BUSTED: Bloomberg's "The Trace" Intentionally Misrepresents Defensive Gun Uses

Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs) are a relatively well-known fact of life in the United States, with various studies estimating from between an improbably low 55,000 DGUs on the low end, to an impossibly high 4.7 DGUs on the upper end of the spectrum.

It’s highly amusing, then, to see Michael Bloomberg’s gun control “news” site The Trace attempting to manufacture a laughably dishonest and much smaller low-end figure than even the most rabid of gun control groups

Clearly, the integrity of “reporters” Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes can be purchased quite cheaply.

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has brought the notion into the 2016 campaign. “If you’re a single mom living in a tough neighborhood, the Second Amendment protects your right, that if someone comes through the window trying to harm your kids,” he said in an April appearance on Good Morning America. “You have a right to be armed to protect your family.”

By at least one measure, the message seems to be persuasive: 56 percent of female gun owners believe that having a gun makes the home a safer place, according to a recent survey conducted by Marie Claire; among women in general, 20 percent hold that view. But the available evidence does not support the conclusion that guns offer women increased protection. Myriad studies show that the NRA and its allies grossly misrepresent the actual dangers women face. It is people they know, not strangers, who pose the greatest threat. There is also strong, data-based evidence that shows owning a gun, rather than making women safer, actually puts them at significantly greater risk of violent injury and death.

In some places and in some instances, women have, in fact, used guns to successfully defend themselves. But the case that gun rights advocates make when pitching guns as essential to women’s personal and family security goes beyond the anecdotal, leaning heavily on an oft-cited 1995 study by the Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck—a study built on faulty research.

In his findings, Kleck estimated that women use guns to defend themselves 1.2 million times per year, and that 200,000 such defensive gun uses stopped sexual assaults. Those estimates have proved to be wildly inflated. Successful defensive gun use is, in fact, extremely rare among all people: There are fewer than 1,600 verified instances in the US each year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. By comparison, annually, 118,000 people are injured, killed, or commit suicide with a gun.

the trace

Did you catch what DeFilippis and Hughes tried to pull?

They’re intentionally using invalid data from the Gun Violence Archive. Their hideously and perhaps intentionally flawed methodology asserts that there can’t be a defensive gun use unless it made the news. The reality of our “if it bleeds, it leads” media culture is that most DGUs are simply not newsworthy.

The majority of defensive gun uses are instead instances where people are not shot, or even where shots are fired. The vast majority of defensive gun uses occur with the mere display of a firearm causing a criminal to flee. These stories don’t make the news.

So how many defensive gun uses actually occur each year?


Even the most conservative estimates put the number of defensive gun uses in the high tens of thousands per year, and the mid-range estimates are between 250,000-370,000 DGUs per year. Higher end and reputably defended estimates range as high as millions of defensive gun uses per year, most of those uses being the mere brandishing of a firearm to scare away a criminal.

DeFilippis and Hughes are gun control supporters, so it is hardly surprising that they’d stoop to deception to promote their views. Nor is it surprising that gun control zealot Mike Bloomberg would peak out from behind his hypocrisy-rich phalanx of armed bodyguards to put their fiction on one of his many vanity sites, like The Trace.

What is a bit more perplexing is why Vice is echoing Bloomberg’s publication without doing even a cursory examination to see if the propaganda being pushed by DeFilippis and Hughes is even vaguely plausible.

It isn’t, and that says a great deal about e-zine, and what the editors think of the intelligence of their readers.