Edgar A. Suter, MD
National Chair
Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research, Inc.
Some readers were kind enough to forward some criticisms posted to the net regarding my finding that violence is typically lowest in the states that have the most permissive gun policies and highest in states that have the most restrictive policies. Critics of the claim argue that the examples used by me in "Guns in the Medical Literature - A Failure of Peer Review" (Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, March 1994) are "cherry picking" and, to a degree, the examples used by me are admittedly selective simply to be demonstrative, however "cherry picking" of the exceptions by my critics is insufficient to invalidate the claim. [Note also that in his lengthy and unedited criticism of the article, Arthur Kellermann MD offered no refutation of the claim].

So, let us look at all the states on the basis of today's most fundamental isssue related to guns - the right to self-defense outside the home. One might as easily look at the data based on categorization as "permissive" or "restrictive" based on another criterion (machine gun bans, semiauto bans, waiting periods) or even a weighted amalgam of criteria (which would be even more subjective), however the progressive reform of concealed carry laws seems an instructive point of departure for this discussion.

PERMISSIVE =                         RESTRICTIVE =
_______________                 ______________
"Open Carry" or                      "No Carry" or 
Ready "Concealed Carry"         Abusive "Concealed Carry"
AS OF DATA YEAR _1993_ (published as FBI Uniform Crime Reports 1994)

Area Murder Rate                    Area Murder Rate

Maine  1.6                               District of Columbia 78.5
North Dakota 1.7                     Louisiana 20.3
New Hampshire 2.0                 New York 13.3
Idaho  2.9                               California 13.1
Montana  3.0                           Maryland 12.7
South Dakota 3.4                    Texas  11.9
Wyoming  3.4                          Illinois 11.4
Vermont  3.6                          Missouri 11.3
Oregon  4.6                             North Carolina 11.3
Washington 5.2                       Nevada  10.4
Connecticut 6.3                      South Carolina 10.3
Pennsylvania 6.8                    Arkansas 10.2
West Virginia 6.9                   Michigan 9.8
Indiana  7.5                            Oklahoma 8.4
Virginia 8.3                            New Mexico 8.0
Arizona  8.6                            Kentucky 6.6
Florida  8.9                             Kansas  6.4
Alaska  9.0                             Ohio  6.0
Tennessee 10.2                       Colorado 5.8
Georgia  11.4                          New Jersey 5.3
Alabama  11.6                        Delaware 5.0
Mississippi 13.5                    Wisconsin 4.4
                                              Massachusetts 3.9
                                              Nebraska 3.9
                                              Rhode Island 3.9
                                              Hawaii  3.8
                                              Minnesota 3.4
                                              Utah  3.1
                                              Iowa  2.3

AVERAGE 6.4                          AVERAGE 10.5
These comparisons from the most recent annual release, 1994, of the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are the data collected in 1993. Doing this for every category of crime indexed by the FBI is the primary source of our finding in our most recent article, "Violence in America - Effective Solutions" (Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, June 1995) [available on line at: http://www.portal.com/~chan/research/suter/violence.html (or violence.txt)] "One-third of Americans live in the 22 progressive states that have reformed laws to allow good citizens to readily protect themselves outside their homes, openly or concealed. In those states crime rates are lower for every category of crime indexed by the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Homicide, assault, and overall violent crime are each 40% lower, armed robbery is 50% lower, rape is 30% lower, and property crimes are 10% lower." Another reader attempted to rebut my criticism of Kellermann's recent "Weapon Involvement in Home Invasion Crimes." article (JAMA 1995; 273(22):1759-1762). As it will be published [revised as requested by the editor to reduce length and number of references - it is a joy to be handcuffed in exposing flaws and bias], my criticism reads:

