It’s an interesting portion of the gun debate that’s often glossed over. Defensive Gun Use. There is a veritable cornucopia of statistics on gun ownership, gun deaths, types of gun regulation, violence correlating (or not correlating) to gun ownership and so on. There’s one statistic that’s seemingly impossible for gun control advocates and gun rights advocates to accurately measure however and that’s just how often something like this happens.
Just how often does this happen that someone uses a gun to defend themselves or their property without firing it? Consider that this could even be considered in some circumstances to be a rather extreme case of Defensive Gun Use. This is far more dramatic than someone pulling their jacket aside to reveal a sidearm for instance and I would say that it’s a safe bet to assume that such instances of use don’t get reported to later be considered by statisticians.
A survey by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz extrapolates annual Defensive Gun Use in the United States to a potential 2 million incidents per year which would eclipse the current rate of gun deaths (including suicides) per year in the USA. In fact, this works out to 588.2 Defensive Gun Use instances per hundred thousand population in the USA (I’m overestimating the population of the USA by a bit to deflate this number slightly) as compared to a total annual gun death rate of 10.3 per year. Limit the number of gun deaths to homicides only and that number drops to 3.6 annually which is a drop in the bucket as compared to Defensive Gun Use instances that do not include a firearm being discharged or even unreported instances of a firearm being discharged simply to intimidate an aggressor.
It’s not uncommon to hear that the Kleck and Gertz study is a gross overestimation and that might be true. It is just a survey after all and surveys can easily get things wrong but unlike the comical surveys on the number of sexual partners men and women have had, (Men typically report higher numbers while women report lower. Who’s lying here people!?) there’s not much to lie about here. Further, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not really credible for either side of the gun debate to claim some sort of divine knowledge of how often guns are used in defence without being discharged but there are two things about this statistic that we can be sure of.
- It’s not recorded in any regular sense at all and
- the rate of Defensive Gun Use is nowhere near the zero mark