Commentary

Data Show Firearms Used to Protect Life & Property More Often Than Used to Commit Crimes

Amy Swearer
By Amy Swearer | July 10, 2018 | 11:38 AM EDT

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There is no denying that lawful gun owners use their firearms in self-defense far more often than those decrying the “myth” of a good guy with a gun would care to admit. Firearms are, in fact, used for self-defense often and effectively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, notorious for its anti-gun bias, acknowledges as much in its 2013 report on gun violence research.

There, in conjunction with the National Research Council, the CDC concluded that almost all national, comprehensive studies on the subject find that firearms are used for lawful defensive purposes between 500,000 and 3.5 million times every year in the United States.

Even assuming that the actual number of defensive uses is on the low end of that range (and there’s good reason to believe that, in fact, it falls at the higher end), firearms are used to protect life and property more often than they are used to commit crimes, according to the CDC.

The month of June 2018 provided ample evidence of just how valuable a firearm can be in the hands of a law-abiding citizen.

A cursory review of news stories from that month reveals the following:

  • On June 1, a concealed carry permit holder in Cape Coral, Florida, shot a convicted felon who had pulled a firearm on employees of a roofing company. Police said the unnamed good Samaritan acted in self-defense and will not face criminal charges, while the convicted felon—who was legally prohibited from possessing a firearm—will be charged with aggravated assault.
  • On June 4, a 63-year-old Chicago man with a concealed carry license used his lawfully-owned firearm to fight off three young, attempted robbers, one of whom pulled out what was only later discovered to be a replica firearm. The man shot one of the robbers in the leg, which caused the other suspects to flee.
  • Also on June 4, an 18-year-old man in Arlington, Tennessee found himself “rejected” at gunpoint when he assaulted and attempted to rape his friend’s mother during a sleepover. The man forced the woman on a bed and began putting his hand down her shorts before she was able to knee her attacker in the groin and retrieve her handgun, which was stored in the bedroom. The woman sustained a black eye, but told law enforcement officers that she prevented the man from sexually penetrating her.
  • On June 8, a Jacksonville, Florida, man stole cash from a Walmart register and then tried to steal a truck at knifepoint before the truck owner pointed a handgun at the man. The man fled to a nearby Starbucks parking lot, where he again attempted a carjacking—only to be confronted by another armed civilian. Police finally arrived to find the man barricaded inside a Supercuts bathroom, where he was eventually arrested.
  • Also on June 8, in DeKalb County, Georgia, three armed individuals followed a couple out of a grocery store, where police believe they intended either to rob or carjack the couple. The would-be attackers failed to account for the possibility that the couple might also be armed, and all three suspects found themselves in the hospital after a shootout, while neither of the would-be victims was injured.

 

  • On June 10, two armed men broke into the Cleveland home of an 84-year-old man, where they found themselves in a shootout when the elderly homeowner did not back down. The homeowner suffered a gunshot wound to his side, but the attackers fled the scene. The homeowner’s 17-year-old grandson called 911 after climbing out a window and onto the roof to escape the gunfire.
  • On June 13, a Toledo, Ohio, resident intervened to save the life of a woman being attacked by a man with a hatchet. Police say the resident retrieved a firearm out of his home after witnessing a man in a truck at the nearby intersection repeatedly strike the woman. Neighbors told the media that the woman was screaming for help before the gun owner shot the man attacking her.
  • On June 14, a quick-thinking five-year-old saved his mother’s life by handing her the family firearm to defend herself. The woman’s ex-husband had broken into her Houston home, where he started choking the woman in front of their four children. The woman’s eight-year-old daughter attempted to pry the ex-husband off of her mother until the five-year-old obtained the weapon, which the mother then used to shoot the ex-husband in the arm. The mother survived, and none of the four children—ages 8, 5, 2, and 1—were hurt in the confrontation.
  • In the early morning hours of June 16, a Parkland, Washington, woman shot a 16-year-old who broke into her home and continued approaching her after she fired a warning shot and told him not to move. When the intruder continued to approach her, she shot him in the shoulder. The teenager allegedly collapsed to the floor and continued to yell, “I’m so high” until law enforcement arrived. He is expected to survive the wound.
  • On June 17, in Tumwater, Washington, an armed local pastor was credited with stopping a potential mass shooting when he shot and killed a gunman in a Walmart parking lot. The gunman had fired rounds inside the Walmart, apparently trying to break into an ammunition display, before shooting two people during an attempted carjacking. The pastor was aided by a second lawful gun owner.
  • Also on June 17, across the country in Pennsylvania, a man and his 17-year-old daughter teamed up to successfully defend their home against a would-be arsonist who entered their home and started pouring gasoline all over the floor. The father tried to push the would-be arsonist out of the door, but was overpowered and assaulted until the daughter was able to retrieve his handgun. He then fired one shot at the intruder, striking him in arm and stomach, and neutralizing the threat until law enforcement could arrive.
  • On June 22, a Virginia woman successfully used her firearm to defend her 14-year-old daughter against a knife-wielding would-be kidnapper who had flown to the United States from New Zealand as part of a “carefully planned trip.” The New Zealand man was also carrying pepper spray and duct tape when he used a landscaping brick to smash a glass door, only to be confronted by the teen’s better-armed (and presumable very angry) mother.
  • On June 30, a Tennessee teenager used her father’s shotgun to ward off a would-be burglar who approached the front door after stealing two pressure washers from the driveway.

As these stories demonstrate, lawful gun ownership can often mean the difference between a “victim” and a “would-be victim.” This is also consistent with the CDC’s conclusion that “[s]tudies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive gun uses have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other strategies.”

There are, of course, individuals who would use firearms to commit heinous criminal acts. But the proper response to this reality is not the wholesale stripping of constitutional rights from otherwise law-abiding citizens, or the prohibition of entire classes of firearms commonly used by those law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.

That framework of broad gun control makes no one safer–least of all the brave citizens highlighted above.

Amy Swearer is a visiting legal fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.


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