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Firearms in Common Use

Monday, September 27, 2021

Firearms in Common Use

Think of the foremost applications of a firearm. Self-defense and protection have become the primary motivation for Americans’ acquisition of firearms, but the prevalence of defensive gun use remains disputed. New research, conducted in support of a brief for the Supreme Court, offers more evidence that a large number of Americans have used a firearm to defend themselves, their loved ones, or their property.

Professor William English offered this summary of his research in his brief:

“Based on a comprehensive online survey of 16,708 adult firearms owners – an unprecedented sample size in the area of scholarly firearms policy research – amicus English recently and reliably concluded that lawful carriage of firearms for self-defense and defensive gun use are statistically common phenomena. In fact, a majority of the over 80 million adult firearms owners in the United States carry a handgun for self-defense under at least some circumstances. More than a quarter of those owners carry handguns for self-defense under right-to-carry laws. And there are, conservatively, an average of 1.67 million defensive gun use incidents per year—an average of over 4,500 every single day— most of which do not occur inside the home.”

English’s technical paper offers more detail about both his methodology and his findings, including a key finding left out of the above summary: 31.1% of American gun owners have used a firearm to defend themselves or their property.

Think about that. Gun owners represent at least a third of American adults, and about a third of gun owners have used their firearm in self-defense. A majority of gun owners who engaged in defensive use – outside of military service, police work, or work as a security guard – have had to do so on two or more occasions.

It’s important to note that firearms, the great equalizer, do not need to be fired or displayed to be effective. According to English’s research, shots were fired in only about 18% of defensive gun usage. In nearly a third of cases, simply saying one was armed was enough to deter an attacker. In a majority of defensive use cases, the gun owner was confronted by two or more assailants. Nearly one in twenty gun owners involved in a defensive use were faced with five or more assailants.

Remember that when President Biden and other radicals talk about restrictions on magazine capacity. 

Anti-gun researchers and propagandists like those running the Gun Violence Archive refuse to acknowledge the prevalence of defensive gun use. RealClearInvestigations examined defensive gun use cases on the Gun Violence Archive for January 1st through August 10th of this year and found 774 cases. Less than 4% of these cases involved no shots fired.

That is in direct contrast to the findings of surveys about defensive gun usage, including English’s. Reality tends to contradict gun control radicals’ claims and alleged “common sense.” Even the CDC has acknowledged that, “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million.” The lowest estimates for the annual number of defensive gun use is around 116,000 per year.

That’s a large number of Americans defending themselves and their loved ones, but it’s still considerably below the 2.5 million cases per year estimated by Kleck – and validated with data the CDC hid for decades -  and the 1.67 million annual average calculated by English.

Survey after survey has produced a significant number of defensive gun uses. Gun sales have been steadily increasing for the last several years and skyrocketed last year. Nearly half of new gun owners since January 2019 were women, and the population of new gun owners is even more diverse than the general population.

When will President Biden and other anti-gun zealots realize that millions of responsible Americans have made – and are making - a conscious choice to become firearm owners and millions of these Americans have fortunately been able to defend themselves and their loved ones in times of crisis.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.