The magnitude of defensive use of firearms

Larry Elder, writing for has a good column titled, “How often do Americans use guns for defensive purposes.”

From the article:

    Criminologist and researcher Gary Kleck, using his own commissioned phone surveys and number extrapolation, estimates that 2.5 million Americans use guns for defensive purposes each year. He further found that of those who had used guns defensively, one in six believed someone would have been dead if they had not resorted to their defensive use of firearms. That corresponds to approximately 400,000 of Kleck's estimated 2.5 million defensive gun uses. Kleck points out that if only one-tenth of the people were right about saving a life, the number of people saved annually by guns would still be at least 40,000.

How many times have we heard, “If it saves just one life…”?

Let us put that 40,000 number in perspective.

According to the FBI’s preliminary data for 2004, it’s more than four times the number of murders that were committed in the nations 248 largest cities - combined.

In New York, NY, our nation’s murder capital ranked by sheer numbers, (570 in 2004) and where not coincidently, victims may not have firearms ready to defend their lives, it would take over 70 years to accumulate 40,000 bodies.

In Washington DC, our nations murder capital when ranked by crime rate, where once again, not coincidentally, victims may not defend their life with a gun, it would take over 200 years at last years numbers (198) to accumulate 40,000 bodies.

Consider the massive destruction caused by hurricane Katrina, our nations “worst natural disaster.” Think of all the lived lost and ruined in this “biblical event.” And as you learn the updated death toll, keep that 40,000 number in mind. How big a difference would it make if we could save 40,000 lives?

Then remember, that the 40,000 number was achieved by only considering the 1 out of every 6 people that used a firearm defensively who believed they saved a life, then assuming that 90% of those were wrong about saving a life. Further, remember that those who chose to be prepared for life threatening events, save over 40,000 lives with a firearm each and every year.

The power to do that much good for society is why our enemies are so concerned about us. How could they ever prevail if the news media fully reported the enormity of what we collectively do?

To everyone who chooses to have the tools, skills, and mindset to save a life, I say, “Thank you.”

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