Guns for Self-Defense: Myth Versus Reality

Charleston killings, Dylann Roof gun, racial violence

Good guys with guns are not stopping bad guys with guns at nearly the rate that gun rights proponents would have us believe.

If you are a gun safety proponent you are probably already familiar with the no-defunct Joe Nocera Gun Report in the New York Times. It was a summary of news stories from around the country detailing gun injuries and deaths. It was…long. Every day until last June, there were multiple reports. Crimes, for certain. Drug-related shootings, drive-by shootings, random violence, mass shootings, and the ever-tragic accidental shootings, so many of which involved children. It was a litany of heartbreak. Every day, families are losing loved ones to gun violence. Every day.

The National Rifle Association would have us believe that the solution to gun violence is more guns. We must all becomes “good guys with guns” to paraphrase NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. Or it should be Robert A. Heinlein‘s vision of “an armed society is a polite society.” Because if we all have guns, no one would misuse them for fear of being taken out by a nearby vigilante.

According to the NRA website The Armed Citizen, “Studies indicate that firearms are used over two million times a year for personal protection, and that the presence of a firearm, without a shot being fired, prevents crime in many instances.” The site then goes on to give an address for sending stories of times armed civilians stopped crimes. The accompanying blog has six news stories of crimes thwarted by civilian gun use in 2013.

Six. Compared to the thousands upon thousands gun deaths since the Newtown massacre.

I am willing to concede that attempted crimes are under-reported by the news. I’m even willing to consider that the New York Times is liberal enough to not want to put a lot of resources into tracking guns-as-crime-stopper stories. I am certain there have been more than six incidents of guns used in self-defense in 2013. But in order for that number to reach the purported two million annual incidents, people are going to have to be quicker on the draw.

Or perhaps, the NRA needs to admit that they’re exaggerating. An April 2013 paper from the Violence Policy Center called Firearm Justifiable Homicides and  Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use: An Analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation and  National Crime Victimization Survey Data says:

In 2010, across the nation there were only 230 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as detailed in its Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) That same year, there were 8,275 criminal gun homicides tallied in the SHR. In 2010, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 36 criminal homicides. And this ratio, of course, does not take into account the thousands of lives ended in gun suicides (19,392) or unintentional shootings (606) that year.

The FBI definition of justifiable homicide is the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.

But what about non-lethal use of guns? The kind the NRA is touting?  The same VPC paper finds that over a five-year period, the actual incidence of people using guns in self-defense is actually 235,700, amounting to less than 1% of crimes being stopped by civilian gun use.

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 4.19.40 PMGood guys with guns are not stopping bad guys with guns at nearly the rate that gun rights proponents would have us believe.

Now, it appears that good guys with guns do stop bad guys with guns. But I think what we really are learning in this conversation about who has guns is that the fear of the bad guy with the gun overrides a lot of common sense. The fear of the bad guy with a gun is what stands in the way of technologies to lock guns so they can’t be accidentally fired. The fear of a bad guys with a gun is why it’s possible to buy a gun without a background check at a gun show. The fear of the bad guy with the gun is why people want to arm staff at schools.

When you look at the data and see how guns are being used in the U.S., you can see that the bad guy with the gun is far less of a threat to your family than suicide but that bad guy is the myth the gun industry perpetuates to keep people buying weapons for self-defense. Guns, for good guys, are like a national security blanket. They make people feel safe but they don’t actually promote safety.

Rebekah Kuschmider is a DC area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theatre and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector.  Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.

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  • Jessica

    Honestly, I’m more afraid of the people who insist that we should all carry guns everywhere to protect ourselves from the “bad guys” because they’re the ones I foresee shooting the pizza delivery kid who was given the wrong address for knocking on the wrong door.

    I don’t necessarily think the idea that “bad guys are less likely to go after people who might shoot them back” is without logic. But it presupposes that there are clear-cut good guys and bad guys and ignores the fact that many violent crimes are a rash, in-the-moment decision that happens without planning.

    Also: if we all have guns, how do we tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    • Mike

      “how do we tell the good guys from the bad guys?”

      The way we do now, by their behavior.

      Millions of people carry firearms every day without ever firing having to fire a shot in self defense. 300,000 to 1.5 million, depending upon which government or private study you select, people use a firearm to stop a violent crime each year. Most of those self defense uses don’t result in justifiable homicide, but stop the attack through a show of sufficient force or wounding. At least 10 times the total number of all firearms related deaths where a firearms was used to stop a bad guy.

      The murder rate has been dropping since 1990 and along with it the rate of murders committed with a firearm. We’re at the lowest rate in a generation (about half where we were in the ’90s) and without draconian restrictions that only affect the good guys (what “gun control” law ever affects the bad guys anyway).

      Certainly no one can argue that murder is bad, but there are fewer now than before and some of those were prevented because you or your neighbor could use a firearm to stop one from happening. The fact that so many more are stopped is something that most people aren’t aware of.

      • Nungman

        Even the lowest of those figures, the 300,000, is a complete myth. As confirmed by the DOJ report, it is not based on verified fact or police reports but on subjective impressions.
        For instance: I am a retiree in Arizona. I am fearful of crime so I buy some guns. One night I THINK I hear someone outside my house so I grab a gun and yell out the window “Go away! I’ve got a gun!” Nothing happens. I haven’t seen anyone and never see anyone but I keep a gun next to me all night. The following day I happily report to my favorite gun magazine, or the NRA, that I have stopped a crime by using a gun!

