On January 14, Politico Magazine (PM) ran a story suggesting the claim that guns are used for defense purposes more often than ill-intent is wrong, and the whole idea behind “defensive gun ownership” is a “tragic myth.”
PM defined the “tragic myth” as the belief “that millions of gun owners successfully use their firearms to defend themselves and their families from criminals.” They pointed to the dearth of academic support for defensive gun uses (DGUs) in “public health literature” and listed three instances in which a homeowner fired a gun in what they thought was a self-defense situation, but which later turned out otherwise. The gunshot wound was fatal in one of the three incidents.
PM also points to a 1992 study by Florida State University criminologists Gary Kleck and Mark Getz, the findings of which established an “estimate of between 1 million and 2.5 million DGUs per year.” PM says that study is no good—that it has been been debunked, is “utterly false,” and “gun owners are more likely” to end up shooting someone who wasn’t really a criminal in the first place.
Here’s the kicker: Even if we set Kleck and Getz’s work aside—and that’s not the same thing as accepting the claim that it’s been debunked—but even if we set it aside for the sake of argument, PM does not say anything about other polls/studies/surveys suggesting 760,000 defensive gun uses a year. Breitbart News previously reported that this figure—drawn from the LA Times, Gallup, and Peter Hart Research Associates—equals 14,615 DGUs a week and slightly more than 2,082 a day.
Moreover, by opening their argument against DGUs with anecdotal examples from three gun owners who allegedly made a mistake, PM passed over an untold number of anecdotal examples were having the gun was the only thing that saved the homeowner or individual’s life and/or the life of his/her family.
Here are some examples of DGU stories that PM missed just over the past 6 weeks:
(Nov. 30) A Washington state mother shot an alleged home invader to save her children.
(Dec. 8) A veteran confined to walker used a gun to stop home invasion.
(Dec. 9) Antioch, California, homeowner opened fire on two home invaders.
(Dec. 19) A 14-year-old shot and killed an intruder to save grandparents.
(Dec. 20) A man used a handgun in self-defense when confronted by an armed robber outside an Ohio mall. He killed the would-be robber, ending the attack.
(Dec. 26) A Good Samaritan witnessed domestic attack, pulled pistol, and held the man at gunpoint until police arrived.
(Dec. 27) A home invader put a gun to a woman’s neck in Memphis. The invader was shot and killed by the homeowner.
(Dec. 28) A Bucks County, Pennsylvania, resident shot an intruder who broke through the glass door on her apartment.
(Dec. 29) A home invader was shot and killed after a pregnant woman helped fight him off.
(Dec. 30) A pastor shot a man who attacked him inside the church.
(Dec. 30) A Texas fireworks stand owner used a gun to shoot and stop armed robbers.
(Jan. 9) Four armed robbers stormed a women’s gun store in Shawnee, Kansas, and the co-owner’s life was spared when her husband intervened by opening fire on the suspects.
(Jan. 10) A California homeowner survived an initial attack by a home invader, retrieved gun, and held the suspect at gunpoint until police arrived.
(Jan. 11) A man put a gun to a Papa John’s Pizza delivery woman’s head; she pulled her own gun and shot him in the face.
(Jan. 12) An armed robber in a Milwaukee barber shop was shot and killed by a patron with a concealed carry license/handgun.
(Jan. 13) An armed Taco Bell robber ordered would-be victim to drop his pants, but the victim pulled his gun instead and shot the robber dead.
These are but a fraction of the DGUs we could list from the last six weeks alone. These are all part of the “tragic myth” of gun owners “successfully using their firearms to defend themselves and their families from criminals.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.