n unpublished Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study confirms Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck’s findings of more than two million defensive handgun uses (DGUs) per year.
Since the early 1990s, Kleck has maintained that there is a minimum of 760,000 DGUs annually. That is his low estimate; Kleck and research partner Marc Gertz have contended the actual number is closer to 2.5 million.
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Kleck reaffirmed his numbers on February 17, 2015, explaining that while plenty of naysayers have criticized his findings, none have been able to offer empirical evidence to counter them.
Now, a CDC study conducted on data from 1996, 1997, and 1998 has been uncovered. The study, which was never released to the public, shows approximately 2.46 million DGUs per year.
Kleck summarized the CDC findings:
In 1996, 1997, and 1998, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted large-scale national surveys asking about defensive gun use (DGU). They never released the findings, or even acknowledged they had studied the topic. I obtained the unpublished raw data and computed the prevalence of DGU. CDC’s findings indicated that an average of 2.46 million U.S. adults used a gun for self-defense in each of the years from 1996 through 1998 – almost exactly confirming the estimate for 1992 of Kleck and Gertz (1995). Possible reasons for CDC’s suppression of these findings are discussed.
On April 20, 2018, Reason magazine quoted Kleck’s reaction to the unpublished CDC findings; he explained that a figure of 2.46 million DGUs a year “[implies] that guns were used defensively by victims about 3.6 times as often as they were used offensively by criminals.”