MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

How to Count the Defensive Use of Guns

Neither survey calls nor media and police reports capture the importance of private gun ownership.

Stringent gun control advocates are fond of underestimating the possible importance of owning a gun. For example, a pair of anti-gun activists took to Politico in January to claim that the gun rights community is deluded about the likely number of defensive uses of guns by American citizens. Such defensive uses are known as DGUs ("defensive gun uses") in the lingo.

Many in the gun rights community believe that a privately owned gun is used in legitimate self-defense over 2 million times a year in America. This figure arose initially from the survey work done in 1993 by Florida State University criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz.

That study, known as the National Self-Defense Survey (NSDS), involved conducting nearly 5,000 interviews by phone in 48 states, anonymously, with phone numbers randomly generated. The respondents were asked if over the past five years they had used a gun—even if not fired—for self-protection or protection of property at work, home, or elsewhere. They were asked to exclude any use in miitary, police, or security work, if applicable, and asked whether the gun use was against an animal or a person.

If their response indicated a DGU, they were asked if the gun use had occurred in the past year, and if it was the speaker or another member of the household who had the experience. Those who claimed DGUs were then asked what Kleck described in his 2001 book Armed as a "detailed series of questions establishing exactly what happened" in the incidents. 

Kleck says they found 222 bonafide DGUs directly via survey. The defender had to "state a specific crime they thought was being committed" and to have actually used the gun, even if just threateningly or by "verbally referring to the gun." Kleck insists the surveyors were scrupulous about eliminating any sketchy or questionable-seeming responses.

The study concluded, based only on stories said to have occurred to the speaker during the past year, and extrapolating from their results, that 2.2 to 2.5 million DGUs happened in the U.S. a year.

Kleck points out this only means that about 1 percent of guns in the U.S. are thus used annually. In Armed, Kleck discusses a number of later surveys on DGUs, including one from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1994, that at least roughly back up his original estimates. He sums up that "there are now at least nineteen professional surveys, seventeen of them national in scope, that indicate huge numbers of defensive gun uses in the U.S."

The one huge outlier in finding so many DGUs is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), also done 1993-94 by the Census Bureau on behalf of the Department of Justice, with a follow-up in 1998. That one found just 116,000—a near 95 percent drop from the NSDS survey result. The NCVS was designed to gather information, as the title indicates, on crime victimization in general with the DGU response a byproduct.

Kleck has suggested some reasons for the low NCVS number that don't rely on its DGU estimate actually being correct. Among them are that NCVS never explicitly asks about DGUs, merely asking those who say yes to having been a crime victim whether they "did or tried to do" something about it while it was happening; that people might be reluctant to admit to possibly criminal action on their own part (especially since the vast majority of crime victimizations in the survey occurred outside the home, where the possession's legality might be questionable) to a government surveyor after they've given their name and address (which they were asked to do); that they might consider a crime prevented by a DGU as not a crime they were victims of at all since it was uncompleted; and that there are some independent reasons to believe the very crime victimization numbers, which the DGUs are a subset of, are undercounted by the survey. 

The article in Politico by Evan Defilippis and Devin Hughes directly took on Kleck's numbers and those who repeat them. The authors, both with the anti-gun group Armed With Reason, consider the numbers myths and those who believe and repeat them mythmongers.

The issues they raise with Kleck's work have floated around the literature ever since Kleck first published them. In rough summation, Defilippis and Hughes insist that lots of people undoubtedly lied to Kleck and his researchers, and similarly lied to any other survey researchers who reached similar conclusions. Why would they lie in such vast numbers? Because they were gun owners who wanted to justify their ownership of guns, justify the social value of guns for ideological reasons, wanted to appear heroic to the anonymous surveyors, or were mistakenly "telescoping" events that happened longer than a year ago into the one-year estimate.

It is not enough for them to declare that Kleck's survey's don't prove what he and his fans think. Defilippis and Hughes simultaneously promote a couple of much lower estimations of DGUs as the real truth, citing two data sources that, rather than surveying, simply count verified reports of DGUs in the media and in police reports.

One study which they highlight was from Arizona in 2004, published in the journal Injury Prevention. (They don't highlight that the study is over a decade old.) The study was done by Arizona State University psychology professor W.V. Fabricius and an Arizona high school teacher, J.F. Denton. Their method? "Reported uses of firearms in a newspaper covering roughly the Phoenix metropolitan area over almost a 3.5 month period were examined, supplemented where necessary by police and court records." They found three cases where Kleck/Gertz's conclusions should have found over 300. 

Only cases that had been reported to the police or to a newspaper would end up in their report. Self-reflection on the part of any armed citizen who can imagine themselves having had to brandish or use their weapon would show it isn't necessarily in your best interest to call police attention to the matter.

After all, your possession or use of the weapon might be a matter of greater concern to the cops than whatever the intruder or criminal you were repelling was up to. They'll doubtless never lay hands on him; you are right there, for any investigation and harassment the cops might want to call forth. Many gun owners or gun users might see little good and much possible bad arising from calling the cops after a DGU incident, and thus many or even most would never make a police blotter, never make a newspaper.

Kleck is confident even his initial estimates almost certainly understate DGUs. He believes even his anonymous pollsters might not have won the trust of everyone they talked to, that people may have discounted some incidents as unimportant, that some may have involved people under 18 (who were not polled), and that phoneless (usually poorer) households may be overrepresented among DGUs while obviously represented not at all in this phone poll.

Fabricius and Denton admit, at the end of their three-page Injury Prevention paper, that if the gun was in fact not fired in the course of the DGU, then indeed neither police nor media would likely report it. They don't note that Kleck/Gertz's study found that 76 percent of the DGUs did not involve firing the weapon.

They don't try to account for this or assume that perhaps these cases explain part or all of the huge disconnect between what their counting method and Kleck's counting method found. They do, just in the name of objective social science, of course, make the sideways comment that if that's true, then no one needs a loaded gun anyway if merely waving one is good enough.

Politico's other source to cast shade on Kleck is at least more current: the site of the Gun Violence Archive. They get their counts from "automated queries, manual research through over 1,200 media sources, aggregates, police blotters, police media outlets and other sources daily."  Their 2014 figure for what they consider verified DGUs is 1,581, with 204 so far in 2015. (Recall we have very little reason to believe that many DGUs would ever end up in any objectively verifiable outside source or that the newspaper/police report method would come anywhere near to an accurate count of DGUs.)

A paper by Clayton Cramer and David Burnett called Tough Targets, issued by the Cato Institute, does a good layman's survey of all the extant survey evidence regarding DGUs and concludes there's at least fair reason to believe both high and low estimates aren't precise. Like the Gun Violence Archive, they came up with their own set of numbers and case studies about DGUs by studying newspaper reports—in their case eight years worth nationally via the Armed Citizen reports from the NRA amounting to nearly 5,000 incidents.

They sum up some of the trends and tell some of the specific stories to provide a more wide-ranging and nuanced set of some of the circumstances and reasons people use guns defensively in a manner that makes the news. Studying them should remind people that raw numbers of people who have to use guns defensively aren't particularly relevant to any citizen who has to use a gun defensively.

Some interesting details include 25 rapists challenged with weapons, 154 women defending themselves, only nine involving drug dealers, more criminals having their guns taken by victims than the oft-feared other way around, and 34 pizza deliverers having to defend themselves against crime with a gun.

