Guns don't kill criminals as often as criminals use guns to kill innocent people


There is one justifiable use of a privately owned gun to kill a criminal for every 34 murders committed with a firearm in America. Looking at the horrible gun death statistics recently shared by the Violence Policy Center, I can only shake my head and wonder what it'll take to reform America's love of guns.

The Washington Post has a wonderful analysis of the Violence Policy Center's report. They break it down nicely:

In 2012, there were 8,855 criminal gun homicides in the FBI's homicide database, but only 258 gun killings by private citizens that were deemed justifiable, which the FBI defines as "the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen."

That works out to one justifiable gun death for every 34 unjustifiable gun deaths.

Or, look at it this way. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that in 2012 there were 20,666 suicides by gun. That works out to one self-defense killing for every 78 gun suicides. CDC data show that there were more than twice as many accidental gun fatalities as as justifiable killings.

Notable Replies

  1. Nor is it the only offensive use of a firearm. So if your problem here is that the statistic above omits all the cases of a firearm owner scaring off a crook, then keep in mind it also omits all the cases where a crook used a gun in a holdup but didn't actually kill anyone (which probably makes up the vast majority of gun crime).

  2. "But not MY guns…" —Every gun owner

  3. The percentage of high-explosives used for crime is far less than 1%. For every would-be terrorist there are thousands of good-hearted, responsible people who might want to remove a stump or help build a tunnel.

    But we still carefully regulate the production, distribution and use of high explosives because they are especially well-suited for causing harm if they fall into the wrong hands.

  4. The Constitution doesn't say that firearms are protected and other kinds of weapons aren't. The Second Amendment doesn't even mention guns by name, it just says "arms." That term could be interpreted to mean anything from a wooden club to a thermonuclear warhead.

    The only reason you can buy an AR-15 but not a hand grenade is that the NRA has lobbied to protect one and not the other. It has diddly-squat to do with the Constitution.

  5. Still relevant:

    "There is one argument and one argument alone for having a gun: Fuck off. I like guns! It's not the best argument, but it's all you've got."

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