More Guns Are Used In Self-Defense Than Violent Crime, Suggests Newly-Found Data Never Made Public By The CDC

John Houck

According to unreleased statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are used more for self-defense than used to commit crimes. Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist, found figures from the agency that suggest nearly 2.5 million people use a gun to defend themselves every year, significantly more than those that use a gun in crimes.

Through several surveys conducted in the late 1990s, the CDC tried to find out how often a registered gun owner used a firearm for self-defense and how that relates to guns used in violent crime. According to a Reason report, the results of the surveys were never released, but Kleck was recently able to obtain the information.

"[The] CDC never reported the results of those surveys, does not report on their website any estimates of DGU [defensive uses of guns] frequency, and does not even acknowledge that they ever asked about the topic in any of their surveys," wrote Kleck in his recent report.

Kleck says the surveys were a part of the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and involved telephone interviews with a huge sample of U.S. adults. The polls, consisting of several health-related questions, were conducted in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

One question, in particular, asked participants specifically about using a firearm for protection.

"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?"

Based on the answers received by the CDC and quoted by the Daily Wire, 1.3 percent used a gun in self-defense in 1996, 0.9 percent in 1997, and 1 percent in 1998. An average of 1.07 percent over the three years. The Reason report notes that the CDC numbers indicate victims of crimes use guns for self-defense 3.6 times more than criminals use them to commit crimes.

However, Kleck estimates the average yearly percentage is likely higher as the CDC never asked about the exact nature of the incident that prompted the use of a firearm. His own research, based on separate surveys he personally conducted, found a 1.326 percent average over the same three years.

Using more recent data, Harvard University also tried to determine how often people use guns for self-defense. NPR reported statistics, obtained from surveys taken between 2007 and 2011, which revealed 0.9 percent of respondents used a gun to protect themselves during a violent incident. The lower percentage calculated by Harvard researchers possibly indicates an overall reduction in violent crime rates nationwide.

Gun owners feel the unreleased CDC survey only supports what they have been advocating for years – law-abiding people should be allowed to carry a gun for protection against criminals. However, despite the numbers, gun control activists are not convinced and still want more legislation put in place to regulate a citizen's right to bear arms.