To the people involved in these incidents, no number of DGUs is more important than the cardinal number representing them.

Kleck rose to his own defense last month in Politico, arguing that the earlier piece repeated critiques originally and more famously brought up all the way back in 1997 by David Hemenway. Kleck has already addressed them, in particular detail in his book Armed

Very briefly, Kleck questions the method of those not versed in survey research, like the Politico authors and Hemenway, of just making wild guesses about all the places the surveyors must have gone wrong, if the surveyors' results don't match the critics mere intuitions. (Certainly, nothing is inherently implausible about the idea that 1 percent of guns in the U.S. might be used a year defensively.)

The nub of Kleck's argument against his critics is that, sure, one can make guesses about reasons why surveys might overcount, but experienced surveyors know that research "consistently indicates that survey respondents underreport (1) crime victimization experiences, (2) gun ownership and (3) their own illegal behavior."

TwangnbangTwangnbang

He also notes that while false positives for DGUs from surveys are certainly possible, "false negatives...could be (and, according to extensive research, are) even more common. In that case, survey estimates of DGU frequency would be too low, not the enormous overestimate that DeFillipis and Hughes believe in." Critics of his DGU research, Kleck writes, never have "made the slightest effort to estimate the number of false negatives, they cannot possibly know whether false positives outnumber false negatives and therefore have no logical foundation whatsoever for their claims that erroneous responses to DGU questions result in an overestimate of DGU frequency."

So, how many DGUs are there, really? My conclusion is the same is it was when I wrote my 2008 book Gun Control on Trial: There isn't any real way to know for sure. Some of the anomalies in the basic Kleck/Gertz numbers make one wonder if they are reliably accurate, including the small number of gun-wounded folk showing up in hospitals compared to how many might be expected from the over-2-million-DGU figure, or how many burglaries there are compared to the number that people claim to have used guns to defend themselves from them, and a difficult-to-believe large number of women who seem to have DGUs from the Kleck/Gertz numbers when compared to the much smaller percentages of women who own guns or are involved in recorded justifiable homicides.

In a 1997 paper for the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Tom Smith makes some reasonable though unverified guesses about ways both the NSDS and NCVS survey might be expected to over- and underestimate DGUs and is satisfied he is able to adjust an over 30:1 difference to a mere 3-5:1 one. Certainly, any data that ultimately depends on people accurately remembering and relating stories about such an emotionally and legally charged issue with time-accuracy are bound to have some mistakes baked in, minus some absolutely objective other measure that shows the same thing. (And no, newspaper and police reports come nowhere close to being such an objective measure, even though they don't show the same thing.) Those mistakes may balance out, or they may not.

Curiosity about any fact of reality is a good trait. It helps, though, to be empirical and scientific enough to know that certain numbers are beyond our precise knowledge. As hard as it is, it's also intellectually honest to be as skeptical about the educated guesses that you think support your political conclusion as you are about ones that oppose it.

Knowing for sure how many DGUs there are in America in any given year is irrelevant, however, to any important political, ethical, or certainly constitutional, question about gun ownership in America.

Guns are tools that exist in the world. They cannot be fantasized or legislated away, neither constitutionally nor actually. They can be used to harm the innocent or guilty, and they can be used to defend the innocent or guilty. And no number of other people misusing them, or even better never using, their weapons has any bearing on whether you should be able to have one if you think you need it.

Those people who lived out the stories in any case study collection of newspaper or police reports of DGUs would doubtless find it curious to hear they shouldn't have had the right to defend themselves, because an insufficiently impressive number of other citizens had done the same. But underestimating the significance of what's at stake in Second Amendment rights—even though it can clearly be life itself, not to mention dignity—is a favorite pastime of gun controllers and their ideological soldiers.

The right to self-defense is a core right of human nature. It is so core that those who argue for the necessity of government generally claim that its supplying of defense is one of the reasons we can't live without it. But every reasonable person knows that in no case of an intruder in one's home or outside of it intending to harm you is the state's police going to do a thing to help you.

As I concluded in my 2008 book Gun Control on Trial:

The opposing armies in the DGU war are roughly staked out with these dueling positions: 1) "There are a really large number of defensive gun uses, so many that any reasonable person would have to admit that private gun ownership is some kind of social good" and 2) "While there may be a fair number of DGUs, the number is dwarfed by the number of violent crimes committed with guns, so never mind the people who save themselves with guns, we should let politicians concentrate not on speculative and uncertain defensive uses, but on the crimes and loss of life and limb that we can see and count which accompanies gun possession and use."

Left out of any policy decision based on these sorts of macrostatistics, as always, is how much having a gun mattered to the specific individual person able to defend himself.

However large the number of DGUs, or how small; and however large the number of accidents or tragedies caused by guns, or how small, the right and ability to choose for yourself how to defend yourself and your family—at home or away from it—remains, and that numerical debate should have no particular bearing on it.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Chumby||

    One bullet at a time?

  • CE||

    Every time a cop goes home safely?

  • Agammamon||

    Kleck points out this only means that about 1 percent of guns in the U.S. are thus used annually.

    What's the percentage of guns used in crimes (other than 'guns are illegal here' crimes of possession)? What's the percentage used in *violent* crime?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    The US violent crime rate is 388/100,000. Call it 400. The total population is 330M, call it 300M. That's 1.2M reported violent crimes. Even if all of those were with a gun, that's still less than the 2M DGU.

  • Agammamon||

    So it sounds like, in addition to winning the moral argument for legalized gun possession, we win the *utilitarian* argument also.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    It's funny how form follows function, innit?

  • BillCa||

    In 2012 there were 1,206,031 violent crimes recorded by the FBI's UCR.

    Let's do a little scratchpad figuring here.

    The total include 12,765 murders, of which 8,855 were by firearms.
    And there were 298,211 robberies, of which 122,174 involved firearms.
    And there were 763,472 aggravated assaults, only 21.8% involved a firearm, that gives 166,437.
    There were 84,408 forcible rapes, but no data on firearm usage.

    So let's deduct the non-firearm violent crimes:
    3910 Murders
    176,037 Robberies
    597,035 Aggravated assaults
    66,007 Rapes (using the 21.8% figure from assaults which is probably too many)

    That gives us just 363,042 violent crimes with firearms.

    If we assume
    300 million firearms in the US, that's 0.12% misused (99.88% not used)
    250 million firearms in the US, that's 0.14% misused (99.86% not used)
    100 million firearms in the US, that's 0.36% misused (99.64% not used)

    Note: This assumes a different firearm used for each incident which is a statistical improbability of high order.

    Conclusion: Less than 1/2 of 1 percent (

  • Agammamon||

    2) "While there may be a fair number of DGUs, the number is dwarfed by the number of violent crimes committed with guns, so never mind the people who save themselves with guns, we should let politicians concentrate not on speculative and uncertain defensive uses, but on the crimes and loss of life and limb that we can see and count which accompanies gun possession and use."

    Somebody should tell the MA courts about this. They think *only* firearms are a legitimate form of self-defense weapon and are busy outlawing lesser forms of self-defense capability.

  • Chip||

    Hopefully at some point the courts will enforce the idea that "arms" does not ONLY mean "firearms" but other weapons as well. The idea that to use deadly force for self-defense is ok, but to use less-than-deadly force for self-defense is not, is a bit wacky.

