A Factual Look at Guns in America
Guns Used in Self Defense
25.3 Million Americans (31% of gun owners) have used a gun in self defense. In nearly 82% of these cases, the gun was never fired.
According to the National Research Council study done during Obama’s presidency, guns are used for self defense between:
500,000 – 3 Million Times Every Year
(1,369 – 8,219 Times Every Day)
Because many cases of self defense are not reported to the police, the real number may be on the higher end.
We have illustrated the low end of this estimate by putting five hundred thousand dots below.
Now imagine 2.5 million+ MORE dots to illustrate the possible full extent guns are used for self defense.
Every single dot represents a citizen’s life or livelihood that was able to be saved with a gun – usually without firing a single shot.
Criminal Acquisition of Guns
Politicians will often talk about “the gun show loophole”
and make it seem as if that was a primary source of guns being used to carry out crimes in America today.
However, a U.S. Department of Justice survey of prison inmates who had used a gun to carry out their crime found that only:
0.8% of Criminals
Purchased Their Gun at a Gun Show
A similar study carried out in Pittsburgh, found that nearly 80% of criminals caught with a firearm were not the legal owner of that gun.
U.S. Rifle Stats
Whenever people start trying to ban guns, “assault” rifles such as the AR-15 are usually where they start. However, the number of homicides committed with rifles in the U.S. is very low. There are approximately 20 million rifles in circulation in the U.S. today, yet they only accounted for 364 murders in 2019.
This equals a rate of:
1 Murder per 55,000 Rifles Owned
The first dot in the top left is red to indicate a murder that was carried out by a criminal with a rifle. There are 54,999 other dots that represent rifles that are owned and were not used for murder. To get an even more accurate idea of the scale of law-abiding citizen-owned rifles, you would have to multiply this chart 364 times.
Things That Kill More People Than Rifles
Here are a list of 5 things politicians could ban that would actually save more lives than an assault rifle ban.
You are nearly twice as likely to be murdered by being punched or kicked than you are from being shot by a rifle.
Police vs. Armed Citizens
Law enforcement can be invaluable if you are in a life threatening situation, but they are not always around.
Citizens have recently surpassed police in the number of justifiable killings of a criminal to protect their life or the life of another person.
When the average school shooting lasts just 12 minutes, every second of response time saves lives.
How do police compare with armed citizens in this aspect?
Response Time: Already On-Site
Size: 81.7 Million Armed Citizens*
*Number of Armed Citizens calculated by multiplying 32% gun ownership rate x 255 Million Adults
Contact Your Representative
Make sure they are informed on the issues and know your opinion.
- 2021 National Firearms Survey. William English. July 16, 2021. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3887145 (PDF)
- Crime Prevention Research Center. “UPDATED: Mass Public Shootings keep occurring in Gun-Free Zones: 94% of attacks since 1950” June 2018. https://crimeresearch.org/2018/06/more-misleading-information-from-bloombergs-everytown-for-gun-safety-on-guns-analysis-of-recent-mass-shootings/ (PDF)
- FBI. Crime in the United States. 2019. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8.xls (PDF)
- Gallup. “What Percentage of Americans own guns?” Nov 13 2020. https://news.gallup.com/poll/264932/percentage-americans-own-guns.aspx (PDF)
- Kids Count Data Center. “Total population by child and adult populations in the United States”. https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/99-total-population-by-child-and-adult-populations#detailed/1/any/false/1729,37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867,133/39,40,41/416,417 (PDF)
- Macrotrends. “U.S. Murder/Homicide Rate 1990-2022” https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/murder-homicide-rate (PDF)
- Monga Bay. “Most Common Causes of Death Due to Injury in the US” https://danger.mongabay.com/injury_death.htm (PDF)
- National Research Council 2013. Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18319. (PDF)
- National Sheriffs Association. “EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY TO DECREASE LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE TIME” February 28, 2016. https://www.sheriffs.org/content/embracing-technology-decrease-law-enforcement-response-time (PDF)
- NSSF. “NSSF RELEASES MOST RECENT FIREARM PRODUCTION FIGURES” Nov 2020. https://www.nssf.org/articles/nssf-releases-most-recent-firearm-production-figures/ (PDF)
- Small Arms Survey. “Global Firearms Holdings. ” March 29, 2020. https://www.smallarmssurvey.org/database/global-firearms-holdings (PDF)
- Social Medicine. “Gaps continue in firearm Surveillance: Evidence from a large U.S. city Bureau of Police”. https://www.socialmedicine.info/index.php/socialmedicine/article/view/852 (PDF)
- Statista. “Number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. from 1986 to 2019”. October 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/215395/number-of-total-firearms-manufactured-in-the-us/ (PDF)
- Statista. “Number of justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers and private citizens in the United States from 2007 to 2020” https://www.statista.com/statistics/251894/number-of-justifiable-homicides-in-the-us/ (PDF)
- University of Chicago Law School. David B. Mustard & John Lot. “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns.” 1996. https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1150&context=law_and_economics (PDF)
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Police and Detectives”. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm (PDF)
- U.S. Department of Justice. “The Armed Criminal in America – A Survey of Incarcerated Felons.” July 1985. (PDF)
- U.S. Department of Justice. “Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016”. January 2019. (PDF)