On Sat, 15 Dec 2012 21:29:20 -0800, "Dr. Vincent Quin, Ph.D."
Post by Dr. Vincent Quin, Ph.D.
and 20 children, all 6 or 7 years old, died for it
S*** happens. You'd be happier if the nut-case used 5 gallons of
gasoline and a match to kill that many or more?
Meanwhile, guns are used 1.5 - 2.5 million times a year by the
American poblic to thwart attacks upon individuals. You never hear
about those because there's no news story, no body count to go with
that. The intended victim simply shows the gun, or draws and points
it, and the bad guy decides there's something else he'd rather be
doing at that moment, and runs the other way...
The following article is appearing in the Orange County (CA)
Register on Sunday, September 19, 1993, and an upcoming issue
of Gun Week. Reproduction on computer bulletin boards is
permitted for informational purposes only. Copyright (c) 1993
by J. Neil Schulman. All other rights reserved.
PRIVATE FIREARMS STOP CRIME 2.5 MILLION TIMES EACH YEAR,
NEW UNIVERSITY SURVEY CONFIRMS
By J. Neil Schulman
Gary Kleck, Ph.D. is a professor in the School of
Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University in
Tallahassee author of "Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America"
(Aldine de Gruyter, 1991), a book widely cited in the national
gun-control debate. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Kleck
revealed some preliminary results of the National Self-Defense
Survey which he and his colleague Dr. Marc Gertz conducted in
Spring, 1993. Though he stresses that the results of the
survey are preliminary and subject to future revision, Kleck
is satisfied that the survey's results confirm his analysis of
previous surveys which show that American civilians commonly use
their privately-owned firearms to defend themselves against
criminal attacks, and that such defensive uses significantly
outnumber the criminal uses of firearms in America.
The new survey, conducted by random telephone sampling of
4,978 households in all the states except Alaska and Hawaii,
yield results indicating that American civilians use their
firearms as often as 2.5 million times every year defending
against a confrontation with a criminal, and that handguns alone
account for up to 1.9 million defenses per year. Previous
surveys, in Kleck's analysis, had underrepresented the extent of
private firearms defenses because the questions asked failed to
account for the possibility that a particular respondent might
have had to use his or her firearm more than once.
Dr. Kleck will first present his survey results at an
upcoming meeting of the American Society of Criminology, but he
agreed to discuss his preliminary analysis, even though it is
uncustomary to do so in advance of complete peer review, because
of the great extent which his earlier work is being quoted in
public debates on firearms public policy.
The interview was conducted September 14-17, 1993 by J. Neil
Schulman, a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist who has
written extensively on firearms public policy for several years.
Readers may be interested to know that Kleck is a member
of the ACLU, Amnesty International USA, and Common Cause,
among other politically liberal organizations. He is also a
lifelong registered Democrat. He is not and has never been a
member of or contributor to the NRA, Handgun Control Inc., or
any other advocacy group on either side of the gun-control
issue, nor has he received funding for research from any
SCHULMAN: Dr. Kleck, can you tell me generally what was
discovered in your recent survey that wasn't previously known?
KLECK: Well, the survey mostly generated results pretty
consistent with those of a dozen previous surveys which generally
indicates that defensive use of guns is pretty common and
probably more common than criminal uses of guns. This survey
went beyond previous ones in that it provided detail about how
often people who had used a gun had done so. We asked people was
the gun used defensively in the past five years and if so how
many times did that happen and we asked details about what
exactly happened. We nailed down that each use being reported
was a bona fide defensive use against a human being in connection
with a crime where there was an actual confrontation between
victim and offender. Previous surveys were a little hazy on the
details of exactly what was being reported as a defensive gun
use. It wasn't, for example, clear that the respondents weren't
reporting investigating a suspicious noise in their back yard
with a gun where there was, in fact, nobody there. Our results
ended up indicating, depending on which figures you prefer
to use, anywhere from 800,000 on up to 2.4, 2.5 million defensive
uses of guns against human beings -- not against animals -- by
civilians each year.
SCHULMAN: Okay. Let's see if we can pin down some of these
figures. I understand you asked questions having to do with just
the previous one year. Is that correct?
KLECK: That's correct. We asked both for recollections
about the preceding five years and for just what happened in the
previous one year, the idea being that people would be able to
remember more completely what had happened just in the past year.