  • BillCa||

    If you read the May 8 1792 revision of the Militia Act of 1792 you'll see that it describes that some members of the militia should be equipped with a breast plate, a form of body armor.

    Or as credited to Tench Coxe in 1788:
    " ...Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American... "

  • american socialist||

    Hi Brian,

    The other reason to have a gun is in the coming shootout with the federal government , of course.

  • Agammamon||

    That's not the *other* reason - that's the *same* reason. Self-defense is self-defense even if the aggressor is the government..

  • From the Tundra||

    You're arguing in good faith, Ag. Our socialist friend is being a twat.

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    Our socialist friend is trying to SWAT you.

  • croaker||

    That appears to be the goal of any gun grabber. "See something, say something."

  • Chumby||

    Hi amsoc,

    If two big, weight-lifting white supremicist dudes are sexually assaulting your wife and a private citizen carrying a gun happens upon this do you think they should race to the nearest police station, hand over the gun, and then report the crime or do you think they should draw their firesrm and intervene?

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure amsoc is a cuckhold. He wouldn't want anyone to stop them.

  • The Laconic||

    What is this, some cool archaic spelling of "cuckold"? I like it.

  • ||

    I wish, it was just me stroking out for a second.

  • croaker||

    Amsoc is most definitely stroking.

  • Restoras||

    He'd just tell his wife to lay back and think of Obama.

  • ||

    I laughed.

  • american socialist||

    Can I join in or not?

  • Chumby||

    Join in sexually assaulting your wife or join in to stop them? If it is the latter, you aren't present. You're at an SEIU rally for minimum wage increase rally.

  • croaker||

    Even if he was there, he'd just watch and stroke himself.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    Even if he was there

    At the assault or the SEIU rally?

  • Brian||

    You could, but it would probably be more boring.

  • Brian||

    Chumby:

    If two big, weight-lifting white supremicist dudes are sexually assaulting your wife and a private citizen carrying a gun happens upon this do you think they should race to the nearest police station, hand over the gun, and then report the crime or do you think they should draw their firesrm and intervene?

    See, Amsoc will wittily choose option C:
    Pounce on the gun owner and turn him over to the LAPD for carrying a firearm without a license.

  • Chumby||

    He may have taught his wife to pee or throw-up on the attackers, so he knows she will be safe (while he deals with the real criminal).

  • american socialist||

    Just a quick follow up: do you think your hypothetical is a serious question or not? Just wondering.

  • Chumby||

    Private citizens have used firearms to stop attempted rapes of others.

    Do you actually think your sophomoric attempt to avoid a vaild question is serious?

  • american socialist||

    Would it blow your mind to know that you are significantly more likely to be the victim of gun violence if you own a gun?

  • DesigNate||

    That is actually been proven completely false.

  • american socialist||

    One of many peer-reviewed articles on the subject.

    "On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault."
    From: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC2759797/

  • Chumby||

    Then why do LEOs and soldiers carry firearms? Why the secret service?

    And why in all but one (two?) mass shootings when the attacker is confronted with an armed response?

  • Chumby||

    ...armed reaponse did they stop?

  • BigT||

    amsoc, did you read the study you referenced? it is a bit of a joke:

    Methods. We enrolled 677 case participants that had been shot in an assault and 684 population-based control participants within Philadelphia, PA, from 2003 to 2006.

    []

    However, compared with control participants, shooting case participants were significantly more often Hispanic, more frequently working in high-risk occupations1,2, less educated, and had a greater frequency of prior arrest. At the time of shooting, case participants were also significantly more often involved with alcohol and drugs, outdoors, and closer to areas where more Blacks, Hispanics, and unemployed individuals resided. Case participants were also more likely to be located in areas with less income and more illicit drug trafficking

    []
    many of these events were 2-sided situations in which both parties were ready and mutually willing to fight on the basis of a prior argument

    So the participants in shootings were not in any way comparable to the control group, except for age, race, and sex. The shooting victims were to a much greater extent involved in the drug trade, drunk, or what could be described as gang activities. Their conclusion should be that people involved in risky behaviors have an increased chance of being shot.

  • Chumby||

    Hi Amsoc

    Could you link to a better peer reviewed study? This one really only really addressed folks with priors, in Philly, traveling in gang areas, and looking for a gunfight. There are another 320 million people in this country that the study doesn't cover.

  • HolgerDanske||

    Unless you count suicide or accidents as "violence".

    Guess what, having a car makes you a more likely victim of car "violence".

  • HolgerDanske||

    To the question:

    "Would it blow your mind to know that you are significantly more likely to be the victim of gun violence if you own a gun?"

  • theRabbit||

    If a person uses pills to kill themselves, we should call it "Pill Violence". Make sure you emphasize the word 'pill', and always show them in graphics through scary filters.

    We'll teach those merchants of death at Tylenol!

  • Florida Man||

    You say coming shoot out like it hasn't already happened to other Americans.

  • BigT||

    Waco.

    The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF's failure to raid the compound, a siege was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the standoff lasting 51 days. Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center and 76 people,[8][9] including David Koresh, died.
  • ||

    We would have had another Waco, if it had not been for some heavily armed people with guns and balls, at Cliven Bundy's Bunkerville ranch.

    I have no doubt that the feds would have massacred everyone there and made up some bullshit excuse, had they not been scared shitless.

    How'd it feel to take that up the arse, Harry Reid? I'm still laughing about it.

  • croaker||

    Remember that the first thing the feds did at Waco was shoot the dogs, in their kennels presenting no threat.

    This was after the genius F-Trooper with a round up the spout shot himself in the leg climbing a ladder.

  • theRabbit||

    Probably the biggest deterrent was the live-streaming video cameras showing who was the aggressor. Scum hates the disinfecting power of sunlight. But don't worry. Apple and Microsoft have patents on camera "black-out" technology for the feds (all the more reason to move to open-source/libre software, hardware, and phones, like the new Ubuntu Phone)..

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    So, when I point out that the country is a facist totalitarian dictatorship where every single American citizen has to daily fear for their lives due to rampaging members of the state police forces, I get called a sociopathic fatalist.

    It's cool for you guys.

    Jerks.

  • croaker||

    That's ironic, considering they're recruiting sociopaths for the police departments.

  • Fizban||

    RPM, the jerk store called and they are running out of you.

  • Murray Got hard||

    ]schmuck

  • Paul.||

    And shooting at the light-bringing paladins of our leadership class is the lowest thing a human being can do. It's like shooting at Mother Theresa.

  • ||

    The drunken ghost of Christopher Hitchens would like a word.

  • From the Tundra||

    That would be one helluva haunting, no?

  • Vulgar Madman||

    I'll bring the bourbon!

  • GR8IPAZ||

    Go ahead and turn yours in. Choice is, of course, the key here.

  • Ken Shultz||

    How do they measure all the violent assaults that would have been committed if criminals weren't concerned that their victims might have a gun?

    "The right to self-defense is a core right of human nature. It is so core that those who argue for the necessity of government generally claim that its supplying of defense is one of the reasons we can't live without it."

    Exactly, they need to cite statistics to show that violating my rights might show some benefit, but they always turn that around and make it seem like my rights should be violated unless I can prove that it isn't in society's interests to violate them.

    What if I care about my freedom for qualitative reasons that have little to do with the absolute number of DGUs?

