Dr. Gary Kleck, FSU criminologist
|Born||March 2, 1951|
|Alma mater||University of Illinois|
|Occupation||University Professor, Author, Criminologist|
Kleck has done numerous studies of the effects of guns on death and injury in crimes, on suicides, and gun accidents, the impact of gun control laws on rates of violence, the frequency and effectiveness of defensive gun use by crime victims, patterns of gun ownership, why people support gun control, and "the myth of big-time gun trafficking."
Kleck conducted a national survey in 1994 (the National Self-Defense Survey) and, extrapolating from the 5,000 households surveyed, estimated that in 1993 there were approximately 2.5 million incidents in which victims used guns for self-protection, compared to about 0.5 million gun crimes as estimated by the National Crime Victimization Survey.
In addition to his work on guns and violence, Kleck has done research concluding that increasing levels of punishment will not increase the deterrent effects of punishment, and that capital punishment does not have any measurable effect on homicide rates.
Debate over defensive gun usage study
A study of gun use in the 1990s, by David Hemenway at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, claimed that criminal use of guns is far more common than self-defense use of guns. Hemenway speculated that "We might expect that unlawful 'self-defense' gun uses will outnumber the legitimate and socially beneficial ones."
Hemenway claimed that Kleck's estimates are difficult to reconcile with comparable crime statistics, are subject to a high degree of sampling error, and that "because of differences in coverage and potential response errors, what exactly these surveys measure remains uncertain; mere repetition does not eliminate bias". In another article, Hemenway claims that Kleck has armed women preventing 40% of all sexual assaults, a percentage he considers unlikely because few women report going armed. This claim, however, was false. As Kleck has noted, his survey did not have enough sample cases of defensive gun uses (DGUs) to provide reliable estimates of the number associated with any one specific crime type, including sexual assault In the same article, Hemenway also claims that Kleck's survey shows armed citizens wounding or killing attackers 207,000 times in one year, contrasted against the total of around 100,000 Americans wounded or killed, accidentally or intentionally, in a typical year. This claim was also found to be false, as the figures cited by Hemenway on numbers wounded actually only pertained to the number medically treated, not the total number wounded. The latter number is likely to be substantially larger, since most victims of gunshot woundings are criminals, who have strong reasons to not seek professional medical treatment It has been asserted that a federal government survey has found that defensive gun uses (DGU) occur at a dramatically lower magnitude than that found by Kleck. In the report "Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms" by Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, the authors quote the National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS) as finding 108,000 DGU per year. The gun use survey included in the NSPOF itself projected 4.7 million DGU which Cook and Ludwig explained by pointing out all of the NSPOF sample were asked the DGU question. Cook and Ludwig also compared the U.S. crime rate to the number of DGU reported by Kleck and similar studies and asserted that their estimate of DGU is improbably high. An article published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, drawing its DGU from the NCVS, said: "In 1992 offenders armed with handguns committed a record 931,000 violent crimes ... On average in 1987-92 about 83,000 crime victims per year used a firearm to defend themselves or their property. Three-fourths of the victims who used a firearm for defense did so during a violent crime; a fourth, during a theft, household burglary, or motor vehicle theft." Researchers Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig proposed an explanation for the difference between the NCVS survey, the NSPOF survey and Kleck's survey: "The key explanation for the difference between the 108,000 NCVS estimate for the annual number of defensive gun uses and the several million from the surveys discussed earlier is that NCVS avoids the false-positive problem by limiting defensive gun use questions to persons who first reported that they were crime victims. Most NCVS respondents never have a chance to answer the defensive gun use question, falsely or otherwise." A more straightforward explanation of this discrepancy, however, is that the NCVS estimate is far too low, for the simple reason that it never asks a single respondent specifically about defensive uses of guns (it only asks a generic open-ended question about anything that the victim might have done for self-protection). Kleck notes that many other surveys (at least 20) have likewise obtained huge estimates of DGU frequency, from 500,000 to over 3 million per year -common enough to outnumber criminal uses and further notes that studies of methodological errors in surveys concerning other crime-related behaviors and experiences have consistently found that the errors produce, on net, underestimates of the frequency of the behaviors, including victimization experiences, offending behavior, and gun ownership. He has pointed out that critics' assessment of possible errors in surveys are one-sided - that they consider only flaws that would contribute to overestimation of defensive gun use frequency. Critics fail to take into account of flaws that would contribute to an underestimation of defensive gun uses, such as a tendency of survey respondents to conceal or otherwise fail to report controversial acts they have committed, victimization experiences, and gun ownership. He notes that it is logically impossible to determine whether surveys overestimate or underestimate the prevalence of such experiences if one does not establish the relative balance of the two kinds of error.
