Part 4 Ignorant About Guns Used In Self-Defense

Larry Pratt
Part IV — Shockingly Ignorant About Guns Used By Millions In Self-Defense

Strange as it may sound, Prof. Amitai Etzioni, in our lengthy interview with him, seemed totally oblivious to the fact that millions of Americans have used guns in self-defense. Or so he tried to pretend by ridiculing this fact when we called it to his attention.

When we told Etzioni about millions of Americans having used guns in self-defense, he replied, mockingly: “I’m sorry. In which country are we talking about? …. What is this movie called? I haven’t seen that movie. Where did you get that figure from?”

Well, for openers, we tell him about an article published during the Clinton Administration by the U.S. Department Of Justice, Office Of Justice Programs, National Institute Of Justice (NIJ). In the May, 1997, issue of Research In Brief, the lead article, by Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, is titled Guns In America: National Survey On Private Ownership And Use Of Firearms. In this piece, it is noted that a 1994 telephone survey by Florida State University Professors Gary Kleck and Mark Gertz showed 2.5 million defensive gun uses in one year. Another 1994 telephone survey — the National Survey Of Private Ownership Of Firearms — is reported as putting this defensive gun use figure at 1.5 million in one year.

“Oh,” says Etzioni, “I’m familiar with that study. I’m happy you [mention it].” He then viciously attacks these statistics as “one of the most notoriously fabricated pieces of mathematics in which people manipulated data in a shameless way.” When asked if he’s talking about Cook and Ludwig, he says: “That’s exactly right. They not only favor guns. They favor carrying concealed guns.”

    Q: So, they fabricated this data?

    Etzioni: There are no data as such. What you do with data is put them into tables and computers and start playing games with them.

    Q: So, you’re saying there is no data about how many guns are used in self-defense?

    Etzioni: Not in that particular study. And surely not millions of people.

But, once again, Etzioni hasn’t the slightest idea what he is talking about. He may “play games” with data but Kleck and Gertz do not. Indeed, one of the most Liberal, pro-gun control criminologists, Marvin E. Wolfgang, has declared the methodology of Kleck and Gertz to be solid. In a 1995 article in The Journal Of Criminal Law & Criminology (Volume 86, No. 1), titled A Tribute To A View I have Opposed, Wolfgang, who has read research on guns and violence for more than 25 years, said this:

    [Kleck and Gertz] have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator… for now, I have to admit my admiration for the care and caution expressed [in their research]…. [it] impresses me for the caution the authors exercise and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically. I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well.

In addition, Etzioni’s vicious personal attack on Cook and Ludwig is false and scurrilous. The data cited in their article was not compiled by them! They cite data compiled by other people. And, to add insult to injury (from their perspective), Cook and Ludwig do not “favor guns.” Both of them are for gun control!

To further support our assertion that millions of Americans have used guns to defend themselves, we cite a Gallup Poll last year (May,2000) which asked the question, of adults 18-years-old and older: “Not including military combat, have you ever used a gun to defend yourself, either by firing it or threatening to fire it?” Seven percent said: “Yes.” Since there are an estimated 204 million Americans 18-years-old and older, this means that 14.3 million of us have used guns in self-defense.

What is Etzioni’s response to this Gallup Poll? All he says is that he would “really need to see” this survey and the question asked. But, no, he doesn’t think George Gallup also fabricated and manipulated his data. However, he adds, when people are asked about things like this “they tend to be slightly boastful.” How he knows this, he does not say.