NRA Continues to Distort Numbers on Defensive Gun Use

| by Freedom States Alliance

Guest commentary from Freedom States Alliance affiliate, the New England Coalition To Prevent Gun Violence.

This month’s cover of the National Rifle Association’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom shows a young, petite, blue-eyed, blond woman staring coldly ahead, a handgun held tightly in her outstretched arms. The cover story asks “Who is the Armed Citizen?”

A side bar in this story is titled “Defensive Gun Uses Per Year."

Here the reader is fed, once again, the lies and distortions of the gun lobby.

The sidebar highlights one of the gun lobby’s favorite pieces of research – a 1995 study by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz that reported an astounding 2.5 million defense gun uses each year in the United States.

But for some curious reason the author neglected to mention the numerous, peer reviewed, refereed, academic articles that have been published over the last decade that clearly refute Kleck’s astronomical claim.

Read some of them for yourself:

-- “The gun debate’s new mythical number: How many defensive uses per year?” Journal of Police Analysis and Management, 1997
-- “The myth of millions of annual self-defense gun use: A case study of survey overestimates of rare events” Chance - American Statistical Association, 1997
-- “Defensive Gun Uses: New Evidence from a National Survey” Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 1998
-- “The Relative Frequency of Offensive and Defensive Gun Uses: Results from a National Survey”, Violence and Victims, 2000
-- “Myths about Defensive Gun Use and Permissive Gun Carry Laws” Berkeley Media Studies Group, 2000
-- "Comparing the Incidence of Self-Defense Gun Use and Criminal Gun Use" Harvard Injury Control Research Center, 2009

And the list goes on...

But perhaps the most egregious part of this article is the reference to the work of researchers Phillip Cook and Jens Judwig. In a 1997 article in the National Institute of Justice Research in Brief titled “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms”, Cook and Ludwig conclude “The NSPOF-based estimate of millions of defensive gun uses each year greatly exaggerates the true number, as do other estimates based on similar surveys.

Evidence suggests that this survey and others like it overestimate the frequency with which firearms were used by private citizens to defend against criminal attack.” Yet in the sidebar article the NRA inexplicitly claims “researchers Cook and Ludwig confirmed the results of the Kleck/Gertz study.”

It’s bad enough that the gun lobby continues to put forth this dubious and inflated number on defensive gun use, but to totally misconstrue and pervert the research of distinguished academics is disgraceful. Just how low will the gun lobby go?