“Guns Prevented Crimes 2012”

Someone stopped by searching for “guns prevented crimes 2012.”

I assume the search was for something like “how many crimes did guns prevent in 2012.” If so, the searcher is “rushing the growler,” since 2012 is not over yet.

However, this is another of those questions with insufficient data for a precise answer. Since prison surveys show the overwhelming majority of crimes prevented by guns are “never attempted because of the possibility the intended victim may be armed,” most intended victims are never aware that they are under consideration for victimhood.

As a result, the only source of credible data are the prison polls. The first prison poll of note, that done for the Carter Administration’s Wright Rossi’s Reports, concluded that “At least two million crimes are aborted each year because the victim may be armed.” But that was more than forty years and 200 million new gun sales ago, and it was limited to a few prisons in largely intensively gun controlled venues such as New York.

Where and when there was far less reason for predatory criminals to give a second thought to effective resistance. The hit and miss studies in less rigidly gun controlled venues that have been undertaken since then come up with numbers as high as eleven million serious crimes a year aborted because the victim may be armed.

Most of those potential crimes are never reported to police; largely because the potential victim was unaware of the fact they were a target. But even there, the studies were essentially polling prisoners, who may have powerful reasons not to be fully forthcoming.

What we know is that sometimes a victim is forced to shoot at a predatory criminal. The estimated numbers are all over the lot, but they suggest that Americans actually pull the trigger on some 75,000 predatory criminals every year. Most of those shots seem to be warning shots, since only about 11,000 criminals are wounded each year. And between 9 and 12 percent of those shot in self defense are killed.

It is notable that DOJ studies of predatory criminals who survive an “encounter” with an armed citizen suggest they have a very low recidivism rate. Those who do not survive have an even lower rate.

The “Equalizer” also works remarkably well for women. Rape is one of our most common crimes, but a number of studies from the 1995 to 2004 period agree that armed women and girls stop 450 rapes a day, 165,000 rapes a year, usually without firing a shot. Since 2004 the number of women carrying a concealed weapon has multiplied, so it would not surprise me at all if the 2012 numbers were twice those of 2005.

The bottom line? While there are still many things that are unclear, it is clear that American gun owners stop a huge number of crimes cold. Perhaps as many as twelve million serious crimes a year. Whatever the true number is, the effects of so many Americans taking up arms is clearly visible in the Department of Justice National Crime Survey graphic on the right.

It is clear that the United States was a much more violent society before the States began to relax their gun laws. It is equally clear the United States would be a much more violent society if we were again disarmed. As England’s experience with gun controls adequately demonstrates.


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5 Responses to “Guns Prevented Crimes 2012”

  1. Jim says:

    Do you have a source for the 11000 criminals being shot every year? I’d like to use that in a couple of ‘discussions’ I’m having with a few anti’s, but I know they will want to see a source. Thanks.

  2. Tim Tomlinson says:

    Lots of good gun info:

  3. Stranger says:

    I have a source; working backward through the Department of Justice National Crime Surveys. The data is not intended to be use in that way, but it confirms other, primarily hospital, sources.


  4. Jim says:

    Understood. Thanks, Stranger.

  5. Rob Morse says:

    Good data well presented. Thank you.

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