Make My Day: Mention Gun Defense “Statistics”…

There’s a certain number that gun fanatics just love. Well, actually there are several numbers they love, but there’s one in particular that they lustfully salivate over: 2.5 million. That’s the putative number of defensive gun uses (DGUs) that occur in the United States every single year. That’s a highly impressive “statistic”, which is why you’ll see it starring on bumper stickers or websites or wherever else people want to emphasize the need for firearms in order to feel safe from all the THEMs out there.

Except the “statistic” is not really a statistic. It’s a projection, an estimate, put forth in a “study” by Florida criminologist Dr. Gary Kleck (in collaboration with Professor Marc Gertz), based on interviews of alleged defenders in 1993. Except the “study” wasn’t really a study; it was a survey, which is a sort of glorified poll.

Whatever terminology you choose to use, the point is that the Kleck “study”, which involved 222 respondents, didn’t really estimate how many DGU’s actually occur; it estimated how often gun owners say they occur. That’s a different thing, but just how different is it? Well, let’s see how it stacks up against the real world.

Dr. Kleck, Meet Mr. Gallup

According to Gallup (a poll, not a study, but generally rather reliable) 30 percent of American adults own guns. With a U.S. population of 313 million, roughly 75 percent of whom (about 230 million) are adults, that translates to about 70 million gun owners. The gun culture estimates its own strength at 80 million, so let’s assume they’re right, and Gallup not so much so.  That would mean that one out of 32 gun owners is involved in a DGU every year.  Seriously? Even if we factor in the additional 12 percent who, according to Gallup, live in a household in which someone owns a gun, that means 99 million who have access to one.  And that would still mean that one out of 40 of them is involved in a DGU every year. If that sounds like a reasonable ratio to you, let’s draw a tighter bead on it.

Washington, DC has a population of about 600,000. That means it should have about 450,000 adults and about 189,000 with access to a gun. According to the Kleck ratio, we would expect that Washington would experience 4725 DGUs annually. (Actually much more, since DC is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation -and for several years in the recent past was the most dangerous.)  That means almost 13 per day. Seriously? Let’s return to DC later.

Media Rare

Dr. Kleck can get away with such extravagant claims because we don’t have real comprehensive statistics as such on defensive gun use.  But we do have accounts of them reported in the media, along with phony accounts reported in emails. And even the real ones and the fake ones together do not number in the millions.

In challenging my observation that many of the anecdotes are bogus, a writer at The Truth About Guns whipped out a list of “75 real ones, just from the last 4 months”. Except that many of these “real” ones were, um, not so real.  He didn’t say where he came up with this collection, but everybody who produces such a list produces essentially the same list, a roster of news headlines apparently meant to confirm the 2.5 million tally. If so, it indicates that maybe gunsters aren’t quite as proficient at counting people as they are at killing them.

Because 75 in 4 months does not quite add up to 2.5 million. It adds up to 225. And at that rate, you would have – quite literally – a substantially greater risk of being struck by lightning. So, since the NRA has only your best interests at heart (wink wink nudge nudge) why isn’t it promoting handy dandy designer rubber suits to go along with those portable miniature lightning rods it pushes?

Even on the busiest day, there are rarely more than 2 or 3 DGUs in the news; and in order to meet the quota of 2.5 million annually, you would need to have 6849 daily, more than 2 per day in each of the nation’s counties.

Okay, okay. I can hear the screaming from the gunster gallery, so we might as well acknowledge what they’re saying:

‘YOU IDIOT! NOT ALL DEFENSIVE GUN INCIDENTS APPEAR IN THE MEDIA!!!”

Well okay, I guess it wouldn’t greatly surprise me if that’s true. But it would greatly surprise me indeed if the number of non-covereds greatly exceeded the number of  covereds – especially to the extent Dr. Kleck maintains. If an incident is truly serious enough to warrant pulling out a weapon, it’s generally serious enough to warrant notifying the police. And what makes it into the police blotter is generally fair game for the media.

There are exceptions, of course – some defenders have good reason to keep their actions under their sombreros. But even among Dr. Kleck’s subjects, 64 percent said the police learned of the episode either from them or someone else.  My calculator says that 64 percent of 2.5 million totals 1,600,000 police reports and 1,600,000 potential media stories. So where are the other 1,599, 775?

Okay, they’re screaming again. Let’s see what they’re saying this time.

“YOU MORON! ALL THE MEDIA EXCEPT FAIRANDBALANCED FOX ARE OWNED BY A BUNCH OF LIBERAL COMMIES WHO SUPPRESS DGU STORIES BECAUSE THEY HATE FREEDOM AND WANT THE TERRORISTS TO WIN!!!”

Well, let’s say that we buy into the “liberal bias in the media” canard. It will require a tremendous effort to say it with a straight face, since the myth is so easily discredited, but we’ll give it our best shot. Say that the media suppress 90 percent of DGU stories – no, hell, let’s let our persecution complex really run wild, and say 99 percent. Still, one percent of 1,600,000 is 16,000. So where are the other 15,775? (And if you think the media suppress even more than 99 percent – well, I’m very sorry, but I just can’t take you seriously at all.)

The truth is that if you ask someone who’s actually worked in the media (like, er, um…well, yours truly, maybe) they’re likely to tell you that the media love this kind of story. They have a lot of column space and airtime to fill, and they’re savvy enough to know that the public would much rather hear about a sensational crime than a church bake sale. And lacking a sensational crime, the public will settle for a sensational crime prevention, thank you very much. Some editors would just about break into someone’s house themselves to get this kind of story.