    Neither I nor my rights exist for society's benefit, and I resent the implication behind so many of these studies--that losing my rights is somehow only an academic study and a lost popularity contest away. A society in which people are only free to do things that are to everyone else's net benefit cannot be a free society. And my qualitative preference for freedom can in no way be represented in any crime statistics.

  • Flaming Ballsack||

    good so it doesnt matter how many people die as long little kenny gets to play with his toys real mature

  • Ken Shultz||

    Do you imagine everyone else only exists for your benefit, or is it only me and my rights?

    Do you know who else thought that people and their rights only exist for society's benefit?

  • Flaming Ballsack||

    you know who else thought the world existed only for their own benefit?

  • Agammamon||

    Every collectivist, ever.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "you know who else thought the world existed only for their own benefit?"

    If you think other people shouldn't be allowed to do things--if they present a risk or adversely impact you in any way, then the answer is Flaming Ballsack.

    I'm the one saying that people should be free to make choices for themselves--even if they aren't in my or society's best interests. The only thing they shouldn't be allowed to do is violate people's rights--like you want to do. Isn't that why you don't think people should be free to make the choice to own a gun?

    It's because you want to use the government to impose your qualitative preferences on other people, isn't it? You and the Christian fundamentalists should go bowling.

  • Flaming Ballsack||

    rights are a legal fiction. how did eric garner or tamir rices rights protect them? and why should you demand someone else assume the same risks you want to?

  • DesigNate||

    Don't y'all see? People's rights being violated obviously means that rights are a fiction!

    It's all so clear to me now.

  • Flaming Ballsack||

    well, what happened to the people who violated those rights? how were those violations adressed?

  • Ken Shultz||

    well, what happened to the people who violated those rights? how were those violations adressed?

    Over time, when reality comes in conflict with reality, reality triumphs over legal fiction.

    Slavery was a legal fiction. Reality is that blacks have--and always had--the same rights as everyone else.

    The government in the South said blacks didn't have the same rights. The Reverend Martin Luther King said that was a fiction. Martin Luther King was reality. Jim Crow was the fiction.

    incidentally, would you have opposed fighting the Civil War to end slavery--on principle?

    You seem to be very much against the majority being harmed by minority interests. In fact, according to your logic, you seem to think that fighting a war to end slavery on principle was "selfish".

  • croaker||

    Slavery was a secondary issue. The "Civil" War was instigated to keep the agrarian south under the thumb of the industrial north.

  • Agammamon||

    Ultimately, they were addressed with a weapon.

    See:

    Signing of the Magna Carta
    American Revolution
    American Civil War

    etc.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "rights are a legal fiction".

    That's stupid.

    The City of Montgomery, AL claiming that Rosa Parks didn't have the right to sit in the front of a public bus was a fiction.

    The fact was that Rosa Parks did have the right to sit in the front of a public bus, and when the fiction came into conflict with reality, it was the fiction that Rosa Parks' rights didn't exist that disappeared.

    Do you believe that Jews didn't have a right to their lives during the holocaust?

    The reason the Nazis were so evil was because they violated those people's rights--but the Jews' rights to their own lives were theirs all along no matter what the government said. That's why the Nazis were prosecuted for violating human rights after the war. Doesn't matter what German law said about Jews--the law was a fiction. Jews' rights to their lives are reality.

    Gay people always had a real right to get married--whether the government violated that right with their legal fiction is another matter entirely.

    Our rights exist regardless of whether you want to violate them with your legal fantasy, and if you were able to use the government to impose your personal qualitative preferences on other people tomorrow, our right to own a gun wouldn't disappear. We would merely be living amid a very real injustice openly defended by you.

  • ||

    "rights are a legal fiction."

    Well the logical conclusion to your premise is that might makes right. In which case it's even more important for me to be armed for my own protection.

  • ||

    ^This x 1000

    If someone demands you give up your ability to defend yourself shoot them in the face.

  • Brian||

    "rights are a legal fiction."

    Votes are a legal fiction.

  • theRabbit||

    It's legality trumping rights that is the fiction. Some, tragically, believe this. How does a single man with a whip and a gun control dozens of slaves, even with the help of other slaves for a multiplication of force? He convinces everyone to go along with it. They are only unfree in their own minds. Victims of victimhood. A collective belief in collectivism, instead of a collective belief in individual liberty.

    And having inequity in the means of force certainly helps the convincing go a looong way...

  • Ken Shultz||

    "You and the Christian fundamentalists should go bowling."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDB9oCgVHGw

  • DesigNate||

    Tony?

  • John Galt||

    Someone derping? I must have missed it.

  • Butler||

    Ooh, ooh, I know this one.

    Every communist/socialist ever!

  • Flaming Ballsack||

    actually i was tinkng of libertarians who in their preadoloscent mentality think that if they shout "i want' and "mine' loud and long enough something mystically becomes a right rather than just coming off as spoiled children.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Anyone looking for a spoiled child in this thread will spot you right away.

    The idea that adults should be free to make choices for themselves isn't juvenile.

    The idea that responsible adults shouldn't be free to make choices for themselves unless it somehow benefits Flaming Ballsack is juvenile.

  • Flaming Ballsack||

    if you were close to an adult youd understand that the world doesnt revolve around you and your wants alone.

  • DesigNate||

    No, it obviously revolves around you and your wants. Please tell us more, oh wise one.

  • Flaming Ballsack||

    it means that our actions have impacts on other people. tanstaafl applies to everyone even you

  • DesigNate||

    Owning a gun doesn't impact anyone.

  • ||

    tanstaafl applies to everyone even you

    Ooh, he's all tantrumy, he is.

    Cry it out, FeeBee, cry it out.

    Eshay oingay ringbay upsay oadrays.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    it means that our actions have impacts on other people. tanstaafl applies to everyone even you

    Since more people are killed due to alcohol-related causes than firearms, which has had a declining death and crime rate for decades, I'm sure you'll be promoting the return of Prohibition to your nearest Democratic congressman.

  • Fizban||

    *Red Rocks Rockin, love the tag. Three night run last year of The Avett Brothers was simply incredible.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    FB, you'd have more credibility if you were honest.

  • theRabbit||

    "it means that our actions have impacts on other people. tanstaafl applies to everyone even you"

    Um, wat? What else did your charismatic leader tell you? Does he know you're using the only internet connection in his Freedom Compound(tm)?

    Maybe look into the non-aggression principle, or defensive neutrality. You're free to do anything you want, so long as you don't initiate fraud or force. Pretty simple, compared to your butterfly-effect authoritarianism.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The personal insults aren't the problem.

    I just don't understand why someone would go around on the interwebs trying to convince people that their rights don't really exist.

    Are you a racist?

    Are you a homophobe?

    Why do you want to go around trying to convince minorities that their rights don't really exsit?

    That's really...icky.

  • ||

    Let's start with ignoring the fact that the comment made no sense at all and in no way has any context in this topic.

    who in their preadoloscent mentality think that if they shout "i want' and "mine' loud and long enough something mystically becomes a right rather than just coming off as spoiled children.

    You just described progressive sheep very accurately. You somehow got that confused with libertarians, who advocate personal responsibility, independence, and individual liberty.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's really interesting how little the progressives have to back themselves up.

    Looks like Flaming Ballsack is spent.

    They believe what they believe for the same reason people root for their favorite baseball team.

    I've seen creationists put up a better fight.

    ...and the progressives really are fighting against the whole idea of rights. At least they're right about that. Our rights are the biggest impediment there is to just about everything they want to do.