SCHULMAN: And your figures reflect this?
KLECK: Yes. The estimates are considerably higher if
they're based on people's presumably more-complete recollection
of just what happened in the previous year.
SCHULMAN: Okay. So you've given us the definition of what a
"defense" is. It has to be an actual confrontation against a
human being attempting a crime? Is that correct?
SCHULMAN: And it excludes all police, security guards, and
KLECK: That's correct.
SCHULMAN: Okay. Let's ask the "one year" question since you
say that's based on better recollections. In the last year how
many people who responded to the questionnaire said that they had
used a firearm to defend themselves against an actual
confrontation from a human being attempting a crime?
KLECK: Well, as a percentage it's 1.33 percent of the
respondents. When you extrapolate that to the general
population, it works out to be 2.4 million defensive uses of guns
of some kind -- not just handguns but any kind of a gun -- within
that previous year, which would have been roughly from Spring of
1992 through Spring of 1993.
SCHULMAN: And if you focus solely on handguns?
KLECK: It's about 1.9 million, based on personal, individual
SCHULMAN: And what percentage of the respondents is that?
KLECK: That would be 1.03 percent.
SCHULMAN: How many respondents did you have total?
KLECK: We had a total of 4,978 completed interviews, that
is, where we had a response on the key question of whether or not
there had been a defensive gun use.
SCHULMAN: So roughly 50 people out of 5000 responded that in
the last year they had had to use their firearms in an actual
confrontation against a human being attempting a crime?
KLECK: Handguns, yes.
SCHULMAN: Had used a handgun. And slightly more than that
had used any gun.
SCHULMAN: So that would be maybe 55, 56 people?
KLECK: Something like that, yeah.
SCHULMAN: Okay. I can just hear critics saying that 50 or
55 people responding that they used their gun and you're
projecting it out to figures of around 2 million, 2-1/2 million
gun defenses. Why is that statistically valid?
KLECK: Well, that's one reason why we also had a five-year
recollection period. We get a much larger raw number of people
saying, "Yes, I had a defensive use." It doesn't work out to be
as many per year because people are presumably not remembering as
completely, but the raw numbers of people who remember some kind
of defensive use over the previous five years, that worked out to
be on the order of 200 sample cases. So it's really a small raw
number only if you limit your attention to those who are
reporting an incident just in the previous year. Statistically,
it's strictly the raw numbers that are relevant to the issue.
SCHULMAN: So if between 1 percent to 1-1/3 percent of your
respondents are saying that they defended themselves with a gun,
how does this compare, for example, to the number of people who
would respond that they had suffered from a crime during that
KLECK: I really couldn't say. We didn't ask that and I
don't think there are really any comparable figures. You could
look at the National Crime Surveys for relatively recent years
and I guess you could take the share of the population that had
been the victims of some kind of violent crime because most of
these apparently are responses to violent crimes. Ummm, let's
see. The latest year for which I have any data, 1991, would be
about 9 percent of the population had suffered a personal crime
-- that's a crime with personal contact. And so, to say that 1
percent of the population had defended themselves with a handgun
is obviously still well within what you would expect based on the
share of the population that had suffered a personal crime of
some kind. Plus a number of these defensive uses were against
burglars, which isn't considered a personal crime according to
the National Crime Survey. But you can add in maybe another 5
percent who'd been a victim of a household burglary.
SCHULMAN: Let's break down some of these gun defenses if we
can. How many are against armed robbers? How many are against
burglars? How many are against people committing a rape or an
KLECK: About 8 percent of the defensive uses involved a
sexual crime such as an attempted sexual assault. About 29
percent involved some sort of assault other than sexual assault.
Thirty-three percent involved a burglary or some other theft at
home. Twenty-two percent involved robbery. Sixteen percent
involved trespassing. Note that some incidents could involve
more than one crime.
SCHULMAN: Do you have a breakdown of how many occurred on
somebody's property and how many occurred, let's say, off
somebody's property where somebody would have had to have been
carrying a gun with them on their person or in their car?
KLECK: Yes. We asked where the incident took place.
