A Few Facts About Carrying a Gun for Self Defense

There is a source available on the internet for facts concerning many important topics and issues. Gun Control is one of these. The source is Just Facts. This is a valuable and important source for all gun owners and self-defense carry people to know about and be familiar with because, in the current gun debate, facts are the best tools you can have.

What distinguishes this resource from many other internet "fact sources" is the site's care to be unbiased and to avoid skewed and inaccurate data.

In JustFacts introductory note they say:

"This research is based upon the most recent available data in 2010. Facts from earlier years are cited based upon availability and relevance, not to slant results by singling out specific years that are different from others. Likewise, data associated with the effects of gun control laws in various geographical areas represent random, demographically diverse places in which such data is available.

Many aspects of the gun control issue are best measured and sometimes can only be measured through surveys, but the accuracy of such surveys depends upon respondents providing truthful answers to questions that are sometimes controversial and potentially incriminating. Thus, Just Facts uses such data critically, citing the best-designed surveys we find, detailing their inner workings in our footnotes, and using the most cautious plausible interpretations of the results.

Particularly, when statistics are involved, the determination of what constitutes a credible fact (and what does not) can contain elements of personal subjectivity. It is our mission to minimize subjective information and to provide highly factual content. Therefore, we are taking the additional step of providing readers with four examples to illustrate the type of material that was excluded because it did not meet Just Facts'Standards of Credibility."

Justfacts.com is one research source I can rely upon to provide fact-based information from which I can draw my own conclusions. To that end, I present some interesting facts gleaned from their site relevant to those who carry for self defense, and also to those who oppose self-defense carry out of ignorance, or because they don't understand the, well... facts.

Number of gun owners in the US
According to private firearms manufacturers data in 2010, there are between 40 and 45 million adults who own handguns.

A 2005 Gallup poll indicates there are 100 million adults who own guns of different types. In the same poll, 67% said they owned guns for self protection.

Why is having a gun for self protection necessary?
Some facts (from the Justfacts.com website. See the site for additional references and support for the information listed below.):

  1. A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone "almost certainly would have been killed" if they "had not used a gun for protection." Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 162,000 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all "military service, police work, or work as a security guard." 
  2. Based on survey data from the U.S. Department of Justice, roughly 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in the United States during 2008. These include simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders. Of these, about 436,000 or 8% were committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun.
  3. Based on survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative CriminologyU.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.
  4. A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 3.5% of households had members who had used a gun "for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work, or elsewhere." Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 1,029,615 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all "military service, police work, or work as a security guard."
  5. A 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year.
  6. A 1982 survey of male felons in 11 state prisons dispersed across the U.S. found:
  • • 34% had been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim"
  • • 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they "knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun"
  • • 69% personally knew other criminals who had been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim"

The last, number 6, should be especially relevant to those who support self-defense carry.

Those are some facts pertaining to the usefulness of a gun in preventing violent crime. How vulnerable are we? Consider this:

 At the current homicide rate, roughly one in every 240 Americans will be murdered.

A U.S. Justice Department study based on crime data from 1974-1985 found:

• 42% of Americans will be the victim of a completed violent crime (assault, robbery, rape) in the course of their lives
• 83% of Americans will be the victim of an attempted or completed violent crime
• 52% of Americans will be the victim of an attempted or completed violent crime more than once

A 1997 survey of more than 18,000 prison inmates found that among those serving time for a violent crime, "30% of State offenders and 35% of Federal offenders carried a firearm when committing the crime."

Justfacts goes on to show interesting charts describing the effects of various anti-handgun legislation passed in different locations. You can see these yourself on their site, but the summary is that where anti-handgun legislation is passed that inhibits the citizens from owning and carrying a gun for self protection, the incident of violent crime increases. When those restrictions are struck down, not surprisingly, the incidents of violent crime perpetrated against citizens goes down. Not a big surprise to most of us.

Why this information is important.
In the continuing national debate over gun control, which I think should be about violence control, it is important to have a good grasp of the facts. Every time I have argued this issue with someone opposed to guns, I have found that they do not know the basic facts about guns and self protection. They are working from rhetoric, falsehoods and, in many cases, just plain fear of guns. 

My response is usually to point out that it is a free country, that they don't have to own or carry a gun, but in fact, they depend upon someone for their protection who does carry a gun when thing go bad. As they frequently do, facts tell us. And, given this, all law-abiding citizens of the United States have the right to keep and bear arms in self defense in order to assist us in our constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And, conversely, no one has the right to prevent me from exercising those freedoms.

When the criminals and crazies can no longer have guns, or knives, or baseball bats, or screwdrivers, cars, explosives, ice picks, poisons or any other implement that can be turned into a deadly weapon, I might consider giving up my guns.

Not likely....