  • ||

    I've seen creationists put up a better fight.

    Of course, because creationists (mostly) truly, truly believe in their -ism.

    Socialist shitweasels such as FeeBee know deep down that their system doesn't really work. They resent us for not going along, for not being mutual, for daring to point out the faults. If only the right people were in charge and the obstructionism would stop...

  • Rebel Scum||

    preadoloscent mentality

    The lack of self awareness exhibited by progressives is astounding.

  • wwhorton||

    Tell us more about immature, pre-adolescent mentalities, Flaming Ballsack.

  • theRabbit||

    lol

  • GR8IPAZ||

    ^^ sure indication of a second or third class intellect.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    There are roughly 30K gun deaths a year, 2/3 of which are suicides, and generally well known that suicide rates do not depend on the presence or absence of guns (c.f. Australia gun ban or Japan and South Korea suicide rates). 2/3 of the remaining are between criminals; if it makes you feel better to blame them on the War On (Some) Drug Users, go ahead.

    That leaves roughly 3000 real murders a year. There are 300M guns in this country, with the lowest estimates saying around 100M gun owners. 100M / 3000 is one murder for every 33,333 gun owners.

    There are roughly 800K cops in this country, and they shoot roughly 1500 people every year. If 1/5 of those are not justified, that's 800K / 300 murders per year by cops, or one per 6666 cops -- 5 times the civilian rate.

    If that low low civilian ratio terrifies you, you are a namby pamby panty waist worry wart.

    If the low civilian ratio terrifies you more than the cop ratio, you are a lickspittle statist apologist.

  • theRabbit||

    This.

  • Catatafish||

    A utilitarian can justify just about everything, Ken. It's just a function of massaging the statistics.

  • Ken Shultz||

    +1

  • Ken Shultz||

    (no pun intended)

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    They do, just in the name of objective social science, of course, make the sideways comment that if that's true, then no one needs a loaded gun anyway if merely waving one is good enough.

    There's no way they said that. It's too stupid. [reads paper. it's the last sentence btw] Well ... they don't say "no one" but Jesus Christ that's retarded.

    experienced surveyors know that research "consistently indicates that survey respondents underreport ... their own illegal behavior."

    That's incorrect because Reason told me some drug use survey proves cops hunt black bodies for sport.

  • american socialist||

    Hi Brian,

    Can I get a libertarian Get Out of Jail Free card if I don't care about the 2nd amendment, don't care if local communities vote to outlaw guns, don't worship at the doorstep of the NRA. I don't own a gun, don't feel unsafe without one, and aren't interested if my neighbors vote to outlaw the possession of guns. Personally, I wouldn't vote to prohibit gun ownership, so I'm still hoping that my application to the LP club is accepted.

    The reason for my appeal is that I've noticed that a lot of my fellow libertarians apply the same standards-- that is, apathy-- to things like the right to have an abortion, immigration reform, GWB's war in Iraq. So I'm hoping that you'll understand. Thanks in advance!

  • Chumby||

    Hi amsoc,

    Do you practise what you preach and have a sign posted in your front lawn indicating, "No Guns Inside"?

  • DesigNate||

    You don't get the card cause you're a fucking socialist scumbag.

    But it's nice to know that when the Santorum Theocracy is knocking down your door you won't be able to defend yourself against them.

  • Agammamon||

    Why would you need a 'libertarian get out of jail free card"?

    *We're* not going to try to lock you up/kill you because you don't care to own a weapon.
    *Your* side is the one that wants to do that to *us*.

  • american socialist||

    Hey Aga,

    See the commenter below... I'm apathetic about private property too. Who again is going to kill whom? As I said, I'm not at war with the Feds and/or idolize racist pedophiliac cults, but my preference would be for you guys to have legal access to your little pop guns-- if only to get you to shut up about it

    Old Mexican: "BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF if you ever try getting inside my home uninvited"

  • Chumby||

    Hi Amsoc

    We already know how you feel about private property (especially homes). You and your wife were fiscally incapable of managing the home you had, and since both of you are superstars, those of us that do manage our finances properly must have done something illegal to do so such as steal money from public employee pensions. As such, there really shouldn't be private property. And as an extension of that, somebody performing a B&E isn't really committing a crime. Property should be shared. Especially from those that work harder, smarter, and focus on their talents to those that don't work as hard, or as smart, and focus on the belongings of others instead of maximizing the output of their own talents. Therefore, there is no place for the castle doctrine. Did I miss anything?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: American Stolid,

    Can I get a libertarian Get Out of Jail Free card if I don't care about the 2nd amendment,


    You can try getting opting out of the Law of Gravity and flap you wings all you like, Stolid. I am still going to BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF if you ever try getting inside my home uninvited, if that is what you really want to do. Moscowites let themselves be fooled by the Soviets to hand over their guns and suffered the consequences. You're not that persuasive.

    The reason for my appeal is that I've noticed that a lot of my fellow libertarians apply the same standards-- that is, apathy-- to things like the right to have an abortion, immigration reform, GWB's war in Iraq.


    Maybe the problem is that you and your fellows are not libertarians at all.

    I don't concede and will never concede the right to abort a human baby. I do concede the right to migrate and I am not apathetic to the war in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or against Libya, Iran, Syria, Russia and all the wars that Obama or the Republirats wants to start. So fuck you, Stolid.

  • OldMexican||

    Should be "Muscovite" and "You can try opting out of the Law of Gravity".

    Sorry.

  • ||

    I don't care about the 2nd amendment

    This is because you are totally ignorant of history and overly trusting of crooked politicians who are out for nothing but subjugating you under their ultimate power. Good look with that, but all of us are not so naive and are not going along.

    Have a nice day.

  • Brian||

    american socialist:

    The reason for my appeal is that I've noticed that a lot of my fellow libertarians apply the same standards-- that is, apathy-- to things like the right to have an abortion, immigration reform, GWB's war in Iraq. So I'm hoping that you'll understand. Thanks in advance!

    I can't figure this out: are you whining that libertarians are pure enough? Or are you whining that libertarians shouldn't mind if you don't care about the second amendment?

    If it's the former, then you're a hypocrite, if it's the latter, then you don't need to worry: libertarians don't care what you think about the second amendment.

  • american socialist||

    Neither. I just want to be part of the club and know the by-laws. I see that it's mandatory that we have no laws at all on a right that most of us don't choose to exercise, but-- eh-- forcing a women to carry her baby to term... that's optional, right?

    I know the boss really, really, really wants to get a Republican elected in 2016. Should we expect the libertarian line to drift so that it is completely indistinguishable from what jeb bush and the GOP church ladies are pushing? Onto Teheran, I say.

  • Chumby||

    Hi Amsoc

    "Forcing" a woman to take her baby to term is the same as forcing those two white supremeciats from not raping your wife. The unborn baby had zero choice in being conceived whereas the woman had in entered into a contract via her actions (unless she was raped or mentally incapable of making the decisions that led to being pregnant).

    On the other hand, I don't think a pilot of a commercial airline should be forced to transport the passengers in the plane to term the final destination.
    "This is your pilot speaking. We are crusing at 30,000 feet. I'm choosing to abort the rest of your trip. Now GTFO."

    But of course, this article is not about abortion (red herring literary fallacy).

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Geez, not the rape exception for abortion. All it really does is punish the child for the crimes of the father.

