Defensive Gun Woundings

Dr. Paul H. Blackman writes:

The Annest et al. numbers are based on seeking medical treatment in
emergency rooms. And the figure for gunshot wounds is roughly 100,000
(which Phil Cook upped to 150,000 for the June JAMA by counting all
gun-related wounds including pistol whippings and air/BB/etc. guns).

Prior to that, estimates from (primarily anti-gunners) hovered in the
200-250,000 range (except for a few imaginative folk who assumed all
gun-related crimes resulted in injuries).

Kleck would dispute the Annest et al. NEISS-based figure on the theory
that criminals try to avoid medical treatment for gunshot wounds, since
seeking such treatment tends to invite police inquiry. As a result,
Kleck would assume that most minor injuries inflicted on criminals by
citizens using guns for protection are statistically unmeasured, and
that the lack of enough measured medical treatments does not undercut
any Kleck projections on the numbers of criminals wounded by civilians.

  1. You seem to agree with me that the Annest number contradicts Kleck
    and disagree with Lott & Mustard who believe that it confirms Kleck.

  2. You write “Kleck would dispute”. Are you sure that this is what he
    would do? In “Point Blank” he estimates the number of criminals wounded
    by civilians as 10,000-20,000. The numbers on which this estimate is
    based have not been overturned by any subsequent research to my knowledge.

Supporting the possibility of Kleck’s being correct would be a couple
of medical studies on hospitals treating gunshot wounds and finding
that most are treat-and-release — despite a certain medical penchant
for keeping gunshot victims overnight as a precaution for possible
shock — and finding that most drive-by shootings (which one might
suppose are comparable in shooting ability/distance to defensive
shootings) involve injuries to extremities (arms and legs), and are
thus minor.

I’ll admit to a certain degree of ignorance about conditions in the
US, but I find it hard to believe that drive-by shootings are similar
to defensive shootings. Surely defensive shootings are not usually
done from moving vehicles. Nor would I expect a 50% hit rate from a

Criminals might well think, if it ain’t life threatening,
avoid doctors. So might non-criminals who note the high number of
medically-caused ailments and fear medical research into medicine might
be on a par to medical research into firearms, esp. if they note how
the Journal of Trauma encourages invasive treatment of gunshot wounds
where that might worsen the situation.

If you compare the death rate from gunshot wounds now with that of a
century ago it is quite obvious that medical treatment (most notably
the use of antibiotics) makes an enormous difference. If criminals
never get their wounds treated then you would expect a much higher
death rate from gun shot wounds than the 15% estimate that Kleck uses
in “Point Blank”. If we conservatively use that number for the death
rate, it follows that at least 30,000 criminals are killed by
civilians. Where do all the bodies go?