, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1-19

Measuring Civilian Defensive Firearm Use: A Methodological Experiment


Estimates of the incidence of victim gun use from the National CrimeVictimization Survey (NCVS) are consistently lower than are those fromother studies. To examine the divergence, we conducted a survey that gaugedthe impact of methodological differences between the NCVS and the otherstudies. For half of the sample, we asked questions from the NCVS, followedby questions from the other surveys. For the other half of the sample, wepresented the questions in the reverse order. We examined two hypotheses:(1) survey methods account for the divergent results, and (2) the questionscover unrelated activities. The results provided some support for the firsthypothesis, but respondents also reported many more defenses to thequestions from the other surveys than to the NCVS questions. Consistent withthe second hypothesis, this suggests that the NCVS and the other surveysmeasure responses to largely different provocations.