Published On: Thu, Jun 25th, 2015

New Study: Guns Rarely Used in Self Defense


angry man with gun

According to a study released last week by the by the Violence Policy Center, Americans will rarely, if ever, use a gun to defend themselves. In fact, they are more likely to harm themselves, or a friend.

So ant-gun lobbies and people like Michael Bloomberg who are pushing for stricter gun control laws have gotten some badly needed ammunition to use themselves.

The study relied on data from the FBI.

In 2012 alone there were 8, 342 criminal gun homicides in the U.S. and only 259 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm.

The report states that in In 2012, 35.5 percent (92 of 259) of persons killed in a firearm justifiable homicide were known to the shooter, 51.4 percent (133) were strangers, and in 13.1 percent (34) the relationship was unknown. For the five-year period 2008 through 2012, 32.9 percent (364 of 1, 108) of persons killed in a firearm justifiable homicide were known to the shooter, 56.0 percent (620) were strangers, and in 11.2 percent (124) the relationship was unknown.

“It concludes, “The reality of self-defense gun use bears no resemblance to the exaggerated claims of the gun lobby and gun industry. The number of justifiable homicides that occur in our nation each year pale in comparison to criminal homicides, let alone gun suicides and fatal unintentional shootings. And contrary to the common stereotype promulgated by the gun lobby, those killed in justifiable homicide incidents don’t always fit the expected profile of an attack by a stranger: in 35.5 percent of the justifiable homicides that occurred in 2012 the persons shot were known to the shooter.”

“The devastation guns inflict on our nation each and every year is clear: more than 33, 000 dead, more than 81, 000 wounded, and an untold number of lives traumatized and communities shattered. Unexamined claims of the efficacy and frequency of the self-defense use of firearms are the default rationale offered by the gun lobby and gun industry for this unceasing, bloody toll. The idea that firearms are frequently used in self-defense is the primary argument that the gun lobby and firearms industry use to expand the carrying of firearms into an ever-increasing number of public spaces and even to prevent the regulation of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Yet this argument is hollow and the assertions false. When analyzing the most reliable data available, what is most striking is that in a nation of more than 300 million guns, how rarely firearms are used in self-defense.”

Josh Sugarmann, the Center’s executive director, said in a statement, “The NRA has staked its entire agenda on the claim that guns are necessary for self-defense, but this gun industry propaganda has no basis in fact. Guns are far more likely to be used in a homicide than in a justifiable homicide by a private citizen. In fact, a gun is far more likely to be stolen than used in self-defense.”

“We hope legislators in every state will stop believing the self-defense myth and look at the facts, ” says Julia Wyman, executive director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence. “Guns do not make our families or communities safer.”

“Purchasing a gun may help enrich the firearms industry, but the facts show it is unlikely to increase your personal safety, ” Sugarmann adds. “In fact, in a nation of more than 300 million firearms, it is striking how rarely guns are used in self-defense.”

See the full report here.

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