The big boss sent me a link to an article this morning with one simple comment, “interesting.” The link goes to an article on the Blue Lives Matter Maven page claiming that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “buried” a study that found firearms are used for self-defense 2.46 million times a year.
The study aligns with another study conducted about the same time by Florida State University Criminologist Gary Kleck published in 1995 that found people used guns in defense (DGU) 3.5 times more than criminals used guns.
This Blue Lives Matter article says the CDC hid its results: “The CDC’s findings meant that people were using guns in the United States more often for defensive purposes than for offensive uses. But the CDC never published the lost survey data that Kleck uncovered.” Kleck is quoted as saying, “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.” Blue Lives Matter points to a now taken-down article (explanation to come) written by Kleck exposing this information, with his theories on why it was never published.
(I have my own…just like attempts to garner support for anti-gun measures now, these two studies were conducted during the time Congress was trying to pass the Assault Weapons Ban—signed into law in September 1994…but I speculate…and digress…)
Still leery from this week’s he said/she said saga between the NRA and YETI, I was very skeptical about the truth of this story. After all, if the CDC never published its findings, how does Kleck know it matches his? Where did he get that information? If Kleck’s latest article has been removed, we have no proof of any of this story being real at all!
I dug more into it and what I found is interesting indeed…
It’s not the ONLY study the CDC conducted widely ignored by mainstream media. In fact, it has been popular to try and debunk Kleck’s study for over 20 years.
Here’s what I found.
First, let us go back to the original Kleck and CDC studies…
Florida State University Criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz studied defensive gun use (DGU) in the mid-1990s and published their findings in 1995. It was the most thorough of such studies ever. Called the “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and
Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun,” Kleck and Gertz conducted 5,000 interviews in 48 states. They asked Americans if they had ever used a gun—brandished only or fired—to protect or defend themselves, property, or others. Line of work that required the carrying of a firearm was excluded. Kleck found that people used guns defensively 2.2 million to 2.5 million times a year.
The CDC conducted a very similar survey in 1996, 1997, and 1998 with matching results, but it was never published. The reasons why they were never made public is unclear. Kleck has his theories, which he stated in his new paper, but he has since pulled the paper down. In, “What do CDC’s Surveys Say About the Frequency of Defensive Gun Uses,” Kleck reveals that the CDC came to the same results as he did in their 1990s survey. He voluntarily pulled the paper to reexamine his original study, because the CDC only surveyed 15 states as opposed to his 48. Brian Doherty of Reason magazine writes, “Informed of this, Kleck says he will recalculate the degree to which CDC’s survey work indeed matches or corroborates his… But for now, Kleck has pulled the original paper from the web pending his rethinking the data and his conclusions.”
MYTH: The CDC Can’t Study Gun Violence
In 1993, the CDC sponsored a study on “gun violence.” The published report was titled, “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home.” This highly-publicized report concluded that owning a firearm increased your chances of suicide and murder. It didn’t matter that the study was performed in only three counties—Shelby County, Tennessee, King County, Washington and Cuyahoga County, Ohio and that the real danger was “the use of illicit drugs and a history of physical fights in the home are important risk factors for homicide in the home.” (well, duh.) Those pushing a pro-AWB and anti-gun agenda had all the “evidence” they needed. Mark Rosenberg, director of the CDC at the time said, “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes … It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol—cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly—and banned.”
This politically-motivated report led United States House Representative Jay Dickey to write an amendment into a 1996 federal government omnibus spending bill preventing the CDC to use any money from Congress to fund studies on gun use that pushes an agenda. The Dickey Amendment says, “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Congress passed the amendment in 1996. Since then, the CDC has been hesitant, but not banned, from studying gun use.
The media like to claim that the Dickey Amendment shut down CDC research on guns completely, but that’s just not true.
Fast Forward to April 13, 2018:
NPR published an article revisiting defensive gun use statistics. It referred to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics called the National Crime Victimization Survey. Professor of Health Policy at Harvard University, David Hemenway studied the survey. He says that the survey demonstrates that the risks of owning a firearm outweigh the benefits of having one. He says, “The average person … has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense. But … every day, they have a chance to use the gun inappropriately.”
But the research spread by the gun lobby paints a drastically different picture of self-defense gun uses. One of the most commonly cited estimates of defensive gun uses, published in 1995 by criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, concluded there are between 2.2 and 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually. One of the main criticisms of this estimate is that researchers can’t seem to find the people who are shot by civilians defending themselves because they don’t show up in hospital records.
What NPR doesn’t mention is that Klecks’ study included instances that did not require a person to pull the trigger.
What NPR also fails to mention, as well as almost all major media outlets, as that in January 2012, President Obama signed an executive order allocating $10 million to the CDC to study gun “violence.” The report, “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence” was released in June 2013. The CDC found that there are 500,000 to 3 million defensive gun uses a year! That’s even more than Kleck’s study. The CDC also found that violent crime rates have decreased, most firearm violence does not result in death, and that “self-defense can be an important crime deterrent.”
No matter what I’ve found written about that study, it is always followed by a “but” trying to refute the information. NPR didn’t even refer to it, but they certainly found enough quotes to make it sound like owning a gun will eventually get you killed. Like Philip Cook, a crime prevention researcher who said that the number of Americans who say they have used a gun in self-defense is the same amount who say they have been abducted by aliens.
And this one, from Mike Weisser, a firearms instructor and writer of Mike The Gun Guy Blog, “If we don’t even have a minimum standard, not for training, but for performance validation for our law enforcement, how in God’s name is anybody going to say, ‘Well, just because you have a gun in your pocket, you know how to use it in self-defense?’ You don’t.”
No, NPR is not the CDC, but this sounds like an agenda to me. And because we get our news not from the CDC, but news outlets, this is concerning.
When President Obama issued his executive order, the White House said, “Research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.”
It’s true. Research isn’t advocacy. But it is the media deciding which information we “need” and to me, its message is clear—they want to take our guns.