        • Fatima Hassan

          Well, that’s true, but there is something to be said for the very fact that criminals are aware that most homes have guns in them.

          There is some evidence to support this. For example, in the United States, about 12% of burglaries occur when the homeowner is present. Many would cite the fact that burglars do not wish to even RISK the possibility of an armed confrontation, so they will be careful to choose empty houses. I’m sure anyone who has been present for a home invasion/burglary would attest that this is a good thing.

          By contrast, in the UK, where gun ownership is extremely scarce, about 44% of burglaries occur when the owner is home. Burglars have much less reason to fear being shot upon entering a home, so they are less careful, if not altogether unconcerned, with its occupancy.

          Now there may be other factors at play here, but it certainly makes sense that even the idea of a gun can serve as an effective deterrent.

        • Garret Gang

          Also we have less rape, and assaults than the UK does, (the UK currently has enough assaults and rapes per 100,000 that it can be compared with 3rd world countries) So, yeah, get rid of guns and become like the UK. sure less people get murdered per year, but do you really want to live in a country where 1 out of five women have been the victim of rape at least once in their life?

    • Jones

      Why would you shoot a pizza guy for going to the wrong door? That’s murder.

  • The NRA is missing a big chance to become heroes in the eyes of many Americans. They could assure hunters that nobody will come into their home and seize their precious shotguns. They could assure all the LEGAL gun owners of the same thing. After that, they could make a statement to the effect that shootings are DIFFERENT these days. Perps do not carry one gun into a public place and start shooting, they load up with military style weapons and lots of them. That appears to be the newest terrorist trend. My guess is that many of these shooters have spent way too much time killing stick figures in video games, a fact that becomes evident by the vacant look describe by survivors. It’s as though they become a part of the “game” with the winning result being the most people slaughtered.

    If only the NRA would get a grip. If only that stubborn organization actually cared about people more than the bottom line. They could become real heroes to Americans if they did SOMETHING to thwart bad guys from buying weapons at gun shows. They could use their powerful lobby to outlaw assault weapons instead of using lobbyists to keep legislators in line. Yep. The NRA is missing a great opportunity to be heroes, and they have only themselves to blame.

    • Dave

      The NRA has no interest in becoming another VPC. The NRA is about respecting the 2nd Amendment, not ways to thwart it. The NRA has no interest in banning “assault rifles” because, function-wise, they operate no differently than many hunting weapons. Assault rifles are not machine guns that spray bullets, but rather semi-automatic firearms that fire one shot for every pull of the trigger, no different than the guns I use to hunt game from rabbits to deer with. The vat amounts of ignorance and bias levied by the anti-gun lobby never fails to stun me. One would have to be willfully ignorant to believe the VPC or other anti-gun organizations. If gun control is the answer, why do Washington DC and Chicago…the two cities with the most “gun control” laws…have murder rates that dwarf those of where guns are legal and readily accessible? People don’t want to look at such examples, because it doesn’t fit their agenda, but the truth is, more gun control laws lead to more gun-related violence. Its a correlation that plays itself out throughout the US, and to deny it is simply ignorant to an extreme.

      • Nungman

        If you need a semi-auto to shoot deer or rabbits with, you have no business to go out hunting as you are a serious danger to other hunters or anyone in the vicinity.
        The military type calibers most assault weapons come in are as useless for any legitimate purpose as is a 30 round magazine. Only good for shooting up a movie theater or a grade school classroom.

  • Beverly Uhlmer

    The “right to keep and bear arms” is not just to protect us from the “bad guys”. It was instituted to protect us from a tyrannical government. Study the history of countries where their government completely repressed the citizens and you will find that those citizens tried to protect themselves from government tyranny by throwing pitch forks and rocks at government troops armed to the teeth. My grandparents left Syria when my father was an infant. How thankful I am to not live there now as the Assad forces massacre my cousins!

  • Dale

    A few thoughts to consider on this topic.

    When a crime is circumvented by a law-abiding citizen it rarely gets reported anywhere for a couple of reasons. The first being how do you report something that didn’t finish happening (ultimately no crime committed as the criminal aborted when confronted with armed resistance) and the second being that few people want the attention drawn to a distressing occurrence, they would much rather just walk away, forget about it, and move on with life.

    Also, the report of “justifiable homicides” is very misleading in terms of self-defense because it doesn’t address the numbers for “self-defense, non-fatal results” which is a far larger category since once a thug/criminal goes down most citizens stop shooting and even call 911 for medical assistance because they don’t actually want to kill anyone, they just wanted to stop the assault or threat.

    • Dale

      Also one additional thought.

      For the average “self-defense” gun owner, firearms are simply another form of safety equipment/insurance policy, much like seat-belts in a car or homeowner’s insurance because personal safety isn’t about “the odds”, it’s about the consequences of being unprepared if you should suddenly draw the low card in the “bad luck lottery”.

      Reasonable precautions don’t make one a bloodthirsty maniac and though the odds of bad things happening are relatively low, it’s far too late to think “I should put on my seat-belt now” when the other car is speeding towards you and the police may be minutes (or a lifetime) away if the sociopath criminal decides YOU are his target of the day.

  • Melanie

    Nice try, Dale. Can you site any of these incidents in which a perpetrator was shot by a gun owner? Names, dates, etc. Hypothetical incidents are not statistics. I can name 11 toddlers who have accidentally shot and killed someone this year. I can name 10 children who shot but did not kill a person this year. It’s only June.