The Great Equalizer

Yet it’s fine if you choose not to believe this. Thing is, the gunsters who invoke the specter of the librulmedia to explain the phantom DGUs are overlooking something. A little thing called the Internet – even though most likely they’re using it to state their case. While referring to guns as “equalizers”, they overlook the greatest equalizer ever : ye olde world wide web.  Thanks to millions of websites and blogs, thanks to email and Facebook and YouTube and Reddit and Twitter and so on, we no longer have to rely on the sinister librulmedia to give us The Truth About Guns.

One website that regularly circulates the latest version of The List is keepandbeararms.com. And hoo boy, if you want to stoke your paranoia and justify your gun addiction, you’ve come to the right place. There are ample links to stories abut the big bad guvmint wanting to take away your so-called Second Amendment rights, and about the incompetence of law enforcement personnel – we all know that they’re not nearly as skilled and responsible at using firearms as we are. And of course stories about defensive gun use. In fact – get this – this website even recruits a team of volunteers to scrape up these stories and send them in. Even so, they can’t come up with more than a few hundred per year (even assuming they’re all genuine) – while there seems to be a higher incidence lately, the archives indicate  that 75 in 4 months is more or less typical. And guess what? From what I can tell, every one of these incidents was reported in the nefarious librulmedia.

Or take the NRA. Please. Since 1958, this humanitarian organization has maintained (first in print and now online as well) a feature called Armed Citizen, which also collects these stories. And it doesn’t just rely on the commie librulmedia; its 4 million-plus members are all invited to submit items to be listed. There is an archive of “thousands” of these in the past 53 years (only thousands??) and the NRA assures us that there could be many more, editorial space permitting, because there are millions of DGUs to pick from every year. And how do they know this? Why, that famous “study”, of course.

One only hopes that the good folk at NRA are more competent handling weapons than they are handling editorial space. Armed Citizen easily could accommodate one DGU per day, 365 per year. And how many did it print last year? Barely more than 100. And guess what? It appears that every one of them was reported in the terrorist-coddling librulmedia. Can I order my rubber suit now? Surely they must come in red, white and blue.

Capital Offenses

NRA headquarters sits across the river from the nation’s capital. Because of this proximity, and because the NRA is so intensively involved in influencing government policy (to put it mildly), its personnel no doubt have spent a great deal of time in DC and crossed paths with its criminal elements – and we’re not referring to Dick  Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Therefore, they should have had plenty of opportunity to bag their very own share of those 4725-plus annual DGUs. If nothing else, they surely have heard about many of them through the grapevine, even those that were buried by the scumsucking librulmedia.

And how many did they list for Washington in 2011? A grand total of zero. In fact, the last one I found was more than SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO!  This excludes a 2004 story in The Washington Times about a hiker shooting a bear. No, no, not on the National Mall. In Alaska. Yep, the straight-shootin’ NRA feels that if it appeared in a Washington newspaper, that makes it a genuine DC DGU – even though it also was listed under Alaska’s database. Which really makes you wonder how many of their other untold “thousands” are also duplicates – especially since, contrary to what the gun culture clams, these episodes are usually covered by a number of media sources.

Armed Citizen recently has been revamped.  Before that, the search options were more user-friendly, and I counted 24 DGUs in the former Murder Capital of America for the 53 year period, falling a tad shy of our expected total of 250,425.  But those 24 include the ursine encounter in Alaska; and I didn’t confirm the legitimacy of the other 23.

Studying the Studies

Unless you’re really heavily immersed in a gun propaganda website, I probably don’t have to tell  you that there is a wee bit of difference between 2.5 million and 2.5 hundred. The question is, which is closer to the truth? No, strike that. The question is, how could a reputable researcher like Dr. Kleck, even given his apparent propensity for gun worship, have fucked up so royally?

I don’t claim to have a solid answer for that. I don’t believe he deliberately cooked the books, and even if he did, it hardly would cover the bases. There have been at least a dozen other “studies”, one by the Department of Justice, that also generated some preposterous projections. Granted, there was quite a range in the totals, with the lowest being 65,000. That, contrasted with the high of 2.5 million, is a point spread of  4000 percent, for crying out loud; and that, if nothing else, ought to raise a matador-size red flag about the challenges of obtaining accurate data on such a subject. But even 65,000 seems greatly overinflated.

So it appears that Dr. Kleck is not to blame. Instead, the probable explanation is that the respondents to such surveys tend to give consistently and wildly distorted responses. Why? Well, that might take an actual study or two to figure out.  Prof. David Hemenway of Harvard has made some illuminating comments, which of course have been attacked ferociously by the gun lobby. He  notes by way of comparison that among 1500 adults contacted at random, 10 percent claimed to have witnessed a UFO, and of those, 6 percent claimed to have had personal contact with space aliens.  Which would mean that 1,380,000 American adults have encountered Klingons. And hey, 579,600 of those may have been hauling a heater. Hmmm… maybe so many DGUs are missing because they occur on the far side of the chronosynclastic infundibulum.

A 2004 investigation – one actually might call it a study –  by J. F. Denton and Dr. W. V. Fabricius that examined shooting incidents over a period of 3.5 months in the Phoenix metropolitan area confirmed that of 81 shootings, only 3 were of a defensive  nature; two occurred in a single encounter with two security guards firing at the same offender, and the third involved a family quarrel. The Kleck data would have projected 334 defensive shootings for the time frame and location. Denton and Fabricius illustrate the drawbacks of the Kleck survey by discussing another clash involving a drunken quarrel between two acquaintances, one of whom shot the other to death, which was ruled to be criminal homicide, but which Dr. Kleck would have misclassified as a DGU. Undoubtedly, there have been many cases that were misclassified.

