How Many Times A Day Are Guns Used In Self Defense?

Someone stopped by searching for “how many times a day are guns used in self defense.”

Self defense is a larger subject than most imagine. So, to start at the latest data available, according to a 1993 “Bureau of Justice Statistics” (Department of Justice) report, every year between 1987 and 1992 62,000 victims of violent crimes used a gun to defend themselves against criminal predation. In addition, another 20,000 Americans used a gun to defend their property against criminal predators. That is a total of 82,000 self defense uses a year.

In 1993, Dr. Gary Kleck’s National Self Defense Survey found Americans used guns about 2,300,000 times a year to physically defend themselves.

Dr. Kleck does a commendable job of explaining the 28 to 1 ratio between the NCVS numbers and the NSDS findings at the link above. Very briefly quoting Dr. Kleck’s study:

Most importantly, the surveys did not ask enough questions to establish exactly what was done with the guns in reported defensive use incidents. At best, some of the surveys only established whether the gun was fired. The lack of such detail raises the possibility that the guns were not actually “used” in any meaningful way. Instead, Rs might be remembering occasions on which they merely carried a gun for protection “just in case” or investigated a suspicious noise in their backyard, only to find nothing.

Violent Crime Rates Crashed As Gun Sales Boomed!

Violent Crime Rates Crashed As Gun Sales Boomed!

Now, that was almost 20 years ago, when there were between 540 and 570 million guns “in circulation.” This is today with almost 700 million guns in private citizens hands; tens of millions of new gun owners; a far higher percentage of armed households, and as a result a violent crime rate the National Crime Survey found to be only a quarter of what it was then. (Click on the graphic for a clearer view.)

And – there is more than one way of looking at things. From prison surveys, we can estimate that between ten and eleven million crimes a year are never attempted – because the potential victim may be armed. That is one crime prevented by the possible presence of a gun every three seconds, or 28,000 crimes prevented every day.

From studies currently in progress…

Conservatively, Americans “show a criminal a gun” 625,000 times a year. In the overwhelming majority of those encounters the criminal leaves at a very high rate of speed. That is one crime averted every every 50 seconds – or 1730 times a day.

Percentage Of Criminals Who Have Been Shot or Shot at

Percentage Of Criminals Who Have Been Shot or Shot at

Extremely conservatively, Americans fire a gun in the general direction of a criminal 90,000 times a year. That is another criminal who has reason to believe he was shot at every 350 seconds, or one every 5.8 minutes.

Law abiding Americans are most reluctant to take a life, so they seriously wound about 8,500 criminals a year, one every 62 minutes, or 23 times a day a gun is used in self defense.

And of those shot in self defense, approximately 1,400 a year die. That is one every 6 hours and fifteen minutes, or just under four times a day.

And, as the old saying goes, “the pitcher that goes to the well will soon be broken.” The Department of Justice graphic above shows that nine in ten imprisoned criminals have either been shot, or shot at.

So guns are used for self defense far more often than they are used to facilitate a crime.

Stranger

About Stranger

A collaborative effort, Extranos Alley is primarily concerned with providing up to date data on the relationships between privately woned firearms and crime, violence, and politics. The site is maintained by nine volunteers who have given up their identity that the work here may be considered without regard to the individual data. The contributors are a diverse group, ranging from a retired physicist to a board certified psychologist.
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