THE TRUTH ABOUT THE USE OF GUNS IN THE UNITED STATES
November 23, 1993
I came upon the following information through John Grossboh-
lin, a good friend of mine who recently attended a gun
rights conference in Phoenix, Arizona. He provided me a
pamphlet that was printed by the organization "Doctors for
Integrity in Research and Public Policy." The pamphlet
was authored by Edgar A. Suter, M.D., who is the organiza-
While I have seen much of the information provided in this
pamphlet before, I have seen no other compendium that
presents so much so concisely. For this reason, I have
chosen to commit its contents to a computer file so that it
can be distributed more widely. I would hope that each
and every person reading this file would copy it and upload
it to various bulletin boards across the country. I would
also hope that you will use its contents widely in debates,
computer BB discussions, letters to the editor, and in
correspondence with your lawmakers. If so, Dr. Suter's
efforts and my own will have proven worthwhile. What
follows is the text of Dr. Suter's excellent pamphlet.
El Paso, Texas
Edgar A. Suter, MD, Chair
5201 Norris Canyon Road
San Ramon, CA 94583
"Guns are used defensively by good people 1. to 2.4 mil-
lion times every year - lives saved, injuries prevented,
medical costs saved, and property protected"
POLITICS OR RESEARCH? . . . THE TAXPAYERS PAY
On the issue of guns and violence, our group has uncovered
shocking incompetence, distortions and outright lies in many
major medical journals. We have discovered it is quite
common for TAXPAYER-FUNDED gun control researchers to fabri-
cate and sculpt their data to bolster their biased and
The "peer review" process is supposed to prevent the publi-
cation of research that is flawed in method or conclusions.
Editorial bias has caused a breakdown of that review proc-
ess, allowing publication of much shoddy work simply because
it supported the "politically correct" view. Unusual show-
manship accompanies the announcements of gun prohibition
Our group is also concerned that the 1990 Harvard Medical
Practice Study - a sample from New York state - suggests
that Americans are five times as likely to die from a doctor
as from a gun. An estimated 150,000 Americans die every
year from medical negligence - over five times as many
deaths from doctors as from guns! A "public health emergen-
cy" about which the American Medical Association is suspi-
ciously silent. Politics, lies or incompetence?
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and the Editor in
Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA), Dr. George Lundberg, in a June 10, 1992 JAMA edito-
rial, claimed "one million US inhabitants die prematurely
each year as the result of intentional homicide or suicide."
Since an average of 30,000 Americans die from gunshots each
year, JAMA's claim is a 35-FOLD EXAGGERATION. Yet congress-
men listen with respect to their testimony on guns.
THE "INNOCENT CHILDREN" EXAGGERATION
Powerful images of children are used to mislead us. Prohi-
bitionists foster the image of gun deaths of "thousands of
innocent children." In order to make this claim, they have
had to include young adults (to age 24) involved in gang and
drug crime - hardly "innocent children." 10 TO 20 TIMES
MORE CHILDREN DIE FROM CAR AND OTHER LEADING CAUSES OF
ACCIDENTAL DEATHS AS DIE FROM GUNS - for example, in 1988,
compared with 2,608 car, 1,014 drowning, and 10,094 burn
deaths, 123 children (ages 0-10) died from gun accidents.
THE "43 TIMES" FALLACY
We have all head that "a gunowner is 43 times more likely to
kill a family member than intruder." How did this fallacy
start? In a 1985 article in the New England Journal of
Medicine, Drs. Kellerman and Reay described the proper way
to calculate how many people are saved by guns compared to
how many are hurt by guns. The benefits should include, in
the authors' own words, "cased in which burglars or intrud-
ers are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of
a firearm [and] cases in which would-be intruders may have
purposely avoided a house known to be armed..."
However, when Kellerman and Reay calculated their compari-
son, they did NOT include those cases, they only counted the
times a homeowner KILLED the criminal. Because only 0.1% (1
in a 1,000) of defensive gun usage involves the death of the
criminal, KELLERMAN AND REAY UNDERSTATED THE PROTECTIVE
BENEFITS OF FIREARMS BY A FACTOR OF 1,000! They turned the
truth on its head! Why? Kellerman emotionally confessed
his anti-gun prejudice at the 1993 HELP Conference.