  • Dale, the study does show statistics on non-lethal gun use as self defense. That accounts for .8% of violent crimes and .1% of property crimes over a five year period. I’m not ignoring those instances. Or are you suggesting under reporting? Such as people being victims of attempted violent crime that they stop by threatening a criminal with a gun but then never file a report about the attempted crime? I suppose that can happen but why on earth would anyone fail to report an attempted crime?

    As for the accidental deaths of children, I don’t have time to find specifics but this is a daily round up of reported gun incidents across the country. It’s not comprehensive – it just deals with news reports. You usually don’t have to read through many days worth before you find an accidental shooting involving a child. In this case, there’s a story in the first post: 6-month old baby killed during a domestic dispute between her parents.

    • Dale

      I am -absolutely- citing under-reporting. There are MANY reasons why people do not report an attempted crime including the stigma currently being pushed HARD against gun owners, an all too common “blame the victim” mentality (especially where rape or attempted rape are concerned), and the previously mentioned powerful mental wish to avoid hassle and just forget that the incident happened. The psychology has very strong parallels to “battered wife syndrome”.

      I have worked in/with law enforcement for years and seen far too many times where an overworked officer rolls their eyes in such an instance and says “what do you want me to report, there was no crime”. Sad and inappropriate but it happens all the time.

      Ultimately though the real issue you are trying to address isn’t GUN-violence, it is simply Violence and I think it’s a little strange that you want to hold the law-abiding responsible but use criminal examples to try and justify your attitude.

      The real conversation isn’t about hardware and it’s not about the law abiding. The real conversation is about those who would do harm, those who do not believe in our implied social contracts, and how we will never make more than minimal progress on this subject until we dig down to the root causes of violence.

      In the meanwhile, disarming the law-abiding to stop the criminal seems to make about as much sense as me taking away your keys because an intoxicated person ran over my mailbox.

  • Dale, under reporting, then, is a problem gun owners need to fix. There needs to be a mechanism for accurate reporting of self0-defense use of firearms because right now, it doesn’t look compelling. You are failing to make your case by hiding the evidence. The stats as they exist now – and I have minimal evidence to refute them – show that gun ownership is more likely to result in a suicide or accident than in stopping a crime. The stats may be wrong but that is not my fault – that is the fault of gun users who hide their gun use. The numbers here don’t lie but you make it sounds like gun owners do, at least by omission.

    If you read carefully, you’ll see I did NOT suggest disarming anyone. I’ve read the Second Amendment and am resigned to its impact on my society. I am promoting gun safety – trigger locks, biometric keying of guns to owners, safe storage. A gun that can’t be accessed or fired by an unauthorized individual is a gun that won’t accidentally kill a toddler. The argument against such safety mechanisms is always “How will I stop a bad guy if my gun has limits on use?”. I’m making the case that you probably won’t have to stop a bad guy. It’s not as common as people think. But suicide and firearms accidents are common and safe storage will prevent them. It makes more sense to me to take steps to keep guns away from kids who are in the home every day than to make a gun easily accessible in case a bad guy makes a once in a lifetime appearance.

    • Dale

      The real statistics of harmful vs not-harmful are that there are roughly 313 Million Americans and the FBI estimates that they own about 200 Million guns. That means that a gun in the house is quite literally hundreds of millions of times more likely to be used for absolutely nothing, or for something beneficial, than it is to be misused for any purpose.

      Lest I sound too antagonistic let me be clear here that I fully support safety. I am a certified firearms safety instructor and have spent YEARS of my time and a great deal of my own pocket money working hard with many hundreds of people to improve the safe ownership and handling of firearms. Accidents with firearms (especially where children are concerned) are nearly always a preventable tragedy but the very existence of firearms has been so demonized at this point that trying to get something sensible like the NRA “Eddy Eagle don’t touch” program run in a school is simply impossible. I know, I’ve tried!

      Finally, I understand your point about the low odds of being in a self-defense scenario, really I do, but if you follow that same line of logic you shouldn’t bother with home fire insurance or seatbelts either since your odds of either are actually pretty minor. We don’t buy insurance and safety equipment because of the odds, we do it because the consequences of being unprepared are unacceptable.

      I personally find consequences like the Petit family home invasion murders or the whole Ariel Castro horror in Cleveland to be pretty unacceptable and so I advocate a little extra personal preparedness against such possibilities while strongly advocating safety training to go with it and in such situations some meeting ground has to be found between safe-storage and accessibility or the whole point is moot.

      • Ron Cash

        “that means that a gun in the house is quite literally hundreds of millions of times more likely to be used for absolutely nothing” I think that applies to fire extinguishers in the home also?

      • Ron Cash

      • Ron Cash

        He actually interviews criminals, that say they don’t like good guys with guns! How many criminals have you interviewed about the subject?

    • Fjandr

      Gun owners cannot reasonably be tasked with fixing under-reporting. Keep in mind that there are usually city, county, and State laws involved with not even drawing a firearm, but simply so much as intimating that you have one. Because this maze of laws is so Byzantine, and changes from city to city, and county to county in many States, it can be terrifying as a law-abiding firearm owner to report that you, as a civilian, drew it and pointed it at someone.

    • Ron Cash

      I have one question, if a bad guy with a gun breaks into my home and I have a loaded gun. Is it ok if I defend my family with my gun? This question has nothing to do with stats!

