As well as making the highly misleading claim that women are 2.5 times as likely to be injured if they offer no resistance than resisting with a gun as I discussed yesterday, in The Bias Against Guns Lott claims (page 99):
Carrying a gun is also the safest course of action when one is confronted by a criminal.6
Endnote 6 states:
Gary Kleck and Don Kates (288-290) present the most recent data from the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey from 1992 to 1998 and also indicate that the risk of serious injury from a criminal attack is lowest when one resists a criminal confrontation with a gun.
However, what we actually find on page 291 of Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control by Kleck and Kates is (my emphasis):
Consequently, while defensive gun use is generally safe, it does not appear to be as uniquely safe among self-protection methods as data from earlier NCVS data suggested.
Lott says that Kleck says the opposite of what he actually says.
The reason why the newer NCVS data changed Kleck’s conclusion is that the NCVS starting asking when injuries occurred—whether people were injured before or after their self-protective actions. Obviously, injuries that happened before a defender took action could not properly be attributed to that action. Here’s an extract from Kleck’s Table 7.1:
|Any SP with gun||13%||8%||28%||4%||10%||2%|
You can see that although the overall injury rates are lower when a gun is used for defence, the post-self-protection injury rates are about the same, so the lower overall injury rates cannot be properly credited to the gun use.
Note that the circumstances of gun defenders might be different from other defenders, so after controlling for circumstances it might turn out that guns are more effective or it might turn out that guns are less effective at preventing injury. We really don’t know which, but at this stage the best guess would be that they aren’t any better or worse than other methods.
For an example of a pro-gun writer properly describing Kleck’s results see GunCite.