Seventy-two percent took place in or near the home, where the gun
wouldn't have to be "carried" in a legal sense. And then some of
the remainder, maybe another 4 percent, occurred in a friend's
home where that might not necessarily involve carrying. Also,
some of these incidents may have occurred in a vehicle in a
parking lot and that's another 4 percent or so. So some of those
incidents may have involved a less-regulated kind of carrying.
In many states, for example, it doesn't require a license to
carry a gun in your vehicle so I'd say that the share that
involved carrying in a legal sense is probably less than a
quarter of the incidents. I won't commit myself to anything more
than that because we don't have the specifics of whether or not
some of these away-from-home incidents occurred while a person
was in a car.
SCHULMAN: All right. Well, does that mean that
approximately a half million times a year somebody carrying a gun
away from home uses it to defend himself or herself?
KLECK: That's what it would imply, yes.
SCHULMAN: All right. As many as one-half million times
every year somebody carrying a gun away from home defends himself
KLECK: Yes, about that. It could be as high as that. I
have many different estimates and some of the estimates are
deliberately more conservative in that they exclude from our
sample any cases where it was not absolutely clear that there was
a genuine defensive gun use being reported.
SCHULMAN: Were any of these gun uses done by anyone under
the age of 21 or under the age of 18?
KLECK: Well we don't have any coverage of persons under the
age of 18. Like most national surveys we cover only adults age
18 and up.
SCHULMAN: Did you have any between the ages of 18 and 21?
KLECK: I haven't analyzed the cross tabulation of age with
defensive gun use so I couldn't say at this point.
SCHULMAN: Okay. Was this survey representative just of
Florida or is it representative of the entire United States?
KLECK: It's representative of the lower 48 states.
SCHULMAN: And that means that there was calling throughout
all the different states?
KLECK: Yes, except Alaska and Hawaii, and that's also
standard practice for national surveys; because of the expense
they usually aren't contacted.
SCHULMAN: How do these surveys make their choices, for
example, between high-crime urban areas and less-crime rural
KLECK: Well, there isn't a choice made in that sense. It's
a telephone survey and the telephone numbers are randomly chosen
by computer so that it works out that every residential telephone
number in the lower 48 states had an equal chance of being
picked, except that we deliberately oversampled from the South
and the West and then adjusted after the fact for that
overrepresentation. It results in no biasing. The results are
representative of the entire United States, but it yields a
larger number of sample cases of defensive gun uses. They are,
however, weighted back down so that they properly represent the
correct percent of the population that's had a defensive gun use.
SCHULMAN: Why is it that the results of your survey are so
counter-intuitive compared to police experience?
KLECK: For starters, there are substantial reasons for
people not to report defensive gun uses to the police or, for
that matter, even to interviewers working for researchers like me
-- the reason simply being that a lot of the times people either
don't know whether their defensive act was legal or even if they
think that was legal, they're not sure that possessing a gun at
that particular place and time was legal. They may have a gun
that's supposed to be registered and it's not or maybe it's
totally legally owned but they're not supposed to be walking
around on the streets with it.
SCHULMAN: Did your survey ask the question of whether people
carrying guns had licenses to do so?
KLECK: No, we did not. We thought that would be way too
sensitive a question to ask people.
SCHULMAN: Okay. Let's talk about how the guns were actually
used in order to accomplish the defense. How many people, for
example, had to merely show the gun, as opposed to how many had
to fire a warning shot, as to how many actually had to attempt to
shoot or shoot their attacker?
KLECK: We got all of the details about everything that
people could have done with a gun from as mild an action as
merely verbally referring to the gun on up to actually shooting
SCHULMAN: Could you give me the percentages?
KLECK: Yes. You have to keep in mind that it's quite
possible for people to have done more than one of these things
since they could obviously both verbally refer to the gun and
point it at somebody or even shoot it.
KLECK: Fifty-four percent of the defensive gun uses involved
somebody verbally referring to the gun. Forty-seven percent
involved the gun being pointed at the criminal. Twenty-two
percent involved the gun being fired. Fourteen percent involved
the gun being fired at somebody, meaning it wasn't just a warning
shot; the defender was trying to shoot the criminal. Whether
they succeeded or not is another matter but they were trying to
shoot a criminal. And then in 8 percent they actually did wound
or kill the offender.
SCHULMAN: In 8 percent, wounded or killed. You don't have
it broken down beyond that?
