Do Guns Cause Crime? Reply to Mr. Lambert

Mr. Lambert charges I "pretend to provide [HNN readers] a criminologist's perspective on the guns-crime question, but only quotes from pro-gun criminologists.... nowhere does he address or even the mention the work of Zimring and Hawkins or Cook and Ludwig...."

In evaluating these charges it is important to bear in mind that the object of my article was not summarizing the American gun debate but discussing Prof. Malcolm's topic, "Do Guns Cause Crime?" -- primarily in terms of international evidence. Unlike Mr. Lambert, I have published articles on firearms subjects in peer-reviewed journals. I have appeared with Frank Zimring and Phil Cook in debates, and on the same platforms in criminology meetings. Anyone interested in my (often positive) views of Phil's and Frank's work can look up those articles and books.

Anyone interested in my article on the specific Zimring-Hawkins book Mr. Lambert mentions should consult my response to it which takes up 27 pages (with 158 footnotes) in vol. 69 of the UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO LAW REVIEW. Two important differences between that article and my HNN article include: that HNN gave me a 3,000 word limit; and that the starting point of the HNN article was not a book by Frank or Phil etc., but Malcolm's book on English history -- a subject on which they do not purport to speak ex cathedra.

It bears emphasis that Mr. Lambert's criticisms are delivered naked of even one instance of my citing a "pro-gun criminologist" saying something Frank, Phil and their co-authors deny. Given that omission, are Mr. Lambert's complaints that I don't "even mention the existence of any pro- control scholars," anything more than meaningless quibbles?

In any event, his criticism is simply false. Reading my HNN endnotes will show that they cite: 4 scholars whom Mr. Lambert would (misleadingly) describe as "pro-gun" (including me) [see my notes 1, 16, 20, 23]; 20+ of whom are known to me to be "anti-gun," [citations in my notes 4, 6, 9 (four articles), 11, 13, 22]; two statements from anti-gun lobbying groups [note 2] -- and numerous other scholars whose sentiments on gun issues are completely unknown to me.

As to this last group, Mr. Lambert offers no evidence of what their sentiments actually are, but just a bald allegation that I discuss and rely only on odious "pro-gun" criminologists. Unless he has some knowledge I lack of the sentiments of 15-20 scholars whose work I cited, his bald allegations about their sentiments are made in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity.

2. "PRO-GUN" VS."ANTI-GUN" ?????
Looking more closely at my HNN notes discloses some anomalies in Mr. Lambert's concepts of such things as "pro-gun," "anti-gun" and "scholarship." Though he does not actually name them, he clearly applies his classification "pro-gun criminologist" to at least Hans Toch, Gary Kleck, and James Wright & Peter Rossi. Tellingly, 'twas not always so -- for ANY of these very distinguished scholars.

Mr. Lambert unaccountably omits to mention that the Toch article is a recantation of anti-gun views he held and championed for decades. Long a major figure in American criminology, Prof. Toch, was a consultant to the 1968 Eisenhower Commission. He quotes as his own former belief its recommendation of anti-handgun policies and its "conclusion 'that the heart of any effective national firearms policy for the United States must be to reduce the availability of the [handgun, the] firearm that contributes most to violence.... [R]educing the availability of the handgun WILL reduce firearms violence." (Emphasis by Prof. Toch and the Commission.)

But, Prof. Toch continues, decades of subsequent research has persuaded him that,

when used for protection firearms can seriously inhibit aggression and can provide a psychological buffer against the fear of crime. Furthermore, the fact that national patterns show little violent crime where guns are most dense implies that guns do not elicit aggression in any meaningful way. Quite the contrary, these findings suggest that high saturations of guns in places, or something correlated with that condition, inhibit illegal aggression.

(Quoting Toch's, "Research and Policy: The Case of Gun Control", in PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIAL POLICY, edited by Peter Sutfeld and Philip Tetlock (NY Hemisphere, 1992) at p. 234 & n. 10.)