Indeed, a close inspection of the Kleck data reveals some major thorns. As we mentioned, at least 36 percent of respondents stated they didn’t even notify police. Which makes you wonder whether the incidents really were serious enough to justify calling in the infantry.  Furthermore, 46.8 percent admitted (the actual percentage could be higher) that the supposed offender neither attacked nor made a threat. So what made the hardware necessary? In more than half of the cases, the supposed defender admitted (the actual percentage may be higher) that the supposed offender had no weapon of any kind.  And since 57.6 percent of defenders say they verbally referred to their guns and 75.7 percent brandished or showed their guns, that seems to indicate that about 25 percent only referred to them verbally. And this counts as a defensive gun use? I could do the same thing, but since I don’t even own a gun, the weapon du jour would be bullshit, not a Glock.

In 8.3 percent of the cases, the subject claimed to have wounded or killed the offender. There is no breakdown of what percentage was killed, but let’s conservatively guess one percent. Most likely, the true percentage is much higher, especially given that there seem to be a great many gun incidents that are falsely classified as DGUs; and a higher percentage of fatal shootings means a lower number of DGUs. But even one percent of 2.5 million would be 25,000; and we should be able to verify this because gun deaths are a matter of official record. Oops. According to the FBI, there were only 232 justifiable homicides by firearm in all of 2010 – and this was an increase over recent years.  No matter how you slice it, something in Kleck has to go.

Perhaps most interestingly, the subjects claimed to have experienced an average of about 1.5 DGUs each for a 5-year period; in other words, many of them said they were involved in multiple incidents.  Talk about red flags. This supposedly random sampling that supposedly represents the typical American gun owner nonetheless seems to be comprised largely of people who live in the world’s worst neighborhoods. In contrast, this group of gun owners, in response to a query about how often they’ve drawn their weapons (which doesn’t necessarily mean a DGU)  typically say once or twice in 15 years or 25 or 30 years; some even say “never”, although such an individual is probably not as likely to respond to this question at all.

Defensive or Offensive

All told, these facts shoot a big gaping hole in one of the gun culture’s prime tenets: that guns are used in self-defense more often they are used to commit crimes – some even claim ten times as often or more! In the Phoenix sample, however,  the score was 78 to 3 in favor of the Offense. Granted, these were actual shootings and most defenders don’t open fire – but neither do most offenders. While there are only a few hundred confirmed DGUs per year, there are at least 400,000 gun crimes per year. Among those committed or attempted, there is a 100 percent chance that the offender has a gun, but only a 42 percent chance that the victim even has access to a gun, much less is armed at the moment and able to use it successfully. Of course, there are many other crimes in which the criminal is not packing; but they are less likely to warrant firearm defense. In many of them, the victim is not even aware of the crime, and indeed may not even be present. But none of this will stop the gun lobby from peddling the illusion that guns make us safer.

At least one blogger out there is making an effort to chronicle the destructive use of firearms, both intentional and accidental – there are thousands of accidental gun deaths and injuries every year, but I’ve yet to hear of a gun accidentally preventing a death or injury. He seems to be waging a war of anecdotes with the gunsters, but it’s not much of a war. Despite their persistent claims of vastly superior firepower, he’s been blowing their asses out of the water.

Not that I expect it to make a great deal of difference. People will believe what that want to believe, and for the gun culture it’s important to believe that lead is more vital than oxygen. For all their rant and cant about “defending liberty”, many gunsters are quite willing to enslave themselves to the unscrupulous marketing machinations of the firearms cartel. And every time a trigger clicks, a cash register ka-chings.

(STILL TO COME:  A more reasonable approach to calculating DGUs; and the assault on “gun control”. Stay tuned.)

61 thoughts on “Make My Day: Mention Gun Defense “Statistics”…

  1. Prof, I take my hat off to you and should become a student of yours.

    When it comes to propaganda, you are indeed the hands down expert!

    I am but a mere kindergartener compared to you.

  2. I’ve had two 2 DGU’s. None involved a Police report. It happens way more than you wish to admit. However…I understand agendas an stuff…..

    • I’m curious about what your incidents involved, and whether I indeed would classify them as DGUs. In any case, I never said that they NEVER occur without a police report. But even according to Kleck-Gertz, they’re reported 64 percent of the time. What kind of agenda do you suppose they had?

    • Ben, you know what happens quite a lot. Guys pull the gun out thinking there might be a threat or that there is about to be one. The bad guys run away and the gunowner calls it a DGU. In truth, we’ll never know in those cases. Some of them were completely unnecessary.

      • Are you kidding? The second I have to draw a firearm to a threat (and not just a vague sound my wife hears) is a major fucking event. If I knowingly chased off a bad guy 1) the police are showing up be cause I’ve either already called the cops or 2) I’m calling the cops because there is either a shot bad guy on my property or my neighborhood has a bad guy worthy of pulling out a gun for wandering around in it. The only ones who don’t call the cops after a DGU are likely people who don’t what the cops around at all. Seriously???

      • As I’ve stated before, if there is a genuine threat, it would be irresponsible NOT to notify authorities — after all, there’s someone running around who might do some serious harm out there. Furthermore, in a great many GENUINE DGUs, it would be hard to keep the thing a secret even if you wanted to.

  3. Hemenway’s “illuminating comments” were speculations without providing evidence. Do you call yourself the “Propaganda Professor” because you are an expert in spreading it? It is certainly not debunking it.

    • Actually, Hemenway has provided at least as much actual evidence as Kleck. And your clever riposte about propaganda has been stale for at least a couple of years now.

      • Actually the problem with Hemmenway is that he ignores the simple rule of statistics that ” Correlation is NOT Causation”.
        No different from claiming that since ice cream sales increase in the summer along with drownings, then ice cream sales are responsible for the increase of drownings.

