Kleck: Defensive Gun Use is Not a Myth

It’s very good to see Politico willing to publish a retort by Gary Kleck against an article recently published in the same by the trolls over at Armed with Reason. Be sure to read the whole article, but I will quote from, and comment on a bit here:

But what DeFillipis and Hughes carefully withheld from readers is the fact that I and my colleague have refuted every one of Hemenway’s dubious claims, and those by other critics of the NSDS, first in 1997, and again, even more extensively, in 1998 and 2001.

I’m shocked (shocked!) to discover pro-gun control folks not presenting all the facts, and misleading people into believing their conclusion. This is standard operating procedure for our opponents. Dr. Kleck pulls no punches:

The authors, a couple of Oklahoma investment counselors with no graduate degrees, do not claim to have had any training in survey research methods. Like Hemenway (who is also untrained in survey methods), they believe that it’s perfectly plausible that surveys generate enormous over-estimates of crime-related experiences, as if this were the most commonplace thing in the world.

In other words, the people criticizing his studies have no credentials. I’m not one to argue that un-credentialed people can’t produce good science, because they can. But DeFillipis’ and Hughes’ operation looks more like slick marketing rather than science. It would seem Dr. Kleck agrees:

Left unmentioned will be one simple fact: in all of H’s commentary, he does not once cite the one thing that could legitimately cast doubt on our estimates—better empirical evidence.

That’s because they can’t produce it. Even very conservatives studies, like the National Crime Victimization Survey, put the number at 80,000 events a year, and that was also done in the early 1990s, before concealed carry was broadly legal. Even anecdotally, I know two people who did quite legitimately defend themselves with a firearm. In both cases, there were no shots fired; the attacker(s) fled.

7 Responses to “Kleck: Defensive Gun Use is Not a Myth”

  1. Sigivald says:

    Lack of credentials; meaningless.

    Lack of background or training in survey methodology and survey results; very important.

  2. Alpheus says:

    To me, Kleck is calling attention to the credentials to point out that this person has no *formal* training in statistical analysis; while in and of itself, this has no bearing on the argument, Kleck also goes further: he points out that DePhillipis and Hughes don’t provide new analysis or data, and instead, just rehash already-descredited arguments made years before by Hemenway.

    I have the impression that Kleck wouldn’t mind the lack of credentials, had DePhillipis and Hughes actually brought something new to the table (even if it was misguided…)

    Several months ago, I got into an argument with a friend about ObamaCare, and at one point, I explained something to the effect of “As a mathematician with some familiarity with statistics, I understand how insurance works, and ObamaCare is in opposition with how insurance is supposed to work.”

    One of the commenters replied that this was an “Appeal to Authority/Credentials” fallacy. Never mind that (1) just because I use a fallacy, doesn’t mean that my conclusion is wrong, and (2) Appeal to Authority and Credentialism is quite a bit less of a fallacy, if the person who is claiming authority is actually an authority on the subject given! Particularly if the person is ready to explain the issue ad nauseum, if you ask nicely, and are patient enough to listen to the explanation.

    The commenters–including my friend, actually–were more interested in attacking me, though, rather than trying to understand where I’m coming from…and I’m still waiting for the promise my friend made to come true: for insurance rates to come down. (Which, mathematically speaking, is incompatible with “require pre-existing conditions to be covered”.)

  3. Thirdpower says:

    Hemenway’s numbers are a collection of word games and obfuscation. W/o any ‘credentials’ or ‘formal training’, I’ve caught numerous fabrications. Hell, two of his ‘studies’ tried to claim that defensive uses don’t occur based off of criminals shot in Washington DC and 12-17 yr olds in California.

  4. Matthew Carberry says:

    The anti-rights crowd often complain about the age of existing studies on gun issues, such as the NCVS DGU study or the Bureau of Prisons study of where convicts get their guns, and blame the NRA for “cutting off funding to CDC to do them.”

    Which ignores that the CDC didn’t do any of the actually useful studies, and that if the billionaires in the anti-rights movement actually thought such studies would support their gun control positions they could pay for them out of pocket without blinking.

    Instead we get constant rehashes of Kellerman and VPC having unpaid interns do google searches for the word “permit” and calling it science for a credulous media.

  5. Alpheus says:

    I spent a few minutes looking at “Armed With Reason”, and it makes my eyes bleed. I really wish I had time to look closely at their studies, and their arguments, and pick them apart. Perhaps I should apply for a grant from the Joyce Foundation for Gun Control Research…

    (If I recall correctly, I looked into that once, and I think the Joyce Foundation likes to focus their casuses on the North East. Since I live in the West, I probably wouldn’t get any “love” regardless…)

    In any case, one stat I remember said something to the effect of “57%-ish of convicts say that they don’t use guns in crime because it would increase the sentence” to refute the idea that gun laws don’t prevent criminals from using guns. I wanted to point out that (1) the NRA specifically supports those types of gun laws: the increase of sentencing for using a gun in a crime, (2) there is still that sizable 43%-ish portion of convicts who specifically stated that they don’t care about what the law says about the carrying of guns, and (3) criminals are just as human as you and I, and have been known to lie from time to time, yet they are willing to take this stat at face value while dismissing the respondents of Kleck’s studies as a bunch of liars.