    If the father later commits a criminal act, say immediately after sex, is that still good enough reason to kill the fetus? How about the next day, week, month? How about after the child is born, or 5 years after?

    What if the father merely lied to the mother, say about his background, earning potential, diseases, etc? Is that a good enough reason to kill the fetus for the sins of the father?

    Man I hate hypocrites.

  • Chumby||

    Realistically, the "abortion" would likely be in the form of a morning after pill.

    If someone invited a third person to stay at your house but they had no authority to make such an offer, would you let the third person live there? I get kicking someone out is different than ending a life. But your property rights and those of the raped woman are the same.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    I am only commenting on this particular hypocrisy. I understand those who claim all abortion is murder, even though I myself consider all abortion entirely up to the mother. What I don't understand is those who claim abortion is murder but make exceptions for rape, as if rape produces an inhuman fetus which does not deserve the protection afforded to "normal" fetuses. If these rape fetuses are somehow subhuman, then is it also justified in murdering them if the father's crime was committed after conception? Possibly not, because it was the rape itself which tainted the fetus. Then what about a criminal who lies to the mother and tricks her into consensual sex? Once the mother has discovered the deception, does that mean the fetus was always subhuman and is now eligible for legal murder?

  • Chumby||

    Scarecrow-
    In one instance (rape) the pregnancy violates the woman's "property" rights. I the other (voluntary acts that result in becoming pregnant) it does not. In the case of rape the mother could chose to keep the child. But once a decision is made to keep it I think that should remain the decision.

    What about the mothers to be that had an abortion but later felt like they should have kept the child?

    What if no rape was involved, the child was born, and the kid is now ten. Should the mother still (ethically) be allowed to abort the child?

  • american socialist||

    Hey Brian,

    I brought this up once that some libertarians think it's ok for the government to lock up a women who wants to abort her rapist's baby and was accused of building a strawman. I tried to tone it down a bit, but maybe I should just keep on keeping on. What do you think, bro?

  • DesigNate||

    No libertarian thinks that a woman who has an abortion should go to jail you lying piece of shit.

    And there has not been a single article supporting a Jeb Bush presidency.

  • SugarFree||

    So Eddie's not a libertarian? I mean, I don't think he is, but some people like to keep up that fantasy...

  • Chumby||

    Hi amsoc

    Citation missing regarding locking anyone up.

  • american socialist||

    You enter a contract when you do it? What kind of sex are you having?

    I'll skip your story about the killer pilot. I don't get it.

    Try to follow: The original article is about how people use guns to prevent crime. First, In first world advanced countries, the more guns you have the more homicides you have. Second, if you own a gun you are more likely to be the victim of gun violence. Since I am interested in the safety of my family I choose not to own a gun and I don't really care if my neighbors-- seeing the evidence that more guns in the neighborhood means that you are more likely you are to get shot-- decide to pass laws outlawing gun possession. That position seems to be an absolute no go for commenters at Reason, but yet 600 billion dollar defense budgets, 20 foot high walls on the Rio Grande, and troops on the Tigris all seem to be negotiable. I'm just wondering what being a libertarian means any more since this definition pretty much covers people like John McCain.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Too many lies packed in one post for detail refutation. However, your stats are all wrong. Even the slightest googling will show you how. Good luck!

    Oh, and the fact that your definition includes John McCain only shows how devoid of reality you are.

  • Chumby||

    Hi amsoc:

    Keep skipping evidence. In my state, the violent crime rate is far less than in gun-restricting, socialist trending areas in this country such as CA, MA, NY, MD and an order of magnitude less than the gun banning District of Columbia. It is less than in Canada or England (only data I could find from indicated it was 18 times greater).

    We have over a 50% gun ownership rate in this state. What is California when you exclude gangs and Diane Feinstein? 5%? If your data were true we would be shooting ourselves all the time and you'd be really safe. Instead you're several times more likely to have a violent crime in your state that in my state. And it is tough for you to get a gun to own a gun to legally carry a gun. My state has no such prohibitions.
    Regarding your last rant: liberty states are much safer than gun-restrocting states.

  • Winston||

    The reason for my appeal is that I've noticed that a lot of my fellow libertarians apply the same standards

    A Stalinist apologist claiming to be a libertarian?

    http://reason.com/archives/201.....nt_5140564

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    He doesn't apologize for Stalin. There's nothing to apologize for. Stalin was a hero.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    You forgot, the militarization of police!

    No libertarian, ever said a word about it!

  • Chumby||

    Hi Amsoc:

    I forgot to share the FBI violent crime statistics with you (2013 is the latest year available). I recall you saying you live in California, where violent crime rates were 396.2 per 100,000. My understating is that obtaining a concealed carry permit is very difficult. And there are restrictions on purchases.

    I live in northern New England. Vermont (constitutional carry) had the lowest violent crime rate at only 114.9 per 100,000. Maine (concealed carry converting to constitutional carry) had the second lowest violent crime rate at 121.6 (and was lowest the previous year at 122.4). New Hampshire shall issue carry permit with a license plate that states, "Live Free or Die" and includes the "Free State Project" was fifth lowest behind Kentucky and Wyoming at 199.6. I can only speak for Maine but there are no magazine bans, ammunition bans, waiting periods, extra background checks, registrations, etc.

    You may feel safe but you are much less safe than folks in liberty states that acknowledge the right to bear arms.

    Source: FBI.gov Search "Crime in the United States 2013" then click "violent crime" then look at "Table 4"

  • adavaas||

    So you only care about rights that benefit you? That seems rather selfish. I support gay marriage* even though I'm not a homosexual. I support marijuana legalization even though I don't care to smoke pot myself (nor drink, nor smoke). I support legal prostitution even though I have no personal interest in their services. Why? Because I have zero ethical right to tell other people they can't do these voluntary behaviors to their own bodies because I don't personally care for them. I'd want other people to support my civil liberties, so I support those of other people. Also, I don't know which libertarians you're thinking of who are apathetic to things like abortion, immigration reform, or the war in Iraq - are you sure you understand what a libertarian is?

    *I support gay marriage insofar as I don't think the government should have any place in marriage whatsoever. Let people live with whoever they want, it's none of my business. But given that state is unlikely to occur, I'd rather gay marriage be legal.

  • theRabbit||

    If you actually minded your own business, yeah, you can be apathetic and a libertarian. Too bad you're a mentally-ill authoritarian, so you're automatically DQ'd. You would actually do more good if you just minded your own damn business!

    It's not your fault though....you were raised by the State. The military is your daddy, and the Welfare State/Government Indoctrination System your mommy. Even those birds in that one psych experiment bonded with the sock that fed them...

  • Sudden||

    The authors, both with the anti-gun group Armed With Reason

    As opposed to the pro-gun group within our commentariat:

    Armed, with Reason.

  • BigT||

    The pen is mightier than the sword.

  • ||

    (shoots pen out of BigT's hand)

  • BigT||

    pen beats sword; Gun beats pen;

  • Chumby||

    Thankfully he put a space in between pen and is.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    "I'll take, the "penis mightier" Alex"

  • wwhorton||

    I cannot believe. Can there be another anti-gun group named Armed with Stern Looks?

  • OldMexican||

    But underestimating the significance of what's at stake in Second Amendment rights — even though it can clearly be life itself, not to mention dignity — is a favorite pastime of gun controllers and their ideological soldiers.