      • Blaise

        It does have to do with stats. What the stats are saying is that the price of your peace of mind toward a home invasion is that several other innocent people will die. You won’t know these people, you won’t see them die, but they do. You’re valuing your worries and life over the lives of multiple other people.

        • Garret Gang

          And yet, America does not have that high of a suicide rate to say, Japan. Suicides are probably helped by guns (because 85% of gun suicide attempts are successful (Madeline Dexler “Guns and Suicide) But based on a report by the CDC (Priorities for research to reduce the threat of firearm related violence) this web site is incorrect, because guns are an estimated 500,000 times to prevent crimes, and only 300,000 times to cause a crime. Which lead them to conclude that Guns have a net zero effect on safety.

          And also according to statistics, people with conceal carry holders have a .006% chance of having their licence revoked due to a violation. With a .0002% chance of them having committed a crime that causes their licence to be revoked. The .0058% comes from accidentally carrying guns into gun free zones, and is probably not reported/persecuted as often as it should be. This means that conceal carry holders are less likely to commit a crime than police officers are. These statistics are from florida which has 1.2 million conceal carry liscence holders.

          • Blaise

            You’re arguing something different than my response to that guy. He was trying to pretend stats aren’t relevant and reduce the complexity of the issue to merely his own personal safety. That’s a simpleminded approach to a difficult problem, and it naturally seems logical to simpleminded people, if only because your own personal safety will always feel salient compared to a number on a paper that you will likely never see. It’s important to remember that these statistics represent people’s lives, who are just as important as your own life. One cannot argue from a position that throws stats out the window as if they are subordinate to your own personal safety, no matter how conveniently simple it would make the problem appear.

            As for your post, what you essentially wrote is the CDC’s findings and then continue writing as if they are the only correct one. This article presents another source, the VPC, which is designed specifically for gun research. If you want to make your point, you’ll have to argue why the CDC is more credible, or why the VPC is *not* credible, in order for the rest of your post to have a foundation backing its claims.

          • Garret Gang

            The CDC article I was referencing, (CDC priorities to research) is a compilation, analysis and summary of all peer reviewed research on guns, related to violence, crime, and suicide.

            Based on that and my own research all conclusions on the effects of guns on crime are more related to the political stance of the researcher than they are on the actual relationship between guns and violence.

            and most of the data I was actually using comes from Florida statistics on Conceal Carry Holders (of which there are 1.1 million in the state of Florida, which is a very good data set), not from the CDC report.

            The information I had about defensive gun use comes from 5 different reports that were summarized in the CDC report which I then examined in detail. These reports had very different statistics ranging from ~60,000 (number of times guns are fired defensibly) to 3.3 million (estimated number of defensive gun use by a really biased pro gun survey) the CDC concluded that 500,000 (which is a number from one of the studies), and is lower than the average of the 5 different reports was the most accurate report. The reason why there is so much doubt is the majority of defensive gun uses involve the civilian showing a gun and then walking away, never using it and not bothering to report it to the police (because that is a big inconvenience).

            Are using data based on the number of guns by state to make your conclusions on personal safety? Or on the relationship between guns and violence?

            Because doing it based off of gun ownership by race, we find that the majority of gun violence and crime, (not counting suicides) happens to a race that has an approximately 10% gun ownership. This includes perpetrators and victims. the majority of gun owners do not commit crimes. Which suggests that If you are concerend about safety from gun violence, owning a gun makes you safer based on that statistic.

            The reason why I started out talking about suicide, because I assumed you were talking about suicide, which is the only argument that makes sense (statistically) to uses against guns. Because all other arguments that try to use statistics to preach about guns (pro or against) end up fudging the numbers or have statistics that show that guns and crime are not related. Suicide is the only stat that the presence of guns actually effects in the USA. states with an estimated average of 57% of gun ownership have 75% of all gun suicides, and half of the non-gun suicides. This is the most compelling argument against guns that can be made.

            But we don’t know if getting rid of guns will actually effect the suicide rate in these countries because eliminating guns in Australia only changed the gun suicides to hanging. and had no impact on the number of suicides in Australia. While it is true that Australia has less suicides now than it did then, suicides in general started falling 3 years before Australia passed their strict 1996 gun ban. And Australia also started several very effective anti-suicide measures that reduced the number of repeat offenders.

            And finally to throw in a random fact for the day, all claims that mass shootings are not stopped by civilians armed with guns (or in general) are true. Mass shootings are legally defined as an event where 3 or more people are killed by the shooter or during the firefight. While whenever a civilian armed with a gun stops a shooting less than three people die (on average), so it is never actually a mass shooting.
            Another thing, civilians are less likely to hit a bystander when they fire defensively than police are.

            But I am pro gun control and pro gun… Not anti gun. and not anti-control, because with more gun control and training the number of gun suicides could be significantly reduced, (by putting the gun in a safe, and the ammo in another safe there is a 30% reduction in the chance of a gun suicide occurring, it also significantly reduces the chance of an accidental gun death by a lot.)

          • Plazy

            I think you actually have missed the whole point in the OP. There’s no accuracy in the numbers. Period.
            No one calls 911 and says,
            “Hey i just scared off a bad guy, when he saw my gun he took off”
            So you see, the numbers are skewed.