        Like a typical gun-controller, any lie and half-truth is good enoughto disarm everyone else.
        But if your cause was so just, why do you need to lie.
        The simple truth should be good enough

      • I’m not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that Hemenway has ever ignored this rule, or that to do so would be tantamount to lying. He’s not the one proposing a thesis – he is, rather, questioning highly questionable theses proposed by the gun culture. And speaking of whom, when it comes to ignoring the rule you mentioned – well, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “more guns, less crime” more than a time or two.

    • Your logic is flawed, and it bgnris into question your ability to properly use research methods. The absence of a person with a gun to stop the Westroads shooter cannot logically be used as evidence that guns can help stop such violent attacks. Unless you can prove that a person was kept from bringing in a gun to Westroads, your hypothesis is mere speculation. Again, the absence of a fact (a person with a gun could have stopped the shooter)cannot be used to make a leap in logic that had something taken place, i.e., a person with a gun could have stopped the shooter, the shooting would not have taken place. In simpler terms, the fact that guns are banned from Westroads is no evidence whatsoever that if guns were allowed in Westroads, the shooting would have been any less likely whatsoever. Your logic is flawed, presumably because to support your thesis, you need to make such unsupported leaps in logic that are pure nonsense. More guns are bad. Less guns are good. In this case, security should have had guns, and they should have had the courage to stop someone who they saw with a huge bulge in his jacket, which they admit to have seen prior to the shooting. And I also see no reason why it took dispatchers two minutes to call out an officer after getting the 9-11 call for the shooting. That seems like a very very slow dispatch time.

  4. What a wonderfull piece of propaganda worthy of Pravda in it’s heyday.
    Let me give you just one example of why…

    Paragraph 5 talks about Washington D.C. and how many DGUs should occur in Washington based on how many gun-owners there should be in Washington based on the population.
    The ONLY problem is that up until VERY RECENTLY, specifically untill the Heller decision by the US Supreme Court, there were NO LEGAL gun owners in Washington D.C.
    Washington had a law where you had to apply to be able to have a gun in your home.
    But the law required that you apply for the permit
    But you couldn’t apply for the permit without the proper application form
    Only Washington D.C. had never created the form that was necessary for one to make the application.

    NO form – No application – no gun owners in Washington D.C.
    So the whole argument in paragraph 5 is a COMPLETE LIE.

    • So because of this red tape, there have been NO gun owners at all in DC for the past 50 years (legal or otherwise)? And this accounts for the extremely low DGU count? What about residents of the surrounding areas who no doubt spend a great deal of time in the city and have plenty of opportunity to wage an armed defense against crime? Are you serious, are are you just pulling my leg?

      • nice spin.
        Let’s make it simple for you

        1)
        Since we are talking about law-abiding citizens, this woudl exclude:
        criminals, who ignored the D.C (and federal) . law about possessing guns
        federal agents, who were exempted from the D.C. law
        So your “there have been NO gun owners at all in DC for 50 years” is another lie…

        2)
        If the city government DOES NOT PRINT the forms needed to apply for a permit to get a gun, you cannot legally own a gun, thus you can NOT have a DGU.
        Threfore ANY argument made claiming that the DGU count in Washinton D.C. is low is a LIE BECAUSE it’s a FALE argument.
        Is that clear enough for you ?

        3)
        Although you could own and even carry guns in the surrounding States, you could NOT legally do in Washington D.C.
        THis was CLEARLY reflected in the crime statistics of Washington D.C and the surrounding States
        So your attempt to claim that magically because the surrouding states did have gun ownership, and therefore there should have been equivalent DGUs in D.C. is an outright lie.
        So is the claim that the residents of the surrounding States would be carrying ILLEGALLY in Washington D.C.

        Oh and by the way, the rest of your article is just as dishonest.

        You are a SOURCE of LIES, DISTORTIONS and PROPAGANDA.
        If anything, the ONLY lesson you teach as a “propaganda professor” is how to make propaganda worhty of Pravda.

      • So let’s see now: there’s a clear line of demarcation between “good” gun owners and “bad” gun owners that never gets crossed? The former always obey laws restricting gun ownership and only the latter ever own guns illegally? Only the “good” owners ever defend themselves with guns? And thus after the passage of that DC law in 1975, there should have been a huge surge in crime, right? But it actually declined overall until the crack epidemic hit. And after the Supreme Court ruling, there should have been a big surge in DGUs for the city, eh? So, um, where are they? There also should have been a huge drop in crime, right? So where is it? There was indeed a slight drop – just as there has been on a rather consistent basis for the past 15 years or so. Which means the trend started long before the court ruling – i.e., when guns were “illegal” in D.C.

        If you’re going to play Shoot the Messenger, you’ll need much more potent ammo. And if you want to be taken seriously, you’ll need to come up with more original juvenile put-downs than the commie crap and the “you’re a propaganda professor because you teach people how to wage propaganda” bit. These supposedly clever quips have been used so many times that they make the eyes of even the most patient and indulgent reader glaze over.

  5. Thank you for this….Every gun-totting maniac I know cites the DGU stats constantly. Even though I barely made it through my stats classes and am taking forever to write my dissertation, I know enough to see that the Kleck & Gertz research was suspect. I’m glad someone finally said something about it and the “phantom DGU”s. By the way, Branas et al. (2009) is another interesting read….

  6. 47% of Americans own guns. 47% of 312,000,000 people = 146,640,000 people. if only 2,500,000 of them used their guns every year, this would give us 1.7% of gun owners that use them in some form of defense annually. in other words, 1 in 62 gun owners used them defensively each year. is this possibly high? sure. an adult is 18+ years old. average life-span is what, 80 years? so this means that a lifelong gun owner will likely use a gun he owns, in self defense, ONE TIME during his entire life. yeah. SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT.

