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I smell Reasoned Discoursetm coming

Some guy named Cliff Lyon is spamming the pro-gun blogs and linking to his post at One Utah in which he takes Alan Korwin to task for asserting:

Guns save hundreds of thousands of lives a year.

Says Cliff: This is the beauty of the internet. Unsupportable public comments and the people who make them can be taken to task and a permanent record established.

Well, I’m not Alan Korwin (and you could ask Alan on his blog) so I don’t know to what he was referring. However, it could have been a number of sources. He may have referenced the Department of Justice (about 700K); Gary Kleck at the University of Florida (2.5M) ; John Lott; or the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey. Pick one.

16 Responses to “I smell Reasoned Discoursetm coming”

  1. Robb Allen Says:

    You know, I have an icon for PSH. I have an icon for Reasoned Discourse™.

    I think I need an icon for the “Small Dick Gambit”. ‘Cept I’m not sure I *want* to work on that icon.

  2. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    You could do it with someone squinting at a mountain.

  3. ben Says:

    Problem is that a defensive gun use does not equate to a life saved. While many lives are certainly saved, if you analyze the data of the DGU’s, it looks like many hundreds, or possibly thousands of lives are saved. Not hundreds of thousands. Then there are the injuries that are prevented, and the crimes that are thwarted. Not to mention the deterrent effect.

    All of these things are difficult to measure, because they did not happen. You have to guess or extrapolate other data to figure out what the effect was.

  4. D2k Says:

    These numbers seem to be a good way of looking at Kleck’s data.

  5. ben Says:

    … and yet the numbers do not back up those results, D2k. If you look at all the violent crimes committed in which there was no gun used for self defense, and there are very many, you don’t get that sort of murder rate. That murder rate would be astronomical. In Canada, there are very few DGU’s every year, and they do not have that kind of murder rate.

    The idea that there would have been 600,000 additional homicides had private citizens not had guns to protect themselves is ludicrous. I am 100% in favor of gun rights, carry concealed myself, but I do not buy these numbers.

  6. ATLien Says:

    But ben, “if it saves just one life…”

  7. gattsuru Says:

    In Canada, there are very few DGUs every year, and they do not have that kind of murder rate.

    Canada lacks some pretty specific social issues that America has in spades, and which happen to dramatically correlate with violent crime. So do most Western European countries. Looking to Mexico is a little closer, but even that’s a fairly inaccurate assessment.

  8. Bob S. Says:


    If you follow this link – to check out the number of violent crimes and crimes against property for 2006. This combine to be about 10 Million while murder was around 17,000.

    Doesn’t it make sense than, defensive gun use wouldn’t result in 600,000 more murders but people are protecting themselves and property against lesser crimes.
    Another point is the person out to commit a crime doesn’t stop for the night when thwarted by an armed individual but seeks out another victim.

  9. ben Says:

    Exactly. Using those numbers, Bob, you come up with a maximum number of prevented deaths of

    x = 2e6 * 17,000/10e6 = 3400.

    The actual number is probably substantially lower. It makes us look dumb if we claim that there were 600,000 deaths prevented EVERY YEAR by DGU’s. That magnitude of death prevention makes no sense, since nobody in their right mind would buy that there’d be 600,000 homicides in the USA if there were zero DGU’s because guns were banned etc.

  10. Linoge Says:

    Well, I considered posting a comment (especially if that weblog is as highly-ranked as the self-righteous author indicated… might help my own traffic), but I rapidly came to the conclusion that other people were doing a much better job of taking him to task than I could, Mr. Korwin especially.

    It has always amused me how one accidentally/negligently/maliciously lost life is enough to damn firearms, but one saved life is not enough to vindicate them. I am not saying it should boil down to a game of numbers, but I would like the occasional consistency…

  11. SayUncle Says:

    Problem is that a defensive gun use does not equate to a life saved.


  12. straightarrrow Says:

    but a DGU almost always equates to a life not lost. ‘Almost always’ is heap better result than unarmed victims have achieved.

  13. gattsuru Says:

    No one is claiming that, with the prohibition of self-defense with a handgun, no single individual that previously defended him- or herself with a handgun would just give up (although cases like Australia and the United Kingdom demonstrate a certain ugly pattern on the matter). A vast portion would use other or extralegal means.

    The same’s true on the other side, by the way — no prohibition on firearms is going to make every single murderer give up the game, and outside a few real lunatics, no one claims that.

  14. Ahab Says:

    The best part of that is the comments by that Larry guy.

  15. Xrlq Says:

    Problem is that a defensive gun use does not equate to a life saved. While many lives are certainly saved, if you analyze the data of the DGUs, it looks like many hundreds, or possibly thousands of lives are saved. Not hundreds of thousands.

    True, but if it did, why wouldn’t he have argued that guns save upward of a million lives every year? That’s a more likely estimate of the number of defensive gun uses, and some estimates are much higher than that.

  16. Gunstar1 Says:

    Ben, Defensive gun use does not equal death or a life saved is absolutly true.

    However in studies done, some of those that responded said that they feared for their lives (as opposed to violent assualt or theft) when they defensively used their guns. Those people totaled in the hundreds of thousands.

    Now could a percentage of those people have been mistaken in thinking the bad guy out to do harm was in fact a smelly homeless guy walking up to beg for change? Sure.

    However to that person it was a defensive gun use that saved a life and the only way for me or you to prove the bad guy was out for murder is to let them do it.

    So you are simply questioning those hundreds of thousands of people in their opinion of an act you and I know nothing about.

    It is impossible to say if those polled are being truthful or lying because you would have to know what the person who was being defended against was thinking at that time.

    Now, most states have a self defense law that has a reasonable belief of harm. So even if you take half the total of people who reasonably believed they used a gun (in some way, perhaps by just showing it in a holster or holding it in their hand pointing it at the ground) to prevent death, you still have hundreds of thousands.

    Just like saying some gun dealer had X number of guns traced to crime. It is actually just traced by law enforcement. There is an unknown smaller number of guns actually used in crime.