A Leetle Note About Guns

Updated 1999/01/15

The following message from Dr. Edgar Suter has been reformatted by me.

The message originally appeared on America OnLine (ick) on 3/18/1997 where one of my friends was nice enough to notice. Here are the original headers:

From: EdgarSuter@aol.com
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 23:58:07 -0500 (EST)
To: Multiple recipients of 
Subject: "the 15th" Defensive gun use study

I think you'll find this very interesting.

Several people who attended the March 11 debate at Stanford University pitting myself and Don Kates against Eric Gorovitz and Mark Pertschuk, have asked about my reference to "the 15th study of the protective uses of guns."

That study notes, "...the NSPOF [National Survey of the Private Ownership of Fireams, a study commissioned by the decidedly anti-self-defense Police foundation] data suggest that from 4 to 23 million DGU's [Defensive Gun Uses] occured in 1994...." This cite is particularly useful because the author, Prof. Phil Cook of Duke U., has been Kleck's arch-critic in the academic literature and HCI's most frequently cited researcher in opposing Kleck. Cook has been deriding Kleck & Gertz 2.5 million since before it was published. In a paper presented on 11/20/96 to the American Society of Criminology entitled "You Got Me: How Many Defensive Gun Uses Per Year?" (draft date 10/24/96) Cook describes how he reproduced Kleck & Gertz survey and he found a _low_end_ estimate of 4 million protective uses annually. It is somewhat amusing that after finally admitting the validity of Kleck's work, Cook's last paragraph in the paper reads:

"To sum up, surveys are a decidedly flawed method for learning about the frequency with which innocent victims of crime use a gun to defend themselves. On the other hand, even if we could develop a reliable estimate of this frequency, it would only be of marginal relevance to the ongoing debate over the appropriate regulation of firearms commerce, possession, and use."

When Cook disputed Kleck's data, he felt that the number of defensive uses was relevant to the debate. Now, after validating Kleck & Gertz' work, Cook, to the sound of our raucous laughter, dives into an epistemological abyss ("knowledge is unknowable") for cover. Edgar A. Suter MD National Chair, Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research, Inc

The person who sent this to me made the following observation:

Just thought that you ought to know that research is ongoing on both sides ot er, of the issue, and that generally the gun-control camp is a lot busier "cooking data" than the gun-rights camp.

It's pretty bad when you do a study to refute your opponents' supposed cooked data, and come up with a figure 2-9 times as high. Apparently it leaves you no choice but to run screaming and yelling "guns BAD!!!! guns BAD!!!!" while flapping your arms like a chicken.

Here! Here!

Its nice to finally see some reasonable, documented, verifiable data bouncing around the whole gun control issue.

For those of you who aren't aware, Kleck is an anti-gun researcher who publishes studies here and there on the subject. I had previously stated that Kleck was the researcher that developed the oft-quoted study which claims that people who live in a house with a gun are more likely to be hurt by that gun than someone else's, but that is actually Kellerman (thank you Rick DeStephens for pointing out my error). Anyway, Kleck did a study that he intended to be anti-gun (by showing that guns in the hands of citizens didn't stop crime), but the data from the study showed the opposite. He published his real data and results (which speaks well of his integrity), but he is still an outspoken anti-gunner, in contradiction of his own study.

If any of you readers have a reference to Kleck's gun crime study, I'd appreciate it if you'd mail it to me. I've read the thing, but lost the reference. I'd like to put the reference in here.

Jon Paul Nollmann sinster@ballistictech.net