In the Nov. 7 Journal Gazette Furthermore item “Something strange in gun-use statistics,” the editorial board, citing the National Crime Victimization Survey, claims victims of crimes only use firearms 235,700 times to defend themselves. There are some egregious errors in citing the NCVS for defensive gun uses.
The most flagrant error is that the NCVS never asks a single question about defensive gun use. In its 37 pages, there are more than 400 questions and subquestions. The closest any comes to asking about defensive gun use is No. 41(a), “Did you do anything with the idea of protecting YOURSELF or your PROPERTY while the incident was going on?” Only if a respondent volunteers a “yes” response, and then, only if the respondent volunteers to say he or she presented a firearm, does the NCVS make any record of a defensive gun use.
Further, if a respondent answers, “Yes,” question 42 (a) then asks, “What did you do?” There are eight categories of answers listed, and the only one of those eight even close to mentioning firearms is, “USED PHYSICAL FORCE TOWARD OFFENDER.”
There is no wonder the NCVS is exceptionally low in estimating defensive gun use relative to other reputable, independent surveys. In fact, the NCVS is an extreme outlier in estimating defensive gun uses; no other reputable survey comes even close to the NCVS number.
There are at least 12 such surveys that estimated annual defensive gun uses, including Gallup (1,621,377 defensive gun uses) and even the Los Angeles Times (3,609,682 defensive gun uses). The only reputable survey, to date, that examined defensive gun uses exclusively was by Kleck and Gertz, published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology in 1995, which showed 2,549,862 total defensive gun uses.
The JG piece would have us believe data from 12 reputable, independent surveys, including the only one that examined defensive gun use exclusively, “isn’t true.” Instead, the JG claims the extreme outlier NCVS that never asks even one question regarding defensive gun use is the one best survey regarding defensive gun use. I am thoroughly unconvinced. The JG didn’t stop there, however.
The piece says the Violence Policy Center, one of the nation’s most anti-gun organizations, says the FBI says there was only one justifiable homicide for every 32 criminal homicides in 2012. Perhaps the JG would prefer to see more justifiable homicides. I would not.
First, the item invoked the FBI but never used the FBI as a source. Rather, it said the Violence Policy Center said the FBI said. …
Second, using a comparison of criminal homicides to justifiable homicides is specious at best. It is exceedingly rare for defensive gun uses – whether by police officers or law-abiding citizens – to involve shooting the threat, much less killing that person. Most potentially lethal-force encounters are defused by the intended victim presenting a firearm.
Law-abiding gun owners desire not to kill anyone. On the other hand, law-abiding gun owners desire not to suffer serious bodily injury or death at the hands of one or more criminals. The vast majority of defensive gun uses satisfy both desires.