flaw in the “study”–no distinction between legal gun-owners and gun-wielding criminals, apparently.

  6. Nick Leghorn, your logic is just as flawed as you say VPC’s is. For an apples to apples comparison, they couldn’t compare fatal and non-fatal DGUs to just gun homicides. They would have to compare fatal and non-fatal DGUs to fatal and non-fatal criminal gun uses too. I have no idea how the results would skew, but that would be a much more valid comparison than what you propose. I don’t think their comparison, assuming the numbers are accurate (???) is off. Just that it was chosen based on the outcome. But you can’t say it’s not valid and suggest that they do an apples-to-oranges comparison that generates your desired outcome or they’re cooking the books. Your suggestion was just to cook the books your way instead of theirs.


    • Disagree.

      The premise is: people are much more likely to use a gun to kill someone without cause than to protect themselves.

      Thus, armed assaults not resulting in homicide by firearm would not factor into either side of the comparison.

    • You have to read the title of the report. It compares murders and dgus, not murders and attackers killed by a dgu. RF’s numbers are correct. Defensive use does not always mean fatal shooting. If the goblin cuts and runs when you draw, that is still an effective defensive use of a gun.

    • I agree with what you are saying in that the numbers he is using are comparable and what Nick is wanting to add in with the non-fatal DGU’s would skew the numbers. I believe they are comparing apples-to-apples.

      I actually have no problems with the number VPC is providing. What I have a problem with is the conclusions they made with those numbers in making a correlation between the numbers. Here is where I think they are comparing apples-to-oranges.

    • The point of the study was to prove that defensive gun uses happen less often than murders. If they had said “used to kill good guys more than used to kill bad guys” I might have been okay with the analysis, but the conclusion (that guns are tools of evil) is still wrong. In this case their claim is that there are fewer defensive gun uses than murders, and in that analysis they ignored the vast and overwhelming majority of DGUs by the dataset they chose.

      Words have definitive meanings. You can’t re-define them to suit your political agenda.

      • people used to have definitive genders and ethnicities as well; but both of those are fair game for redefining….

  7. If they can define a “defensive gun use” as adjudicated “justifiable homicides” by people who legally own guns, I can define “gun violence” as when a gun shoots someone to death by itself.

    0/259 = 0 There is no “gun violence.”

    More accurately, that number – 32:1 – is the ratio of homicide charges against legal gun owners adjudicated as murder vs. those adjudicated as justifiable homicide. It indicates that the charging process is pretty robust. If they charge a homicide, it’s judged as such 32 times out of 33.

    • “More accurately, that number – 32:1 – is the ratio of homicide charges against legal gun owners adjudicated as murder vs. those adjudicated as justifiable homicide.”

      Wrong. The vast majority of the 8K+ murders are committed by gangs and criminals using illegal guns, not by legal gun owners.

      Also it does not mean that anyone got charge with the homicide, just that someone got killed. Not all homicides are solved.

  8. And police officers killed well under 1,000 people in justifiable homicides last year as well. Therefore, police are roughly 20 times more likely to kill someone without cause than to act in self-defense, right? Therefore we should disarm police, right?

  9. I see a much larger problem with the VPC “study”: they compare law abiding firearms owners with no criminal record (a.k.a. “good guys”) to hardcore violent criminals and felons (a.k.a. “bad guys”).

    Remember, hardcore violent criminals and felons committed almost all of those 8,000+ murders with firearms. Of all those murders, in how many cases did a mild-mannered “good guy” suddenly flip-out and use a firearm to murder someone in a crime of passion?

    I don’t believe exact data is available. Estimates, however, are available. We know that the recidivism rate of ex-convicts is above 90%. The United States Justice Department and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation also tell us that criminal gangs commit nearly 90% of all violent crimes. Thus, at most something like 800 mild-mannered “good guys” suddenly flip-out and use a firearm to murder someone in a crime of passion.

    That number alone reduces the VPC’s ratio from 32 to 3. Thus, firearms owners are at most 3 times more likely to murder someone than to commit justifiable homicide.

    More importantly, while data may be interesting, it doesn’t matter. I have an unalienable right to defend myself from attackers regardless of what other people have or have not done. My right does not depend on data.

  10. Sweet Lord, finally definitive proof that these monsters view a lawful defensive gun use as morally equivalent to a murder. Otherwise they would opine that a live innocent homeowner is worth at least 32 dead victims (mostly ‘children’ in the inner cities, no doubt) who would have been victimized any number of other ways. This truth is the justification behind the “gun rights are not open for utilitarian book keeping” argument, btw.

    Also worth mentioning, that the supposed enormous number of show-only gun defense incidents is probably rivaled by the number of show-only muggings that don’t get reported because only a few bucks is stolen (and no cards). Not commenting on which is more important for a peaceful society, but it’s disingenuous for us to assume a huge number of unreported gun uses but not include the flip side of the equation. My point is that these numbers don’t matter, at the end of the day.

  11. No one is ever going to mistake a liberal anti-gun groups “research” as something of credibility. It can be taken as gospel that their statistics will be skewed, cooked, slanted, and twisted to fit their rights infringing agenda. That has been proven over and over, time and time again. Even more pathetic is that the biggest bozo’s the democrats have to offer like obama and clinton will jump all over these studies like flies on….well you get the idea.

