Monday, July 1, 2013

Slate Mistakenly Represents DGUs vs. Gun Crime


7. Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report. The three million figure is probably high, “based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys.” But a much lower estimate of 108,000 also seems fishy, “because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.” Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was 'used' by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

I don't know where the "300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008" comes from.  I thought it was more like 500,000.  But the problem is this figure does not include all the kinds of incidents that are included in the DGU count. DGU estimates are based on a calculation that a certain percantage are unreported brandishings.

So, the Slate editorsseem to have been trying too hard to be fair and objective to have allowed such an apples and oranges comparison as that.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. Actually Mike,

    Slate accurately copied that data right fron the study. There is a link on the page.

    1. From the article: "Here’s a list of the 10 most salient or surprising takeaways."

      I'm sure you think it was "accurately copied," but the Slate "takeaway" should have included some of what I pointed out in my post.

    2. That would be why they said that the 3 million figure was probably too high. They did address the issue and postulated that the proper number was between the extremes and hard to quantify exactly.

      You're just upset that they wouldn't assail the integrity of this study any time it didn't agree with your gun control goals.

  2. The article was mainly about how the first study to be released had findings that both sides will like and hate, at least giving the appearance of being unbiased.
    So you're saying that Slate is required to include footnotes that are included in the study its reporting about? It included a link to the study which would have supplied you with the source.