President’s Column | Americans Are Living Proof: Defensive Gun Use Saves Lives

posted on November 22, 2022
Charles L. Cotton

Last month, I wrote about a July 17, 2022, incident at the Greenwood Park Mall where Elisjsha Dicken saved dozens of lives by using his concealed handgun to shoot and kill a would-be mass-murderer. I also wrote about the fact that legacy-media outlets ignored this defensive use of a handgun because it didn’t fit their narrative. This month, I want to discuss the fact that the media not only refuses to report on defensive use of firearms but also intentionally deceives the public about the widespread use of firearms to defend innocent lives.

The anti-gun lobby and their legacy-media propagandist allies would have you believe such cases are as rare as hen’s teeth. For decades, they’ve tried to convince the public that defensive gun use (DGU) by lawful people against criminals is rare, that many of the reported DGU cases were actually between criminals, that firearms are used more to commit crimes than stop crimes and that—in the words of Politifact—“there is no conclusive evidence that defensive gun use reduces harm to people.”

Writing in the congressional newspaper The Hill, the founder of an anti-gun research outfit called GVPedia even went so far as to call this simple truth—that carrying a gun repels criminal attackers—part of “a fire hose of falsehood.”

President Biden echoes that same narrative. Referring to 9 mm pistols, he said, “ ... the idea of these high-caliber weapons is, uh, there’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of thinking about self-protection ... .”

To someone like Joe Biden, who will have 24-hour armed security for the rest of his life, the idea that any of us might need a gun to defend ourselves from violent criminals might indeed be hard to imagine. But it happens thousands of times every day all across America.

Pour a cup of coffee and let’s take a look at the facts. Last year, William English, Ph.D., of Georgetown University, conducted the largest-ever study on DGU in the U.S. In all, he surveyed 54,244 individuals over the age of 18, including 16,708 gun owners. The results of that survey were released this summer.

Here are some of its findings: Nearly one-third (32%) of all U.S. adults over age 18 own firearms. Nearly one-third of those gun owners (31%) have used a firearm to defend themselves or their property, and that figure excludes military service, police work or work as a security guard. What these numbers mean is that DGUs happen about 1.67 million times per year.

So why don’t we hear about these incidents more? Mainly because in the vast majority of cases (82% according to this latest study), no one is shot, no one gets injured, and, in fact, no shots are fired, and, thus, the police never even hear about it. In other words, all it takes is the mere display or mention of a firearm to make assailants seek easier victims.

According to the study, nearly 21 million Americans carry a handgun in public, thanks to right-to-carry laws, and those laws undoubtedly save lives: About three-quarters of those 1.67 million DGUs per year occur outside the home.

And despite President Biden’s bluster about “no rational basis,” the fact is that nearly half of all gun owners (48%) report owning ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and nearly one in three gun owners (30%) have owned an AR-15 or similar rifle. Maybe the reason so many Americans choose such firearms for personal protection is because—as this largest-ever survey found—more than half of all DGUs involved more than one assailant.

Now, the gun-ban lobby can call these findings a “fire hose of falsehoods” all they like, but the reality is that these figures all track closely with similar research studies going back 30 years from researchers ranging from Gallup and Pew to the U.S. government. A 1995 study cited by the Congressional Research Service estimated 2.1 to 2.5 million DGUs per year. A 1997 study commissioned by the National Institute of Justice put the number at 4.7 million DGUs per year. Even a study ordered by the anti-gun Obama administration concluded 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.”

So when you hear someone parrot the media’s lie about how “guns cause crime,” set them straight with the truth: Guns save innocent lives!


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