Justice

The Number Of People Who Use A Gun In Self-Defense Is Pretty Much Negligible

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The day after 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, Fox & Friends claimed congregants could have defended themselves if someone had a gun.

But a timely study from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) concluded that guns are rarely used for defensive purposes. According to the most recent data that’s available, there were 8,342 criminal firearm homicides by private citizens (non-law enforcement members) in 2012 — as opposed to 259 justifiable homicides. In other words, there were 32 criminal homicides for every killing of a felon who was in the process of committing a crime. And 13 states reported zero justifiable homicides that year.

As noted by VPC, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) observed a similar trend in previous years. Between 2007 and 2011, 29,618,300 people experienced a violent crime, but only 235,700 — 0.8 percent — of victims used or threatened to use a gun in self-defense. Findings from both the VPC and NCVS supplement studies verifying that more guns lead to more crimes.

Still, gun advocates keep arguing that guns are great for self-defense.

“The reality of self-defense gun use bears no resemblance to the exaggerated claims of the gun lobby and gun industry. The number of justifiable homicides that occur in our nation each year pale in comparison to criminal homicides, let alone gun suicides and fatal unintentional shootings,” the study reads. “The idea that firearms are frequently used in self-defense is the primary argument that the gun lobby and firearms industry use to expand the carrying of firearms into an ever-increasing number of public spaces and even to prevent the regulation of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.”

In response to the tragedy, President Obama discussed the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” he said. “Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”