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Gary Kleck Wins Debate on Gun Control

Gary Kleck Wins Debate on Gun Control

In a civil debate about whether so-called gun control saves lives, Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck’s argument convinced 6 percent of audience members to change their minds on the matter, giving him the debate win.

Kleck, who has authored studies about defensive gun uses (DGUs), took on Paul Helmke, the former president and CEO of the Brady Center/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The event was part of the Soho Forum, which hosts occasional debates. The winner is determined by comparing pre-argument opinions with post-argument ones.

His points were simple: first, if you ban guns, you really affect non-criminals; second, there is a harm if you take away guns from law-abiding citizens.

One approach that he used to win the debate focused on the prospect of defending yourself with a gun, or what the NRA calls armed citizen instances. NRA members read about a select few accounts of armed citizen cases every month in our magazines. Kleck was one of the academicians who responded to the anti-gunners’ argument that nobody really ever defends themselves with a gun by conducting research into DGUs, finding that a slew of such cases are never heard about because the law-abiding gun owner doesn’t always fire the gun. Rather, in many cases, the mere display of the gun in a ready stance is enough to scare off the criminals.

He also pointed out that successful DGUs far outweigh the fear that gun control advocates put forth about criminals taking away the gun from a law-abiding gun owner as such instances are rare.

Before the event, 43.6 percent of audience members said they thought gun control’s benefits would be outweighed by lost opportunities for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. One-third of the attendees disagreed and 23.1 percent were undecided.

After the debate, 50 percent agreed with Kleck’s side of the debate, an increase of 6.4 percentage points. Helmke’s number of supporters dropped 2.5 points, from 33.3 percent to 30.8 percent. The number of undecideds went from 23.1 percent to 19.2 percent.

The Soho Forum is in its third season. The debates, held in Manhattan, are turned into videos/podcasts that are available at reason.com.

His points were simple: first, if you ban guns, you really affect non-criminals; second, there is a harm if you take away guns from law-abiding citizens.

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