    • Except that everything I’ve read indicates that most gun owners NEVER use their guns in self defense. And that 2.5 million estimate was derived from a sample of people many of whom claimed multiple DGUs within a very short time. And where did you come up with 47 percent? That’s higher than any estimate I’ve read, even from the gun lobby.

  7. Pingback: Of Guns and Madness « The Propaganda Professor

  8. After reading every post on here, I feel as though my comment will be the most enlightening of all.

    Despite the incredulity of the number: 2.5 million, there is one person who seems to agree with these statistics. It is precisely the gargantuan number that creates a subjective notion, in our brain, to repel such data. However, instead of giving my own limited account on the calculations, I thought I would simply throw out a name of a professional who agrees with the statistics of Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz.

    If you disagree, I challenge you to find a professional at the merit and level of the one I’m about to mention that fully agree’s with the article you’ve written concerning this subject. Perhaps merit is built upon association.

    I choose: Marvin E. Wolfgang. Here is a quick quote:

    “What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator”.

    Considering the breadth of knowledge coming from Marvin and his extensive background, I would consider this article a “must read” for you: http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/Wolfgang1.html

    • I’ve read that quote before. No matter how reputable the scholar, however (and I consider Kleck and Gertz quite reputable) it doesn’t alter the fundamental fact that there is no comprehensive study — I repeat NONE — of how often DGUs actually occur. Only of how often gun owners SAY they occur. And as I’ve demonstrated repeatedly, there is every reason to question the reliability of such claims.

      • It is precisely because no study has been done – comprehensively, as you say – that leaves us incredulous to the notion of 2.5 million DGUs. You may stand as a better intellectual source for your incredulity, but I cannot. Instead, I am only capable of siding with other intellectuals who have a breadth of knowledge higher than mine. Thus, you would be correct, in fact, that the numbers “don’t make sense”. But you’d be correct only subjectively. After all, if, as you say, there has been no comprehensive study on the DGU numbers, your incredulity alone would serve as a testament to a heightened level of awareness than even Wolfgang himself lacks. DGU’s are not easy to comprehensively study. Thus, being incredulous is the start to a good hypothesis. I am not here to contradict your hypothesis, but to show that someone else – of scholarly eminence, no less – would disagree with it.

        My lack of experience gives me only one recourse in which to disagree; Like quantum physics, I consult the experts when I do not feel equipped to answer or even assess certain topics. With physics, I may disagree with an opponent on an opinion they had regarding such a topic simply because I heard something that Neil Degrasse Tyson said that would contradict it. With Biology; Richard Dawkins. With economics; Milton Friedman (and you might consult John Maynard Keynes). The point would not be show we know more than the other person. The point would be to showcase the association we make with our earned (and learned) knowledge by the scholars who we choose as our ambassadors in those fields of expertise. Those scholars whom we follow are the chess pieces we send out to represent the layout of all our perceptions, for they are the one’s who’ve intellectually shaped it.

        At the end of the debating table, you have no comprehensive study with which to prove that Kleck and Gertz were, let’s say, “fudging the numbers”. At this point, we have your incredulity matched up against my ambassador – Wolfgang. . So far, only I have been the one to shown at least one reputable source that agrees with Kleck/Gertz, and I believe my source was well chosen.

        In the spirit of matching my dispute in a parallel, symbiotic fashion, at least find a reputable source that is just as incredulous as you are on this issue. If not, checkmate.

      • I really have no hypothesis to prove or disprove. The point of my writings is to show that the hypotheses of others who have purported to study the issue do not correlate with verifiable facts. Unless you can produce such facts that support those hypotheses, then they remain unsupported theories, in the same class as the theory that the Milky Way is made of Limburger cheese. Game, set and match.

  9. First I would like to correct a typo in my previous comment: “But you’d be correct only subjectively. After all, if, as you say, there has been no comprehensive study on the DGU numbers, your incredulity alone would serve as a testament to a heightened level of awareness THAT even Wolfgang himself lacks.”

    Nothing you wrote correlates to what I previously wrote. I will simply reiterate;
    The symbolism that I created regarding the chess game was that pieces on the board represented ambassadors of knowledge that we follow. In order to move a piece on the board, you would have had to respond and showcase an ambassador of your choosing who agreed with your incredulity. You were not tasked with proving anything, and I did not set up an argument in which either of us had this onus of responsibility. When I presented Wolfgang as an ambassador (i.e chess piece) for my motion, I was making the first move in representing a source for my subjective disagreement with you.

