NARRATIVE FAIL: Newly Discovered CDC Surveys Demolish Anti-Gun Talking Points

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Newly discovered statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that were never released to the public strengthen the argument for guns and blow a hole in the gun control narrative. The statistics show that guns are used in a defensive manner against crimes far more than they are used by criminals to commit crimes.

A new report from Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck shows that recently unearthed surveys from the CDC, which were never made public, show that Americans use guns in millions of defense scenarios every year on average.

Reason reports:

... Kleck conducted the most thorough previously known survey data on the question in the 1990s. His study, which has been harshly disputed in pro-gun-control quarters, indicated that there were more than 2.2 million such defensive uses of guns (DGUs) in America a year.

Now Kleck has unearthed some lost CDC survey data on the question. The CDC essentially confirmed Kleck's results. But Kleck didn't know about that until now, because the CDC never reported what it found.

Kleck discovered that the CDC asked about defensive uses of guns in its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

The CDC survey, which Kleck described as "high-quality," asked respondents: “During the last 12 months, have you confronted another person with a firearm, even if you did not fire it, to protect yourself, your property, or someone else?”

Reason notes that the survey instructed respondents to leave out “incidents from occupations, like policing, where using firearms is part of the job” and it excludes instances where firearms were used in a defensive manner against animals.

One key point that Kleck noticed was that the only people who were asked that question were people who admitted to owning guns. This is a problem because Kleck found in his surveys that “79 percent of those who reported a DGU ‘had also reported a gun in their household at the time of the interview.’” Because of this, Kleck argues that the CDC's numbers needed to be rounded up, as Reason notes:

At any rate, Kleck downloaded the datasets for those three years and found that the "weighted percent who reported a DGU ... was 1.3% in 1996, 0.9% in 1997, 1.0% in 1998, and 1.07% in all three surveys combined."

Kleck figures if you do the adjustment upward he thinks necessary for those who had DGU incidents without personally owning a gun in the home at the time of the survey, and then the adjustment downward he thinks necessary because CDC didn't do detailed follow-ups to confirm the nature of the incident, you get 1.24 percent, a close match to his own 1.326 percent figure.

Kleck found the results to be astonishing as they strongly confirmed his prior work, which had been attacked by those pushing the gun control narrative:

The final adjusted prevalence of 1.24% therefore implies that in an average year during 1996–1998, 2.46 million U.S. adults used a gun for self-defense. This estimate, based on an enormous sample of 12,870 cases (unweighted) in a nationally representative sample, strongly confirms the 2.5 million past-12-months estimate obtained Kleck and Gertz (1995). .... CDC's results, then, imply that guns were used defensively by victims about 3.6 times as often as they were used offensively by criminals.

The newly discovered CDC surveys severely damage gun control narratives pushed by the media, including a poorly written piece last week by NPR's Samantha Raphelson, who just happened to be unaware of Kleck's discovery of the surveys. Raphelson's report backed the National Crime Victimization Survey's ultra-conservative lowball number of only 100,000 defensive uses of firearms per year.

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