In other words, what causes Mr. Lambert to consider Toch a "pro-gun criminologist" is not that Prof. Toch has ever owned a gun or sympathizes with gun ownership -- which he does not! It is that, having come to very anti-gun conclusions in 1968 based on the then-available evidence, when the much stronger evidence available 24 years later justified different conclusions, Toch adopted them. That is not bias, but rather honest scholarship.

Next consider Mr. Lambert's attack on my co-author Gary Kleck, the most important and prolific scholar in this field over the past two decades. Kleck is yet another criminologist who began as what Mr. Lambert would call "anti-gun" but amazingly (to Mr. Lambert) revised his views just because of the accumulation of evidence. Contrary to his current position, Kleck's first paper concluded that homicide is increased by widespread gun ownership. Gary Kleck, "Capital Punishment, Gun Ownership and Homicide," 84 AM. J. SOCIOLOGY 882-910 (1979). Moreover Kleck was an endorser of the Brady Law, his only criticism being that it should go beyond handguns to restrict long gun sales as well.

Another eminent scholar meeting Mr. Lambert's anomalous criteria for being "pro-gun" is the late Marvin Wolfgang, the doyen of American criminologists. This would surprise colleagues who knew Wolfgang's actual feelings: "I am as strong a gun control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. If I [had the power] ... I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns...." Marvin E. Wolfgang, "A Tribute to a View I Have Long Opposed", 86 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOL. 188 (1995) (emphasis added).

But under Mr. Lambert's criteria Wolfgang would nevertheless have to be deemed "pro-gun" because, faced with Kleck's seminal research on the defensive use of handguns, Wolfgang proceeded in that article to unqualifiedly praise Kleck and endorse his results -- without seeing any of the horrendous defects that Mr. Lambert sees in that work. 86 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOL. id. (Perhaps Mr. Lambert would characterize Wolfgang as only "subjectively anti-gun" but "objectively pro-gun." If so, I would actually find a point of agreement with Mr. Lambert.)

I also cited two eminent sociologists, Professors Jim Wright and Peter Rossi. Having comprehensively reviewed the entire corpus of gun control literature for the National Institute of Justice, they concluded that, while many people think guns cause murder, and that without them there would be less murder, "there is no persuasive evidence that supports this view." For this Mr. Lambert brands them odious "pro-gun criminologists." But, as they candidly confess, when they began their study they themselves endorsed

The progressive's indictment of American firearms policy [including the following propositions:] 2) In other countries with stricter firearms laws and fewer guns in private hands, gun crime is rare.... 5) If there were fewer guns around, there would obviously be less crime.... 7) Only the gun lobby prevents us from embarking on the road to a safer and more civilized society. [Yet, t]he more deeply we explored the empirical implications of this indictment, the less plausible it has become.
(James D. Wright, Peter Rossi, Kathleen Daly, UNDER THE GUN: WEAPONS, CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES (N.Y., Aldine: 1983) at page 319, emphasis added.)

In passing I note a point that may interest some readers, however unintelligible Mr. Lambert will find it: There are many scholars who, when they began researching firearms issues had anti-gun sentiments, but found the evidence required what Mr. Lambert would describe as a pro-gun outcome. See, e.g., Robert Weisberg, "Values, Violence, and the Second Amendment: American Character, Constitutionalism and Crime," 39 HOUSTON LAW REVIEW 1-51 (2002), Laurence H. Tribe, 1 AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 901-902, n. 221 (2000); L. A. Scot Powe, Jr., "Guns, Words and Interpretation," 38 WM. & M. L. REV. 1311-1403 (1997); Samuel Walker, SENSE AND NONSENSE ABOUT CRIME AND DRUGS: A POLICY GUIDE chs. 10 and 13 (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1994); Steven B. Duke & Albert C. Gross, AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR: RETHINKING OUR TRAGIC CRUSADE AGAINST DRUGS 113 (N.Y. Putnam, 1993); Ted R. Gurr, (ed.) 1 VIOLENCE IN AMERICA 17-18 (1989); George P. Fletcher, THE TRIAL OF BERNHARD GOETZ 156 (N.Y. Free Press, 1988) James D. Wright, "Second Thoughts About Gun Control, 91 PUBLIC INTEREST 23 (1988); Chris Eskridge, "Zero-Order Inverse Correlations Between Crimes of Violence and Hunting Licenses in the United States", 71 SOCIOLOGY & SOCIAL RESEARCH 55 (1986).