      • Plazy

        If you feel like your life is being threatened/in danger YES! Yes you absolutely have the right to protect yourself and your family also. Now, if the monster is running out the door or jumping out a window- let em go. You should NOT* shoot then. As much as we’d like to, no. But if you feel your life is in immediate danger- you dont have to be inside your own home even. It’s ANYWHERE. There are times you need to be YOUR OWN good guy (girl) with a gun. I wish I would’ve been. I had a bonified and true Stalker for over A YEAR. I did everything the detectives asked or advised me to do. I hate to admit this but the local pd…. lol. Let me think – done. I can honestly say they were ZERO help to me. By the time they’d finally pull up- I’d already have broken bones and busted windows. Don’t think Im exaggerating- I wish but I’m not. To this day I’m still suffering from that psychological trauma from several years ago. Christ I can’t even type about it without breaking down. That was such an awful time for me. And my kids? Idk. But i know that lil bitch ass stalker – he went to prison. Yep. Then he escaped. Peachy. It was a looonnng 10 months that followed. He finally got caught- back to the- some prison. THEN, of course- VINE failed to notify me as they were supposed to. He got paroled. After all that. What next? He contacted me through FACEBOOK that’s what. And there I was back in the grips of my own PTSD hell on earth. Where i am STILL. Im like fuck it oh well. I dont make My kids stay with their mother, ME, anymore. And i don’t call 911 anymore either. That ended before he even started his jail sentence. The cops bestowed it upon themselves to COMPLAIN TO ME. It was the 26th time they’d been dispatched to my home. I wanted to say to them, “well officers how do think I FEEL?” I was the person who would be injured after all. Why was that no big deal to them? Why?
        Why couldnt they get to my home in less than 17 – 26 minutes? By then damage done. That crap went on for too long. ATT, I had been so psychologically distressed that i was removed from the situation. Meaning I didn’t even care anymore. I just wished he wouldve killed me and got it over with. Still sometimes wish that. I still dont hardly ever go outside. And the area where i live has gone way downhill. Wish I cld move but Im gutless I guess. Oh well. Obvsly I’m not working Full-time anymore. Mid-30’s and I’m spent. And THIS is the future that I’d planned so meticulously for. A GOOD future and life. Whatever. Blah blah blah. Here and now, this – this IS MY FUTURE and it won’t last much longer. Hell maybe when I’m dead the authorities will see the other video i have- of the shit he did to me. They still dont even know about it. I didnt even know about it for awhile. Wow. Ya its more than sufficient to get- him smthn. Idk. Solitary confinement is at best what that monster deserves. Thanks to that pos I am in solitary confinement myself.
        Oh well. Fk it. Thanks for listening to me. Some days are tougher than other days. Pretty depressing i know. Things have been hard on me lately. Its all good though. I have 2 options atp, either i get through it
        Or i dont.

        Either /or
        Anyway. I do hope no one ever has to go through this bc its – bc it’s awful.
        The end

  • Tao Sun

    “McDowall et al. (1998), using the data from 1992 and 1994 waves of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), found roughly 116,000 defensive gun uses per year”

    “Kleck and Gertz (1995), using data from the 1993 National Self-Defense Survey (NSDS), found around 2.5 million defensive gun uses each year.” (High estimate.)

    “Using the original National Crime Survey, McDowall and Wiersema (1994) estimate 64,615 annual incidents from 1987 to 1990.” (Low estimate.)

    The validity of these surveys is an open question, however, which the report I linked to goes into detail over.

  • Mongo_the_Magnificent

    “The stats as they exist now – and I have minimal evidence to refute them – show that gun ownership is more likely to result in a suicide or accident than in stopping a crime.”

    I have not a clue where the anti’s get this oft repeated and flat-out wrong statement. If the above were true there would be 80 million extra dead people as that is the approximate number of people who own firearms in the US.

    If you’d like some light reading on the subject there is a paper issued by the CATO Institute titled: Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens by Clayton Cramer and David Burnett

    Their research reinforces what Dale points out above. Somewhere more than 2 million times a year people use firearms to successfully defend themselves. Most of the time not one shot is even fired. The mere presence of a firearm nearly always stops the act.

    Just because a thwarted crime is not reported does not make the facts any less so. And I’d hardly consider the source for your comments (VPC or a NY Times column) non-biased.

    Nobody is saying the deaths of people, especially children is not tragic. It is. But also keep in mind that more kids die from accidental poisonings, drowning, falls and child abuse than firearms.

    Folks, we have a violence problem. Not a gun problem. If you take away all the guns people will still hurt other people. It’s the way it is.

    • @Mongo – We have more than just a violence problem. There is a very clear cut gun problem in our country. You can choose to ignore it if you would like but after living through a good friend being gunned down in her CLASSROOM while simply trying to teach her first grade class, something needs to be done. And shame on ANYONE and EVERYONE who doesn’t see the DEEP problem it has caused in our country.

      • You are absolutely right, Danielle. I feel bad for you that you have had to deal so personally with gun violence. There are ways to defend oneself other than with a gun. It is up to us to stop the growing use of guns, but will we? Too many are too attached to weapons, too lazy to take defense approaches, and too set on having the last word and always being right. Our country used to be known for our humanity, but not any more. Sad.

      • Dale

        I think it’s pretty clear that we have a criminal problem. If you want to blame inanimate objects there is nothing I can do to stop you but I’ve never seen a firearm take action on it’s own, there is -always- someone behind the trigger.

