The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution specifies that we have the right to bear arms.
In 2008 in a landmark though razor thin 5:4 ruling, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court states that the Second Amendment protects the individual‘s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. In its ruling, SCOTUS even leaves open the possibility that the individual’s right to bear arms may include military-grade weapons.
Guns used for self-defense is Defensive Gun Use (DGU). Guns used not for self-defense but to attack another is Offensive Gun Use (OGU).
Instead of supporting and upholding the Second Amendment, a federal government agency — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — does just the opposite.
The CDC has often been criticized by gun owner organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) as being “antigun” and for awarding research grants on firearms and violence only to researchers with strong anti gun or pro gun control publication records. In particular, CDC has helped finance surveys on defensive gun use (DGU) by researchers such as David Hemenway, which claim a low incidence of DGU. That research is then used to buttress gun control.
Now a professor of criminology, Gary Kleck, has discovered that in 1996, 1997 and 1998 during the Clinton Administration, the CDC conducted its own research on DGU but never released the findings or even acknowledged they had studied the topic. Not only did CDC research find a high incidence of DGU — of 2.46 million a year — the annual number of defensive gun use is 3.6 times that of offensive gun use, which certainly reinforces the correctness of the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling.
In his paper, “What Do CDC’s Surveys Say About the Frequency of Defensive Gun Uses?,” February 14, 2018, Gary Kleck, David J. Bordua Professor Emeritus of Criminology at Florida State University whose research specialty is gun control, writes:
It is less widely known that CDC itself conducted surveys in which huge nationally representative samples of the U.S. adult population were asked about DGU, as part of their Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). CDC never reported the results of those surveys, does not report on their website any estimates of DGU frequency, and does not even acknowledge that they ever asked about the topic in any of their surveys….
Why didn’t the CDC report their DGU results? The agency clearly regarded the topic as sufficiently important to insert DGU questions into a very expensive national survey that had never previously included any questions about self-defense, and to do so in three of the surveys…. Accepted scholarly standards dictate reporting the findings accompanied by appropriate caveats about limitations and possible problems with the survey. This allows readers to judge for themselves whether the limitations were so severe that the findings must be discounted altogether. Every one of the critics’ claims that surveys overstate DGU prevalence have been thoroughly refuted (Kleck and Gertz 1997; Kleck 2001), but even if they had not the ethical course for CDC still would have been to release the DGU prevalence findings.
If doubts about the validity of these findings cannot justify their suppression, why did CDC personnel decide not to report them? One obvious explanation would be that they recognized that their own surveys’ finding of a high DGU prevalence was unfriendly to gun control efforts – efforts repeatedly endorsed by CDC-financed researchers (Kates 2001). Such a decision could have been made at the level of administrators who supervise the BRFSS, or perhaps just lower-level personnel who understood that these findings would be unwelcome news to their bosses. Regardless of how the decision was made, it was a disservice to the American people, who paid for the survey and the information it yielded, but who were not allowed to see it and judge its worth for themselves.
Robert R. Redfield, M.D., is the current director of the CDC, since March 2018. Dr. Redfield must drain the CDC swamp. Demand that the CDC release its research findings on defensive gun use!
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