I should also note that many of those listed in the preceding paragraph would indignantly deny being "pro-gun," insisting that they are affirmatively anti-gun in their sentiments, and came to what Mr. Lambert would deem "pro-gun" conclusions only because that was where the evidence compelled them to go.

As Mr. Lambert portrays it, I am a mendacious puppet of the gun lobby. In fact, I have often rebuked the gun lobby for myopic, constitutionally unwarranted opposition to a variety of moderate controls; e.g. Don B. Kates, "Minimalist Interpretation of the Second Amendment" in E. Hickok (ed.), THE BILL OF RIGHTS: ORIGINAL MEANING AND CURRENT UNDERSTANDING 130 (U.Va. Press, 1991) ("the gun lobby's obnoxious habit of assailing all forms of regulation on Second Amendment grounds."); Don B. Kates, "The Second Amendment and the Ideology of Self-Protection" 9 CONSTITUTIONAL COMMENTARY 87, 88 (1992) ("the gun lobby's obnoxious pretension that the [Second] amendment bars any gun control it happens to oppose, however moderate or rational."), Don B. Kates, "Gun Control: Separating Reality from Symbolism", 20 J. CONTEMP. LAW 353, 365 (1994) ("the gun lobby position may be briefly dispatched by noting that the Amendment does not read: 'Congress shall make no law of which the gun lobby disapproves.'" -- emphasis in original).

My latest book (ARMED, co-authored with Prof. Kleck) condemns extremists on both sides for, like Mr. Lambert, portraying the issues as simply a matter of pro-gun versus anti-gun; and I argue that enactment of moderate, sensible controls is precluded by vituperative extremist rhetoric against gun ownership. See pp. 109-14, 116-22. Among other articles, monographs and books endorsing a variety of gun controls, or condemning gun lobby obstructionism, are: Don B. Kates (ed.), FIREARMS AND VIOLENCE 527-35 (1984); Don B. Kates, "The Battle Over Gun Control," 84 THE PUBLIC INTEREST 42-43, 45-46 (1986); Don B. Kates, "Firearms and Violence: Old Premises and Current Evidence" in T. Gurr (ed.) VIOLENCE IN AMERICA, v. 1, at 198 and 207 (1989).

Similarly, the last 20% of my Second Amendment magnum opus is devoted to affirming the constitutionality of gun registration, licensing, and other controls that are anathema to the gun lobby. Don B. Kates, "Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment", 82 MICH. L. REV. 203 (1983). That portion of my article was denounced as "'Orwellian Newspeak'" in the AMERICAN RIFLEMAN. I have debated on these matters against NRA experts, e.g., Don B. Kates, "The Second Amendment: A Dialogue", 49 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 143 (1986) versus Stephen P. Halbrook, "What the Framers Intended: A Linguistic Interpretation of the Second Amendment", 49 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 153 (1986). (My part of this debate was devoted almost entirely to defending the validity of various gun controls.)

Mr. Lambert deems he has somehow impugned my HNN article by pointing out "that Kleck was forced to correct his claims" in a Kleck-McElrath which Mr. Lambert falsely implies that I cited. My HNN article quoted Kleck's statement (in a presentation to the National Academy of Sciences) that gun robberies result in many fewer victim injuries -- but if a victim is shot the victim is much more likely to die -- than is the case in robberies with other weapons. Mr. Lambert does not dispute, but rather emphatically endorses this which is the statement I quoted. His quibble -- and I use that term advisedly -- is that the statement is even more true than Kleck knew when he made it because the error in his article with McElrath slightly minimized the extent to which it is true.

