Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Measuring Civilian Defensive Firearm Use: A Methodological Experiment

  • David McDowall
  • Colin Loftin
  • Stanley Presser


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.

defensive gun use firearms survey research experimental designs crossover designs 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • David McDowall
    • 1
  • Colin Loftin
    • 1
  • Stanley Presser
    • 2
  1. 1.Violence Research Group, School of Criminal JusticeUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbany
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of MarylandCollege Park

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