Honest analysis, even by Kellerman and Reay's own standards,
shows the "43 times" comparison to be superficially appeal-
ing, but actually a deceitful contrivance - unfortunately, a
lie that is parroted by the well-funded gun-prohibition
lobby and by gullible and biased journalists.
THE "POLICE CHIEF'S" FALLACY
The victim disarmament lobby wants us to believe that it is
dangerous to resist crimes like rape and assault using a gun
- but USING A GUN IS ACTUALLY SAFER THAN NOT RESISTING OR
RESISTING WITH LESS POWERFUL MEANS. Defense with a gun
results in fewer injuries (17%) than resisting with less
powerful means (knives, 40%; other weapon, 22%; physical
force, 51%; evasion, 35%; etc.) and in fewer injuries than
not resisting at all (25%).
When a victim is successful in repelling a crime, the victim
is unlikely to report the crime, leaving police to deal only
with the unsuccessful attempts to defend oneself. Since
police are exposed to a skewed sample of failure, they can
honestly, though incorrectly, conclude that it is dangerous
to attempt to defend oneself with a gun, the so-called
"Police Chief's Fallacy" named after the former San Jose, CA
Police Chief Joseph McNamara, a vocal gun prohibitionist.
LICENSING, REGISTRATION, & BANS
In a 1991 article in the New England Journal of Medicine,
Dr. Colin Loftin attempted to show that Washington, DC's
1976 ban on new gun sales decreased murder. Loftin and his
co-authors, funded by YOUR tax money from the anti-gun
Centers for Disease Control (CDC), produced a piece of
"research" with several major flaws. Despite these flaws,
the editorial board of the New England Journal of Medicine,
known for its anti-gun bias, published the article anyway.
Most shocking amongst the dozen flaws:
* the apparent homicide drop began during 1974, 2 years
BEFORE the gun law - so how could the law be responsible for
the temporary drop?
* if the gun freeze were responsible for the homicide drop,
we would expect the drop to continue - the law hasn't
changed, but the overall Washington, DC homicide rate has
skyrocketed to 8 TIMES THE NATIONAL AVERAGE since 1988.
* justifiable and excusable homicides, including those by
police officers, were treated the same as murders and were
not excluded from the study.
* the study used raw numbers rather than population-
corrected rates, so did not correct for the 20% population
decrease in Washington, DC during the study period or for
the 25% increase in the control population - the imagined
drop in total homicides was not due to the gun law, as
Loftin claimed, but was due to other factors, such as the
If "guns cause murder," why doesn't Virginia, the alleged
"easy purchase" source of DC's guns, have DC's murder rate?
The black teenage male homicide rate in DC is 227 per
100,000, yet less than 7 for rural, middle-aged white men,
the US group for whom gun ownership is highest - there is an
inverse relationship between homicide and gun density.
Homicide rates have been falling for decades for every group
EXCEPT inner-city teenage males, the group for whom gun
ownership is ALREADY illegal throughout the entire US.
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO RESEARCH THAT SHOWS LICENSING, REGIS-
TRATION, WAITING PERIODS, OR GUN BANS DECREASE CRIME IN THE
LEAST - obviously criminals that murder, rape and deal drugs
won't comply with any gun law. It is only good citizens
that will be disarmed, defenseless, dialing 911, and depend-
ent upon the dubious resources and questionable will of a
capricious, rapacious, incompetent, and uncaring government.
THE 'ASSAULT WEAPONS" DECEPTION
It is not just the American Medical Association, Handgun
Control Inc. (HCI) and the media that have hysterically and
grossly exaggerated the criminal use of semiautomatic guns.
The California Attorney General's Office conducted two
statewide studies of the use of "assault weapons" in crime.
Both the 1988 Helsley and the 1990 Johnson studies showed
that such guns almost never used in crime, EVEN IN THE MAJOR
CENTERS OF DRUG VIOLENCE. Criminals prefer concealable
weapons, not big rifles and shotguns. The Attorney General
office ignored and denied the existence of the studies until
the studies were leaked to the press.