But I quoted only the unqualified statement that a victim who is shot in a robbery is more likely to die than a victim who is knifed. I neither cited the Kleck-McElrath article nor offered any specific figure of the extent of the death likelihood difference. So why was it incumbent on me to go into a discussion of possible error in the Kleck-McElrath article -- especially given the word limit on my HNN article?

The other "problem" Mr. Lambert claims required correction in my HNN article is that citing Kleck's conclusion that victims who defend themselves with guns from rape, assault or robbery are half as likely to suffer injury as victims who follow Handgun Control's advice to submit without resistance. {"the best defense against injury is to put up no defense -- give them what they want or run." GUNS DON'T DIE, PEOPLE DO, by then-Handgun Control, Inc. Chairman Nelson "Pete" Shields at p. 124-5 (1981). (Nor is this advice limited to Handgun Control. See, e.g., Zimring and Zuehl interview, "Don't Resist Robbery Chicago Study Warns", N.Y. TIMES Dec. 11, 1984; and M. Yeager and the Handgun Control Staff of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, HOW WELL DOES THE HANDGUN PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?.) }

It bears emphasis that the ant-gun advice is never to resist -- not with any weapon, gun, knife, blunt instrument, etc. This advice remains as utterly wrong today as at the time of the Kleck speech I quoted. What has changed since the Kleck speech I quoted has to do with a comparison I did not make at all. At the time of the speech, though resistance with non-gun weapons was almost as successful in avoiding robbery, etc. as resistance with a gun, one who resisted with such lesser weapons was much more likely to suffer injury. The much more extensive evidence available today now shows that the injury risk of those who resist with a lesser weapon is only slightly higher than of those who resist with a gun.

Why was it incumbent on me to discuss any of this in the HNN article, given that the Kleck speech (as I quoted it) did not even mention the issue? Is this not another instance of meaningless quibbling?

Yet, anxious as I am not to disappoint Mr. Lambert, let me summarize the matter right now. The anti-gun advice that victims should not resist criminal attack with any form of weapon, is unqualifiedly wrong. Victims who resist with a gun are much less likely to be injured than those who submit, and, of course, far less to be raped, robbed or assaulted. Moreover, a victim who has a knife or other instrument to resist with is almost as likely to avoid rape, etc. as s/he had a gun, and is only slightly more likely to be injured, i.e., much less likely to be injured than if s/he submits.

I could go on at great length demolishing Mr. Lambert's other false claims, but I have probably already exceeded readers' (and HNN's) interest. Suffice it to refer to Mark Twain lament that lies can be halfway around the world before the truth even wakes up in the morning.

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lyle r waudby - 11/21/2010

I truly believe that Mr. Lambert does not see the true picture. Criminals will get guns even if they are controlled or outlawed. Does he really believe that by taking guns out of everyones hands crime will go down? Sir you really need to do some studies on gun control and the things that it has caused. You will then see that there are criminals that did not committe some crimes due to the fact they thought their victims were armed! Taking guns away from the public does nothing but cause the public to be defensless. This is a wya for our government to gain total control over us and our families. Please Sir do some reading before you tell us guns are the problem.

Al Killu - 12/18/2003

fuck off

jessica - 10/23/2003

i think guns to make crime alot worse.You see little children running around preending to shoot people its not right.They may grow up and think its ok to shoot people.

Becca - 8/25/2003

That's like saying a spoon made rosie o'donald fat. People causes the crimes. And lack of parenting. Not gun control.
Thank you.

