“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Gun rights advocates agree that using handguns for self-defense has saved many lives. But do you know the number of Americans using guns for self-protection? A recent comprehensive report by the National Firearms Survey provides answers to some burning questions surrounding gun ownership in America.
According to the 2021 research, American gun owners use firearms nearly 1.7 times a year for self-defense. The survey, carried out on a sample of 54,000 people, out of which 16,708 were gun owners, shows more women and minorities use guns for self-defense than indicated in previous surveys.
AR-15-style rifles and “large-capacity” magazines holding more than ten rounds are in circulation with numbers of up to 44 million and 542 million, respectively. This highlights gun control legislators’ challenges when trying to eliminate “assault weapons” in the second amendment.
31% of gun owners asserted they had used firearms to defend their lives and property on multiple occasions. Eighty-two percent of such occurrences neither involved firing a gun nor injuring or killing the attackers. Mentioning or waving the firearm was enough to drive away the threat in 80% of the cases.
Two out of three respondents who claimed to own an AR-15-style rifle said they mainly used them for recreational target shooting. A third said they used them for competitive shooting. Sixty-two percent of these gun users used them for home defense, while 35% used them away from home.
“Large capacity” magazine owners, on the other hand, mentioned several lawful uses, such as competitive shooting (27%), out-of-home defense (42%), hunting (47%), home defense (62%), and recreational target shooting (64%).
The numbers from this extensive research explain the conflicting reports of defensive gun use in the country. While gun owners’ responses to the survey could be dishonest or exaggerated, limiting gun cases to incidents where an attacker was killed or wounded often overlook many cases without dramatic encounters.
“The biggest difference between the results of this survey and many earlier ones is that this survey goes into greater depth regarding types of firearms owned, the details of defensive gun uses, and frequency of defensive carry of handguns,” Professor William English, the initiator of this survey, said.
Nearly 50% of the defensive gun users reported in the survey had more than one assailant. Four-fifths happened at a gun owner’s property, 9% in public, and 3% at workplaces. 66 percent of the firearms used were handguns, followed by shotguns and rifles at 21 percent and 13 percent
According to gun owners’ self-defense incidents reports, William English thinks “guns are used defensively by firearms owners in approximately 1.67 million incidents per year.” People who defended themselves with guns they don’t solely own are, however, not included in this number. That could explain why Florida State University criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz’s previous estimates (2 million) were higher than English’s.
Although less than 10% of defensive gun use in English’s survey occurred in public places, 56% of respondents walked with handguns. 35% of these people carried handguns for self-defense, “always,” “almost always,” or “sometimes.” Nearly 35% also said they wanted to carry handguns in cases where local rules didn’t allow it.
During the survey period, different jurisdictions had different laws permitting the carrying of handguns in public places.