    Remember that the anti-gun ideologues are not interested in the moral or ethical case for gun possession but on ultimately disarming the population, for a very simple and horrifying reason: you can't impose your favorite social engineering project on an armed population. The Soviets knew this; the Nazis knew this; Pol Pot knew this. And little red Marxians in America know this.

  • ||

    You have to be intelligent to understand this, OldMexican. If you're talking to a proggie sheep, this will fly right over their brainless head.

  • wwhorton||

    They admit it freely, if you just listen to what they actually say. The gun grabbers are very open about painting people who believe part of the reason for the 2A is to provide for defense against your own government as dangerous radicals. The only allowance they make is for hunting weapons. Now, think about that for a minute. Hunting weapons are shotguns and high-powered rifles. Hunting pieces are great for killing people, but not very good defensive weapons. The point is to keep people from being able to resist or even be seen to resist armed authority for any length of time, lest others see the example and act accordingly.

    Remember the emotional diatribes Jon Stewart gave over Ferguson? Has Jon or any other Progressive ever suggested that these oppressed, besieged minority communities ought to arm themselves to defend themselves against the police that are apparently conducting an organized racewar against them? Not once. For all the hand-wringing, tears, and angry speeches, it's more important that the state maintain authority than that people have the ability to defend themselves against the state's agents.

  • BigT||

    The one huge outlier in finding so many DGUs is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

    I believe this is the one that has a seriously flawed questionnaire. It asks about gun use in crimes, and gives multiple choices. Most of the survey suggests answers. They prompt the test taker. But the only place that gun use in defense could be entered was an essay question, "What Happened"

    41a
    (Other than any incidents already mentioned,) has anyone attacked or threatened you in any of these ways -
    (Exclude telephone threats) -
    Read each category.
    (a) With any weapon, for instance, a gun or knife -
    (b) With anything like a baseball bat, frying pan, scissors, or stick -
    (c) By something thrown, such as a rock or bottle -
    (d) Include any grabbing, punching, or choking,
    (e) Any rape, attempted rape or other type of sexual attack -
    (f) Any face to face threats -
    OR
    (g) Any attack or threat or use of force by anyone at all? Please mention it even if you are not certain it was a crime.

    41c.
    What happened?
  • Brian||

    They do, just in the name of objective social science, of course, make the sideways comment that if that's true, then no one needs a loaded gun anyway if merely waving one is good enough.

    That sounds like a proggie solution to social problems:
    "Hey, we just need to ban bullets! Then no one can get shot, but practically everyone will be able to defend themselves with unloaded guns! That's SCIENCE!"

  • Chumby||

    If you like your unloaded gun, you can keep your unloaded gun.

  • OldMexican||

    The authors, both with the anti-gun group Armed With Reason, consider the numbers myths and those who believe and repeat them mythmongers.


    Obviously, even if it was the case that the number of DGUs is much lower than what Gary Kleck estimated from the 1993 survey, it is irrelevant when it comes to my or your right to armed self-defense or to own and bear a firearm. It would be like finding out the number of people who committed suicide after reading The Sorrows of Young Werther was much higher than initially thought; that would not mean the government is justified in limiting the freedom to express oneself.

  • ||

    I actually wouldn't be surprised at all to find that out about Goethe.

  • Winston||

  • Paul.||

    Presuming this study's purpose is to help guide policy, either for or against gun ownership, I'm not sure why it matters.

    If, for instance, we decided to count how many instances of free speech on the internet were used towards a noble political goal as opposed to say, LolCats or bitchy tweets, would we conclude that the average person shouldn't enjoy his or her 1st amendment rights if only a low percentage of that speech was used towards the 'noble goal'?

  • Terc||

    I'm a fan of Randy Barnett's gun control rationality test:

    • Would the proposed measure have prevented the event, such as Sandy Hook, that is being used to justifies its enactment?
    • Are firearms with equal if not greater lethality and rate of fire left legal while others are being prohibited?
    • Will some citizens – such as current or retired members of law enforcement or government officials – be privileged in the means by which they can protect themselves over others?
    • If an American citizen who is employed to protect the safety of others, or an active or retired police officer, requires a certain type of weapon, with a certain rate of fire or capacity, to protect him or herself or others, why does not a law abiding citizen of the United States require the same sort of weapon for the same lawful purpose?
    • Will those who are willing to violate laws be affected in any manner by the existence of this measure, or will its burden largely be borne by law-abiding, and in many cases licenced, citizens who pose no threat to others?
    • Will a gun control measure, such as the maintenance of a data base, facilitate future violations of the fundamental guarantees of the Second Amendment, for example, by making confiscation of weapons easier?

  • Agammamon||

    With the MA ruling on Tasers I've come to the decision that no citizen should be disallowed the possession of *any* tool/weapon that law enforcement has.

    LE are not military, they are civilians just like us. No tool allowed to them should be forbidden for the rest of us.

    Firearms
    Peppers-pray
    Collapsable batons
    Tasers
    Riot control gas
    Body armor

    You name it, if police use it, it should be available to be sold to the rest of us.

  • wwhorton||

    Agreed 100%.

  • Suellington||

    Damn straight.

  • Catatafish||

    Completely agree. And if someone starts screaming "you think you should have automatic weapons and flashbangs and armored personnel carriers, oh my god why do you need those?!" I will simply tell them they are asking the wrong question. The correct question is "why do the cops need all of those things?"

  • Puddin' Stick||

    At least 2 of the DGUs over the last, ohhh, dozen years occurred with a family member… one time, a punk tried to mug him at the mall with a knife. The second time, someone tried to drive him into incoming traffic.

  • Robert||

    I'd like to know about the 2nd time! Was your relative in a motor vehicle with a suicidal driver? Was he on the sidewalk being pushed?

  • ||

    I am not really interested in discussing the finer points of any of this. There is only one reason anyone would want you to be disarmed, unable to defend yourself, and that is to put a boot on your neck.

    The answer is no.

  • mr lizard||

    Odds? Stakes? Nonsense you stooooooopid mammals!

  • Cyto||

    One other category that has perhaps been overlooked both in the surveys and by those commenting on them: How many times did people use guns in defense of non-existent crimes?

    You posit that women claim unbelievably high numbers of DGU incidents, but it is entirely plausible that women were able to use guns in defense of an attempted rape 3 times for every time they were actually in jeopardy of being raped. It is entirely plausible that the type of woman who brandishes a weapon to scare off a would be attacker would do so mistakenly.

    For that matter it is entirely plausible that men who are carrying a gun would defend themselves against 5 of every one attacks. I realize they asked some questions to get at the accuracy of the claimed criminal attack, but you are asking the person who's perception would have been wrong in the first place. Maybe if you asked the "perp" about what happened you would hear that he tried to ask some lady the time and she pulled out a gun on him.

    To me this makes a much higher number more believable. Heck, yelling "I have a gun" doesn't cost anything .... you don't even have to have a gun. I'd bet that there are a very, very large number of people who have "defended" themselves with the threat of a gun that didn't even exist. Call them Viceroys, after the Monarch butterfly mimic. That DGU scenario requires an armed populace. With no large Monarch population, all of the Viceroys are going to get eaten.

