Sunday, December 20, 2009

Soft Power

One of the common and most insidious memes of anti-gunners is the "Rambo type". The violent gun owner who just can't wait for some poor kid down on his luck to break into his home. What would've been a simple lost TV ends in a young life cut tragically short, and the murderous monster uses "self defense" as an excuse for living out his violent urges, shielded from legal consequences.

Let's take a look at how this meme lines up with real life:

Most studies of defensive gun use in the US have found anywhere from 800,000 to 2.5 million DGUs per year, with an anomalous US government study showing only 108,000. Naturally, gun rights folks prefer the high numbers and gun control folks prefer the low ones. Let's give the gun controllers the benefit of the doubt for a moment.

According to the National Safety Council, there are fewer than 13,000 annual deaths due to "assault by firearm" in the US, a figure that includes both DGUs and criminal assaults (it excludes fatal police shootings, which at about 350 are extremely rare in comparison anyway). Let's once again give gun control the benefit of the doubt: we'll assume that there are absolutely no gun-related murders in the US, and that all gun deaths are the result of defensive shootings.

Even in a world where all the statistics and assumptions of gun controllers are true, we have 108,000 defensive gun uses per year, and fewer than 13,000 of them end in death. That means that in more than seven out of eight confrontations between criminals and armed citizens, no one ends up dead.

If gun ownership is driven by violent jackasses eager to murder intruders, they must be very, very bad at it. I guess guns don't make murder quite as easy as gun controllers seem to think.


  1. Elmo,

    Let's make it even more generous.

    e have 108,000 defensive gun uses per year, and fewer than 13,000 of them end in death.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, we have approximately 500,000 firearm related crimes per year. Only 13,000 of those end with death.

    Wouldn't that make the numbers more like only 1 in 38?

    If we accept the 108,000 number as the max defensive gun uses -- we could have as many as 608,000 interactions, right?

    That would put the ration at 46 to 1.

  2. Like I said, even if we defy all logic to give gun controllers the benefit of every doubt (the anomalously low DGU number is true, and all gun-related homicides are from DGUs!), their bloodthirsty-gunnie meme _still_ fails. In real life, like you say, they fail much harder.

    You hit on something that's probably much more important, though: the maximum possible death rate is even lower for criminal assaults. One of our prominent anti-gun trolls loves to opine that the availability of guns _must_ increase murder rates because guns make murder so much easier. But if we have 500,000 gun-related crimes per year, and only 13,000 deaths, confrontations involving guns don't seem to be as deadly as the antis make them out to be. I'd love to see similar statistics for "knife crimes" and "knife deaths". As is obvious when you look at the situation rationally, it just ain't the weapons.

  3. Excellent post, and thanks for the references.