        When that -someone- is a murderer, a sociopath, then that is the source we need to be addressing.

        Take away the tools and the criminal finds or builds more. Take away the criminal and the problem stops.

      • HKGuns

        Funny that you attribute that problem to an inanimate object. Did that gun walk into the classroom and pull its own trigger? Last I knew it that wasn’t possible. Personal accountability, perhaps a new concept for you.

        I also find it disturbing how so many are so quick to throw our Constitution away and turn things over to the obviously incompetent ruling class dunderheads of this Country continue to elect through nothing more than name recognition popularity contests.

        • @HKGuns – When the constitution was drafted, the guns shot one bullet, then took the minimum of a MINUTE to re-load the next shot. Our founding fathers didn’t set out for this kind of gun freedom, that is for sure. They are rolling over in their graves watching so many gun supporters distort their intentions.

          • Dale

            “Being a smart, well-trained, gun owner is essential.”

            Well, actually it isn’t. Being smart and well trained are immeasurably good ideas, but not essential.

            Don’t misunderstand me, as stated previously I advocate safety training in a big way but there are a whole lot of cases where someone with little or no training successfully uses a firearm to defend themselves or others.

          • Garret Gang

            I totally agree, people don’t want to get shot.
            You don’t need to use a gun to use it for defence

          • Pat Fallon

            Back when the Constitution was drafted, you had to write letters longhand and hopefully afford paying a printer to copy and disperse them. They never anticipated Email or social media. Using your logic, the First Amendment is also suspect. IMHO, technology may change, but concepts protected by the Bill of Rights do not.

    • Garret Gang

      The stats actually show that the number of times guns accidentally kill people, and the suicide rate is related to gun ownership. With the majority of gun suicides occurring in states that have an estimated 57% gun ownership based on the most, the selector of these states used the number of non-gun related suicides to make certain that all of these states were equal… I don’t know how accurate it is because we don’t know the number of attempted suicides, so we don’t know if the number of gun suicides are affected by the number of guns or the number of attempted suicides and frankly I don’t know which states were chosen to make this number.

  • Optimus Prime

    Ms. K, are you actually serious? As a US citizen first, but also as a woman, why would you ever be so eager to relinquish your right to self-defense? If you’re not familiar with firearms, and you don’t care to familiarize yourself, then by all means choose to not arm yourself. No problem.
    But why would you ever argue to remove the best means for other citizens and other women to protect themselves? That’s the beauty of a constitutional right; you may choose to exercise it or not, totally your call. But don’t argue against the rest of us.
    My family will not cause any crimes, my family will not be the source of any robberies or murders or drug deals; but neither will my family be victims.

    • AnnaPaul Morczki-Salish

      I’m pretty certain her article is serious. And where did she say she wants to relinquish any right to self-defense? You’re assuming too much. I am female, and have personally chosen other methods to protect myself that have worked for me several times in my travels throughout the world. And, no, it’s not martial arts. It’s my brain. The problem is: if I wake up to find a gun pointed at my head, or a knife at my neck, having a gun locked in the nightstand next to me isn’t going to save my life unless the criminal is willing to wait while I unlock the drawer to get it out and remove the safety. So, I choose other methods, but am happy to allow you to have an entire arsenal if you so desire. Don’t assume that everyone is trying to snatch your gun away from you. I don’t care how many you have.

      • Fatima Hassan

        I think a modicum of moderation is important here. Firearm ownership can be moderate and responsible. And, like Rebekah, I do think it’s more important to guard a firearm from your children than it is to have it available against the “bad guys”. A firearm is like a security blanket in some ways, but they have been used in successfully defensive ways. Still, they can be easily abused or misused. I don’t think people give them enough respect.

        A firearm should always be used as a last resort, and anyone who employs the usage of a firearm should be trained in that usage– and I don’t just mean from a marksmanship standpoint. I mean trained in understanding the gravity of introducing a firearm to any situation.

        Personally, I own one snub-nosed .38 special revolver, which I keep, unloaded, in a locked case nearby to my bed. Because I care about the safety of the people I live with, and because I have a great respect for the seriousness of a firearm, that weapon isn’t as easily accessible as any given situation might require. But it’s better that it be safely stored as, like Rebekah points out, my chances of having my home invaded are relatively slim anyway. But it’s nice to have it, just in case. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

        I occasionally take it to the range to practice shooting and I occasionally practice taking it out of the case and loading it. I hope I will never use it against another human being, and even in a situation where my house *was* being invaded, my only priority would be to gather any friends and family members into a safe room and guard that room until the police arrived.

        I believe that, if everyone were like me, there wouldn’t be an issue. 😛

        When we talk about the gun issue in this country, and compare ourselves to other countries, we seem to forget that those countries have guns too! They just don’t have as many, and they have very different ideas about their guns than we do. But if you go to Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, etc. It’s not unheard of or insane to own a gun.

  • Chuck

    The town I live in has low violent crime. Gun ownership is higher than the national average. I just want to know how you can make a statistic out of a criminal deciding in his head that it’s not worth the risk breaking into someones home here because more than likely he will be met with a gun.

    I personally think criminals here either decide not to be a criminal or move on to greener (safer) pastures in gun free zones.

    • AnnaPaul Morczki-Salish

      the town I live in also has very low violent crime, and gun ownership is lower than the national average. It’s absurd to suggest that criminals pack up and move to other cities or states simply because of the number of gun owners. I doubt they bother to find gunownership statistics in deciding whether to stay in their hometown.