Kleck asserts errors in his critics' claims that his survey's estimates of defensive gun uses linked with specific crime types, or that involved a wounding of the offender, are implausibly large compared to estimates of the total numbers of such crimes. The total number of nonfatal gunshot woundings, whether medically treated or not, is unknown, and no meaningful estimates can be derived from his survey regarding defensive gun uses linked with specific crime types, or that involved wounding the offender, because the sample sizes are too small. The fact that some crime-specific estimates derived from the Kleck survey are implausibly large is at least partly a reflection of the small samples on which they are based - no more than 196 cases. Kleck states that his estimate of total defensive gun uses was based on nearly 5,000 cases. Thus, he argues, the implausible character of some estimates of small subsets of defensive gun uses is not a valid criticism of whether estimates of the total number of defensive gun uses are implausible or too high.
Criminologist Marvin Wolfgang, who described himself "as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country" and whose opinion of guns was "I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns--ugly, nasty instruments designed to kill people" defended Kleck's methodology, saying "What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator". He went on to say that the NCVS survey did not contradict the Kleck study and that "I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well." 
In 1993, Kleck won the Michael J. Hindelang Award from the American Society of Criminology for his book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1991). He has testified before Congress and state legislatures on gun control proposals. His research was cited in the Supreme Court's landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision, which struck down the D.C. handgun ban and held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.
- Kleck and McElrath, "The effects of weaponry on human violence." Social Forces 69(3):669-92
- "Miscounting suicides." Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 18(3):219-236
- Chapter 7, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. Hawthorne, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter
- Kleck and Patterson,"The impact of gun control and gun ownership levels on violence rates." Journal of Quantitative Criminology 9(3):249-287
- Britt, Kleck, and Bordua, "A reassessment of the D.C. gun law." Law & Society Review 30(2):361-380.
- (with Miriam DeLone), "Victim resistance and offender weapon effects in robbery." Journal of Quantitative Criminology 9(1):55-82.
- (with Susan Sayles), "Rape and resistance." Social Problems 37(2):149-162.
- Chapter 3, Targeting Guns: Firearms and their Control. Hawthorne, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter
- Kleck, Gertz and Bratton, “Why do people support gun control?” Journal of Criminal Justice 37(5)
- Kleck and Wang, “The myth of big-time gun trafficking.” UCLA Law Review 56(5):1233-1294
- Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, "Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun", 86 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 1, 1995.
- Kleck, Sever, Li and Gertz, “The missing link in general deterrence research.” Criminology 43(3):623-660.
- Kleck, "Capital punishment, gun ownership, and homicide." American Journal of Sociology 84(4):882-910.
- Hemenway, D., D. Azrael, M. Miller (2000). "Gun use in the United States: results from two national surveys". Injury Prevention 6 (4): 263–7. doi:10.1136/ip.6.4.263. PMC 1730664. PMID 11144624.
- National Research Council (2004). Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. pp. 111–113. ISBN 0-309-09124-1.
- Kleck, G. and D. Kates (2001), Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control, Chapter 6. N.Y.: Prometheus
- Hemenway, David (1997). "SURVEY RESEARCH AND SELF-DEFENSE GUN USE: AN EXPLANATION OF EXTREME OVERESTIMATES". Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern) 87 (4): 1430. doi:10.2307/1144020. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
- Cook, Philip J.; Ludwig, Jens (May 1997). "Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms". US Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
- Rand, Michael J. (April 1994). "Guns and Crime: Handgun Victimization, Firearm Self Defense, and Firearm Theft". U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
- Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, "Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms", NIJ Research in Brief, May 1997.
- Marvin E. Wolfgang, "A Tribute to a Position I Have Opposed", Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol 86 No 1, Fall 1995, page 188.
- Marvin E. Wolfgang, "Remarks of Marvin E. Wolfgang at the Guns and Violence Symposium", Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol 86 No 2, Winter 1996, page 617.
- American Society of Criminology, Michael J. Hindelang Awards, Books, 1993 Gary Kleck, "Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America"
- Supreme Court of the United States, District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290. Decided June 26, 2008. Kleck's research referenced on (PDF) pages 134, 135, 138, and 144.