"Kellermann's article pretends to be a study of 'Home Invasion Crimes,' but a majority (51%) of his cases were burglaries, crimes of stealth in which confrontation is avoided by the criminal (except in unarmed countries such as in Europe where, absent the general deterrent effect of widespread gun ownership, confrontations are triple the US rates[1]). In such stealthy crimes, quite unlike the typical forced entry and terrorization of occupants in true 'home invasion,' guns are little expected to be actively used for protection.[2] He pretends to study the protective uses of guns, but his study is limited to situations little expected to be associated with the active, protective uses of guns. In all but a few percent of protective gun use, the assailant is frightened away without a shot being fired,[2] so the successful protective uses of guns are not expected to end up in emergency rooms, police departments, or newspapers, but Kellermann's study included only 198 cases hand-picked from the minority of Atlanta crimes in which a police report was filed. Kellermann's cases excluded multi-family dwellings, the type of housing in which most of Atlanta's population resides. In so doing, he excluded the 'projects' and apartment buildings in the poorer areas where crime is more rampant. His study excluded domestic abuse, sexual assault, and commercial armed robbery. In other words, Kellermann excluded the most important crimes inviting protective uses of guns.[2], [NOTE: Because domestic abuse and commercial armed robbery are numerically the greatest instances of the protective uses of guns, but rape is "merely" important and not numerically high, I chose to lump these together are "important" to meet the word limit for JAMA letters] He selected a small sample skewed toward the failures of protection, those crimes that necessitated a police report. His study appears to have been shrewdly designed to avoid finding the protective benefits of guns - only the latest instance in a pattern of politicized research funded by beleaguered taxpayers.[3] What is next? a study showing the infrequency of gun use in Quaker-on-Quaker crime?
"Even so, Kellermann's current study confirms one of our most important observations, that guns are the safest and most effective means of protection[2-5], further exposing the flaws in his earlier studies[3] claiming it is dangerous to use a gun for protection. Not one of Kellermann's gun defenders was injured. Kellermann notes, 'Use of a firearm for self-defense is associated with a lower risk of injury than resistance by other means, but the implication of this finding is unclear.' 'Unclear'? - only to those struggling to deny the mounting evidence in the peer-reviewed literature that guns are the safest and most effective means of protection and that 2.5 million Americans uses guns annually to protect themselves, their families, and their livelihoods.[5] Guns save lives, prevent injuries, reduce medical costs (because deaths and injuries are averted), and guns protect property.[4]...
[1] Kopel DB. The Samurai, The Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? New York: Prometheus Press. 1992.
[2] Kleck G. Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. 1991.
[3] Suter EA. 'Guns in the Medical Literature - A Failure of Peer Review.' Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia. March 1994; 83: 133-48.
[4] Suter EA, Waters WC, Murray GB et al. 'Violence in America - Effective Solutions.' Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia. June 1995; 84: 253-63.
[5] Kleck G and Gertz M. Armed Resistance to Crime: the Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology. Summer 1995: forthcoming." [not yet available on line]
The reader attempted to rebut my parenthetical remark about comparative rates of confrontation in at-home burglaries (burglaries occuring while the occupants are at home) by citing a comparison of one Canadian city's (Edmonton's) at-home burglary rate (claimed as "10%") with an inaccurate rate for the entire US (claimed as "14.7%," though NCS and survey data typically range between 9 and 13% for the entire US). Interestingly, that reader did not choose Toronto as his preferred single Canadian city for his comparison - 44% of Toronto's burglaries occur while the residents are at-home. Then that same reader presented a short list of countries, noting the percentage of at-home burglaries and overall homicide rates, but did not make the relevant comparison, a comparison of at-home burglary rates and at-home burglary injury rates or a comparison of rates of gun ownership (not including guns left in club arsenals in the European fashion) with rates of at-home burglaries and/or at-home burglary injury rates. Suffice it to say that every study of burglary has shown the deterrent benefit of widespread US gun ownership by the relatively low rates of at-home burglaries in the US.

These comparisons are well summarized in Kleck's "Point Blank" and Kopel's "The Samurai, The Mountie, and the Cowboy - Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies?"

Edgar A. Suter MD
5201 Norris Canyon Rd. #140
San Ramon CA 94583-5405

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