    The “first move” is not even proof. I stated this already. It is precisely the lack of proof that caused me to title your proof as “simple incredulity” and nothing more. In fact, I also used the word “subjective” when defining your opinion. In other words, my contradiction to you would have been just as subjective precisely because there are no verifiable facts. In this case, we would have gone around in a subjective debating circle where your skepticism of Kleck/Gertz competed against my confidence in them. In such an action we would be parallel in a roundabout debate that went circular, both espousing our subjective notions and heading nowhere. But I didn’t JUST contradict you, because that would have been meaningless. Instead, I provided a source – a scholar – who simply agreed with MY subjective notions and who would disagree with YOURS. Anyone who re-reads my comment will find no contradiction to this.
    Your response to me was not a move in the chess game. You simply asked me to make ANOTHER move. I provided Wolfgang. You have provided no one (no chess piece), that represents an agreement or at least augmentation to your incredulity; someone of a scholarly background who SHARES in your incredulity. Thus – according to your comment – you have asked me to provide not only Wolfgang, but ADDITIONAL forms of “proof”, as you say, or facts. And yet, in my original response I highlighted the fact that because I was not a scholar in this field this was not possible. Once again, to reiterate; my chess move was not an “affirmation of facts”. My chess move was providing one ambassador of scholarly background who would disagree with your incredulity on the Kclek/Gertz article, and it was only that.
    Hence, your facetious comment regarding the Milky Way doesn’t hold up. In such a case, it would be akin to me providing Neil Degrasse Tyson as my ambassador for a topic regarding physics and agreeing with an absurd hypothesis that he himself stated. If I was lackluster in the brain, perhaps I WOULD go around citing people of low intellectual capacity who espoused crazy theories. Your symbolic reference on the Milky Way was an attempt to either reduce or befuddle the main topic. I did nothing close to the analogy you described. Because I used an ambassador with amazing credentials your facetious comment about the Milky Way is simply a superfluous jab that would probably confuse the most lazy reader. Perhaps your fans will forgive this lack of acumen on your part. So long as you have provided nothing except additional subjective values, you stand below the bar that I set for this debate. Your incredulity is no longer enough, and especially not after audience members read the Wolfgang article. This article would at least put your incredulity into question. This is precisely why your next response should be simple: Provide another source to represent your incredulity.
    It is unfortunate that I am attempting to play chess, have already made a move, and yet you would rather just continue using yourself as your own ambassador. I apologize, but it was not my intention for us to play checkers.

    • If you’re going to challenge my research and analysis, you need one thing: evidence. Without it, you have no case. Period. And evidence does not begin with “It seems to me that” or “Some people say that”.

      • It’s a perfect response. I teach junior high school students, and they are learning right now that if they wa by to argue with someone, they need evidence, which is more than, “well, this smart person agrees with me.”

      • As “Anonymous” as my name is, being referred to as a “teacher” as above, or the Professor of Propoganda as you claim you should be called, then giving absolutely pathetic responses to intelligent debate makes you look less of a “professor” and more of a grade school student.

      • Well that’s just the point isn’t it? POP is saying that 2.5 million isn’t a reliable number due to the fact that there hasn’t been an actual study and that there are some pretty common sense reasons to doubt it. That being the case, it seems to me that the people who support the 2.5 million number and use it to push their agenda have the burden of proving it empirically (or at the very least countering the points that POP brought up).

    • No, I understand exactly what you’re saying. It wasn’t really that complicated. The problem is that your logic is flawed.

      Everything that you’ve said up to this point is based on your admission that you don’t know what’s going on with the DGU number. Since you can’t speak with any intelligence on the issue yourself, you chose to appeal to the authority of an expert.

      As a general matter, I don’t think that’s a terribly unreasonable position for an individual in your shoes to take. I do, however, think that it is unreasonable to believe that because you found an expert that agrees with the study, this somehow negates all of the reasons why the study might be faulty.

      It would be one thing, if the expert in question had addressed all or even some of POP’s concerns – the problem is that your expert didn’t. In fact, if anything, the quote that you chose seems to cut against the expert’s authority on the issue, since he seems to have ignored or missed all of the issues that POP brought up, as he called the study “an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research”.

      Even if we assume for a minute that POP found an expert who agreed that the study was flawed. How would that move the ball? Ultimately, as opposed to taking blanket statements from experts, that may or may not have even considered the substantive concerns that POP brought up, the only way for you to move the ball at this point is to address POP’s common sense substantive concerns. Until you’ve done that, you haven’t really said much of anything, experts and all.

  10. I’m going to try that last paragraph again, since my grammar doesn’t seem to want to work with me today.

    Even if we assume for a minute that POP found an expert who agreed that the study was flawed, how would that move the ball? Ultimately, as opposed to taking blanket statements from experts, that may or may not have even considered the substantive concerns that POP brought up, shouldn’t we be trying to address POP’s common sense substantive concerns directly? If you want to do that through an expert, that’s fine, but until someone has addressed the substantive concerns, you haven’t really said much of anything.

    • First, you have associated “moving the ball” with my original symbolic reference of a “chess game”. I’ll repeat: The chess game has nothing to do with “proving” facts. We have already established that no “evidence” exists here. In this we are parallel.

      However, the difference exists because I upped the anti. I didn’t provide proof. I’ve said that already. At the least, I contributed something more than a subjective disagreement. I provided a scholar. You would think that if the P.O.P is incredulous of the Gleck/Gertz study, why should it be so difficult to find other studies that would think the same? Is the P.O.P so brilliant that he discovered a flaw that no one else did? We should be amazed by his ability. But it seems that instead of being able to provide a scholar who is also just as incredulous of the study that Gleck and Gertz composed, you come here, instead, to add to the fault. This builds upon my proof. You provide a superfluous disagreement. You instead reiterate. You have not provided anything innovative to the discussion that resembles the quality of contribution that was given when I brought Wolfgang – as my reference – to the debate.

      No one seems capable of finding conclusive evidence that the study is flawed. Yet I at least provided someone who is more experienced than you (or Propaganda Professor), in assessing the Gleck/Gertz study.

      Let us look at it another way: Is it not true that the Propoganda Professor brought up specific reasons why the study might be flawed? Yes, he brought the 2.5 million number into question. Aren’t his questions – his incredulity – subjective notions that are still in the hypothesis stage? Tell me if the entire article P.O.P wrote is simply his own analysis. Certainly you would not advocate that the P.O.P is, himself, a professional with the credentials to even assess Gleck/Gertz properly. Certainly the P.O.P did not complete his own, independent study that conflicts with the data that Gleck/Gertz espouse. No, you’re right. He didn’t. He is simply a blogger who was giving his subjective disagreement. In conclusion, his disagreement with the article is parallel to the agreement of mine. The P.O.P didn’t provide PROOF that the article was flawed. He raised questions. That was it. Subjective, eloquent (some would say) questions.

