The estimates very across studies between as few at 100,000 self defensive gun uses (SDGUs) per year to millions due to methodological differences. However, simply taking an average number from the array of studies available would give us SDGU tally exceeding the use of firearms in crime.
To summarize a number of studies on the issue:
- The National Crime Victimization Survey is administered twice a year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and provides the most conservative estimate of SDGU at about 100,000 cases per year. Of note, the survey requires individuals to self-report to the federal government that they used a firearm in self-defense while providing their name and contact information. Most will be hesitant to do so for obvious reasons, so this estimate should be taken as the absolute minimum.
- A 1994 survey conducted by Bill Clinton’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 500,000 times per year.
- Obama’s CDC conducted a gun control study in 2013, finding 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…”
- Criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz published a study back in 1995 in which they found that gun use accounted more for defensive gun use than it did for criminal activity.” A literature review of thirteen studies in their paper provides a range of between 800,000-2.5 million SDGUs. A follow-on study in 1997 argues that that SDGU accounted for more than 80% of all gun use in America.
- CDC survey data from the 1990s that was unpublished but accessed and analyzed in 2018 by Kleck implies roughly 1 million SDGUs per year.
- According to the National Survey of Private Firearms Ownership, there are 1.5 million self-defensive gun uses every year.
- According to a paper by David Kopel, Paul Gallant, and Joanne Eisen, “[F]irearms are used over half a million times a year against home invasion burglars; usually the burglar flees as soon as he finds out that the victim is armed, and no shot is ever fired,” and “Annually, three to six times as many victims successfully defend themselves with handguns as criminals misuse handguns (thus handguns do up to six times more good than harm).”
There are at least hundreds of thousands of SDGU per year – but don’t expect to hear about 99.99% of them in the mainstream media.
USA Today is facing blowback over an op-ed they published from Arizona Republic blogger Elvia Diaz, who wrote that it was “terrifying” that members of the West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas were armed when a man stormed the church and opened fire on congregants.