DGU notes


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Carl N. Brown
August 18, 2006, 06:03 PM
SOME DEFENSIVE GUN USE (DGU) BACKGROUND DATA

DGU SURVEY SIZE

Gary Kleck: "Most national surveys have samples in the 600-1600 range."

The Kleck and Gertz NSDS had 4,977 respondents.

The DoJ NIJ had 2,568 respondents, which Cook and Ludwig considered
a good national sample size.

Lott's questioned 1997 survey had a sample size of 2424, and Lott's
well documented 2002 survey had about 1015 respondents surveyed.


DGU RESPONDENTS

Previously, as in his Feb 1988 Social Problems article cited as
cast in stone by some in the DGU debate, Kleck had analyzed the
survey work of others; Kleck's Spring 1993 National Self-Defense
Survey NSDS was his first personal survey. The difference in DGU
counts between Feb 1988 (1.1 million) and Spring 1993 (2.5 million)
reported by Kleck (in 1994 and 1995) is not Kleck's differences:
the differences are between previous surveys and Kleck's 1993
survey. According to Kleck, by 1994 there had been at least
14 surveys implying anywhere from 700,000 to 3.6 million DGUs
per year.

Of the 1993 NSDS 4,977 sample, Kleck reported: "A total of
194 persons (weighted; 213 unweighted cases) reported a DGU
involving either themselves or someone else in their household,
165 reported a DGU in which they had personally participated
in the previous five years, and 66 reported a personal DGU in
the past one year preceding the survey...." 3 Sep 1995 Letter
from Kleck to Maryland Governor's Commission on Gun Violence.

The 1994 NSPOF survey, reported by Cook and Ludwig, had
2568 people surveyed with 45 respondents reporting DGU. Using
methods from Kleck and Gertz to eliminate false or atypical
respondents, Cook and Ludwig pared that down to 19 DGU
respondents for their 1997 report for the DoJ NIJ.

Lott's questioned Spring 1997 DGU study had 28 DGU respondents
of a 2424 sample. Lott's well documented Fall 2002 DGU study
had a sample of 1015 with 13 DGU respondents, The 1015 sample
is mid-way in the typical national survey range of 600 to 1600
reported by Kleck.

The questioning protocol of the DoJ NCVS survey that gives
108,000 DGU incidents is thus:
. Have you been a victim of a crime?
. . If yes, did you resist?
. . . If yes, did you use a gun?
This gives a measure of FAILED DGU incidents.

The NSPOF survey that gave 3.1 million DGU individuals (weighted
down to 1.48 million DGU individuals) and 23 million DGU incidents
(weighted down to 4.7 million DGU incidents) asks nearly everyone:
. Have you used a gun defensively even if not fired in the past year?
This gives a measure of SUCCESSFUL DGU incidents.

The FBI UCR that lists ~170 justifiable homicides by shooting
is limited to killing of a felon in commission of a felony by
a citizen according to police crime report. FBI UCR notes that
this does not represent adjudication of voluntary manslaughters
as justifiable homicides or self-defense by prosecutor, grand
jury, judge, trial jury or appellate court.

Justifiable homicide is not just killing of a felon during
commission of a felony as reported by police: it is the use
of lethal force under circumstances where a reasonable person
would be in fear of imminent death or greivous bodily harm, as
adjudicated by the courts.

For a final adjudicated justifiable homicide figure, Kleck guesses
under 3,000 while Lott guesses about 1,000 per annum. (Since this
is an important crime figure, why is there no official effort to
determine the annual number of adjudicated justifiable homicides?)

