A Second Look at a Controversial
Study About Defensive Gun Use

Criminologist Gary Kleck revises his paper on the
incidence of the use of firearms for self-protection.

By Brian Doherty. September 4th, 2018

n April, criminologist Gary Kleck reported that he had uncovered evidence supporting his contention that Americans use firearms in self defense over 2 million a times a year. The survey he discovered had not been previously analyzed, but he reported that it matched what he found in the 1993 survey he conducted with Marc Gertz and published in 1995, known as the National Self-Defense Survey (NSDS).

His new report was based on surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey in the years 1996-98. This finding was touted by many outlets--including Reason--as evidence in support of the utility of private gun ownership.

Shortly after that study was released, however, Robert VerBruggen of National Review (who has been of inestimable help in thinking through these issues) tweeted that he noticed, by studying the raw survey data himself, that Kleck had mistaken what were in fact surveys limited to small numbers of states per year for a national survey, analogous to Kleck/Gertz's own national surveys.

in direct response to queries from Reason, who first directly notified Kleck of his error, he worked through and has since issued a revised version of the paper, published as was the original as a working paper on the Social Science Research Network. .......

The takeaway here is that achieving really reliable results is difficult - much depending on accuracy of samples as well as averaging and interpolation. That aside there is little doubt that defensive use of firearms is a fact and in many cases not involving an actual discharge, just presentation. Detractors of course will not accept such, prefering to label all guns as dangerous and only capable of causing harm.

"You don't have to be Jewish to fight by our side."
You just have to love freedom.

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