The Violence Policy Center is a far left, anti-gun group that doesn't hide it's caustic agenda—except when trying to pass off debunked claims in The Hill. Earlier today VPC pushed a study wherein they claim gun owners don't successfully use their firearms for defensive purposes. It's a silly attempt to eliminate an argument for the Second Amendment. I read their study and immediately had these questions, as they conveniently omitted quite a bit of information that would have shed even the semblance of legitimacy to their report:
1) They say “gun owners.” Are these legal gun owners? This distinction is important. How many legal gun owners are included in this study? How many non-justifiable homicides were committed by legal gun owners?
2) They compare justifiable homicides to criminal homicides. What was the context of criminal homicides? Innocent people shot by legal or non legal gun owners? Gang activity? Drug deals?
3) This is huge: How many instances of DGU took place without a shot fired? Where are the DGU cases where firearms were used for defensive purposes and there were no fatalities? They simply say “While it is clear that guns are rarely used to justifiably kill criminals,” and then attempt to refute it in the next graph at the end of their report using Harvard's David Hemenway, which I refuted here back in Janurary. According to the National Institute of Justice, in most cases, the individual defending themselves with a firearm did not have to kill the person from whom they were defending. In fact, I covered this extensively in my book, Hands Off My Gun. This, according to statistics, accounts for a number of DGU cases.
Using guns for self defense actually results in fewer injuries, according to a study by Democrat criminologist Gary Kleck. John Lott also argues that the figures for justifiable homicides are not reliably reported:
The data on justifiable homicides is useless. It is very bad for police (only about 1 percent of police departments report justifiable homicides by police and see also here) and the numbers are even worse for civilian justifiable homicides. Even the places that report this data don’t really have any incentive to get the numbers correct.
In addition, while more than half the states report a justifiable homicide number, but that hides the fact that very few jurisdictions within those states that report the number actually compiled the numbers.
This isn't the first time that VPC has fudged, or outright lied, in <fingers>studies</fingers> to promote and anti-Second Amendment agenda. Notes Lott:
In order for a survey respondent to report a typical DGU, she or he must be willing to report all three of the following elements of the event: (1) a crime victimization experience, (2) his or her possession of a gun, and (3) his or her own commission of a crime. The last element is relevant because most DGUs occur away from the user’s home, and only about 1 percent of the population in 1993, when we conducted our survey, had a permit that allowed them to legally carry a gun through public spaces. Thus, although survey-reported defensive gun uses themselves rarely involve criminal behavior (that is, the defender did not use the gun to commit a criminal assault or other offense), most (at least back in 1993) involved unlawful possession of a gun in a public place by the defender.
So what does research on the flaws in surveys of crime-related behaviors tell us? It consistently indicates that survey respondents underreport (1) crime victimization experiences, (2) gun ownership and (3) their own illegal behavior. While it is true that a few respondents overstate their crime-related experiences, they are greatly outnumbered by those who understate them, i.e. those who falsely deny having the experience when in fact they did. In sum, research tells us that surveys underestimate the frequency of crime victimizations, gun possession and self-reported illegal behavior. Yet DeFilippis and Hughes somehow manage to conclude that defensive gun uses—incidents that always involve the first two of those elements, and usually the third as well—are overestimated in surveys.