Guns are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) proves that firearms are rarely used to stop criminals, according to the Violence Policy Center (VPC) report Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use.

In 2010, across the nation there were only 230 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the FBI. That same year, there were 8,275 criminal gun homicides.

Using these numbers, in 2010, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, firearms were used in 36 criminal homicides. This ratio does not take into account the thousands of lives ended in gun suicides (19,392) or unintentional shootings (606) that year.

For the five-year period 2007 through 2011, the National Crime Victimization Survey estimated that fewer than one percent of the 29,618,300 intended victims of attempted or completed violent crimes engage in a self-protective resistance to a criminal using a firearm.

The same statistics showed that in the five-years 2007 through 2011, only one of every thousand intended victims use guns in self defense against property crimes.

“The idea that ordinary citizens need access to extraordinary firepower in order to adequately defend themselves against criminals has become the default argument against a federal assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines,” said Josh Sugarmann, the VPC executive director who co-authored the report.

“The frequency with which guns are used in self-defense in the real world has nothing in common with pro-gun assertions that firearms are used millions of times each year to kill criminals or stop crimes,” said Sugarmann. “In fact, a gun is far more likely to be stolen than used in self-defense.”

“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,” said Sugarmann. “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.”


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