Last evening on Facebook I pointed out, as I have consistently for the past couple of years, that we lack CDC-sponsored, peer-review studies on gun violence, particularly whether guns, overall, stop more violence than they cause.
A person posted a link to a CDC pamphlet- between 60K and 2+ million defensive gun usages (DGU) occur per year - and noted “CDC.” The person did not bother to look at the pamphlet. I did. The stats were from other sources, not CDC. More importantly?
We have lacked comprehensive, Federally-sanctioned, peer-reviewed studies of gun violence as a health risk. Tobacco companies fought studies of health risks of mainstream cigarette smoke (MSCS) even though the companies’ own studies showed those risks.
In 1964, when the Surgeon General reported a direct link between MSCS and lung disease, 42 percent of adults in the U.S. smoked. By 2014, that percent was 18. When people are provided accurate information, they make different choices.
It is critical that we know, on a cost-benefit basis (sounds cold), whether guns prevent more deaths and crimes than they cause. CDC-sponsored, peer reviewed studies of guns as a health problem (since GSW is so frequently a mechanism of death) aren’t to be.
Since 1996 amendments to annual funding bills ban such studies. (see “Firearms Research,” 496 Nature 412-415 (2013). The Tiahrt Amendments ban “trace data,” collected by “ATF,” from being released for use by anyone that could use those statistics.
The big numbers (2 million + per year) for crimes prevented by private ownership of guns are from Professors Kleck and Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun,” 86 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 150 (1996).
First, I have read nothing to indicate Kleck & Gewrtz’s study was peer-reviewed, an important qualification of an academic study. Second, the methodology was, at best, questionable. Theirs was a phone survey of homes in which one household member was interviewed.
Finally, as one source notes: “extrapolating from the Kleck-Gertz survey leads to manifestly absurd results. For there to be more than 2 million defensive gun uses, homeowners would have to defend themselves with a firearm in more than 100 percent of burglaries (to choose one category of crime). And if other findings in the Kleck-Gertz survey were correct, more than 100,000 criminals would be injured by law-abiding gun owners annually. Hospital records reveal no such armies of wounded.” Vox, “Social Scientist Debunked,” 8/30/16.
If you own a gun for protection, you have the right to know whether that gun poses a greater risk, than an intruder, to you and your loved ones. We need this information and we need it now. We need a comprehensive Federal study of gun violence.