    • Garret Gang

      The thing is crime has been proven to be relatively unaffected by guns. The main factors for crime include poverty, the presence of gangs, and the presence of drugs. Statistics for the amount of crime in this area are highly corelated to these three things.

      It is just that those three topics are very hard to address and the solutions are too complicated, so people who promise to change the world choose the less effective method of gun control as the easy way out ot garner supporters.

      I support gun control, I support gun safety, and I support harsh penalties for people who have illegal guns, or commit a crime with a gun.

      • Blaise

        I agree removing guns as a blanket solution for the violence in the nation won’t work. It’s a complex problem. The question is whether it would help, which I think is difficult to ascertain. Even if you remove guns, then as studies have shown, it won’t necessarily matter if the other pillars of violence are untouched. The theoretical question for me is: does removing guns help tackle the other pillars of violence in the future? If we removed serious drugs off the street *in addition* to removing guns, would that have more effect in tandem than just removing drugs alone?

        More practically, since none of these solutions will ever happen and the other problems in violence will never be pursued with such fervor because they don’t bring the visibility of mass shootings, I am more in favor of the solutions you mentioned in your last paragraph. They are the only feasible compromises we can meet. However, in my fantasy world, if I could magically delete all the weapons already out there, I would prefer a nation without private ownership+storage of guns. But part of being in a nation is finding a compromise for what everyone wants, and that’s where we are now with guns.

  • Unless a person is confident that in that specific situation they can safely use their gun, then whether or not the “good guy” has a gun is irrelevant.

    Being a smart, well-trained, gun owner is essential. We who choose to carry concealed weapons can, and do, deter crime and save lives. That does not mean we should be brandishing our weapons at every opportunity.

  • J J Mullally

    First, thanks to all for the level of civil discourse here. In a firearms discussion, it is rare. I have always wondered why there is no move or recall all to ban or restrict automobiles, considering our annual slaughter.
    Thanks for the opportunity. John

    • AnnaPaul Morczki-Salish

      I believe it’s because automobiles are intended to be used for transport, whereas guns are intended to harm or kill. And both have primarily fulfilled those intentions.

  • Steve Rogers

    A big element here that is being disregarded is the word “reported”. I would venture a common sense guess that while the vast majority of violent crimes do get reported, the polar opposite would be true for crimes that were deterred by brandishing or simply saying to a would be attacker “I have a gun”. Using the number of self defense that only ended in killing the bad guy is completely irrelevant. The assumption being made is that the only time a gun is used in self defense is when it’s killing someone. Which thankfully, is not how most attacks end. If an attacker approaches a person only for that person to pull a gun and the attacker runs off, there is no crime to report. No crime to report means no number to add to your stat. Wildly skewing this questionable conclusion that guns do more harm than good.
    Also, with the stats used in this article alone, I could easily make the case that if more people armed themselves responsibly and carried daily, more crimes would be stopped. All that this evidence shows is that people who were armed were able to end a threat and people who weren’t armed….were not.
    Dangerous things sadly kill people every day. Steak knives, baseball bats, cars, pills, food…etc. On Sep 11, a razor knife enabled the senseless death of almost 3000 innocent people. I’ve yet to see the article advocating the ban of knives, bats, razor blades or medication. Because we all understand that while these things are dangerous, in the hands of responsible owners they can be overwhelmingly positive. I argue that firearms fall into this same category. If you disagree, thats fine. You don’t have to buy one. I support your right to not like guns. But know this, if your thought is that the gun is dangerous, you should also be advocating disarming the police. And if your view is that only guns in the hands of civilians are dangerous, know that you are advocating sending men with guns and armored vehicles to my home to apprehend them. Which, ironically, would make you very pro gun.
    Whatever you view, I love you. I am a father, husband and a gun owner and I have charged myself with the responsibility of protecting my young daughter and wife from a threat that I hope to God I never encounter. I do so safely and with the utmost respect for these dangerous tools. I will stand for your right to disagree. Will you stand for mine?

    • Ron Cash

      Well said!

      • Plazy

        In some areas it takes police 17 minutes to get to you. BELIEVE THAT. I assure you. When a hardened criminal has infiltrated your HOME, That might be the longest 17 minutes of your life. She much for “good guys with guns” bc they won’t win then.

        But they’ll fnd the dead body at least-


        • J. Cash

          Yep, plus it’s a lot quicker to pick up your gun, than pick up your phone and dial. Pick up your gun, rock and roll! Let the cops find the bad guys body!

          • Plazy

            Of c that’s assuming I shoot him before he stabs me.
            The cops will find one of us at least–

            Dayyyummmm i guess Nasville, Tn would be a fitting example. Such a terrible and truly senseless tragedy. I srsly cannot imagine 530 am, waking up to a stranger in your bedroom, he’s robbing you and to top it all off before you even realize whats happened, you’re lying there- dying from being stabbed- its your last moment on earth.
            He couldn’t just rob the young ladies in their Wedgewood condo-
            Ohhh no. The pos stabbed and killed the 23yo nurse too. I mean, even if she had a weapon in her nightstand she wouldn’t have had a chance to get to it.
            She never even had a chance


          • Plazy

            Whoever committed that crime- for them I
            I better not say. Same goes for the perps in the unsolved murder of Carina Saunders, Oklahoma 2011

    • revrobertwaters

      A more likely response to “I have a gun” is “bang,” I strongly suspect that you’ll find the threat of a homeowner using a gun against an armed intruder increases the likelihood that the homeowner or someone close to him being shot.

