April 22, 2018

Will Press Report That CDC Suppressed Defensive Gun Use Data for Decades?

Gun-control advocates want the Centers for Disease Control to be allowed to engage in research on gun violence. If the CDC is so impartial and reliable, why did it withhold late-1990s results of survey questions on gun ownership’s role in self-defense for over two decades? This news of a government cover-up is tailor-made for establishment press exposure, except for one thing: The results contradict gun-grabbers’ contention that defensive gun uses (DGUs) are rare.

The CDC’s suppressed results confirm Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck’s estimate that 2.5 million DGUs occur annually.

Outlets like the New York Times have for years referred to a study by the Violence Policy Center claiming, based on the annual National Crime Victimization Survey, that “for the five-year period 2007 through 2011, the total number of self-protective behaviors involving a firearm by victims of attempted or completed violent crimes or property crimes totaled only 338,700.” The average of 68,000 per year has been used to ridicule Kleck’s 2.5 million claim.

The VPC study appears to have a potentially serious flaw. At six or more points in the questionnaires used from 2007-2011 (2009-2011; 2008; 2007), the NCVS asked participants whether they were victims of various crimes during the past six months. The VPC report did not indicate that it needed to annualize the data. However, even doubling its reported DGUs leaves the VPC’s results far short of what Kleck found.

NPR toed the VPC line on April 13, referring to a crime prevention researcher who told the Washington Post in 2016 that Kleck’s far higher figure, in the paper’s words, “is similar to the percentage of Americans who said they’ve abducted by aliens.”

But the results obtained from CDC’s question about DGUs in 1996, 1997, and 1998 telephone surveys — apparently never asked before or after that — confirm Kleck’s original findings, as he reported in a short paper posted in late February, and which Reason.com noticed on Friday (h/t Instapundit):

… 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 was impressed with how well the survey worded its question: “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?”

… Kleck … found that the “weighted percent who reported a DGU … (averaged) 1.07% in all three surveys combined.”

… Kleck notes that “CDC never reported the results of those surveys, does not report on their website any estimates of DGU frequency, and does not even acknowledge that they ever asked about the topic in any of their surveys.”

Kleck, after adjusting the average results CDC reported for two technical reasons, projected an annual result of 2.46 million DGUs.

This saga indicates that the CDC will only report what it wants to report — which explains why, despite politically-driven media insistence, it should not be trusted to conduct gun-violence research.

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