Lowell Savage writes:

Sorry, Ron. Much as I agree with your position, I have to say that you
haven’t addressed Tim’s issue: why is it that 37% of non-gun defenders were
injured before they began self-defensive actions while only 13% of gun
defenders were injured before they began self-defense actions?

Perhaps an anecdote from a column by Ann Coulter could illuminate a possible
explanation. Ann said that she was walking alone over a bridge toward her
apartment (or is it a condo? And no I don’t remember why she was doing this
alone, at that time.) when she saw a man coming toward her from the area of
the apartment buildings. His demeanor told her that he was up to no good
and he was making no effort to hide his intentions. (In fact, I seem to
recall from her column that she articulated some specific things about why
she believed that he intended at least robbery.) Her column then went into
how disgusted she was that the man didn’t even “have the decency” to attempt
to hide his intentions because they were in DC and so he knew that she was
unarmed and therefore at his mercy. She was too far from anyone to scream
for help. She was too far from any place that she could run to (before he
could catch her). And she was certainly no match for him in hand-to-hand
combat (even assuming that he wasn’t carrying some sort of weapon). So, she
faced no choice but to give him whatever he wanted. Now, if he then began
hurting her anyway, she would have probably decided that fighting or running
was her only option. At that point, she is in Tim’s 37% group.

Not so. The 37% group were injured before they took any action. If
an incident happened as outlined above, it would count as an injury
after taking action. (One of the actions listed is “cooperated
with the offender”.)

As for the post-self-protection injury rates, I think the biggest missing
piece of information is the deaths (I think some of the earlier reponses
hinted at this problem). Here’s the question: How many of the gun-using
people who were injured after beginning self-protection were people who
would be dead if they hadn’t had a gun?

We don’t know. Not do we know how many end up dead because they did
use a gun. Both numbers are probably small compared with the number

So Tim, unless you can work up some numbers to eliminate this possibility
(that a large segment of the post-self-protection-with-gun injuries
represent people who would otherwise be dead), then I’m afraid that the best
you can do is to try to make the case that the NCVS data isn’t complete
enough for any assessments in this area.

I doubt that it is possible to collect enough to be certain about
these things. Nonetheless, the best available data suggests that gun
self-defence does not reduce the risk of injury.

I also note that pro-gun folks had no trouble with using less complete
NCVS data to argue that guns were the safest means of self-protection.
For example:

“According to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data, having a gun
and being able to use it in a defensive situation is the most effective
means of avoiding injury (moreso even than offering no resistance) and
thwarting completion of a robbery or assault.”
talk.politics.guns Official Pro-Gun FAQ 1/2


“The Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey
reports that the probability of serious injury from an attack is 2.5
times greater for women offering no resistance than for women
resisting with a gun. Men also benefit from using a gun, but the
benefits are smaller: Offering no resistance is 1.4 times more likely
to result in serious injury than resisting with a gun. Resistance with
a gun is the safest course of action for victims to take.”
John Lott “Gun Control Advocates Purvey Deadly Myths”, Wall Street
Journal 11/11/98


“Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck analyzed data from
the Department of Justice (1979-1985 National Crime Survey public use
computer tapes). He found victims that defended themselves with a gun
against a robbery or an assault, had the least chance of being
injured, or of having the crime completed. Doing nothing, trying to
escape, reasoning with the offender, or physical resistance (other
than with a gun), all had higher probabilities of injury and crime
completion.” Source