      • Steve Rogers

        ok….. so what is the alternative? “I’m unarmed, please don’t hurt me.”? Why not throw in “the key to the safe is on my key ring and my attractive 16 year old daughter is asleep upstairs. second door on the right.”? You can try that tactic if you like but I’d advise against it.
        Obviously, informing a criminal that you are armed is not the only way to use a firearm defensively. I wasn’t suggesting that. Nor is it appropriate in all circumstances. I was just pointing out that shooting a criminal isn’t the only way either. Also, “armed intruder” doesn’t only mean armed with a gun. Having a gun versus armed intruder with baseball bat? I’ll take those odds.

        • dlc123

          Yes we want to not watch someone break in hold a gun to our head and murder our families!

      • landsknekt

        When a person tried to break into my house several years ago, My wife heard it and woke me up. I went to the door that the person was trying to break into, pulled back the slide and let it go. A Colt 45 makes a very distinctive sound and thank god that the prospective intruder knew this sound as he shouted out “don’t shoot, I’m leaving”. When I reported this to the cops, they came to my house saw that we were all safe and went about their way. They did not even bother taking a report. No “Bang” required.

      • Plazy

        And your reasoning ….. ???

    • Richard Rothschild

      Steve- Very well said. – Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild

      • Plazy


    • Plazy

      You said that so well. Interestingly, there’s so much to be said for proper spelling and grammar. I know this is off the topic completely but when someone states their case, if they can’t spell the words right-
      Everything they’re trying to say is inutile.

      And yes, I’d stand up for your rights.
      To a point that it’s a character flaw even-

  • dlc123

    YOU ONLY LOOK AT IT FROM ONE ANGLE,! Just like all employees have that work for Obama including, Ecspecially including NEW YORK TIMES!! Very biased!
    How do you explain this hmmmmmm……..

    IT’S Obamas Last Year, he wants gun control that hasn’t worked in defending the innocent at all!  It only helps disarm a country so a caliphate can take over!  Even San Bernardino asking No more gun control!

    Mass Shootings under the Last Five Presidents

    Ronald Reagan: 1981-1989 (8 years) 11 mass shootings
    Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 5

    George H. W. Bush: 1989-1993 (4 years) 12 mass murders
    Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 3

    Bill Clinton: 1993-2001 (8 years) 23 mass murders
    Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 4

    George W. Bush: 2001-2009 (8 years) 20 mass murders
    Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 5

    Barrack H. Obama: 2009-2015 (in 7th year) 162 mass murders
    Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 18

    Why so high?  More crimes!!  They need to do their job better! He thinks the more crimes, the more you hear it, gun control, the better chances of disarming the innocent people that have to hide in a hallway and wait to be shot??  No!  Americans are not the evildoers, they have the right to LIVE!

     This is how you disarm Americans

    1. You could raise “reasonable suspicion” that you’re involved in terrorism. “Irrefutable evidence or concrete facts” are not required.

    2. You could post something on Facebook or Twitter that raises “reasonable suspicion.”

    3. Or somebody else could just think you’re a potential terror threat.

    4. You could be a little terrorist-ish, at least according to someone.

    5. Or you could just know someone terrorist-y, maybe.

    6. And if you’re in a “category” of people determined to be a threat, your threat status could be “upgraded” at the snap of a finger.

    7. Finally, you could just be unlucky.”

    “. As Scahill and Devereaux reported, you can file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, which begins a review “that is not subject to oversight by any court or entity outside the counterterrorism community.”

    And if you were to get your name removed from the watch list, the intelligence agencies aren’t even obligated to inform you of your updated status. Helpful.

    The secretive nature of the terror watch lists has come under court scrutiny recently. A federal judge ruled in June that the government must develop a new process under which individuals can challenge their inclusion on the no-fly list. The judge found the current process “wholly ineffective.””

    SO BASICALLY HE’S DISARMING EVERYONE,! By voting for this non effective piece of Xxxx



    In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

    China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

    Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    56 million defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control:

    You won’t see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information.

    Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.

    Take note my fellow Americans, before it’s too late!

    The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind the

    of this history lesson.

    With guns, we are “citizens”. Without them, we are “subjects”.

    During WWII the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!

    If you value your freedom, please spread this antigun-control message to all of your friends.


    Spread the word everywhere you can that you are a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment!

    It’s time to speak loud before they try to silence and disarm us.

    You’re not imagining it, history shows that governments always manipulate tragedies to attempt to disarm the people.
    Your welcome!

  • Guy Bivens

    Why would any sane and intelligent person believe this article or any of the left wing biased media that lies, twists and contorts everything they force feed to the American public. There are far more cases of “good guys with guns” preventing deaths to innocent people everyday, just because the lying media chooses to sanitize, hide, ignore or just blatantly and outright lie about them to fit their left wing agendas and further the brainwashing of America. The American public is far more intuitive and intelligent than your corrupt media agencies think, while you choose your path of deceit laughing and scoffing at them.

  • Plazy

    I think perhaps the author is overly dramatic. Just my opinion.

  • Mike Yaeger

    As you state, and link to, violent crime has been falling dramatically for over 2 decades while the gun ownership rate had doubled. There are of course many factors involved but the numbers you give do not count unreported attempted crimes stopped by guns.

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