Statistics and estimating the effects of more open and concealed carry firearms

My question is this:

If, hypothetically, gun ownership and concealed and open carry were to increase significantly over the next several years, is there any way to estimate using statistics whether the lives saved by “armed good guys” would be greater than or less than the fatalities and injuries caused by the (presumable) increase in accidental shootings like the one I linked to?

I suppose the math would look something like this – for every 100,000 instances of concealed carry (and open carry), there are x incidents of “lives saved”, and y incidents of accidental shootings (perhaps ya for fatalities)… is x greater than or less than y (or ya)?

I’m not sure if the statistics exist for this kind of estimate, and I couldn’t find statistics on accidental shootings with relation to numbers for concealed and open carry, nor for “lives saved by armed good guys” incident statistics. Can anyone else find such data?

To forestall one possible objection that shows up repeatedly, the idea that we shouldn’t conduct government research because it’ll be misrepresented is absurd. What other industry would we accept such an argument from? Would we refuse to conduct research on automobile safety because Critical Mass bicyclists might misrepresent it? Would we not conduct research on the health effects of eating meat and dairy, out of fear of how vegans would spin it? Would we quash government research into vaccines because anti-vaxxers would take studies out of context?

It’s a ridiculous argument. When I hear it, it makes me wonder whether people who disdain government research into firearms’ effect on public safety genuinely believe research would buttress their claims.

The Centers For Disease Control are the only government agency that is forbidden to promote gun control. The actual language in the appropriation bill is “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.” I don’t think research by the CDC is forbidden, but advocacy is.

De jure, you’re correct. De facto, as I understand it, the CDC put zero dollars toward research on firearms now, out of fear of running afoul of congressmembers afraid of any such research. Is this correct?

We’ve already had many years of increasing gun ownership and spreading concealed/open carry laws, and they’ve been coincident with a drop in gun violence. Your inquiry would probably be more a matter of trying to determine whether justifiable homicides drop more or less than criminal ones do.

Unless I’m mistaken, none of the numbers you discuss include accidental shootings. That’s what I’m wondering about – whether lives saved from more guns is greater or less then lives lost due to accidental shootings from more guns.

Probably impossible to quantify the “deterrent effect” of armed civilians in public.

You’ve framed the question in an odd way. You are comparing “lives saved” to fatalities and injuries caused by accidental shootings. If an injury caused is on one end of the comparison, why wouldn’t an injury prevented be on the other? In addition, you seem to be focused on carry outside the home - stats for the items you are looking for aren’t typically gathered in that fashion, but you can find evidence for some of those items if you look at totals both inside and outside the home.

For example, using WISQARS, for 2013 there were aproximately 17K nonfatal unintentional firearm injuries. If I add 2001 - 2013, that yields in raw numbers just north of 16.5K nonfatal unintentional firearm injuries per year. During that same time window, the number of accidental firearm deaths has been approximately 8.4K, or about 650/year.

So that is the latter side of the equation. The former is harder since the number of people carrying, ownership, and even lives saved or injuries prevented has less quantifiable data available. There are estimates for DGU of course, and estimates for people who carry based on number of CCWs active, but these are estimates. You’ll have to clarify what you would accept as evidence before it’s worthwhile digging up various cites.

Your analogies are not on point. The allegation is not that critical mass bicyclists would misrepresent study data, or that vegans would spin research results, or that anti-vaxxers would take studies out of context. A better analogy would be, would you accept taxpayer funded research on automobile safety *conducted by *critical mass bicyclists, taxpayer funded research on the health effects of eating meat and dairy conducted only by vegans, or taxpayer funded research conducted by the leaders of the anti-vax movement? I think in each there would be reason to be suspect.

Not really. To defeat this claim I would need to find a single CDC funded item after the Dickey Amendment, correct? Here is one:

Here is another: Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence:

Advocacy and/or promotion of gun control by the CDC is prohibited. Research is not. The agency can prioritize its dollars.

I’m fine with modifying the question like this – lives for lives and injuries for injuries. Perhaps comparing total incidents would answer the question – total firearm accidents resulting in injury or death, and total incidents in which the use of a firearm prevented injury or death (which might include things like an armed home owner stopping a burglary by shouting “freeze!” with no injuries or deaths).

No, I’d be interested in any armed/carry situation, inside or outside the home, especially since (presumably) many firearm accidents occur at home.