Carl Naaman Brown - 4/23/2003

In East Tennessee, guns are very common. My home county, Sullivan County, Tennessee, had zero murders by any means in a population of 156,000 people in 1999, the last year for which I have seen complete FBI stats. In the handgun prohibition zone District of Columbia, there would have been 107 homicides in a population of 156,000 people, given the DC rate of 69 per 100,000 per annum. My hometown went over three years with no homicides in a population of about 40,000.
Asked about the national gun debate, two local police opined that only one of five criminals used guns and of those that used guns most were stolen, black market or otherwise illegal and beyond the control of gun laws. Illegal use of guns is not tolerated.
My sister was attacked by a home invader and her roommate ran the burglar off by brandishing a handgun. They held the attacker's accomplice at gun point til the police arrived and arrested him. Tennessee's state constitution and court decisions support the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the defense of themselves and their communities.
I know this is anecdotal evidence but it is my two cents worth.

Grg W Sm - 2/11/2003

I agree lets get rid of all guns, they do kill if ordered to. But just to be fair, lets ban all motorvehicles, knives, and most of all this very dangerous thing called Fast Food. All kill if not used properly, so I say loose non or loose all. Lets not forget the fact is, if you aren't capable of handling a 2 to 25 pond firearm why do you have a drivers liscence. And the articles i read everyday about killing wild game being a bad thing. Is it any worse than what you animal rights activists did in Florida. Let me remind you everyone of those thousands of hot air balloons you let will come back down. And seeing you were on a beach thats good indication that alot of sea life died. do the research yourself, you quit killing these animals before you tell me to. Long live PETA "people enjoying tasty animals".

Dave Livingston - 11/23/2002

There seems to be a presumption in this discussion that every American lives in a city. As shocking as it may be to some of us, even today approximately a quarter of Americans yet live in rural environments, where fireams are utilized as tools far more frequently than they are used strictly as weapons, whether offensively or defensively, against fellow humans.

Granted, often the use of a firearm in its tool role is that it is used in the hunting of wild game.

So you disapprove of hunting? Are you then a vegetarian? If not, then you are one whose killing is done for him in a slaughterhouse, cannery or aboard a fishing boat. Well, pardon me,I happen to like to eat deer, elk, rabbit, duck, goose & squirrel (and quail, dove...)and to acquire those for my table requires more than a mere stroll in the woods, one of those nasty objects called a firearm. Nor is my fishing done for sport, but rather to keep my tummy contented,I not one afraid to frequently do his own killing for the table.

Do you wear leather shoes or belt? Have you ever considered from whence the materials from those goods come? It is from the hides of creatures killed to satisfy your wants.

Have you ever been confronted by a rattler, Copperhead or Water Moccasin in the wild? If not, FYI it is mighty convenient and comforting to then be able to blow one away with a firearm from outside the snake's striking distance.

Dave Livingston - 11/23/2002

Based upon my experiences as a soldier in Viet-Nam, Lieutenant, 1st Infantry Division, 1966-7; Captain,101st Airborne Division, 1969-70, it is evident that guns do not cause crime.

During neither of my two tours in 'Nam do I recall learning of a single instance of a crime committed with a firearm at either Phu Loi, the First Infantry Division base camp utilized by our unit, Troop D, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, my first tour in 'Nam nor at Camp Eagle, the 101st's base camp used by our unit, Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, my second "tour," they called it(next time, if I have anything to say about it, my next "tour" will be of a nudist colony in Sweden).

There were occasional fistfights among the troops and there was my second tour a fragging, one night when some discontented G.I. tossed a grenade into an NCO's hooch. As I recall, the grenade killed one NCO, Sergeant, and wounded a couple more.

There were a few stupid accidents involving firearms both tours.

On both base camps, Phu Loi and Camp Eagle, there were literally thousands of G.I.s with thousands of loaded, more often than not, fully automatic weapons, constantly, twenty-four hours a day, at hand. Do guns cause crime? Baloney and B.S.! They do not!

It is not rational to say an inaminate object has the volitation to do anything whatsoever by itself alone.

