Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Self-Defense With A Firearm - How Many Times?

By Dave Dargo

We often hear in the news about the evil nature of guns and how they should be banned because of the vicious crimes predators commit with those guns.  It is true that felons will use firearms to further their evil plots but it's also true that good citizens use firearms quite often to protect themselves and their families.

There are some new surveys out from the U.S. Department of Justice that show trends in violent crimes committed with guns as well as documenting the number of times firearms are used for self-defense.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics just released their study, "Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008".  Not only are homicide victimization rates going down but so are fatal and non-fatal firearm-related incidents.

While there's good news in the reports there are also some disturbing news related to certain demographics.  Blacks were disproportionately represented as both homicide victims and offenders.  The victimization rate for blacks (27.8 per 100,000) was 6 times higher than the rate for whites (4.5 per 100,000).  The offending rate for blacks (34.4 per 100,000) was almost 8 times higher than the rate for whites (4.5 per 100,000).  Males represented 77% of homicide victims and nearly 90% of offenders.  Approximately a third of murder victims and almost half of the offenders were under the age of 25.

The good news, though, is that homicide victimization rates are down for all demographics.  What has become clear from the data is the dangerous situations we've created, or allowed to be created, in our larger cities.  The larger cities are where crime rates, including homicide, are increasing.  Just have a look at Chicago where 2012 murders were up to 25% higher than for 2011.

There are a lot of people arguing over the reasons for the overall decline in crime, both violent and non-violent.  Some want to point to the fact that it's now much easier to legally carry a gun in those jurisdictions where the crime has dropped and it is much more difficult to legally carry a gun in those jurisdictions where homicide rates are increasing.  I don't think it's as clear cut as that but a statistic that virtually no news organization provides is the number of times a victim uses a firearm to defend themselves.

According to a May, 2013 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Firearm Violence, 1993-2011", between 2007 and 2011 people used firearms over 335,000 times to defend against crime.  There were 235,700 times a firearm was used to defend against violent crime and just over 100,000 times a firearm was used to defend against property crime.

This survey shows numbers smaller than those found in other studies.  Nevertheless, this study from the U.S. Department of Justice shows firearms being used over 225 times per day to defend against crime.

The issue that jumps out from these studies is that a firearm is a tool used for both good and bad.  There appear to be cultural and demographic differences that contribute to higher victimization and offender rates amongst specific races, ages and genders.

Those who believe that they will solve either the problem of violence or crime by banning an object need to have a deeper look at the underlying causes.  Until you figure out why some in our society are willing to prey on other members and you figure out a way to stop it don't take away a tool that's used 60,000 times a year to defend against violent crime.

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