  12. Let’s assume, just for a second, that guns actually “cause more harm than good”. Let’s analyze first how that’s quantified; it’s quantified by more deaths than saved lives (I.E. more homicides/suicides/accidental deaths than successful justifiable acts of self-defense). Where in that equation is personal liberty?? By the same logic, couldn’t we also state that bathtubs “cause more harm than good” because they only kill people and NEVER save lives? Couldn’t we also conclude that personal vehicles do the same? Death is an inherent risk of almost everything in our daily lives. In order to truly determine the value of something we must consider both utility and less-tangible attributes like insurance of personal liberty before we weigh the value of that thing against the harm that can result from its use.

    • Excellent perspective. Especially travel by automobiles. We could walk, bicycle, ride a horse, take a train or plane. Why should we endure any mode of transportation that has a risk of death higher than the lowest risk? Suppose that air travel has the lowest per-mile risk of dying; then mandate that we always travel by air! Even if you can walk to your neighbor’s house you ought to be obliged to fly – because the DATA PROVE that it is the safest way to travel.
      No man has ever been killed by a whistle; therefore, you must eschew a gun and carry a rape whistle.

  13. Gun control
    Global warming (sorry, “climate change”)
    Solar power
    Obama care

    You want to find the lies? Just follow the money. The guy cutting the check gets to determine the outcome. The tests, studies, reports, finding are all predetermined and doctored to fit the agenda and narrative. It’s the progressive way. A complicit media and tainted educational system insure the completion of the mission.

  14. The underlying, unstated premise here is that the only use for guns is to kill. Therefore, if no one is killed in a defensive incident, then it wasn’t a gun use. It certainly wasn’t a use of a gun if no one was shot.

    From our perspective, it’s as much of a win (maybe more) if the guy turns tail and runs at the sight of the gun. We don’t consider shooting or killing someone the end all be all of gun usage. Why would we? We use them all the time for plenty of other purposes. Plinking, target shooting, competition, hunting, all sorts of things outside the realm of defensive considerations. So if we just present the gun and it’s all over, then the vast majority of us are content to move on, not involve the police, and call it good.

    That’s why people who actually look for DGUs always find way more than police have on record.

  15. In 2009 my sister I law used her firearm to injure and hold an attempted rapist at bay for police The man jogged right into her garage as she pulled in and attempted to break her car window with a piece of pipe meaning it was not just gun ownership but carry that made the difference for her.
    He was implicated by DNA in two prior sexual assaults, one in which he beat the woman so bad she was permanently paralyzed. since violence escalates with time with criminals he could have killed my sister in law or any future victim.

    This fits nowhere on the VPC cherry picked data

  16. THIS JUST IN!!! – Every year in America almost all people who are beaten to death are the victim of a homicide! This shows that hands and fists are used 1 gozillian times more likely to be used to MURDER rather than defend oneself. Due to these findings the Nanny in Chief has called a press conference to announce an executive order implementing an immediate ban on all karate classes. He is also urging lawmakers to pass more strict laws on how hands and feet should be properly stored and safeguarded to prevent accidental deaths by judo chops and kung fu kicks. In a letter to congress he has urged fellow democrats to push through legislation requiring all hands and feet to be secured in FBIATFTSAEPA-approved padded mittens and booties.

  17. There are 2 very important points that I feel need to be considered here:
    1) Where has the cowardly Liberal-Progressive ideology of “The more helpless you are when attacked with deadly intent, the SAFER you are!” actually saved lives?
    “Gun Free” Red Lake High School? – 9 slaughtered, 5 wounded
    “Gun Free” Columbine? – 13 slaughtered, 21 wounded
    “Gun Free” Sandy Hook? – 26 slaughtered, 2 wounded
    “Gun Free” Virginia Tech? – 32 slaughtered, 17 wounded
    “Gun Free” University of Arizona College of Nursing? – 3 slaughtered, 5 wounded
    “Gun Free” University of Alabama (Huntsville)? – 2 slaughtered, 3 wounded
    “Gun Free” Northern Illinois University? – 5 slaughtered, 17 wounded
    “Gun Free” Fort Hood 2009? – 13 slaughtered, 32 wounded
    “Gun Free” Fort Hood 2014? – 3 slaughtered, 12 wounded
    The “Gun Free” Century movie theater in Aurora? – 12 slaughtered, 70 wounded
    The “Gun Free” Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church? – 9 slaughtered, 8 wounded
    The “Gun Free” Gabby Giffords meet-n-greet? – 6 slaughtered, 13 wounded

    And yes, the Gabby Giffords meet-n-greet shooting was indeed “Gun Free”, because while most of the victims COULD have been legally armed, NO ONE actually at the shooting took personal responsibility for their own safety by BEING armed.

    And no, there was NO “concealed carry holder at the Gabby Giffords shooting that ALMOST SHOT THE WRONG PERSON!”
    That is simply a LIE.
    By the time Joe Zamudio arrived at the shooting scene, the goblin had already been disarmed and was no longer a threat.

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

    What “same thing” do we see being repeated “over and over again and expecting different results”?

    The DISARMING of the intended VICTIMS!

    2) How can such a hypocrite be trusted?
    Josh Sugarmann, head of Violence Policy Center, is a Federal Firearm Dealer, that lists the VPC Headquarters as the “gun store location”!

    License Number: 1-54-XXX-XX-XX-00725
    Expiration Date: 03/01/2017
    Verify this at:;jsessionid=29ac45272fbf8d8ce9766420eae71f794621e2e1756b3e285a751e2a2dc0bdfd.e34PaNePb3iTb40LbxySah4TaxuLe0


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