I don’t know I’d “accept as evidence”, but I’m willing to look at anything. Is there evidence that carrying and ownership prevents more injuries/deaths then the above numbers for accidents (thanks for providing those numbers, by the way)? If so, I’d certainly like to take a look. I’m open to the possibility that more gun ownership and carrying saves more lives (and prevents more injuries) then the increase in accidents would cost, if that’s what the data suggests.

These are interesting examples. One regards research from 1999 and 1996–very soon after the Dickey Amendment was passed in 1995, research begun two decades ago. The other, from the summary, does not appear to be research at all, but rather the unpublished report of a recommendation of a committee for an agenda for possible future research. Are these the strongest evidence available that the Dickey Amendment exercises no chilling effect on research?

I’m sure I have bias, and my presumption and initial ‘guess’ is that there are more accidents then lives saved. But this isn’t based on data, which is why I’m asking the question. It’s based on my experiences and readings with guns and gun owners, as well as people in general – most gun owners I know, including myself, as well as most non-gun-owners I know, would be more likely (based on my estimation of their capabilities) to injure themselves or someone close to them then prevent a criminal incident, in a situation like middle-of-the-night-not-sure-what-that-noise-is-downstairs, or “I’ll take a gun to the movie theater or on the subway just in case”.

But that’s just my guess, affected by my own biases and feelings, and not justified by data. So I’m curious if there’s data that points to an answer one way or the other.

Oh, there is definitely a chilling effect. I consider that acknowledgment that what was happening in the past was in fact advocacy. These were just the items I had open in my browser tabs :slight_smile: There have been a few other studies here and there IIRC, but the idea that there has been zero dollars spent is not accurate which was my point. A single example defeats the claim.

I just think it’s important to note that research itself was not prohibited - this must be true because executive orders cannot supersede the will of Congress when it comes to funding. So when Obama orders research to be done through executive order, it is clear that research was never banned by the CDC. Chilling effect though, sure that’s a gimmie.

That’s weak sauce. Congress is not famous for evenhandedness and impartiality. CDC administrators who do not know what a particular Congresscritter will consider to be advocacy may well reduce all gun research out of fear of being called up in front of a committee and raked over the coals, regardless of whether said research was advocacy.

I said they put zero dollars toward research “now.” What time period comprises now might be open to debate, but a study begun in 1996 hardly qualifies.

Show me active, actual research from the last two or three years, and I’ll re-evaluate that claim.

I should say, also, that while I’m willing to retract that claim given adequate evidence, I worry we’re garden-pathing here. My main point is that I believe we should absolutely be conducting government-funded research into questions surrounding firearms. While that research should not be directed at particular ideological agendas, of course, neither should there be a chilling effect in which researchers fear congressional reprisal for conducting research. Whatever the cause for the current dearth in rigorous scientific research into firearms-related violence and deterrence in the United States, we need to find a way to reverse it, to increase the research.

One more note, from your own second cite, Bone:

[emphasis added]

More or less what I said :).

Not really - though this is now quibbling. This says the net result was an overall reduction in firearm violence research. You said the CDC spent zero dollars. Those are different statements. This cite(ha!)says:

Though when I look through to the actual budget summary I can’t find the $100K line item. If this is true, the $100K > $0.

Based on your new criteria with the lookback 2-3 years, here are a list of awards from the National Institute of Justice related to studying gun violence. Not the CDC, or the HHS, but part of the Department of Justice.

With regards to conducting research - sure, great. The CDC is not the right place for it though as they are tainted beyond repair for gun issues, IMO.

To clarify - 18K is the number of fatal and non-fatal accidental firearm injuries per year, rough estimate based on raw figures not adjusted for population. Do you think that the number of injuries or deaths prevented is less than approximately 18K/year based on your initial guess?

You used an example of an* “armed home owner stopping a burglary by shouting “freeze!” with no injuries or deaths”* earlier. Would that count as a prevention of an injury? What if the homeowner is the only person with a weapon and the burglar was only attempting to steal property, would that count as prevention of an injury?

I would guess “yes”. I have a feeling you’re setting me up for something. :slight_smile:

I’ll tentatively say “yes” to both questions.

You are indeed being set up. :dubious:

It would be nice to get some solid numbers on this.
I don’t give a damn how it goes; at 5’ 120 lbs, even if the Bad Guy doesn’t have a gun, and I suspect they always will :), I would like to have a firearm in my house. :dubious:
Let’s go after truth and not try and win arguments, please.