Red Flags Raised: Did CDC hide defensive gun use data?


Newly-discovered CDC data suggests that there may be as many as 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually. (Dave Workman)

Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suppress defensive gun use data 20 years ago that supports the argument by gun owners that there are more than 2 million such incidents annually?

That’s the question now being raised in several reports, including one lengthy discussion published by Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO), a project of the Second Amendment Foundation.

The controversy swirls around a controversial study done by Florida State University criminologist professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz that estimated as many as 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually by armed private citizens. Gun prohibitionists have long dismissed that finding, primarily because it doesn’t fit their narrative that people don’t often use guns in self-defense.

Reason magazine’s coverage of this includes an update that may be a bit of a caveat, depending upon how Kleck follows up:

UPDATE: You will note the original link doesn’t work right now. It was pointed out to me by Robert VerBruggen of National Review that Kleck treats the CDC’s surveys discussed in this paper as if they were national in scope, as Kleck’s original survey was, but they apparently were not. From VerBruggen’s own looks at CDC’s raw data, it seems that over the course of the three years, the following 15 states were surveyed: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. (Those states, from 2000 census data, contained around 27 percent of the U.S. population.) Informed of this, Kleck says he will recalculate the degree to which CDC’s survey work indeed matches or corroborates his, and we will publish a discussion of those fresh results when they come in. But for now Kleck has pulled the original paper from the web pending his rethinking the data and his conclusions.”

In 1995, Kleck and Gertz published “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun,” igniting furious debate, and no small amount of stubborn resistance from anti-gunners.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms actually did some math of its own and launched a multi-city campaign several years ago declaring “Guns Save Lives.” CCRKBA estimated at the time that 2,191 Americans use guns in self-defense every day on average. Other pro-rights groups have made similar arguments.

According to Blue Lives Matter and, Kleck looked at the newly-discovered CKC data and “found that the CDC’s results showed guns were used defensively by people about 3.6 times as often as they were used offensively by criminals.”

In the overwhelming majority of these defensive gun uses, it appears a shot is never fired. The mere display of a firearm was enough to abruptly end an attack or other crime in such cases.

DRGO contended in its lengthy piece that Kleck and Gertz were right all along, and the CDC data, even though it only deals with 15 states, confirms it.

But the question now is why has that CDC data been gathering dust all these years?

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