ABC NEWS: Do We Really Need Guns For Self-Defense?

ABC NEWS: Do We Really Need Guns For Self-Defense?

On April 14 ABC News carried a column that asked if we really need guns for self-defense? 

Columnist Adam Geller doesn’t argue with the fact that we once did, but asks whether today’s lower crime rates undercut the need for them anymore.

According to Geller:

In the weeks since the Connecticut school massacre, some of the most intense debate has swirled around how to keep guns from criminals without infringing on the ability of lawful gun owners…to protect themselves and their families.

Indeed, protection is now the top reason gun owners cite for having a firearm, a new survey shows [48 percent of] gun owners give this as a reason, a figure that has nearly doubled since 1999.

But even after years of study, there is little clarify on how, exactly, Americans use guns to protect themselves in a moment of jeopardy–or how often.

Geller then goes on to explain that with dropping violent crime rates, the need for having a gun in the first place may be gone anyway.

He cites Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck’s contention that crime has dropped because more and more people have chosen to arm themselves. With crime down, Kleck says armed citizens have gone from using guns for self-defense approximately 2.5 million times a year 20 years ago to approximately 1.25 million times a year now.  

Geller counters Kleck with director of Harvard University Injury Control Research Center David Hemenway’s claim “that many of the incidents people characterize as self-defense are dubious.”

Toward the end of his column Geller quotes University of Texas criminologist Mark Warr, who says the world may not be as dangerous as American gun owners are led to believe. Rather, people watch violence on TV and arm themselves after “buying into the idea that the world is a really, really dangerous place.”

It’s worth noting Geller’s piece began with emphasis on “the Connecticut school massacre”–a violent crime of the worst magnitude, committed in real life against unarmed people. It was not a TV show.