If ever there was a time and place for firearms to be misused, it was in Viet-Nam, where and when the troops were constantly tense, wired tightly as a drum head twenty-four hours a day, even when not in the field, because of the constant threat of enemy attack, by ground assault or by incoming rockets, artillery or mortar fire.

On the other hand, every G.I. was aware that there were heavily armed men everywhere about him--that may have been a disincentive to anyone with an inclination to do something stupid with a firearm.

Guns cause crime? Give me a break!

Lee Snyder - 11/11/2002

I am trying to find some data comparing the number of deaths and or injuries from guns in US versus Australia.

Peter K. Boucher - 9/3/2002

"So, it all boils down to a simpe, question: would you prefer to have a crime committed on your person or property by a gun-wielding criminal or a gun-free one?"

And if gun bans, like England's, result in an increase in gun crime, like England's, what does one do after answering that one would indeed prefer (if it's unavoidable) to be attacked by harmless (preferably helpless) criminals?

Gus Moner - 9/1/2002

Both writers drown in statistics.

Statistics and propaganda aside, it is simple common sense (and probably a proven fact somewhere) that in most countries most deaths by guns are not caused in self-defence against a crime.

Gun deaths are either deliberate murders, or accidents precipitated by having a gun while committing a crime. Nearly all gun deaths involving children are accidents.

Guns are used to commit crimes, and the absence of guns in committing a crime or defending against one drastically reduces the death rate in crime.

So, it all boils down to a simpe, question: would you prefer to have a crime committed on your person or property by a gun-wielding criminal or a gun-free one?

Various incisive surveys on this topic have been done by the Economist magazine. I would urge readers (and writers) to research their findings as well.

Tim Lambert - 8/13/2002

The editor suggested that I write a few words about myself:
I have a B Math, an MSc and a PhD in Computer Science. I am
a lecturer in Computer Science and Engineering at the
University of New South Wales in Sydney. Due to the wonders
of the Internet I can argue about gun control with people
both in the US and Australia. I seem to end up on opposite
sides of the question depending on the country of the person
I'm discussing the matter with.

I am puzzled by Mr Kates' response to my critique. I used
the term "pro-gun criminologist" to refer to those
criminologists whose conclusion about the guns-crime
relationship are similar to Kates', that is, that gun
prevalence does not cause crime. This conclusion is
favourable towards gun ownership, hence the term "pro-gun".
Mr Kates repeatedly referred to pro-gun criminologists as
being "odious" (his word, not mine). I don't consider
pro-gun folk to be odious and I don't understand why Kates
described them as such. I apologize if Mr Kates was
offended by my use of the term "pro-gun". To prevent
further misunderstanding I will not use the term again in
this article.

Now, let me restate my first point. No, wait: I'll let
Kates restate my first point: (This is Kates, from the first
reference he cited in his article.)

"Some criminologists agree with Cook. Others accept
Kleck's data, as do we and as does at least one who
challenges another aspect of Kleck's findings. For the
purpose of this Article, who is right does not
matter. Even the most scrupulous attention to the canons
of scholarship cannot guarantee that every conclusion is
noncontroversial and error-free; where relevant data are
partial and conflict, even the most competent scholars
may reach inconsistent conclusions. What the canons of
scholarship do demand, in order to minimize the
likelihood of error (much less "sagecraft"), is what
Cook's critique of Kleck did: cite Kleck, describe what
Kleck says, and proceed to criticize. If only the health
advocacy literature against firearms were so scrupulous
and forthright.

One of the ultimate goals of scholarly writing is to
provide readers with the full information necessary to
review the matter and to make up their own minds.


The normal standards of scholarly discourse demand that
health sages do what Cook did: cite Kleck and explain why
they think he is wrong. If they do not have the space to
address the issue at length, cite Kleck and Cook, declare
their agreement with Cook, and let their readers decide
for themselves. The health sages will not follow even
these rudiments of scholarly discourse because the health
advocacy political agenda requires that the existence of
contrary scholarship or views be suppressed or
misrepresented to readers as deriving from the dark
forces of the gun lobby."