      And since Gleck and Gertz were the only references that anyone here was intellectually debating, I decided to raise the anti by contributing another.

      Hence, your verbosity will not trump my citation. So at least, with all other disagreements being even, try citation.

      • This is amusing. I’ll play.

        I disagree with your first statement. The evidence that exists are the questions and statistics that POP brought up. Until those are answered or explained, there is reason to doubt the 2.5 million number. (Which, of course, is the purpose of this whole thread).

        With regards to your second statement, you actually provided less than a subjective disagreement. You provided a quote from someone that didn’t address any of the questions that POP brought up. Amazingly, in 12 paragraphs of chess analogies, you’ve managed to say nothing.

        With regards to why it is difficult to find other studies that say the same as POP, I can’t answer that. I do know that not every question in the universe has already been answered by someone else. Sometimes, people actually have to think for themselves and answer questions on their own. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s how most of these experts make their living. Instead of focusing on why there is no study, let’s try and address the answers to the questions, since we both agree that they exist.

        I would like to prove a broader point to you. Let’s assume, for a minute, that I took your flawed argument and used it against you. POP brought up some pretty damning statistics and seemingly valid questions regarding the validity of the Gleck study. Why haven’t you been able to find an expert who has already researched these particular questions and explained them within the context of the Gleck study? Assuming there is no study, I suppose that means that POP is right and you’re wrong – and there’s nothing more to be said about it until someone else does a study on it. I hope you can see the fallacy in this argument – but I’m not holding my breath.

        With regards to your last paragraph, you’re right this is his own analysis. The only difference between his analysis and your own is that he provided evidence to back up his points. While you may think you provided evidence in the form of a citation, what you actually provided was a quote that didn’t address any of his specific questions.

        Try again.

      • Not that it matters, but it isn’t true that I haven’t cited studies that support my conclusions. I referred, for example to Hemenway and Denton-Fabricius. I’m aware that the gun culture has attacked and “debunked” these studies, but the fact remains that they ARE studies — i.e., they examine real numbers and not just polls. The same can not be said of Kleck-Gertz or the other sources the gun culture loves to brandish.

  11. So now we have three citations in total.

    1: The Gleck article.
    2: My article on Wolfgang.
    3: An article by Hemenway and gang.

    I have two articles, you have one. Nice. I can rest with that.

    Last thing. Just in case no one was about to take this debate one step further, here is a nice Business Week Article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-27/how-often-do-we-use-guns-in-self-defense

    The official study is here: http://www.saf.org/lawreviews/smitht1.htm

    Looks like this is still a stalemate.

    • Already read that study long ago — when researching my first post on the subject. All it does is compare other “studies” that reflect how often people claim — repeat, CLAIM CLAIM C-L-A-I-M to have DGUs. (By the way, most inmates serving time for gun violence also claim to have acted in self-defense.) I will say this once more, and let it sink in because this is the last time. NOBODY HAS EVER DONE A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF HOW OFTEN DGUS OCCUR. They can’t. It’s impossible. Therefore, anyone who claims to know is full of horse shit. Accordingly it’s irresponsible and dishonest to cite any of the wildly divergent guesses (e.g. Kleck-Gertz) as fact — or even as probability, given that the confirmed number of cases number only in the HUNDREDS each year. No, there is no stalemate, because I am not playing your juvenile game. I have no interest in counting how many researchers have reached similar conclusions to mine, because that’s not the foundation I’ve built on. I refreshed your memory about a couple of studies I’d cited only to demonstrate that you were inaccurate and/or dishonest to suggest that no researchers have reached similar conclusions to mine. I’ve laid out a solid case why the DGU estimates are highly suspect, and nobody has come up with any flaw in my examination despite a number of desperate efforts to do so.

      • A.) I never said that researchers have reached a similar conclusion to you. I simply asked you to show it. You finally did.

        b.) You said:”I laid out a solid case why the DGU estimates are highly suspect”.

        How is it “solid” if you are also admitting that “Nobody has ever done a comprehensive study of how often DGUS occur. They can’t. It’s impossible”.

        If it’s “impossible”, then you’re admitting that no data would be sufficient for you because, after all, it would be impossible to obtain sufficient data. Therefore, wouldn’t you be justified in criticizing ANY study that came under your purview?

        c.) You seem to put your incredulity on a pedestal, as if that alone is satisfactory in dismissing research done by professionals who, I would assume, are more knowledgeable on the subject.

        d.) When someone “claims” self defense, they do not need to be 100% sure that they were in danger. They do not need to be 100% certain of what the future would have brought had they not had a weapon. They do not need to be 100% sure whether the robber was harmless or not. They are not supposed to be sages or oracles who know the future. Anyone who has a loved one who claimed DGU would be happy that such a “claim” was even possible. It would mean that the loved one survived and is able to explain that having a weapon warded off a potential threat.

        If they feel that having a weapon on them kept them safe from the prospect of a dangerous situation, there is no reason to question their definition of defensive gun use.

        A “claim” should be as good as it should HAVE to get. Any further, and obtaining the type of evidence you want is downright dangerous.

      • My goal is not to find experts who reach similar conclusions to mine, though they certainly exist. My objective in writing this post was to determine how well the DGU estimates correlate with reality; and I found that they don’t correlate at all. The burden of proof is on anyone promoting them, to explain why we should believe them other than just because “people say say”. And they’ve as yet been unable to do it.

  12. You did not address letter “D” of my previous post. And you really should, because I am showing you that your version of “reality” is really not all it seems to be.