  • adavaas||

    Brandishing a firearm without just cause is, in fact, a crime. In some jurisdictions, even announcing that you have a firearm in a hostile or threatening tone is considered brandishing. I believe the language in my area bans "calling attention" to your firearm in any way so as to suggest hostile or threatening intent, and that could include shouting that you have a gun, revealing your holster, etc. Obviously, the hostile intent is part of the law, else printing could be technically considered brandishing.

    Anyway, it's already against the law to do this without just cause. And it;'s a basic rule of gun safety that you never, ever point your gun at anything you're not trying to kill. And I also disagree that gun owners are chronically drawing down on random strangers who approach them in public; I sure would like to see some claims to the contrary there.

  • Cyto||

    That is kinda the opposite of what I am saying. What I am saying is that if there are indeed a couple of million DGU events every year, it is entirely plausible that a significant percentage of those include events that were perceived as attempted crimes, but were not. Some noise outside the bedroom at 3 am, for example. Maybe it was a racoon in the garbage cans outside the window,but the homeowner took his gun to investigate and figured he scared the guy off.

    If you believe you are being robbed, you would certainly feel justified in brandishing your weapon. Even if you were not in reality being robbed.

    People make mistakes all the time. The fact that there are possibly a couple of million events where people use their guns to deter crime every year, but there are not a similarly large number of people getting shot actually points out that gun owners are quite careful with the use of firearms.

  • Robert||

    Many in the gun rights community believe that a privately owned gun is used in legitimate self-defense over 2 million times a year in America.


    That gun must get around a lot!

  • Roger Knights||

    I wonder if a reality check on these conflicting defensive use of guns surveys would be this: Intensively survey just one block, with in-person interviews, in a dozen locations, with credible assurances of no repercussions. By digging deep, the real nitty-gritty may emerge, and certain claims on one or both sides of the debate may be weakened.

  • Suellington||

    Ten years back I was living with Grandma because she was starting to get fairly out of it with dementia. One night I was awakened at about 2 am by a sound. I listened a bit and someone was trying to break into the garage. My truck was parked in the driveway so they clearly had to know someone was at home. I grabbed my shotgun and a shell and walked out into the basement from the room I was in. I could see the shadow of someone at the door and could hear them trying to jimmy the lock. I racked a shell and they quickly disappeared. No police report. Back to bed. Problem solved.

  • np||

    Just two weeks ago
    Pharmacist Shoots Armed Robber Dead (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

    Shocking video of an armed confrontation in a West Virginia pharmacy captures the moment an employee shoots and kills a would-be robber during a stickup.

    Police said Terry Gillenwater, 25, walked into the Good Family Pharmacy in Pinch, West Virginia, Feb. 18, wearing a mask and carrying a loaded handgun. Security video shows the assailant standing in line for a moment before he pulls a gun and points it in an employee's face.

    That's when pharmacist Don Radcliff quick-draws his legally owned concealed weapon, a .45 caliber pistol, and shoots the masked gunman. Radcliff fires three shots. Two hit Gillenwater. The other strikes his weapon, disabling it.

    Radcliff and other employees tried to administer first aid to the man who threatened their lives only moments before.

    Most DGU news if they don't have a video like this, especially as alluded to already, if there were no shots fired, barely make the news and even then, just a blip in the local news.

  • FUQ||

    Notice how the former victims (those being held up) quickly jump in to try and help the criminal when he is shot but when our heros in blue shoot someone they generally stand around waiting for others to show up. They also tend to stop anyone else from trying to help the person they shot. It's almost like the police want their victims to die.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Has any cop ever hit his intended target 3 out of 3 shots?

  • SugarFree||

    Flaming Ballsack is Tulpa. He has chortled and touched himself while crowing about trolling us under that handle.

    You feed the trolls and all you will get back out is more shit. That's all and his little buddy Asshole Socialist do, suck up attention and shit it back out on threads in the form of big turds of derp.

  • Chumby||

    Hi Amsoc

    Per UK Guardian reporting on the Crime Survey for England and Wales in 2012-2013, there were 1.9M incidents of violent crime for the year. Total populations between the two countries is about 57M (I rounded up). That ends up being a rate of 3,392 violent crimes per population of 100,000. About ten times California and almost thirty times that of my gun-toting Maine. I'm interested to see an NIH study or Nina Totenberg article explaining that.

    Note that the crime number excluded homicide and sexual assault. So the actual rate is greater.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    My right to self-defense is not at all grounded in statistics, so this topic while interesting is not relevant. And I don't take self-defense advice from social scientists; I take it from people who know what they're talking about.

  • Loki||

    Critics of his DGU research, Kleck writes, never have "made the slightest effort to estimate the number of false negatives, they cannot possibly know whether false positives outnumber false negatives and therefore have no logical foundation whatsoever for their claims that erroneous responses to DGU questions result in an overestimate of DGU frequency."

    It's not about logic, it's about TEH FEELZ.

  • morganovich||

    something also worth considering:

    a gun need not be "used" to be a deterrent.

    i live in a town where damn near everyone owns guns.

    you know what we do not have? home robberies.

    if you know most of your neighbors are armed, you think long and hard about burglary.

    people need not show you a gun or threaten you: knowing they are (or are not) there matters.

  • mtrueman||

    How about another survey asking respondents whether or not they've had a gun used on them, or whether or not they've been threatened by someone with a gun. If this survey is conducted as well as the survey in the article, the numbers should match.

    The whole thing frankly strikes me as academic busy work rather than anything approaching science.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Why is it so hard to believe that one might need to defend oneself from a violent attack once every hundred years?

  • Galane||

    "The Armed Citizen" page in The American Rifleman magazine has reprinted several news stories of defensive gun use each month for decades. I don't know the month and year they started doing that.

    It's also on the web back to December 2011, 6 to 8 instances each month, a small fraction of all the times people use a gun to defend themselves or other people, often without having to fire a shot.

    http://www.nrapublications.org.....d-citizen/

  • PACW||

    Am I the only one smirking at the name "professor W.V. Fabricius"? I can't figure out if it is a name better suited to an Ayn Rand character or to a villain from the Marvel Universe.

  • DrTom44444||

    The defensive use of guns against criminals is a minor reason for owning a gun. The overwhelming consideration is the defense of the people against mass executions by the government, or even an invasion by a hostile government. Gun ownership stopped the Japanese from an invasion when they considered the number of guns we have. Many really want the public disarmed because then the taking of the rest of one's liberties soon follows as has been seen each and every time this has happened. Mass executions followed when the public was disarmed in Russia (USSR), China, and Thailand with Pol Pot, for example. Liberals really want a totalitarian government, but they are hampered by gun ownership and the possibility of an armed uprising, they have even gone so far as to give our missile secrets to China through Bill and Hillary Clinton and loaded up our government with spies who care nothing for our lives. Guns protect liberty.

  • MarkF||

    "He also notes that while false positives for DGUs from surveys are certainly possible, "false negatives...could be (and, according to extensive research, are) even more common."


    This does not address Hemenway's chief objection. Because the number of people in the survey who responded that they had used a gun defensively was a very small proportion of the total who responded, then - even if the chances of a false negative are significantly greater than the chances of a false positive - you will still get many more false positives than false negatives. It is a well-known difficulty with trying to conduct surveys of something that happens rarely and it follows directly from the maths. it doesn't matter how many surveys you conduct - they will all be prone to the same distortion and give the same misleading result. Repeating an error many times does not make it less of an error. I struggle to understand why this rather basic mathematical point is not more widely understood.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online