If you review Kates' original article you will discover that
the only opinions contrary to his "guns don't cause crime"
thesis come from gun-control advocacy organisations. His
article gives the misleading impression that the argument is
between criminologists (who all agree that guns don't cause
crime) and the National Coalition to Ban Handguns.

In his reply Kates claims that it doesn't matter that he
didn't mention the opinions of Cook (or Zimring, or Hawkins,
or Ludwig) because they wouldn't disagree with him. I'll
let readers judge this one for themselves. Here's Cook and
Ludwig's opening paragraph from a recent paper: (See

"Compared with other wealthy nations, the United States
has a high rate of civilian firearms ownership, with
35-40 percent of all households possessing at least one
gun (Smith, 2000). The net effect of widespread gun
ownership on the amount and costs of crime remains a
contentious issue because guns have virtuous as well as
vicious uses: the ready availability of guns may increase
gun use by criminal assailants and thereby increase the
lethality of assaults and robberies (Zimring, 1968, 1972;
Cook, 1987, 1991; Zimring and Hawkins 1997; Duggan,
2001); on the other hand, the widespread ownership of
guns may increase the likelihood that victims will be
able to defend themselves against attack and even inflict
injury on would-be assailants, which would tend to deter
assaults and reduce the likelihood of victim losses in
the event of assault (Kleck 1997; Lott 2000)."

Compare that with Kates' article and see if you can spot any

Next we turn to Kleck's NAS address. In this address he
asserted that the violence increasing and decreasing effects
of guns largely cancel out. Kates seems to be unaware that
this assertion was based on the conclusions of Kleck and
McElrath. They conclude that the increased risk of death
from injury when guns were involved was canceled out by the
decrease in risk of injury in incidents involving guns,
leaving no significant increase in the risk of death if
aggressors have guns. If their conclusion (as reported in
the Kleck and McElrath paper and repeated in Kleck's NAS
address) was true then it really doesn't matter if more
criminals have guns -- you won't see more deaths as a
result. Unfortunately, as Kleck was forced to concede, the
conclusion of the Kleck and McElrath paper (and hence also
Kleck's NAS address) was in error -- guns in the hands of
criminals are associated with a dramatic increase in the
chance of death.

Now let us look at the relation between defensive actions
and victim injury.

It is instructive to compare what was said in the original
article with what Kates claims was said.

Original article: "when victims have guns, it is less likely
aggressors will attack or injure them"

Kates reply:
"The other "problem" Mr. Lambert claims required
correction in my HNN article is that citing Kleck's
conclusion that victims who defend themselves with guns
from rape, assault or robbery are half as likely to
suffer injury as victims who follow Handgun Control's
advice to submit without resistance."

Notice how Kates has tried to pretend that the original
claim which compared with-gun-defences with other defensive
actions was actually just comparing with-gun-defences with
no resistance. He then has the hide to term my correction
of the claim he actually made a "meaningless quibble".

Since the interesting question is "What are the effects of
victim gun possession?" the relevant claim is the first one.
If the victim is not able to use a gun, he/she is not forced
to choose "no resistance". Other self-protective acts are
possible, and as my correction pointed out, these are just
as effective in avoiding injury as defending with a gun.

I should also note that, while it's not really relevant,
Kates claim that "Victims who resist with a gun are much
less likely to be injured than those who submit" is not true
in the case of robbery. The injury rate for people who
cooperated with the robber is in fact less than that for
those who used a gun for self-protection.

Unfortunately, Kates ran out of steam half way through my
critique, so the rest of criticisms stand. I really would
have liked to hear how he came to hold the strange belief
that England and Scotland don't count political homicides as

Finally, in his conclusion, Kates accusing me of telling
"lies". I take great care in making sure that what I write
is true, so it is dismaying that Kates could mistakenly
believe that some statements I made were lies. Perhaps if
he were to tell me what he considers those lies to be we
could clear things up?

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