    Are you not in agreement with the fact that experts help us define our own versions of reality? Your reality is going to be shaped by something – whether we like it or not. If anything, why not have it be an expert?

    • To tell you the truth, I haven’t made much of an effort to address anything you’ve said, because you’ve said little of value. No, the reality I referred to was not defined by experts, but by statistics. You’re free to believe anyone (expert or not) you choose to, but don’t be surprised if some people don’t go along with you. Dr. Kleck is an expert and he did a good job with his survey. Problem is, he’s confused about what he did a good job of. He packaged his results as a calculation of how many DGUs actually occur. It’s nothing of the kind. But believe it if you want to. Your choice.

  13. Holy shit could you be more full of yourself?
    Yes the 2.5 million statistic is bullshit but you cant call yourself a professor when your entire article is flooded with personal attacks.
    You did however, get the propaganda part right.
    Stop acting like a child.

  14. So-called Second Amendment rights? OK, how about our so-called First Amendment rights? Or our so-called Forth Amendment rights. Either they ALL apply fully or NONE of them apply fully. You can’t pick and choose.

    • If you claimed that the First Amendment entitles you to slander someone or distribute child pornography, that would be a so-called First Amendment right. If you claim that the Second Amendment entitles you to unrestricted ownership of guns, that’s a so-called Second Amendment right. Not terribly complicated. Furthermore, the Third Amendment and the Eighteenth Amendment don’t apply at all, so your observation is totally misguided.

      • I’ve already explained this to you, Professor. Slander and child pornography directly hurts people. You feeling unsafe because I have a big mean ol’ ASSAWLT RIFUHL isn’t hurting you.

        I would also like to point out some flaws in this article too:
        -Washington DC has among the strictest gun laws in the nation, despite the rulings of the Heller Case
        -Kleck said that the lower end of his estimate was 1,000,000/per year
        -Yes, flashing a gun at a would-be assailant/rapist/mugger DOES could as self-defense.
        -You have no source that can give an estimate on exactly HOW many DGUs there are a year.reported to the police

  15. My “feeling unsafe” because of your gun isn’t the problem. Are there laws against slander and child pornography just because they make people “feel unsafe”? The “flaws” in the article would be eliminated if you actually read the article.

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  19. With the NRA–any relationship to reality is purely coincidental and only accidental. The 2.5 million is bandied about by the NRA gun nut psychos constantly in their psychotic screed. The Department of Justice in their May 1997 study suggests something like 108,000 DGU. That seems more accurate. Thanks for debunking a popular NRA propaganda shill.

  20. The reason the first Amendment can’t be used as an excuse to distribute child pornography is similar to the need to place limits on 2nd amendment rights, because they both include threats to the public’s safety.

    Personally I don’t care if anyone wants a gun, but there are some cases where obvious extremes result in risks to the public–why does anyone need to use a 100 round magazine, or have the ability to order body armour and huge quantities of ammunition on line? To me its seems obvious that anyone interested in making such purchases, could very well be planning to use them for criminal or violent purposes–just as someone who distributes kidy porn, represents a threat to the safety of children and makes a living at it to boot.

    There are many laws restricting certain guns or types of sales already, but when it comes to online purchases, those who sell often care very little if a buyer is mentally sound or not. so the entire process is officially legal, but in actual practice illegal sales live and thrive on the internet just as kidy porn is acquired relatively easily there, and then distributed by those who download it, or create their own porn videos— regardless of the fact that it is officially illegal.

    I think it’s not unreasonable to launch sting operations aimed at those who sell weapons illegally at gun shows, just like the sting operations used by undercover cops who arrange rendezvous with customers who thinks that they are about to have sex with minors, but are then caught in the act. And, to me it seems that illegally selling weapons, that may be used by mentally unstable or criminally violent individuals poses a greater threat to public safety than distributing gross pictures and videos.

    So how about realizing that no Amendment is carved in stone, and not above being assigned limits under the law to prevent potential abuses undertaken by those who would misuse their freedoms without regards to prudent restrictions.

    A handgun in the home can provide security for those living in high crime areas, and an assault rifle might be used for defense in certain situations, but common man! Nobody needs magazines with more than 30 rounds, and no one needs to order body armor or cases of ammunition online. Making rules about such things may restrict one’s freedoms, but so does being prohibited from yelling fire in a crowded theater, or not being able to drive while as sloppy drunk as one pleases!

    So quite worshiping one amendment as if it was so priceless it is above being modified like every other Constitutional Amendment. When the founders wrote it, they had no idea that semi-automatic weapons capable of firing 60 rounds a minute, or guns able to pierce armor, would become common fair. And they had no idea how easy it would become to acquire weapons that could easily be misused to harm the public.

    They are not rocks, but they can take out many more innocent lives in a crowded theater before the cops arrive, than can guns having smaller capacity magazine, or longer firing times between each round.

    All those of us who want regulations are saying, is that, reasonable restrictions can be used for no other purpose, than simply preventing unnecessary loss of human lives. We know gun violence exists and we know that more people are going off the deep end currently, and using semi-automatic weapons more often to commit mass murders. Why not accept SOME restrictions?

    No one has the constitutional right to possess any or all kinds of weapons that they desire. And although guns are not the only weapons used to kill, they can be far more effective and dangerous than knives, swords, paper weight and rocks!

    So come on, quit using those irrelevant arguments and outgrow some of the paranoia in your lives. just agree to make some simple and basic concessions concerning the government’s right to act in order to protect our common welfare. There are many interesting talking points on both sides, but even though this problem might be larger than a molehill, it should not have become the mountain that we all seem to be carrying around on our backs!

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