The national surveys cited by Kleck include
(by Year, Survey, Area: national DGU estimate):
1976, Field, CA: 3,052,717
1977, Bordua, IL: 1,414,544
1978, Cambridge Reports, USA: n/a
1978, DMI (a), USA: 2,141,512
1978, DMI (b), USA: 1,098,409
1981, Hart, USA: 1,787,461
1982, Ohio, OH: 771,943
1989, Time/CNN, USA: n/a
1990, Mauser, USA: 1,487,342
1991, Gallup, USA: 777.153
1993, Gallup, USA: 1,621,377
1994, LA Times, USA: 2,609,682
1994, Tarrance, USA: 764,036
1995, Kleck-Gertz 1993 NSDS, USA: 2,549,562

Later surveys reported include:
1997, Lott, USA: ~2,100,000
1997, Cook-Ludwig 1994 NSPOF, USA: 23,000,000 (raw), 4,700,000 (weighted)
2002, Lott, USA: > 2,000,000 < 3,000,000

The range of DGU incidents from these surveys is 764,036 to 23,000,000.
Cook-Ludwig 1.5 million, Lott 2.1 million and Kleck-Gertz 2.5 million
fall in the middle range.

The range of gun crimes is 430,000 (felonies) to just over 1 million
crimes involving guns. Since one survey of armed robbery showed that
one armed robber with one gun may commit sixteen armed robberies per
year, that is not 430,000 felons or 430,000 guns used in felonies.
The BATFE NIBIN database of crime scene ballistic evidence has tied
individual weapons recovered from felons to whole strings of crimes.

Bottom line: there are more civilian DGUs than there are serious
crimes committed with guns.

A very intriguing study argues that civilian DGU may stop or
deter far more crimes than are actually committed with guns:
"Guns and Justifiable Homicide: Deterrence and Defense", by
Lawrence Southwick, Jr., St. Louis University Public Law Review,
Gun Control Symposium, vol 18, no. 1, 1999: 217

My take: gun control laws affect the law-abiding, who by definition
try to abide by these laws. Criminals, who by definition are not
very law-abiding, are less affected by these laws. Thus gun control
laws, by hindering civilian DGU while less affecting criminal gun
use, may be the reason gun prohibition jurisdictions like Chicago IL
and Washington DC have higher crime rates than the surrounding lax
gun law jurisdictions.

In a similar manner, the American prairie states of ID, MT, ND
and MI, per capita (per 100,000 population per year), have twice
the number of guns but two/thirds the number of crimes as the
corresponding Canadian prairie provinces AB, MB and SK. Or,
AB, MB and SK have 50% the number of guns and 150% the number
crimes per capita as MI, ND, MT and ID. In this case, very clearly,
Less Guns in Canada equals More Crime, and the US More Guns equals
Less Crime. Now, whether the relationship is causal or casual may
be open to debate.

ID and MS have similarly lax gun control laws: they both are
graded "F" by Handgun Control Inc. (alias Brady Campaign). The
homicide rate per 100,000 per year (criminal homicide and willful
manslaughter) for ID was 1.8; for MS was 9.3. HI and MD also have
have similar strict gun control laws: they both are graded "A" by
HCI. Their homicide rates were HI 1.7 and MD 9.5 (FBI UCR 2003).
Thus both lax and strict gun law states have homicide rates that
range from significantly below the national average to significantly
above the national average.

Contary to the predictions of gun control advocates, the passage
of Right-To-Carry and Stand-Your-Ground self-defense laws and the
sunset of the Assault Weapon Ban have NOT been followed by rivers
of blood in the gutters of the city streets.

Many people consider the sea-change in modern academic attitudes
toward guns and gun rights to date from:
- Restricting Handguns: the Liberal Skeptics Speak Out,
edited by Don B. Kates, Jr., North River Press, 1979.
- Report of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the
Constitution on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, (1982);
- "Under the Gun" by James D. Wright, Peter Rossi and
Kathleen Daly, Aldine (1983); and
- Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1995 Fall),
Northwestern U, School of Law; Guns and Violence Symposium,
"Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of
Self-Defense with a Gun," by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, and
"A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed," by Marvin E. Wolfgang.

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I would like to thank TimLambert and agricola for spurring me
to do the background research that generated these notes.

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