While the public debate on guns has slowed significantly in the last couple of months, the truth is that feelings haven’t really changed all that much. While anti-gun lawmakers are being a bit quieter on their desire to infringe on our Second Amendment rights, no one is delusional enough to believe they’re not going to take another swing at it anytime soon.
Yet a recent study is apparently seeking to give anti-gunners an edge. The study looked at, among other things, why some people have guns. The primary driver? Self-defense.
That’s not really surprising, really. Hunting, as a pastime, has seemingly been on the decline in recent years and while other shooting sports are popular, they’re not enough to account for the hundreds of millions of firearms currently in civilian hands.
So what did the study have to say about that?
“These findings may signal a shift in the underlying drivers of contemporary firearm ownership from participation in hunting and other recreational activities to a perceived need for self-protection, similar to patterns observed on a national level,” according to a statement from BMJ. “And [they] suggest that efforts aimed at reducing firearm death and injury may need to address self-protection as a primary driver of ownership, along with misconceptions about the benefits of having a firearm in the home.”
First thing first, let’s understand that the average gun buyer–the guy who lawfully purchases a firearm for self-defense–isn’t the one killing people. Those gun-deaths are the result of criminal activity more times than not. While there are exceptions, the lion’s share of those so-called “gun deaths” aren’t from lawfully purchased and owned firearms. Black market guns are a thing, after all.
Further, studies that suggest having a gun in the house makes one more likely to be killed failed to partition out the average citizen from the career criminal. Bad guys live lifestyles that lend themselves toward early deaths, after all, and shouldn’t be included with lawful gun owners who live quite different lifestyles. As such, claims that having a gun somehow makes you more likely to die from a gunshot are quite wrong.
Additionally, the statement suggests that those who own a firearm for self-defense are doing so out of some perceived need rather than an actual need. However with somewhere around 2.5 million people using a firearm for self-defense every year–that’s also per the CDC, by the way–that need seems pretty damn “actual” to me.
In fact, that number far outstrips the number of times a firearm is used to take a life.
Further, Giffords argues that someone is shot–not necessarily killed, mind you, but struck with a bullet–100,000 times per year, in addition to the 36,000 or so that are murdered or take their own life with a gun. That’s still far, far less than the total defensive gun uses in this country. Giffords claims its numbers came from the CDC as well.
Since the same source, the Centers for Disease Control, gives us these numbers, it’s worth looking at. As the above-linked article on the CDC’s defensive gun uses notes, they were trying to hide these numbers. Their own biases meant they didn’t want these numbers in the wild. That means, if anything, their biases mean they likely overstated the number of people shot if anything.
It seems to me that the numbers make it quite clear. Guns really do save lives, and it really doesn’t matter what the authors of studies try to say about that.