Not that the Center for Disease Control should be studying guns and gun use in the first place, but this goes to show how political the CDC has become. A bombshell was uncovered decades after the CDC performed a study which found that Americans used guns to defend themselves 2.4 million times per year.
Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck performed a similar study in 1995 to the one conducted by the CDC. However, he was unaware that the CDC actually backed up his findings because the study was hidden for more than two decades.
Kleck indicated that Americans used their guns defensively approximately 2.2 million times per year.
In a follow-up report, Kleck comments on the CDC study that occurred just one year after his own, but was kept from the public eye.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has often been criticized by gun owner organizations like the National Rifle Association as being “antigun” and for awarding research grants on firearms and violence only to researchers with strong anti-gun or pro-gun control publication records (see remarks of the NRA chief lobbyist – Cox 2017). Belief in this anti-gun bias was so strong among pro-gun forces that the NRA got Congress to slash CDC’s budget by an amount exactly equal to the budget for its program that studied firearms violence, and to insert a rider in the funding bill that read: “Provided further that none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Of particular relevance to the present topic, CDC has helped finance surveys on defensive gun use (DGU) by David Hemenway and others that the authors interpreted as indicating that DGU was rare (Hemenway and Azrael, 2000, p. 272; Hemenway Azrael and Miller, 2000, p. 267).
He went on to state that the CDC has conducted several surveys of the American population regarding DGU, but did not report the findings, post them on their website or even acknowledge they took place.
Mr. Kleck says that he stumbled upon a question about DGU in the questionnaires asked by the CDC. Once he found that question, he began to scour the rest of their surveys from 1984 to 2016. The question was asked in the years 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Here is the exact wording of the question regarding DGU asked by the CDC.
“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?”
While Kleck was impressed with the question and how it was presented, including informing respondents not to not report incidents from occupations, such as being a police officer, where using firearms is part of the job and leaving out incidents involving animals, he was not so impressed by the fact that the question was only asked of those who admitted to owning guns in the home earlier in the survey. He also mentioned that failing to follow up with the specifics of the incident were not impressive.
Kleck also finds the timing of the CDC survey to be peculiar.
The timing of CDC’s addition of a DGU question to the BRFSS is of some interest. Prior to 1996, the BRFSS had never included a question about DGU. Kleck and Gertz (1995) conducted their survey in February through April 1993, presented their estimate that there were over 2 million DGUs in 1992 at the annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology in November 1994, and published it in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology in the Fall of 1995. CDC added a DGU question to the BRFSS the very first year they could do so after that 1995 publication, in the 1996 edition. CDC was not the only federal agency during the Clinton administration to field a survey addressing the prevalence of DGU at that particular time. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) financed a national survey devoting even more detailed attention to estimating DGU prevalence, which was fielded in November and December 1994, just months after preliminary results of the 1993 Kleck/Gertz survey became known.
Neither CDC nor NIJ had ever financed research into DGU before 1996. Perhaps there was just “something in the air” that motivated the two agencies to suddenly decide in 1994 to address the topic. Another interpretation, however, is that fielding of the surveys was triggered by the Kleck/Gertz findings that DGU was common, and that these agencies hoped to obtain lower DGU prevalence estimates than those obtained by Kleck/Gertz. Low estimates would have implied fewer beneficial uses of firearms, results that would have been far more congenial to the strongly pro-control positions of the Clinton administration.
I’ll wager that was all right around the time of the “assault weapons ban” that took place in 1994 and they were looking to go after other guns; and that the survey was conducted similarly to that of what the Obama administration tried to do with the CDC following Sandy Hook.
I mention going after guns not mentioned in the Clinton/Feinstein “assault weapons ban” because of Senator Feinstein’s own words from 1995.
These people think they can just take away right by voting, and they want to try and manipulate public opinion with that end goal, but our rights are God-given, not state permitted. The state is to protect them, not infringe on them.
Yet, it appears, the CDC was being a tool of the state and hiding its findings which were detrimental to the agenda of the administration at the time.
Chris Menahan sums up Kleck’s findings.
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From Kleck’s own surveys, he found that only 79 percent of those who reported a DGU “had also reported a gun in their household at the time of the interview,” so he thinks whatever numbers the CDC found need to be revised upward to account for that. (Kleck speculates that CDC showed a sudden interest in the question of DGUs starting in 1996 because Kleck’s own famous/notorious survey had been published in 1995.)
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.
He concludes that the small difference between his estimate and the CDC’s “can be attributed to declining rates of violent crime, which accounts for most DGUs. With fewer occasions for self-defense in the form of violent victimizations, one would expect fewer DGUs.”
Kleck further details how much these CDC surveys confirmed his own controversial work:
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.
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