Of over two dozen published studies on "assault weapons,"
only one FLAWED "study" done by two newspaper reporters, the
Cox newspaper study, suggested that, EVEN IN THE HIGHEST
CRIME AREAS, semiautomatic guns were used in more than 0 to
3% of crimes. The Cox "study" is invalid because it was
based on gun traces. The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobac-
co and Firearms (BATF), and the Congressional Research
Service of the Library of Congress have all explained why
gun traces cannot be used for statistical purpose - simply,
because guns are CHOSEN for tracing, such traces do not
represent a true SAMPLING of the kinds of guns used in
crime. THE COX "STUDY" EXAGGERATED THE USE OF "ASSAULT
WEAPONS" IN CRIME FROM 3 TO OVER 100 TIMES, depending on the
definition of "assault weapon" and the locale studied.
Almost all of these newly fearsome, expensive target rifles
banned are functionally like guns designed 100 years ago!
The Los Angeles riots and other disasters show us that these
so-called "assault weapons" are often the most appropriate
weapons for self-protection by good citizens against mob and
THE "RELATIVES & FRIENDS" FALLACY
Gun prohibitionists would have us believe that most murders
involve ordinary people driven to kill in a sudden fit of
rage only because a gun was present. This is based on HCI's
distortion of the FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. To
the FBI, a murderer or rapist that lives in the victim's
apartment building or dueling drug dealers are "acquaint-
ances." These are the "friends and family" that HCI says
kill each other - DEFINITELY NOT LIKE THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY
YOU AND I HAVE.
Almost all the "relatives" killed each year are the very
same men, well-known to the police, that have been brutaliz-
ing their wives, girlfriends, and children for years - those
men are killed in self-defense. Would it be more "politi-
cally correct" if those women or children were killed by
Law professor Don Kates has written, "Far from being
ordinary, otherwise law-abiding citizens, those who commit
murders, as every study of homicide shows, are real crimi-
nals with long histories of violence against the people
around them...Indicative of this are FBI statistics showing
that 74.7% of persons arrested for murder had been arrested
previously for a violent felony or burglary..."
As a dozen national studies show, including a study by the
National Institute of Justice and two studies commissioned
by gun-prohibition organization, GUNS DO PROTECT US! GUNS
ARE USED DEFENSIVELY BY GOOD PEOPLE 1 GO 2.4 MILLION TIMES
PER YEAR, far exceeding all reliable estimates of criminal
misuse. Using a gun to resist a crime or assault is safer
than not resisting at all or resisting with means other than
firearms. Guns not only repel crime, guns deter crime as is
shown by numerous surveys of criminals.
The studies proving the ineffectiveness and the dangers of
gun prohibition are met with "if it saves only one life..."
The most loving person, however, must admit that A GOOD
PERSON'S LIFE LOST BECAUSE A GUN WAS ABSENT IS AT LEAST AS
VALUABLE AS A LIFE LOST BECAUSE A GUN WAS PRESENT. Since 50
to 75 lives are saved by a gun for every life lost to a gun,
we must see deceitful images that pluck at our heartstrings
for the lies they are - not a basis for public policy - even
when a doctor, a policeman, or a medical journal is telling
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
SPREAD THE TRUTH! Make and distribute copies of this bro-
chure, even to advocates of "gun control."
WRITE YOUR FEDERAL AND STATE LEGISLATORS. Insist that
public policy be formulated using honest data and that their
be no taxpayer funding of biased or incompetent research by
the CDC or any other tax-funded group. Insist that taxpay-
er-funded studies, like the assault weapon studies by the
California Attorney General's Office, be made public, not
suppressed because the results were "politically incorrect."
WRITE newspapers, TV, and medical journals and tell them
that you will not tolerate dishonest or imbalanced
reporting on gun control and other issues. Expose the
fallacies and show them the honest data.
GET INVOLVED AND VOTE for legislators that are truthful and
that support your freedoms to defend yourself, your family,
and your community.
DONATE to our group and others that support your rights to
protect yourself from criminals, crazies, and tyrants.
FOR FURTHER READING...
POINT BLANK by Gary Kleck Ph.D. is a comprehensive
evaluation of the research on gun control and violence
available from the publisher, Aldine de Gruyter, at: (914)
THE SAMURAI, THE MOUNTIE, AND THE COWBOY: SHOULD AMERICA
ADOPT THE GUN CONTROLS OF OTHER DEMOCRACIES? By David Kopel
JD is a comprehensive cross-cultural comparison of gun con-
trol and violence in other countries available from the
publisher, Prometheus Press, at: (716) 691-0133.
Once again, please circulate this file as widely as possi-
ble, and do it today.
Thanks to all for reading,