You may want to read the information here. I'll post the part relevant to your claim.
MYTH 3: "Since a gun in a home is many times more likely to kill a
family member than to stop a criminal, armed citizens are not a
deterrent to crime. "
This myth, stemming from a superficial "study" of firearm accidents in the
Cleveland, Ohio, area, represents a comparison of 148 accidental deaths
(including suicides) to the deaths of 23 intruders killed by home owners
over a 16-year period. 2
Gross errors in this and similar "studies"--with even greater claimed
ratios of harm to good--include: the assumption that a gun hasn't been used
for protection unless an assailant dies; no distinction is made between
handgun and long gun deaths; all accidental firearm fatalities were counted
whether the deceased was part of the "family" or not; all accidents were
counted whether they occurred in the home or not, while self-defense
outside the home was excluded; almost half the self-defense uses of guns in
the home were excluded on the grounds that the criminal intruder killed may
not have been a total stranger to the home defender; suicides were
sometimes counted and some self-defense shootings misclassified.
Cleveland's experience with crime and accidents during the study period was
atypical of the nation as a whole and of Cleveland since the mid-1970s.
Moreover, in a later study, the same researchers noted that roughly 10% of
killings by civilians are justifiable homicides. 3
The "guns in the home" myth has been repeated time and again by the media,
and anti-gun academics continue to build on it. In 1993, Dr. Arthur
Kellermann of Emory University and a number of colleagues presented a study
that claimed to show that a home with a gun was much more likely to
experience a homicide. 4 However, Dr. Kellermann selected for his study
only homes where homicides had taken place--ignoring the millions of homes
with firearms where no harm is done--and a control group that was not
representative of American households. By only looking at homes where
homicides had occurred and failing to control for more pertinent variables,
such as prior criminal record or histories of violence, Kellermann et al.
skewed the results of this study. Prof. Kleck wrote that with the
methodology used by Kellermann, one could prove that since diabetics are
much more likely to possess insulin than non-diabetics, possession of
insulin is a risk factor for diabetes. Even Dr. Kellermann admitted this in
his study: "It is possible that reverse causation accounted for some of the
association we observed between gun ownership and homicide." Law Professor
Daniel D. Polsby went further, "Indeed the point is stronger than that:
'reverse causation' may account for most of the association between gun
ownership and homicide. Kellermann's data simply do not allow one to draw
any conclusion." 5
Research conducted by Professors James Wright and Peter Rossi,6 for a
landmark study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, points to the
armed citizen as possibly the most effective deterrent to crime in the
nation. Wright and Rossi questioned over 1,800 felons serving time in
prisons across the nation and found:
* 81% agreed the "smart criminal" will try to find out if a potential
victim is armed.
* 74% felt that burglars avoided occupied dwellings for fear of being shot.
* 80% of "handgun predators" had encountered armed citizens.
* 40% did not commit a specific crime for fear that the victim was armed.
* 34% of "handgun predators" were scared off or shot at by armed victims.
* 57% felt that the typical criminal feared being shot by citizens more
than he feared being shot by police.
Professor Kleck estimates that annually 1,500-2,800 felons are legally
killed in "excusable self-defense" or "justifiable" shootings by civilians,
and 8,000-16,000 criminals are wounded. This compares to 300-600
justifiable homicides by police. Yet, in most instances, civilians used a
firearm to threaten, apprehend, shoot at a criminal, or to fire a warning
shot without injuring anyone.
Based on his extensive independent survey research, Kleck estimates that
each year Americans use guns for protection from criminals more than 2.5
million times annually. 7 U.S. Department of Justice victimization surveys
show that protective use of a gun lessens the chance that robberies, rapes,
and assaults will be successfully completed while also reducing the
likelihood of victim injury. Clearly, criminals fear armed citizens.
2 Rushforth, et al., "Accidental Firearm Fatalities in a Metropolitan
County, " 100 American Journal of Epidemiology 499 (1975).
3 Rushforth, et al., "Violent Death in a Metropolitan County," 297 New
England Journal of Medicine 531, 533 (1977).
4 Kellermann, et al., "Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the
Home," New England Journal of Medicine 467 (1993).
5 Polsby, "The False Promise of Gun Control," The Atlantic Monthly, March
6 Wright and Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and
Their Firearms (N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter, 1986).
7 Gary Kleck and Mark Gertz, "Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and
Nature of Self-Defense with a Handgun," The Journal of Criminal Law and
Criminology, 86 (1995): 150.
An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
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