KLECK: Wound versus kill? No. Again that was thought to be
too sensitive a question. Although we did have, I think, two
people who freely offered the information that they had, indeed,
killed someone. Keep in mind that the 8 percent figure is based
on so few cases that you have to interpret it with great
SCHULMAN: Did anybody respond to a question asking whether
they had used the gun and it was found afterward to be
KLECK: We did not ask them that question although we did ask
them what crime they thought was being committed. So in each
case the only incidents we were accepting as bona fide defensive
gun uses were ones where the defender believed that, indeed, a
crime had been committed against them.
SCHULMAN: Did you ask any follow-up questions about how many
people had been arrested or captured as a result of their
SCHULMAN: Did you ask any questions about aid in law
enforcement, such as somebody helps a police officer who's not
themselves an officer?
KLECK: No. I imagine that would be far too rare an incident
to get any meaningful information out of it. Highly unlikely
that any significant share of these involved assisting law
SCHULMAN: The question which this all comes down to is that
we already have some idea, for example from surveys on CCW
license holders, how rare it is for a CCW holder to misuse their
gun in a way to injure somebody improperly. But does this give
us any idea of what the percentages are of people who carry a
gun having to use it in order to defend himself or herself? In
other words, comparing the percentage of defending yourself to
the percentage of being attacked, does this tell us anything?
KLECK: We asked them whether they carried guns at any time
but we didn't directly ask them if they were carrying guns, in
the legal sense, at the time they had used their gun defensively.
So we can probably say what fraction of gun carriers in our
sample had used a gun defensively but we can't say whether they
did it while carrying. They may, for example, have been people
who at least occasionally carried a gun for protection but they
used a gun defensively in their own home.
SCHULMAN: So what percentage of gun carriers used it
KLECK: I haven't calculated it yet so I couldn't say.
SCHULMAN: So if we assume, let's say, that every year
approximately 9 percent of people are going to be attacked, and
approximately every year that 1 percent of respondents used their
guns to defend against an attack, is it fair to say that around
one out of nine people attacked used their guns to defend
KLECK: That "risk of being attacked" shouldn't be phrased
that way. It's the risk of being the victim of a personal crime.
In other words, it involved interpersonal contact. That could be
something like a nonviolent crime like purse snatching or
pickpocketing as well. The fact that personal contact is
involved means there's an opportunity to defend against it using
a gun; it doesn't necessarily mean there was an attack on the
SCHULMAN: Did you get any data on how the attackers were
armed during these incidents?
KLECK: Yes. We also asked whether the offender was armed.
The offender was armed in 47.2 percent of the cases and they
had a handgun in about 13.6 percent of all the cases
and some other kind of gun in 4.5 percent of all the cases.
SCHULMAN: So in other words, in about a sixth of the cases,
the person attacking was armed with a firearm.
KLECK: That's correct.
SCHULMAN: Okay. And the remainder?
KLECK: Armed with a knife: 18.1 percent, 2 percent with some
other sharp object, 10.1 percent with a blunt object, and 6 percent
with some other weapon. Keep in mind when adding this up that
offenders could have had more than one weapon.
SCHULMAN: So in approximately five sixths of the cases
somebody carrying a gun for defensive reasons would find
themselves defending themselves either against an unarmed
attacker or an attacker with a lesser weapon?
KLECK: Right. About five-sixths of the time.
SCHULMAN: And about one-sixth of the time they would find
themselves up against somebody who's armed with a firearm.
KLECK: Well, certainly in this sample of incidents that was
SCHULMAN: Which you believe is representative.
KLECK: It's representative of what's happened in the last
five years. Whether or not it would be true in the future we
couldn't say for sure.
SCHULMAN: Are there any other results coming out of this
which are surprising to you?
KLECK: About the only thing which was surprising is how
often people had actually wounded someone in the incident.
Previous surveys didn't have very many sample cases so you
couldn't get into the details much but some evidence had
suggested that a relatively small share of incidents involved the
gun inflicting wounds so it was surprising to me that quite so
many defenders had used a gun that way.
SCHULMAN: Dr. Kleck, is there anything else you'd like to
say at this time about the results of your survey and your
continuing analysis of them?
SCHULMAN: Then thank you very much.
KLECK: You're welcome.
J. Neil Schulman
Mail: P.O. Box 94, Long Beach, CA 90801-0094
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